Release type: Media Release


Appointment of the Hon Peter Heerey AM QC to undertake independent review


Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash
Minister for Employment
Minister for Women
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service

Last Monday I announced that an independent investigator would be appointed to undertake a review of matters relating to complaints against Vice President Michael Lawler of the Fair Work Commission.

Today I announce that former Federal Court Judge, the Hon Peter Heerey AM QC, has been appointed to undertake this independent review. 

Mr Heerey is eminently qualified to undertake this task and conduct the review judiciously and independently.

Mr Heerey sat on the Federal Court between 1990 and 2009 and has now returned to practice at the Victorian Bar after retiring from the Court.

It is essential that public confidence is maintained in the institution of the Fair Work Commission.

I will not be commenting on the specific complaints before the independent investigator has had an opportunity to report back to me on this matter.

Independent investigation into complaints against Fair Work Commission Vice President Lawler


The inquiry should consider:

  1. matters raised in Ms Jane Carrigan’s complaints to the Minister for Employment of 6 July 2015 and 9 July 2015 about Vice President Lawler and about the Fair Work Commission’s management of her initial complaint to the President of the Fair Work Commission;

  2. the processes of the Fair Work Commission to investigate complaints and allegations made against members of the Commission, including those appointed under previous workplace relations legislation;

  3. the circumstances of Vice President Lawler’s absence from duty at the Fair Work Commission during 2014 and 2015 including, but not limited to, the reasons behind the specific leave taken by Vice President Lawler that are related to the Fair Work Commission;

  4. any actual or perceived conflicts of interest on the part of Vice President Lawler that may affect the standing of the Fair Work Commission, and the appropriateness of any process in the Commission to manage such conflicts;

  5. whether there is a reasonable basis for both Houses of Parliament to consider requesting the Governor‑General to remove Vice President Lawler from the Fair Work Commission on the grounds of proved misbehaviour or incapacity;

  6. any other matters considered relevant.