Steve Knott, president of resource industry group AMMA, said on Friday the figurines were sold in toy stores and accused Labor senators of asking questions designed to produce “salacious inferences”.
“Since when … [have] figurines sold to kids and adults at EB Games been deemed inappropriate for display? Particularly as these were displayed on a shelf in private chambers not accessible to others without the deputy president’s [Mr Boyce’s] permission?” said Mr Knott of the figurines he had seen.
“Knowing he was unable to defend himself due to the Fair Work Commission’s code of conduct, the attack on [Mr Boyce’s] character is one of the most tawdry events I’ve witnessed by public figures … paid for by the taxpayer, in over 40 years.
“The whole ambush, the salacious … inferences, appears designed to deflect attention from the fact that leading up to International Women’s Day, the Fair Work Commission hierarchy has sidelined women from presiding over full-bench matters.”
According to AMMA statistics, women have presided over just 3 per cent of full-bench decisions in the past three years while a group of senior male Labor appointees has presided over most full-bench cases.
Liberal senator Matt O’Sullivan raised AMMA’s complaints in Senate estimates. They were rejected by Ms O’Neill, who said men presided over most full-bench cases because of a legislative requirement that the most senior members preside in these cases and added that women had access to other leadership roles in the commission.
“It’s not surprising that the most senior members of any court or tribunal … sit on more appeal benches than others,” Ms O’Neill said. “And at this time the three most senior members of the tribunal happen to not be women.”
Mr Boyce, a former barrister, was employed by AMMA for about a year until 2006. He was appointed to the Fair Work Commission by the Coalition government in 2018.
After Mr Boyce removed the figures, which Mr Knott said were in his office for only one week, he added a life-size cutout of US President Donald Trump to his office along with a “fake” security camera, Ms O’Neill told the Senate hearing. Both were later removed and Labor’s Tony Burke blasted what he said was Mr Boyce’s “bizarre behaviour”.
The composition of the Fair Work Commission, which decides unfair dismissal disputes and determines pay and conditions in Australian workplaces, is highly politicised, with many of the members who preside over disputes coming from union or employer backgrounds.
Mr Burke declined to comment on the images of the figurines.
Mr Boyce also declined to comment when contacted through the commission.
Nick Bonyhady is industrial relations reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, based between Sydney and Parliament House in Canberra.