The Project's Waleed Aly clashes with guest after on-air slip-up

The Project host Waleed Aly has been lambasted by a guest who claimed the presenter was "diminishing" a young man's death after an on-air slip-up.

Waleed was interviewing Dave Noonan, the National Secretary of the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) when it broke out into a heated argument.

The host was quizzing Dave about Labor's plan to strip back the powers of the Australian Building and Construction Commission building watchdog to the "bare minimum".

The Liberal Party had established the watchdog, which has been accused of targeting unions.

Waleed Aly speaks to CFMEU National Secretary Dave Noonan on The Project.
Waleed Aly clashes with Dave Noonan. Source: The Project

Dave welcomed the decision, telling Waleed a fine the union copped for staging a protest was comparable to a fine a construction company was slapped with after a young worker died on a construction site in 2020.

The construction company did not have to pay the $900,000 fine however as it was covered by insurance.

Dave claimed the watchdog fined the union $900,000 for a peaceful protest.

"The point here is that we get these lure lurid allegations of someone swearing on a building site and massive prosecution and huge taxpayer dollars used to do those prosecutions, but not one thing is done to improve the appalling safety conditions that led to the death of that young worker and the crippling of another worker," he said.

"If anyone thinks that's comparable, I beg to disagree."


Waleed hit back and said the issues did not have to be comparable and were treated in separate ways, adding if the builder was negligent in that situation it could be its own "little civil suit".

Dave then furiously hit back at Waleed for claiming the death of a young man was a "little civil suit".

"I don't know what world you live in but the world I live in...," Dave said as Waleed interrupted saying, "Dave, Dave, sorry."

"No, No, I'm sorry, but you used those words," Dave said as Waleed again tried to get his point across.

"The world I live in and the world our members live in, there are serious safety hazards. The most appalling safety circumstances and I don't think it is appropriate to diminish it by calling it a little civil suit."

Waleed then hit back saying Dave was "verballing" him, before Dave said, "I'm happy to replay the tape".

"OK, yeah sure," Waleed said.

"I'm not saying it is a little civil suit and it doesn't matter. If you want to compare the way in which these things might result in fines, my only point is, they have different mechanisms that would result in different sorts of fines and to say they're comparable, well they may not be comparable.

"The mechanisms that we have might deal with them in ways that mean they are not comparable, but that's a different thing to the point that you're making."

Dave then said he "accepted" Waleed's analysis and added the union stood up for its members and "we are the only people in there trying".

Following the interview, some said on Twitter said they agreed with Dave's reaction to Waleed's comment, while others claimed it was a "misunderstanding".

"I listened back to the 'heated' bit of this interview a couple of times. I can completely see how Dave Noonan misheard Waleed's response. Waleed had an ever so slight stumble mixing legal and civil which sounded like 'little civil suit'. Innocent unfortunate misunderstanding," one said.

"I agree with Dave Noonan's reaction to that comment," another commented.

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