Bill's Media Releases

LABOR’S PLAN TO STRENGTHEN ACCOUNTABILITY AND TRANSPARENCY OF UNIONS

A Shorten Labor Government will deliver a package of governance changes aimed at deterring and detecting corruption in unions.

 

Unions play a critical role representing workers in a democratic society. It is unions we have to thank for superannuation, universal health care, the eight hour day, and the minimum wage amongst many other achievements.

 

For the sake of workers and their families - to protect these hard-won reforms - it is essential that unions remain strong and modern.

 

However, recent revelations of theft and the flagrant misuse of union members’ money by a small number of union officials are utterly unacceptable and require a tough, fair and effective response.

 

Labor has zero tolerance for criminality or corruption in the union movement and has consistently argued that any criminal conduct in the union movement must be investigated by police and prosecuted in the Court.

 

This new package of reforms will help ensure that criminal conduct is detected at the earliest opportunity and dealt with by the full force of the law.

 

Core to Labor’s plan is making the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), with its coercive powers, the regulator of the most serious contraventions of the Registered Organisations Act.

 

The General Manager of the Fair Work Commission will continue its role as the regulator, with its current powers to conduct investigations and inquiries and resolve minor compliance issues. It will receive an additional $4.5 million for increased monitoring of registered organisations.

 

Labor will also extend current electoral funding laws to donations and expenditure relating to all elections managed by the Australian Electoral Commission, such as those for union elections.

 

In line with our longstanding commitment to greater transparency, Labor will also reduce the disclosure threshold for political donations from $13,000 to $1,000.

 

Labor will also protect and encourage whistleblowers by extending the protections that exist in the public sector to the private sector, registered organisations and the not for profit sector.

 

A Shorten Labor Government will double the maximum penalties for all criminal offences under the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act.

 

Labor will also introduce penalties of up to $216,000 for paid officials for the most egregious conduct, and increase penalties for other civil contraventions involving misleading conduct.

 

In addition, a court will be able to disqualify an official for serious contraventions. These are akin to penalties for publicly listed companies under the Corporations Act.

 

Labor will require registered organisations to rotate their auditors every 5 years, also consistent with the requirements under the Corporations Act, to weed out auditors that have been part of a scam or complicit by their silence.

 

Sanctions for auditors failing to do their job will be punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a $4,500 fine.

 

Labor’s proposed governance changes are measured yet tough and will support unions in their transition to a modern movement, which continues to advocate for nation changing reforms.

 

These reforms build on Labor’s record in government, where we oversaw the greatest transparency and accountability reforms of registered organisations, including:

 

  • Tripling penalties for breaches of the Fair Work Act;

  • Requiring officials of registered organisations to undertake training to better understand their governance and accounting obligations; and

  • Requiring the disclosure of officials’ remuneration, and pecuniary and financial interests.



Labor has identified a problem and we’re separating it from the politics, unlike the Abbott-Turnbull Government.

 

At the core of the Liberals and their political ideology, is a desire to destroy the ability of unions to effectively represent workers, making it easier to rip away pay and conditions like penalty rates.

 

It is the Labor Party and unions that will ensure workers are represented with honesty and integrity, and will stand up against attacks on wages, penalty rates and workplace safety.

 

To read more about Labor’s plan visit http://www.alp.org.au/betterunions

 

MONDAY, 7 DECEMBER 2015

  

MEDIA CONTACT: LEADER’S OFFICE MEDIA UNIT 02 6277 4053