Bill's Media Releases

Communique From The National Workplace Relations Consultative Council

The 114th meeting of the National Workplace Relations Consultative Council (Council) was held in Canberra on 25 May 2012.

The Council was asked by the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, the Hon Bill Shorten MP, to consider a range of proposals to amend the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009 (the Registered Organisations Act) to improve the financial accountability and transparency of registered organisations, to increase penalties and to improve Fair Work Australia’s investigation processes.

The Council supports in principle measures to ensure that employer organisations and unions registered under this Act are representative of an accountable to their members, and are able to operate effectively and contribute to the proper function of the workplace relations system.

The Council acknowledges that registered organisations play a crucial role in Australia’s workplace relations system.  The Council also understands that the recently concluded investigations by Fair Work Australia into the Health Services Union have raised questions in the broader community as to the governance and accountability frameworks that apply to registered organisations.

The Council has considered today a range of proposals suggested by Minister Shorten to amend the Registered Organisations Act that would:

  • provide a greater degree of disclosure of remuneration, expenditure and pecuniary interests of officials;

  • enhance the capacity of Fair Work Australia to make inquiries and investigate suspected breaches of the Act;

  • increase a range of civil penalties currently imposed under the Act; and

  • increase awareness of financial governance and accounting obligations.

The Council has given in principle support to the proposals put forward by Minister Shorten and supports the passage of amendments reflecting these proposals in the Parliament, subject to consultation on the final detail over coming days.

The Council recognises that many registered organisations already have highly developed financial governance arrangements and reporting structures in place that comply with or exceed what has been proposed by the Minister.

The Council is of the in principle view that the changes proposed by the Minister will significantly improve the financial reporting framework, governance and accountability for registered organisations without generating  any significant compliance burden.

Attendees included:

  • The Hon Bill Shorten, Minister for Workplace Relations

  • Senator the Hon Jacinta Collins, Parliamentary Secretary for School Education and Workplace Relations

  • Ms Lisa Paul AO PSM, Secretary, DEEWR

  • Mr Richard Calver, MBA

  • Mr Brian Duggan, NFF

  • Ms Susan Hopgood, AEU

  • Mr Mark Lennon, Unions NSW

  • Mr Tim Lyons, ACTU

  • Mr Dave Oliver, ACTU

  • Mr Stephen Smith, AIG

  • Ms Maria Tarrant, BCA

  • Mr Innes Willox, AIG

  • Representatives from DEEWR


  • Mr Michael Borowick, ACTU

  • Mr Joe de Bruyn, SDA

  • Mr Graham Harris, ACCI

  • Ms Ged Kearney, ACTU

  • Mr Steve Knott, AMMA