Bill's Media Releases

Greater accountability for registered organisations

Minister for Workplace Relations Bill Shorten today welcomed the passage of legislation through the Parliament that will ensure employer organisations, unions and their office holders are subject to tougher financial and accountability obligations.

 Mr Shorten said the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Amendment Bill 2012 will result in greater transparency about the financial management of organisations, in the interests of their members.

 “I place on record, once again, my confidence in the vast majority of unions, employer groups and other registered organisations who do a great job for their members, and already have in place measures to properly and accountably manage their members’ finances.”

 “However, this Bill delivers stronger compliance measures including significant increases in penalties and greater investigative powers for the regulator. These changes will help restore public confidence in all registered organisations in Australia.”

 The Bill amends the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009 to:

  • require that the rules of all registered organisations deal with disclosure of remuneration, pecuniary and financial interests;

  • require education and training to be provided to officials of registered organisations about their governance and accounting obligations

  • triple penalties for breaches of the Act; and

  • enhance the investigative powers available to Fair Work Australia.

 This reflects lessons learned so far with regard to parts of the Health Services Union.

 Registered organisations are now required to disclose to members the remuneration and other benefits received by their highest paid officials.

 “The amendments also strengthen the investigative powers available to Fair Work Australia under the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act,” Mr Shorten said.

 “In particular, Fair Work Australia’s General Manager now has the express power to provide information to bodies such as federal or state police and other regulatory agencies, correcting a serious flaw in the regulatory regime introduced by Tony Abbott when he was Minister for Industrial Relations.”

 The amendments were the subject of extensive consultation with representatives of employer groups and unions and were unanimously supported at the meeting of the National Workplace Relations Consultative Council on 25 May 2012.

 The Senate Employment and Workplace Relations Committee also held an Inquiry into the Bill and recommended it be passed without delay.

 The amendments deliver on the Government’s commitment on 8 May to introduce legislation to improve the accountability of registered organisations and improve the investigative functions of Fair Work Australia.