Bill's Media Releases

Stronger accountability for employer groups and unions Improved investigation powers for Fair Work Australia

All registered employer associations and unions will be subject to tougher financial and accountability obligations and Fair Work Australia will have enhanced investigation powers under legislation introduced into Federal Parliament today.

The legislation introduced by the Minister for Workplace Relations Bill Shorten will also triple the maximum civil penalties for breaches of the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act by organisations to $33,000.

The Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Amendment Bill 2012 will amend the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009 to:

  • require the rules of all registered organisations to provide for policies about financial expenditure and accountability within the organisation;

  • require rules to deal with disclosure of remuneration paid to the highest five paid officials in the organisation;

  • require rules to deal with the disclosure to the organisation of other pecuniary and financial interests including Board fees obtained by an official;

  • require rules to deal with the disclosure of information about transactions with related parties; and

  • require officials to undertake training about their governance and accounting obligations.

The amendments will also enhance the investigative powers available to Fair Work Australia under the Registered Organisations Act and require all investigations to be concluded as soon as practicable.

The amendments in the Bill include the express power for the General Manager to provide information to bodies such as federal or state police and regulatory agencies.  This is a serious flaw in the existing regulatory regime which was introduced by Tony Abbott when he was Minister for Industrial Relations.

Mr Shorten said that the Gillard Government supports a free and independent trade union movement and the work done by employer associations in representing their members.

“The vast majority of unions, employer groups and other registered organisations do a great job for their members, and already have in place measures to properly and accountably manage their members’ finances.

“However recent allegations about conduct within certain parts of the HSU are doing serious damage to the good work done by other registered organisations,” Mr Shorten said.

“These reforms are designed to ensure that everyone involved in running these organisations knows what’s expected of them, and that their members can be confident the organisation they belong to and fund is working in their interests.

Mr Shorten said the new rules were supported at the 25 May meeting of the National Workplace Relations Consultative Council which includes representatives of employer groups and unions.

“I call on all parties to join with the Government, the unions and employer groups to support this legislation.”

Mr Shorten’s Media Contacts: Sam Casey 0421 697 660

DEEWR Media:

Non-media enquiries: 1300 363 079

Attendees at the National Workplace Relations Consultative Council Meeting, 25 May 2012:


  • 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 Peter Anderson, ACCI

  • Mr Richard Calver, MBA

  • Mr Brian Duggan, NFF

  • Ms Susan Hopgood, AEU

  • Mr Mark Lennon, Unions NSW

  • Mr Tim Lyons, ACTU

  • Mr Daniel Mammone, ACCI

  • Mr Dave Oliver, ACTU

  • Mr Stephen Smith, AIG

  • Ms Maria Tarrant, BCA

  • Mr Innes Willox, AIG

  • Representatives from DEEWR