THE Coalition’s policy priority to establish a Registered Organisations Commission is now one step closer to fruition after the House of Representatives last week passed the Bill to hold trade unions and employer organisations accountable for use of member funds.

In a statement released late last week, Minister for Employment Senator Eric Abetz applauded the successful passage of the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Amendment Bill 2013 through the House of Representatives, noting it would provide a ‘certainty and high operating standards’ to members of registered organisations.

“Recent investigations into the Health Services Union as well as the litany of union slush funds show that serious financial impropriety can occur under the current regulatory framework,” Senator Abetz said.

“Despite Labor opposing the Bill in order to continue its protection racket for dodgy union bosses, the House of Representatives has supported the legislation that will see governance of registered organisations lifted to a consistently high standard across the board.”

The Registered Organisations Commission, to be established under the legislation, will have investigative powers modelled on the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, and will also have powers to commence legal proceedings in instances of non-compliance.

The Bill will also impose:

  • Higher civil penalties and a range of criminal penalties, including jail terms for registered organisations officials who break the law, consistent with penalties facing Companies and Directors under Corporations Law; and
  • Enhanced reporting and disclosure requirements to deliver greater transparency including reporting the remuneration of the top five officers in an organisation or branch of an organisation.

AMMA has long supported the establishment of a Registered Organisations Commission with chief executive Steve Knott highlighting the benefits of the Bill to registered organisation members.

“The passing of this legislation would ensure all registered organisations, including trade unions and employer groups, are held to the highest level of accountability in their financial activities and corporate governance practices,” Mr Knott said.

“The introduction of a dedicated Registered Organisations Commission with investigative and information gathering powers would see all unions and employer groups governed and regulated to a standard consistent with Australian corporations.”

To read AMMA’s full comment on the Bill, click here.

For more information about the Bill, click here.