Joint Press Release with Eric Abetz - Towards transparency - A better deal for members of registered organisations
Posted on Monday, 26 November 2012
In April this year, the Coalition released a Plan for Better Transparency and Accountability of Registered Organisations.
This plan is designed to protect the interests of Australians who join trade unions or employer associations.
The Coalition’s plan will improve standards of governance and financial accountability by, among other things, aligning the rules for registered organisations more closely with the laws that exist for companies under the Corporations Act 2001.
The worst aspect of the ongoing HSU scandal is that 70,000 low paid workers had their hard-earned money misspent by union officials on political campaigns and escort services.
Earlier this year, Fair Work Australia found that HSU officials had used union members’ money for personal advantage, failed to act in the best interests of members and breached financial management rules.
Since that time the list of scandals, revelations, and unanswered questions involving some registered organisations has continued to grow. It is clear that real change is needed now.
Today, the Coalition will move to introduce a Private Member’s Bill to give effect to a key element of our policy.
The Private Member’s Bill will amend the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009 to increase penalties for those who breach the act.
The Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Amendment (Towards Transparency) Bill 2012 will, if passed, improve protection for the hundreds of thousands of members of these organisations, by improving financial disclosure rules and enshrining higher standards for officers.
Officers of registered organisations will face a fine of up to $220,000 and/or five years imprisonment if it is found they have used their position dishonestly and recklessly to create an advantage for themselves.
Civil penalties for officers of registered organisations who breach the existing rules will increase from the current amount of $6,600 to $22,000.
This will provide a genuine deterrent against misuse of position and power.
Registered organisations are a central part of the Fair Work regime and they must operate to the highest of standards.
The Coalition believes that the members of registered organisations deserve transparent and accountable representation. Australian workers who join trade unions deserve to know that their membership fees are being used for proper purposes.
The Coalition’s Bill should be welcomed by the overwhelming majority of registered organisations and their officers who do the right thing and have nothing to hide from their members.
The Coalition calls on the Government to support this Bill.
If the Government refuses to support this Bill, it will be further evidence that Labor under Julia Gillard is not committed to the good governance of employer associations and unions.
26 November 2012