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October 31, 2015

The Fair Work Commission’s (FWC) annual report exposes the Abbott-Turnbull Government’s Registered Organisations Bill for what it is – an ill-conceived, unnecessary assault on employer bodies and unions.

Details from the report show that Registered Organisations achieved a 100 per cent compliance rate for lodgement of annual returns and a 98 per cent compliance rate for financial returns.

Given the regulatory compliance figures, Labor is calling on the Abbott-Turnbull to rule out the Bill’s return, which has already been rejected multiple times by the Senate.

The Bill as drafted, places higher penalties and a more onerous regime on officers of employer bodies and unions than those imposed on company directors.

Failure to rule out this unfair legislation’s return in light of these figures will confirm the only reason for this legislation is that it forms a component of the Government’s sustained attack on the labour movement, which includes the $80 million Royal Commission and the revival of the extreme and undemocratic Australian Building and Construction Commission.

The result of this Bill passing would have ensured volunteers working for nothing would have been subject to the same penalties as directors of ASX 100 companies earning more than $200,000 a year.

The new criminal provisions would mean that employer bodies and unions would have difficulty in persuading people to take on official responsibilities, often in a voluntary capacity.

Labor supports appropriate regulation for registered organisations and tough penalties for those who break the law.

That is why in 2012 Labor toughened the laws to improve financial transparency and disclosure by registered organisations to their members, while also tripling the penalties.

As a result, the regulation of trade unions in Australia has never been stronger, accountability has never been higher, and the power of the FWC to investigate and prosecute for breaches has never been broader.