Labor’s plans to beat union rorts

Ahead of the much-anticipated report from the Royal Commission, Labor has proposed plans to stop union corruption. But is it too little too late?

Speaking on the ABC’s Insiders program yesterday morning, Labor leader Bill Shorten, announced that the party has a list of measures to ensure unions operate legally under tougher governance. Mr Shorten said on the issue, “There has been some evidence come out around the [Health Services Union] and one or two other unions, which to my way of thinking means we need to talk about improving governance”.

With the Royal Commission report into trade union governance and corruption expected by the end of this month, Labor’s measures may take some of the sting out of the expected rebuff of the unions. The proposal includes: 

  • granting power to the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) to investigate Fair Work Act breaches
  • increasing funding to the Fair Work Act to the tune of $4.5 million
  • lowering the election donation declaration threshold from $13,000 to $1000
  • doubling the maximum penalty for offences under the Fair Work Act
  • offering union whistleblowers the same protection as those in the private sector.


The changes would help prevent the system being abused by dishonest officials said Labor’s workplace relations spokesman Brendan O’Connor. “We want to see strong, effective and honest unions representing working people in this country and so if there are — and we know there are a few — [unions] that have done the wrong thing, we need to detect that early,” he said.

Read more at 

Is this a move by Labor to take some of the heat out of the expected Royal Commission findings? Or is it best that the party acts of its own accord? Do you think Labor’s proposed reforms would be effective in curbing trade union corruption?

Written by Debbie McTaggart

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