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Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Amendment (Towards Transparency) Bill 2013

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Circulated by the authority of Honourable Tony Abbott MHR

Leader of the Opposition


















The Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Amendment (Towards Transparency) 2013 Bill amends the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009.


The Bill improves the operation of the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act and the general framework under which registered organisations operate through a series of measures that will increase financial transparency and accountability. These measures have the effect of aligning relevant obligations of registered organisations to those which are applicable to entities covered by the Corporations Act 2001 .


The improved obligations aim to ensure that members of registered organisations are protected and that the conduct and actions of officers and employees of registered organisations are in the best interests of their members.


This Bill will ensure that there is a strong deterrent in place to prevent a reoccurrence of the kinds of wrongdoing and malfeasance found by Fair Work Australia in its report “ Investigation into the Victoria No. 1 Branch of the Health Services Union under section 331 of the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009 ” and further report “ Investigation into the National Office of the Health Services Union under section 331 of the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009. ” Similar conduct was also identified in the report titled “ Final Report on HSUeast by Ian Temby QC and Dennis Roberston FCA .”


These reports have exposed significant loopholes where a culture of misuse of members’ money for the personal benefit of individuals, general mismanagement, poor financial control and lack of transparency could exist.


The deterrent value of effective penalties are well known and understood in the community. Increased penalties will assist in ensuring members can once again have confidence in their registered organisations.






Clause 1 - Short Title


This is a formal provision specifying the short title.


Clause 2 - Commencement


The Bill's provisions are to commence the day after the Bill receives Royal Assent


Clause 3 - Schedules


This clause provides that an Act that is specified in a Schedule is amended or repealed as set out in that Schedule, and any other item in a Schedule operates according to its terms.



Schedule 1—Amendments to the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009


Items 1 & 2 make it an offence to not lodge a complaint full or concise report with Fair Work Australia. These reports are required to be submitted under the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009, however there are inadequate penalties for the lodgement of non-compliant reports.


Item 3 adds section 288A to impose penalties for officers who do not act in good faith or misuse their position. This provision is similar to an existing provision in the Corporations Act and uses the same penalty of imprisonment for 5 years or 2,000 penalty units or both.


Under the present penalty regime, the alleged $20 million misuse of members’ funds identified in the Temby Report could attract a maximum penalty of just $6,600. This serves not just as an injustice to members but also fails to serve as an appropriate deterrent for officers who handle - in some cases - millions of members’ money.


Members of registered organisations should have the same comfort to know that their money is spent in a proper manner and the conduct of officers is above board as shareholders of corporations.


Items 4, 5 & 6 are consequential amendments.


Items 7 & 8 increase penalties for existing offences under the Act in line with the Corporations Act.


Item 9 makes it a criminal offence for officers of or a registered organisation to not comply with orders of a State or Federal court that applies to the organisation.


For an abundance of clarity, it is the intent of this Bill that this Item apply to registered organisations who breach orders of a court of competent jurisdiction in either the Commonwealth, State or Territory in Australia. 


Items 10 and 11 deal with the commencement of provisions within this Bill.




Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights

Prepared in accordance with Part 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011




This Bill is compatible with the human rights and freedoms recognised or declared in the international instruments listed in section 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 .


Overview of the Bill

This Bill amends the objects the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Bill 2009 to increase penalties for officers of Registered Organisations who misuse members’ funds.


Human rights implications

This Bill does not engage any of the applicable rights or freedoms as listed in the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 .



This bill is compatible with human rights as it does not raise any human rights issues.




The Hon. Tony Abbott MHR