FWA has ‘legal duty to aid police probe’: Abetz

Analysis

FWA has ‘legal duty to aid police probe’: Abetz

FWA has clear powers to release information to the fraud squads of NSW and Vic police about the Craig Thomson affair — and should do so immediately, according to the Federal Opposition.

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FWA has clear powers to release information to the fraud squads of NSW and Vic police about the Craig Thomson affair — and should do so immediately, according to the Federal Opposition.

FWA has refused to cooperate with both fraud squads in their investigations into the matter, which covers allegations of the misuse of Thomson’s Health Sector Union (HSU) credit card, including the use of prostitutes.

Crucial vote
 
Thomson is currently a federal Labor MP whose vote is crucial in delivering the numbers in the Lower House where Labor governs with the support of the Greens and three independents.

Coalition IR spokesman Eric Abetz said the president of FWA, Iain Ross, has clear powers to disclose information to the police.

He said s655(2) of the Fair Work Act 2009 is ‘crystal clear’:
2. The President may disclose, or authorise the disclosure of, the information if the President reasonably believes:
a. that it is necessary or appropriate to do so in the course of performing functions, or exercising powers, of FWA; or

b. that the disclosure is likely to assist in the administration or enforcement of a law of the Commonwealth, a State or a Territory.
‘The very strong legal advice obtained by the Coalition confirms our view,’ he said.

‘Either the President can continue with the farce of an “absurd” reading of the legislation as relied on by Fair Work Australia’s manager or the only “rational” interpretation open.’

Reputation damaged
 
‘Fair Work Australia’s reputation has been done untold damage by its refusal to cooperate with the NSW and Victorian fraud squads. Their excuses are lame and pitiful besides defying the basic rules of statutory interpretation and inconsistent with community expectations.’

‘The longer this debacle drags on the more the Australian people will believe this is a deliberate institutionalised go-slow rather than just gross incompetence.’

‘The fact the Minister has not called on the President to exercise his power is disturbing. The President can act and must act immediately.’
 
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