Registered Organisations Bill: third time lucky?

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Registered Organisations Bill: third time lucky?

For the third time the federal government has presented its Registered Organisations Bill to Parliament, just over two weeks after it was voted down in the Senate.

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For the third time the federal government has presented its Registered Organisations Bill to Parliament, just over two weeks after it was voted down in the Senate. The bill seeks to impose a number of requirements on the financial management of unions and employer associations, in the wake of scandals such as the Health Services Union and Craig Thomson affairs.

The bill’s major proposals include increasing civil penalties and introducing criminal penalties for officers who seriously breach their duties, similar to those already contained in the Corporations Act. The government argues that union officials receive lesser penalties for breaching their duties than do officers of corporations.

The bill also establishes a new Registered Organisations Commission within the Office of the Fair Work Ombudsman.

In the bill’s Second Reading Speech, delivered this morning, Christopher Pyne said the bill contained measures to significantly reduce the number of officers who will be required to make disclosures of material personal interests: only officers whose duties relate to the financial management of the organisations will have to disclose their material personal interests. Officers will no longer need to disclose the material personal interests of their relatives.

A number of exceptions to disclosure have been included and the method of disclosure has also been amended (it can be made as standing notice and to the organisation’s committee of management).

Shadow Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Brendan O'Connor said the bill failed to address the fundamental issues that the legislation was unfair.

“It is trite to say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result”, O’Connor said.

Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Amendment Bill [No 2]  2014 and Explanatory Statement
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