Better Union Governance

The Australian union movement has been the driving force behind universal health care, superannuation, the eight hour day and the minimum wage among many other achievements.

Workers have fundamental democratic rights to representation in the workplace, to freedom of association, to collectively bargain, and to organise and be represented by their union.

For these reasons, Labor has zero tolerance for criminality or corruption in the union movement and has consistently argued that any criminal conduct in the union movement must be investigated by police and prosecuted in the Court.

Recent revelations of theft and the flagrant misuse of union members’ money by a small number of union officials requires a tough and effective response. We must ensure such conduct is detected and acted upon at the earliest opportunity.

As democratic institutions, unions must also be transparent in the conduct of their elections. Indeed election fundraising must be more transparent across all institutions in the Australian polity.

Labor will introduce a series of reforms to ensure better union governance. This includes:

  • Labor will provide the General Manager of the Fair Work Commission with an additional $4.5 million over four years to monitor the 109 employer and employee organisations presently registered.
  • Labor will introduce tougher penalties for union officials who break the law.
  • Labor will require registered organisations to rotate their auditors every 5 years, consistent with the requirements under the Corporations Act.
  • Labor will extend current electoral funding laws to donations and expenditure relating to all elections managed by the Australian Electoral Commission – whether they are union elections or the Federal election.
  • Labor has long advocated for lower disclosure thresholds, and if elected will reduce the current disclosure threshold in the Commonwealth Electoral Act for election funding from $13,000 to $1,000.

Further information is available here.