Senator Abetz advises our readers of the planned judicial enquiry into The AWU Scandal - and other IR changes
How have union bosses reacted to the new laws and Commission to replace Fair Work Australia?

Major changes for the Fair Work body that investigated Craig Thomson - like getting shut down major.

This is the summary page from the Coalition's policy on what the law calls Registered Organisations - what you and I call unions and employer organisations.

Coalition changes to fair work


I was surprised to see how far they've got - without much fanfare and not a great deal of media reporting.

Here's a link to the new legislation - it's been introduced into the House of Representatives for its first and second reading.

Registered oirganisations

This explanatory memorandum has all the details of the legislation, including the penalties for union bosses which will now include gaol time for many offences.

Here's the summary.

The Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Amendment Bill 2013 (the Bill) will amend the Fair
Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009 (RO Act) and the Fair Work Act 2009 to ensure
better governance of registered organisations.
Recent examples of financial misconduct within registered organisations have demonstrated that
the existing regulatory framework is not sufficient to provide members of registered
organisations with confidence that the management of registered organisations is accountable
and transparent and that their membership contributions are being used for proper purposes.
In addressing these issues, the amendments will improve the governance and financial
transparency of registered organisations and provide an appropriately empowered and
independent regulator that will ensure compliance with the RO Act by registered organisations,
branches of registered organisations and their officers.

Broadly, the Bill will:


  •  establish an independent watchdog, the Registered Organisations Commission (the Commission), to monitor and regulate registered organisations with enhanced investigationand information gathering powers;
  •  amend the requirements on officers‘ disclosure of material personal interests (and related voting and decision making rights) and change grounds for disqualification and ineligibility for office;
  •  strengthen existing financial accounting, disclosure and transparency obligations under the RO Act by putting certain rule obligations on the face of the RO Act and making them enforceable as civil remedy provisions; and
  •  increase civil penalties and introduce criminal offences for serious breaches of officers‘ duties as well as new offences in relation to the conduct of investigations under the RO Act.


The Commission will be headed by the Registered Organisations Commissioner (the
Commissioner), who will assume the investigations, enforcement advice and assistance
responsibilities of the General Manager of the Fair Work Commission in relation to registered
organisations. While the Commission will be established in the Office of the Fair Work
Ombudsman, it will have a high degree of independence. The Commissioner will have
independence in the exercise of his or her functions and powers and in his or her ability to direct
staff in relation to the performance of those functions.
In order to ensure that the Commissioner has sufficient power to monitor compliance with the
RO Act, the Commissioner‘s investigation and information gathering powers have been
modelled on those in the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001. These
powers will enable to Commissioner to efficiently and effectively undertake its compliance
The amendments that provide for the disclosure of material personal interests, increased
accounting and disclosure obligations, criminal offences for serious breaches of officers‘ duties
and increased civil penalties broadly mirror those that apply to companies and their directors
under the Corporations Act 2001 and have been adapted to align with the RO Act framework.