From The Australian today
ALP’s 11th-hour union bid over royal commission report
THE AUSTRALIANDECEMBER 28, 2015 12:00AM
Bill Shorten has tried to pre-empt the findings of a damning report into trade union corruption by appealing directly to Malcolm Turnbull to accept a series of Labor measures, including an overhaul of political donations rules.
The Opposition Leader has used a letter, sent to the Prime Minister on Wednesday, to try to ensure Labor is not trapped in a crucial election year by the findings of the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption, which will hand the government more ammunition to push for union reform after a series of scandals.
The royal commission is due to hand its final report to Governor-General Peter Cosgrove today and the government is expected to release the document as early as tomorrow, with Employment Minister Michaelia Cash canvassing toughening-up the Coalition’s proposed union governance laws as a potential response.
Senator Cash also identified the militant Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union as one of the targets of any government response.
“I believe that all Australians would want to see in place laws that ensure greater transparency and accountability for registered organisations — whether they be employer or employee representative bodies,” the minister told The Australian.
“The construction industry has been repeatedly identified as one with endemic problems of lawlessness.
“When repeat offending by the construction division of the CFMEU gets so bad that the Federal Court has to ask whether there has ‘ever been a worse recidivist in the history of the common law’, there is clearly a problem in the industry and this division of the CFMEU.”
The royal commission’s findings were to be a central plank in the re-election strategy of Tony Abbott and his successor, Mr Turnbull, is standing by royal commissioner Dyson Heydon amid an attack on Mr Heydon’s integrity led by Labor and the union movement.
Mr Shorten’s letter urges Mr Turnbull to consider a series of Labor measures to improve union governance, as well as linking the issue to a reduction in the political donation disclosure threshold from $13,000 to $1000 for individuals, companies and unions.
The opposition has attacked the government’s legislation to clean up the union movement as too onerous, saying it was unfair to bring penalties for union volunteers into line with those applying to highly paid company directors.
Mr Shorten has urged Mr Turnbull to engage with Labor on the issue in an attempt to negotiate a breakthrough to the political impasse, saying the “flagrant misuse of union members’ money by a small number of union officials” was unacceptable.
“Unlike the government’s Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Bill, Labor’s new proposals do not place more onerous obligations on volunteers involved in unions and employer organisations,” he said.