Parliament To Consider Reforms To Union Governance
17th Aug 17
The Australian Parliament has set about considering legislation to introduce new grounds for disqualification and deregistration of trade unions as well as a public interest test for amalgamations of registered organisations.
Key Issues For The Dental Industry —
The Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Amendment (Ensuring Integrity) Bill (Cth) 2017 was tabled in parliament on 16 August 2017. The proposed amendments introduce a number of policy commitments made by the Australian Government and also recommendations arising from the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption.
The Bill introduces new provisions that will expand upon what is a ‘prescribed offence’ for the purposes of preventing a person from acting as an official of a registered organisation, including where they have committed criminal offences punishable by five or more years’ imprisonment. Allied to this are new powers that will allow the Federal Court to prohibit officials from holding office if they contravene a range of industrial and other laws, are found in contempt of court, repeatedly fail to stop their organisation from breaking the law or are otherwise not a fit and proper person to hold office in a registered organisation. This is complemented by a provision to make it an offence for a person to continue to act as an official or in a way that influences the affairs of an organisation once they have been disqualified.
With respect to unions as a legal entity, the Bill will allow the Federal Court to cancel the registration of an organisation on a range of grounds including corrupt conduct by officials, repeated breaches of a range of industrial and other laws by the organisation or its members and the taking of obstructive unprotected industrial action by a substantial number of members. It will also allow applications to be made to the Federal Court for other orders, including suspending the rights and privileges of an organisation or an individual branch or division of an organisation where its officers or members are acting in a manner that is inconsistent with the rights and privileges of registration.
The Bill expands the grounds on which the Federal Court may order remedial action to deal with governance issues in an organisation and expressly provide that the Federal Court may appoint an administrator to an organisation or part of an organisation as part of a remedial scheme.
In recent months some large unions have proposed mergers, and it is in this context that the Australian Government is introducing a public interest test for amalgamations of registered organisations, which will allow relevant matters to be taken into account such as each organisation’s record of compliance with industrial laws.
The Australian Dental Industry Association (ADIA) will follow the policy lead of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCC) on this matter, and it is expected that ACCI will support passage of the legislation.
Member Engagement —
ADIA provides leadership, strategy, advocacy and support. Our members set our agenda, fund our activities and directly benefit from the results. With respect to to matters associated with workplace relations, ADIA staff responsible for negotiating policy outcomes with government receive advice and guidance from members serving on the ADIA-TCPC Trade and Commercial Policy Committee. Member updates are provided at the quarterly series of ADIA State Branch Briefings.
Further Information —
If you have an interest in ADIA's efforts to reform the regulatory standards for equipment installation, for updates subscribe to the Twitter feed @AusDental or follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dental.industry. Alternatively, you can contact the Association via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone on 1300 943 094.
Currency Of Information & Disclaimer —
This update was issued on 17 August 2017 and please note that changes in circumstances after the publication of material or information may impact upon its accuracy and also change regulatory compliance obligations. The statements, regulatory and technical information contained herein are believed to be accurate and are provided for information purposes only. Readers are responsible for assessing its relevance and verifying the accuracy of the content. To the fullest extent permitted by law, ADIA will not be liable for any loss, damage, cost or expense incurred in relation to or arising as a result of relying on the information presented here.
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