On 9 May 2016, the Fair Work (Registered Organisations)
Amendment Bill 2014 [No. 3] ("RO
Bill"), one of a range of proposed laws tabled by the
Coalition government in Federal Parliament in the wake of the Royal
Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption, lapsed with
the double dissolution. The RO Bill was born out of former High
Court Justice Dyson Haydon's specific findings that penalties
for union officials pale in comparison to those penalties imposed
on director's of companies, and in essence sought to:
Increase the penalties payable by union officials for criminal
contraventions of the Fair Work Act 2009 and the Fair Work
(Registered Organisations) Act 2009 (Cth); and
Preventing unions from paying or reimbursing union officials
for monetary penalties imposed on union officials.
While the lapse of the RO Bill might be viewed as a loss of
momentum in the Coalition's plans for industrial relations
reform, the Coalition, in what has come as a surprise to many, has
recently proposed an increase in the maximum penalties payable by
directors in breach of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth)
commensurate with the increases for union officials. Whatever the
motivations for the increase in director penalties may be, what
remains clear is that with the Coalition only narrowly securing a
majority in the House of Representatives, and with the ascension of
minor parties in the Senate (who's stance on industrial reform
is unclear), it is uncertain whether those proposed reforms will
see the light of day in this Parliament. Nevertheless, directors
and unions alike need to remain vigilant and keep a close eye on
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