The Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) and the Registered Organisation bills are the two items that pushed this government into calling a double-dissolution election earlier this year. The Turnbull government has now officially passed the bill in the senate.
The Turnbull government stated both bills are necessary to deal with the widespread corruption uncovered by the recent trade union royal commission, in which many of Australia’s peak union bodies were implicated.
The ABCC bill’s main purpose is to re-introduce the level of investigative power and penalties that existed in the Howard-era. These powers and penalties were watered down in 2012 when the ABCC was replaced with the Fair Work Building and Construction (FWBC). Many argue that the FWBC is not equipped to handle the levels of corruption uncovered in the royal commission. In addition, the bill would expand the scope of ABCC oversight, create or strengthen existing laws around unlawful picketing (such as those that took place at the Grocon Myer Emporium in 2012), and increase penalties.
The Registered Organisations bill is designed to implement the current government’s election promise to impose better regulation on union officials – mainly in response to the Health Services Union corruption scandal which involved numerous consecutive union leaders. These too were the subject of the royal commission.
So now that we know what these bills are, what will the impact be on Australian industry & employees, and will they actually work? We’ll follow that up in our next article.
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