News National Shorten denies pre-empting union report
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Shorten denies pre-empting union report

Bill Shorten
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Opposition Leader Bill Shorten denies Labor is pre-empting the final report of the royal commission into trade union corruption by proposing plans to clean up the movement.

A Labor government will double penalties for dodgy union bosses, with officials found guilty of the most serious conduct to face fines of up to $216,000.

They were “sensible” changes, which you didn’t need a royal commission to work out, Mr Shorten told reporters in Melbourne on Monday.

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“We accept that there needs to be constant and continuous improvement in the governance of trade unions and employer organisations and that’s what we’re offering today,” he said.

Opposition workplace spokesman Brendan O’Connor insisted Labor was responding to what police had uncovered and not the $80 million royal commission.

“Even a few transgressions … need to be responded to and that’s why we are announcing the reforms today,” he said.

The changes also include forcing all political donations above $1000 to be disclosed.

Mr Shorten is willing to work with the Turnbull government to have the changes legislated before the next election.

The Coalition, under Tony Abbott, was keen to impose tougher measures on corrupt unions and bosses, including re-establishing the Australian Building and Construction Commission.

Labor opposed the measures in parliament.

The Opposition announcement came as CFMEU Victorian secretary John Setka and his deputy Shaun Reardon face blackmail charges as a result of the trade union royal commission.

Both men were arrested on Sunday following investigations by Taskforce Heracles, a joint Victoria and federal police unit that takes on cases referred from the commission.

Mr Shorten said Labor had zero tolerance for criminality, but because a police investigation was under way he would not comment on their case.

The Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption, headed by Justice Dyson Heydon, is due to release its report by December 31.

Labor’s policy has been costed by the Parliamentary Budget Office at $4.5 million over four years.

Labor has also vowed to:

– Give the securities watchdog the power to regulate breaches by unions

– Give Fair Work Commission an extra $4.5 million to monitor unions

– Extend electoral funding laws to donations for union elections

– Force all political donations over $1000 be disclosed

– Protect whistleblowers in the private sector by giving them same protections as public servants

– Force unions to hire new auditors every five years to weed out those part of a scam

-AAP

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