The Federal Government must ensure registered organisations no longer receive special treatment and are subject to the same high standards as organisations operating under the present-day legislation for corporate entities – the Corporations Act 2001.
AREEA is incorporated with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and is of the view that all registered organisations should be subject to the same process and rules applying to corporations.
AREEA welcomes the proposed new regulations that provide for greater transparency of the financial activities of registered organisations but our view is that the changes the government has proposed are not tough enough to deliver the accountability that the members of those organisations are seeking.
The lack of resources and forensic expertise at Fair Work Australia, and before it the Australian Industrial Relations Commission, has greatly exacerbated the problems surrounding the transparent operation of registered organisations.
AREEA and its members benefit from the discipline associated with the higher standards required under the Corporations Act.
How can any union members in Australia have the same confidence in their administrators if they are not subject to the same stringent regulations and policing processes?
While the government might be seeking more transparent reporting, the more immediate problem is the fact there is not a dedicated body or sufficient resources to properly police those requirements. Increasing the delegation powers to the General Manager of Fair Work Australia will not eradicate improper processes.
AREEA notes the lack of hard reforms contained in the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Amendment Bill 2012 which is currently before parliament and is the subject of this Senate committee inquiry.
While AREEA welcomes any improved financial disclosure processes and increased penalties for breaches, we are concerned the proposed amendments will not prevent another HSU-style misuse of members’ funds.
AREEA is at a loss as to why the government is proposing tougher accountability and transparency measures but is still looking at ways to shield registered employer and union organisations from the processes and rules that apply to corporations.
AREEA would also like the committee to note its concern with the three-day timeframe between this inquiry being announced and the deadline for submissions, which has not inspired confidence that this is a thorough, well-aired inquiry process.
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