Release type: Media Release


Release of Interim Report of the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption


Senator the Hon Eric Abetz
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for Employment
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service
Senator for Tasmania

The first two volumes of the interim report of the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption have today been tabled and publicly released.

A third, confidential volume, dealing with serious criminal matters, will not be publicly released due to serious risks to the safety of certain individuals referred to in this volume.

The Royal Commission has made a number of significant recommendations, including that:

  • the Commonwealth DPP consider criminal charges against a range of CFMEU officials in relation to various acts of intimidation and coercion;
  • ASIC consider charges against the Queensland state secretary of the CFMEU for breaches of the Corporations Act;
  • the Commonwealth DPP consider criminal charges against a range of HSU officials for making false statements contrary to the Commonwealth Criminal Code;
  • the Victorian Secretary and Assistant Secretary of the CFMEU be considered by the Victorian DPP for prosecution for blackmail; and
  • the relevant authorities in Victoria and Western Australia consider laying fraud charges against the former officials responsible for AWU Workplace Reform Association slush fund.

All these recommendations will now be a matter for the relevant authorities to consider.

The Royal Commissioner’s statements in relation to the confidential volume are of grave concern. It was found that a large volume of evidence cannot be publicly released due to serious threats made to certain witnesses and their families.

The Royal Commissioner has stated that this conduct “reveals grave threats to the power and authority of the Australian state.” [1]

These matters, which involve allegations of serious criminal conduct, are now a matter for the specialist Police taskforce to pursue.

The interim report also makes adverse comments and criticisms about officials of various unions and the operation of a number of slush funds and other entities. These include:

  • the TWU in relation to the McLean Forum and “TEACHO” training fund;
  • the AWU in relation to the Industry 2020 fund;
  • the HSU in relation to involvement in its internal elections by officials of the TWU and AWU and their related slush funds;
  • the CFMEU in relation to impropriety within the CBUS superannuation fund; and
  • the ETU in relation to the operation of the “Protect” income protection fund.

The interim report also identifies five key areas of concern about the current use and operation of union election slush funds:

  • they operate largely in secret;
  • are characterised by deficient or non-existent record-keeping;
  • contributions to them may not be voluntary;
  • they give a disproportionate advantage to incumbents; and
  • candidates commonly plead ignorance in relation to the funding sources, expenditure and debts incurred.

No objective reader of this interim report can be in any doubt about the urgent need to strengthen the governance of unions and other registered organisations through the introduction of a Registered Organisations Commission.

The sections of this report dealing with the CFMEU conclude that there is a “culture of wilful defiance of the law which appears to lie at the core of the CFMEU”. [2]

The report once again confirms the pressing need for legislation to re-establish the Australian Building and Construction Commission, in order to counter thuggery and lawlessness in the construction industry.

The legislation to implement these reforms is currently before the Senate. The legislation to establish a Registered Organisations Commission will now be listed for debate as a matter of priority in the first Senate sitting week of 2015.

The Government will consider the various recommendations of the report and announce its response in the New Year.

The two public volumes of the Interim Report are available at:

[1] Volume 1 pp 29-30 paragraph 99            
[2] Volume 1 p 26  paragraph 83