The rejection of the Ensuring Integrity Bill is a blow to the rule of law in Australia and a white flag to corruption and law-breaking. The Australian Senate has ignored the calls of small businesses, employers and workers who want to get on with their jobs and have their rights respected.
Our economy and society is undermined by corruption and law-breaking. When registered organisations conduct themselves corruptly and unlawfully, they should not be able to continue exploiting their special status and privileges under the Fair Work Act.
In WA 97 per cent of businesses are small businesses, and they employ half a million West Australians. This is a betrayal of these small businesses, who had every reason to believe the Australian Senate should be working to protect them.
The Federal Court has noted repeatedly that the CFMMEU’s law-breaking continues despite $4.2 million in penalties in 2018/19. This reinforces that particular unions consider the benefits of law-breaking to outweigh the penalties.
The Heydon Royal Commission noted that corruption, law-breaking and misconduct was “not the work of a few rogue unions, or a few rogue officials” but “widespread, deep-seated” and represented “the small tip of an enormous iceberg.”
CCIWA endorses the Morrison Government’s objective of providing better rules for harmonious industrial relations. It is important to emphasise that higher integrity standards introduced in the Bill apply to both registered unions and employer groups. Individuals and organisations who do the wrong thing should be held to account and the current laws are not working. Inflated claims and misinformation are only injected into the debate by those who don’t want to be held to a high standard of integrity.
We note the Government’s extensive engagement with the Senate on the content of the Ensuring Integrity Bill and support continued efforts to implement these urgent reforms.
CCIWA urges the Senate to re-examine the Bill and we encourage our many thousands of members to relay their deep concerns to all parliamentarians, not least the Senate crossbench.