The Trade Union Royal Commission report has been released -- here's what you need to know

Bill Shorten giving evidence before the Royal Commission in July.

The Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption has referred more than 40 individuals to authorities, and recommended measures to better union governance, in its final report.

Referring to “widespread and deep-seated” misconduct, the report lists numerous union officials who may have commited crimes, including bribery and blackmail.

A total of 45 individuals have been referred to various authorities including the police, ASIC as well as the Fair Work Commission. Overall, 93 referrals were made with more than half relating to potential criminal prosecutions.

Among those referred to authorities are:

  • Kathy Jackson — former Health Services Union national secretary
  • Cesar Melhem — former head of the Australian Workers Union
  • Dave Hanna — former Queensland CFMEU boss
  • Darren Greenfield — official at the NSW CFMEU

“It would be utterly naive to think that what has been uncovered is anything other than the small tip of an enormous iceberg,” reads the six-volume document which was released this morning.

“It is clear that in many parts of the world constituted by Australian trade union officials, there is room for louts, thugs, bullies, thieves, perjurers, those who threaten violence, errant fiduciaries and organisers of boycotts.”

Findings in the report include:

  • Insufficient record keeping
  • False invoicing
  • Misappropriation of union funds
  • Large payments by employers to unions and union bosses
  • Inflating membership figures to boost importance and exert influence
  • Disposal or hiding of documents

The report has made 79 recommendations to improve the governance, transparency and accountability of unions. This includes tougher financial disclosure rules, such as creating civil penalties for workers and officials.

The government has accepted the report, pledging to ensure laws are “robust”, and pass measures like the currently-stalled ABCC bill.

Minister for employment, Michaelia Cash, has announced that the government will attempt to pass more legislation relating to union governance.

“There are many union officials and widespread cultures of impropriety and malpractice as set out in the report,” said prime minister Turnbull.

“The ABCC bill which has been rejected once by the Senate, will be re-introduced in the first sittings next year.”

“Taskforce Heracles – the existing Federal and State Police Taskforce attached to the Royal Commission – will be funded to continue its work investigating referrals and to ensure the very serious criminal allegations that have been identified are dealt with,” said Turnbull.

Attorney-General George Brandis has also announced that 11 agencies will work together to combat 45 “significant” civil law breaches:

The commission sat for over 189 days of hearings, with evidence received from 505 witnesses. It was initially designed to run for 9 months but eventually spanned 21 months — although it has come $7 million under budget at $45.9 million.

You can read the full report here.

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