"For the Union Makes Us... Rich?": Preventing Trade Union Corruption in Law after the Health Services Union Saga

Joel Silver


While uncommon, corruption amongst Australian trade union officials is nevertheless well documented and notorious. How the law responds to corruption has become the subject of renewed debate, due to allegations against several former officials of the Health Services Union, in particular Craig Thomson and Michael Williamson. This article argues in favour of revising the provisions describing officials’ duties in the federal Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009 (Cth) — the law which regulates trade unions — to more closely resemble their sister provisions in the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth). It contends that corrupt officials are best dealt with under specific ‘disloyalty’ offences, as opposed to generic property crimes (such as fraud or obtaining by deception). It also addresses a number of other potential weaknesses in the present legislative scheme.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.21153/dlr2013vol18no1art60


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