Union findings confirm concerns: Xenophon

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Tuesday, January 12th, 2016
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Nick-Xenophon
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Royal commission findings of misconduct by trade unions have confirmed one senate crossbencher’s concerns, as he backs a watchdog for the construction industry.

Nick Xenophon says a “number of aspects” of the commission’s report into trade union corruption, released last month, need to be considered “seriously” by all senators.

“I think it’s confirmed some of the concerns,” he told reporters in Sydney on Monday.

The independent senator, who did back the federal government’s previous attempts to create a Registered Organisations Commission, says there is scope for reform.

“The recommendations to bring union officials in line with corporations I think is quite fair.”

Senator Xenophon also believes there needs to be a watchdog “on the beat” for the construction industry.

Despite having good dealings with the CFMEU, he said there have been enough “bad incidences” to warrant a commission with adequate safeguards.

“I think with some sensible, practical amendments then that legislation ought to be passed,” he said.

Legislation to create a Registered Organisations Commission and re-establish the Australian Building and Construction Commission will be re-introduced to parliament when it resumes next month.

Liberal MP Dan Tehan wants the legislation to include banning unions from paying fines on behalf of their officials so they’re not worn as a “badge of honour”.

“Rather than having the effect where they [fines] are punishing and trying to address lawlessness, they’re actually doing the opposite. People are wearing these as a badge of honour,” he told the ABC.

Mr Tehan said banning unions from paying court-ordered penalties would bring them into line with companies.

“We cannot have people breaking the law with impunity in this country, we must do something about it.”

The backbencher also wants the government to ban union officials who have been fined from holding office.

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