Friday 18 August, 2017
Statement from ACTU Secretary Sally McManus
“In order to distract from their own chaos and incompetence, the Turnbull Government needs to always
have a Bill on hand to attack working people and their unions.
The attacks become more extreme and bizarre as each new poll shows them losing the trust and support of
the Australian people.
The latest Bill is an Orwellian affront to democracy. The rights of people to choose who leads their union
and how their union operates are fundamental to our shared democratic principles.
This Bill violates International Labour Organisation conventions on Freedom of Association. Only
authoritarian governments interfere with who can lead a union and how it can operates.
This is a government that is determined to undermine wages and job security.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has recognised that it is the Australian union movement that stood up
against their cuts to penalty rates and against the rampant casualisation of jobs.
Now Prime Minister Turnbull has decided to tie up union members’ money and leadership on mountains of
additional government paperwork. He wants union officials to spend their time filling in forms instead of
representing the interests of working people.
This Bill goes even further than the politically motivated Heydon Royal Commission’s recommendations.
Despite the ongoing scandals in Australia’s banks, involving millions of dollars and thousands of
Australian’s savings, livelihoods and retirements, the Turnbull Government is trying to apply harsher and
more onerous obligations on unions than apply to the corporate world.
In respect of the so called ‘public interest test’, the Bill does not even pretend to be about protecting union
members’ interests or guaranteeing the democratic functioning of organisations, but instead it cites illdefined
economic justifications for overriding member’s democratic rights.
Effectively it is about giving corporate Australia a say over what unions look like and how they operate. This
is fundamentally undemocratic and will only result in achieving what all big companies want for themselves,
even lower wages growth.
This is not an ‘in the public interest test’, it is an ‘in big business’ interest test’.
The Bill is wholly opposed by the union movement. It is politically motivated. “