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Senate passed Coalition’s bill establishing dedicated Registered Organisations Commission to regulat

On 22 November 2016, the Senate passed the Coalition’s bill to establish a dedicated Registered Organisations Commission to regulate unions and employ
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Senate passed Coalition’s bill establishing dedicated Registered Organisations Commission to regulate unions

Senate passed Coalition’s bill establishing dedicated Registered Organisations Commission to regulate unions

22 November 2016

This article was originally featured on www.vision6.com.au/v/56745/1007896/email.html?k=jIiZWD_KlwmaRKar9tyQhJ-sAQb4wjrvBVC811lnbmk

On 22 November 2016, the Senate passed the Coalition’s bill to establish a dedicated Registered Organisations Commission to regulate unions and employer organisations. The ROC bill received support from Victorian independent Derryn Hinch and all three members of the Nick Xenophon team. The changes increase protection for whistleblowers, extend investigatory obligations and accountability of auditors.

 The Government commitment entails six parts and will support a parliamentary inquiry into whistleblower laws to ensure that the protections of the ROC bill will extend across the government and corporate sectors. This legislation is to be introduced into parliament by December next year and at a minimum has to support the standards set out in the ROC bill. A parliamentary vote on the legislation should follow no later than 30 June 2018.

 The significant changes provided by the ROC bill will repeal sections 337C Victimisation prohibited and 377D Right to Compensation and replace these sections with comprehensive protections and remedies for a person who makes a disclosure.

This will include:

· An extensive definition of where a person takes a reprisal against another person. This will include where a person causes any detriment to another because they believe or suspect that the other person may have, proposes to or could make a disclosure that qualified for protection.

· A person will be able to recover civil remedies where the Federal Court or Federal Circuit Court is satisfied that a person has taken or threatened to take a reprisal against a person. This may include; compensation, an injunction, an apology, reinstatement, exemplary damages or any other order the Court thinks appropriate.

· A person will be ordered to pay costs where they vexatiously bring an application.

· A civil penalty of 100 units will apply where a person who takes a reprisal against another person due to their belief or suspicion that a person made, may have made, proposed to make or could make a disclosure that qualifies for protection. This includes where a person threatens to take a reprisal.

· A person will commit a criminal offence if they take a reprisal against another person due to their belief or suspicion that a person made, may have made, proposed to make or could make a disclosure that qualifies for protection. This carries a penalty of 2 years’ imprisonment, 120 penalty units, or both.

The ROC bill also introduces new legislation regarding the investigation of disclosures:

· Where a disclosure is made that qualifies for protection, the person to whom the disclosure is made must allocate the disclosure to one or more qualified officials within 14 days. The authorised official is then required to investigate the disclosure within 90 days of the allocation.

· A person will not be subject to any criminal or civil liability where they give information, produce documents or answer a question if they have been requested to do so and it is relevant to the investigation.

 This is a substantial and significant change after years of dispute over the protection of sources who blow the whistle on wrongdoing.  
 

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