This month, Fair Work Australia (FWA) issued a report regarding the recent scandal involving MP Craig Thompson. As has been comprehensively reported across Australia, Thompson, who was an official of the Health Services Union (HSU), allegedly misused union funds to access escort services, travel and hospitality services. According to an article on the Corporate Risk and Insurance website, FWA General Manager, Bernadette O’Neil made the following official statement about the report: “The investigation revealed that the organisation abjectly failed to have adequate governance arrangements in place to protect union members’ funds against misuse.”
In the case of the HSU, the implication of misappropriated member funds is significant. The health industry is one of Australia’s lowest paying industry sectors, and the fees paid by its members are intended to help protect their rights including wage claims. As the Thompson case has revealed all organisation’s need strict governance arrangements to closely monitor their financial transactions and appropriations. Organisations need clear delegation and audit arrangements to ensure funds are spent where they should.
Fair Work Australia and the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) are attempting to intervene in this case to ensure that the HSU’s lack of control and assurance measures is rectified quickly.
Fair Work Australia has issued a notice to the HSU requiring the union to take specified actions within 30 days to improve its governance arrangements.