AWU political donations under Bill Shorten were ‘unauthorized’: Registered Organizations Commission

The ROC found that the AWU national executive did not approve any of the 20 donations it investigated, including the GetUp donation in 2006 and an additional $163,500 in political donations prior to the 2007 federal election.

“However, due to the AWU’s deficient record keeping practices, the passage of time and its inability to produce relevant documents, the investigation was unable to award any of the specific failings by the National Executive or the AWU to one or more individuals or office holders,” he said in a statement.

AWU ‘admitted’ to breaking the law

According to its statement, the ROC found that the AWU violated the Registered Organizations Act by failing to file the required donation statements on time between 2006 and 2016 or at all.

In some cases, the declarations were not filed until years after the expiry of the legal deadline.

“These offenses were ultimately admitted by the AWU in December 2021,” the report said.

The AWU admitted that it failed to file a statement of donations in 2007, including $42,000 which, according to the union’s internal records, “was never disclosed to its members.”

“This included at least three political donations totaling $33,000,” the ROC said.

The union also did not follow its own rule requiring its national executive to approve donations over $1,000.

“While certain records and relevant National Executive Minutes have been produced and reviewed, the AWU has failed to produce, and has admitted that it cannot, produce evidence of express resolutions of the National Executive authorizing one of the 20 relevant donations,” the ROC1 said.

The Federal Court suspended the ROC’s investigation at the end of 2017 following controversy over raids by Australian Federal Police on the offices of the AWU, which a senior official of the Minister for Industrial Relations of at the time, Michaelia Cash warned the media in advance.

However, the ROC later won its appeal of that decision and relaunched the investigation in January 2021.

The AWU argued that the ROC should not take legal action for its violations because it had improved compliance since 2014.

The ROC agreed, concluding that there was “insufficient documentary evidence” of specific misconduct and given “the duration and age of the offenses and the state of the available evidence” it was not within the public interest to take further regulatory action.

Notably, he noted that “had the AWU cooperated in August 2017 in the manner sought by the ROC, and the National Secretary had agreed, it is likely that the entire matter could have been resolved within approximately two to four weeks with a similar result. ”.

The “Never Secret” Donations: AWU

Mr Shorten, a former Labor leader who entered parliament in the 2007 election, said that ‘after a five-year political witch hunt that cost taxpayers millions, this government used the cover of the history of the Russian invasion of Ukraine”. to drop everything quietly because of ‘lack of sufficient evidence’”.

“That says it all,” he said. “A job of ideological defamation by a pack of gutless cowards.”

AWU National Secretary Dan Walton welcomed the decision and said donations to the inquiry center were “never remotely secret, let alone hidden.”

“Yes, the AWU has donated money to the ALP campaign,” Mr. Walton said. “Yes, the AWU has donated money to GetUp. These donations have been openly discussed, reported, and even promoted in our magazine.

“Yet the coalition government’s ROC has spent thousands of hours, millions of taxpayer dollars and the resources of the Australian Federal Police trying to get mud to stick with the AWU and its former secretary National Bill Shorten – who happened to be the Leader of the Opposition at the time.All around a paperwork issue.

Mr Walton argued that the ROC had “effectively admitted that the whole thing was a huge waste of time” and demanded an apology from Senator Cash.

“The AFP raids on our offices in 2017 were one of the most shocking abuses of power by an Australian government in modern history,” he said.

Senator Cash said the ROC found the AWU broke the law on 20 occasions by “both making unauthorized donations and failing to disclose them to its members or appropriate authorities.”

She said the ROC was “independent of government” and that the Coalition had created it to “ensure that funds raised by employee and employer organizations from members are used in the best interests of their members”.