Jurisdiction - Australia
Australia – Royal Commission Into Trade Union Governance And Corruption.

3 March, 2014


Retired Australian High Court Justice John Dyson Heydon AC QC has been nominated to conduct a Royal Commission into trade union governance and corruption in Australia. Whilst the terms of reference for the Royal Commission are expressed very broadly, the inquiry will focus on:

a. bribes, secret commissions or other unlawful payments or benefits arising from arrangements between unions or their officers and any other party (including employers);
b. governance arrangements of any separate entities established by unions purportedly for industrial purposes or for the welfare of their members, in particular, the activities of the AWU, CFMEU, ETU, HSU and TWU; and
c. the adequacy and effectiveness of existing systems of regulation and law enforcement in dealing with conduct of this nature.

The Commissioner will have extensive coercive powers, including to:


  • summon a person to appear to give evidence;
  • require a person to produce a document/thing at a particular time and place; and
  • inspect, retain and make copies of documents relevant to the inquiry.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said the inquiry will be able to go wherever the evidence leads it. Accordingly, companies and employers who have had dealings with unions are potentially within the scope of the inquiry, and should familiarise themselves with the terms of the inquiry and how they might become involved.


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For further information, please contact:


John Cooper, Partner, Herbert Smith Freehills

[email protected]


Peter Holloway, Partner, Herbert Smith Freehills

[email protected]


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