Investigation into union corruption concludes

On 28 December 2015 the Commissioner Dyson Heydon delivered his final report for the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption to the Attorney General. The Commission, which ran for 21 months, heard from over 505 witnesses over 155 days of public hearings. The Commission’s final report made 79 law reform recommendations, including the creation of a new unions watchdog with its own budget as well as investigative powers similar to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. The report also recommended tightening of right of entry laws and the introduction of jail terms for offering, giving or receiving bribes. On the recommendation of the commission, ACT construction union boss Dean Hall and organiser John Lomax may be prosecuted for breaching workplace laws. The Commission also earlier referred former union bosses Kathy Jackson and Cesar Melhelm to prosecutors. In his report, Mr Heydon outlined ‘widespread misconduct’ and said the report’s recommendation for further investigation of 45 people or entities nationally was the ‘small tip or an enormous iceberg’.

In response to the report, the government announced on it would ask Parliament to urgently pass laws recommended by Mr Heydon, notably the re-establishment of the Australian Building and Construction Commission, which was abolished by the Gillard government in 2012.

Justice McDougall rules against McCloy in ICAC Commissioner’s favour

Supreme Court Justice Robert McDougall ruled on 10 December 2015 that the head of the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), Megan Latham, acted with ‘scrupulous fairness’ towards Jeff McCloy, a high-profile target of ICAC’s political donations inquiry, and should not be forced to step aside on grounds of apprehended bias. The case was brought by McCloy, a property developer and former Newcastle lord mayor, to prevent Latham from delivering a report containing findings about him. During the inquiry, McCloy admitted to giving cash to Liberal candidates before the 2011 state election in breach of the ban on political donations from developers, which took effect in January 2010. ICAC’s report on the inquiry has been delayed due to proceedings brought by McCloy and Deputy Senior Crown Prosecutor Margaret Cunneen SC.