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Registered Organisations given flexibility to de-merge

Media Release

The Morrison Government welcomes the passage of legislation through Parliament today that gives parts of unions and other registered organisations the ability to de-merge from amalgamated organisations.

"What this legislation does is to uphold the fundamental principle in Australia's industrial laws of the right to freedom of association," Attorney-General and Minister for Industrial Relations, Christian Porter, said.

"It means that decent, hard-working parts of an amalgamated union or employer body that are dissatisfied with the state of that bigger organisation will now have an opportunity to break away from it, if that is what a majority of their members want.

"This exact situation currently exists with the mining and energy division of the CFMMEU which no longer believes the interests of its members are being well served by its continued association with the likes of the union's lawless construction division.

"To its credit, Labor supported this legislation which will enable the mining and energy division to take control of its own destiny and break free from the toxic elements of the CFMMEU."

The legislation fixed an issue within the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act that prevented parts of a registered organisation from de-merging five years after amalgamation.

The Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Amendment (Withdrawal from Amalgamations) Bill 2020 gives the Fair Work Commission (FWC) the ability to approve an application for a ballot on the question of withdrawal from amalgamation afterthe usual five year period has elapsed, if it decides it is appropriate based on specified considerations.

The FWC must be satisfied it is appropriate to accept an application having regard to:

  • whether the amalgamated organisation has a record of not complying with workplace or safety laws and any contribution of the constituent part to that record;
  • the likely capacity of the constituent part that forms a new organisation to promote and protect the economic and social interests of its members.

If approved, the breakaway divisions would be able to form their own, standalone union, taking their members and assets with them.

A review within two years of the Bill's commencement will consider whether the amendments are operating effectively.