Date: May 11 2012
Administrators could soon be appointed to the Health Services Union East branch after the NSW parliament passed laws giving the industrial umpire the power to intervene in the organisation.
Just days after Fair Work Australia handed down its damning report on the union, the NSW Legislative Assembly agreed yesterday to upper house amendments which stripped Finance Minister Greg Pearce of proposed powers to appoint an administrator, instead giving them to the Industrial Relations Commission.
The original bill would have given Mr Pearce the freedom to appoint an administrator to a NSW-registered union if there was evidence of gross misconduct, or if he had reason to believe it was subject to an investigation.
However, on Wednesday night the Greens and crossbenchers in the upper house supported a Labor amendment to give that responsibility to the commission.
They were concerned Mr Pearce would be given too much power.
Attorney-General Greg Smith said the amendments made the legislation ''less expeditious than originally envisaged''.
Federal Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten, who applied to the Federal Court last week to have the branch put into administration, said he was ''willing to work with the NSW government in the best interests'' of HSU members.
Passage of the NSW laws came as the HSU East branch's acting assistant general secretary Gerard Hayes said six members of the eight-person executive would be prepared to resign. He called on ABC Radio for the executive to ''voluntarily stand down''.
HSU East members at Sydney's Royal Prince Alfred Hospital have also called for secretary Michael Williamson and other members of the union executive to resign immediately.
In a statement, Unions NSW said it was offering ''support and assistance to HSU East members, who are moving to take back control of their union from the existing executive''. HSU acting national president Chris Brown is to appear in the Federal Court today to also call for the appointment of an administrator for the union's East branch.
On Monday, Fair Work Australia released its long-awaited report on the union, alleging that former HSU official turned federal MP Craig Thomson spent almost $500,000 of union funds on escorts, cash withdrawals, meals and electioneering.
It has been revealed that Labor's NSW branch hired lawyers in September 2011 to defend Mr Thomson. In federal parliament yesterday Prime Minister Julia Gillard said Mr Thomson did not raise the issue of the ALP paying his legal fees when she requested he leave the party until claims he misused Health Services Union funds were finally dealt with.
Deputy Opposition Leader Julie Bishop yesterday asked Ms Gillard whether the payment of Mr Thomson's legal fees was raised with her by the Dobell MP on April 28.
''No, it was not,'' she told parliament during question time. AAP
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