Abbott announces Royal Commission, this time unions

A "GREAT big spotlight" will be shone on alleged corrupt activities by unions and companies involved in Australia's building trade, with Prime Minister Tony Abbott establishing another Royal Commission Monday.

Mr Abbott announced the Royal Commission after a Cabinet meeting on Monday signed off on the proposal, which will investigate the finances of at least five unions.

The terms of reference for the commission cover will include allegations of corrupt behaviour at the Australian Workers' Union, CFMEU, Electrical Trades Union, Health Services Union and the Transport Workers Union.

But Attorney-General Senator George Brandis said ti would be a "sword that will cut both ways", intimating the directors of companies connected to illegal behaviour would also be investigated.

Mr Abbott said former High Court justice John Dyson Heydon would lead the commission, with at least an interim report expected by the end of this year.

He said the last commission into the building industry, the Cole Royal Commission, may not have resulted in many criminal convictions, but by spending millions, it saved billions by cutting down on corrupt activity.

While he did not mention any specific protections for potential whistleblowers, Mr Abbott said he wanted anyone with information about such activities, anywhere in Australia, to come forward to the commission.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten on Monday said he thought a police taskforce would be better placed to investigate corruption in the industry, and again hit out at the re-creation of the Australian Building and Construction Commission.

However, Mr Abbott said the Royal Commission would not interfere with the new ABCC; rather one would regulate the entire industry, while the other was targeted to investigate union links.


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