The Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption has signalled that the relationships between particular trade unions and superannuation funds will be a factor in its initial report.
One of the superannuation funds already the subject of intense scrutiny by the Royal Commission has been building industry fund, Cbus.
While the Attorney-General, Senator George Brandis yesterday announced an extension of the time-frame for the Royal Commissioner, the man charged with its conduct, Dyson Heydon, has made clear in a letter to the minister that the involvement of superannuation funds will be covered off in the report it produces in December.
The Royal Commissioner's reference to superannuation funds comes in the wake of testimony given to the Royal Commission regarding the release of confidential superannuation fund member information held by big industry fund, Cbus to the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) and an admission by a Cbus official that she lied to the commission to protect both fund and union officials, including Cbus chief executive, David Atkin.
The Commission has been told that the confidential member information was revealed to the union in the context of a particular employer being in arrears with respect to the payment of its superannuation guarantee obligations.
In his letter to the Attorney-General, Heydon referenced superannuation funds alongside "slush funds" established by unions.
His letter to the minister said, "By December it will be possible to illustrate representative aspects of conduct falling with paras (a)-(f) of the terms of reference. These relate to many types of fund, set up by many different unions - for example, "slush funds" (dedicated to funding the re-election campaigns of particular tickets of officials). Superannuation funds, redundancy and income protection schemes, and funds for general purposes relating to union interests. The evidence relevant to these topics has been comprehensive and will enable appropriate findings and recommendations to be made".