Donations made from the TWU Industrial Rights, Training and Education Fund

Updated: 23 December 2010

This advice sets out the Australian Electoral Commission's (AEC's) conclusions in relation to the matters described below.

The matter:

Whether there was any failure by the Australian Labor Party (NSW Branch) and the Transport Workers Union of New South Wales (TWU-NSW) to disclose donations made out of the Industrial Rights, Training and Education Fund of the TWU-NSW.

When the matter was raised:

The Channel 9 Sunday program of 23 September 2007 made a number of allegations about the financial dealings of the TWU Transport Industry Training Education and Rights Fund.

Articles on the TWU-NSW donations appeared in the print media, including in the Sydney Morning Herald and the Australian Financial Review, on 26 September 2007.

Subsequently, the national secretary of the TWU, Mr Tony Sheldon, was interviewed about these allegations on the Sunday program on 30 September 2007. These allegations also appear to be the subject of an article in the Sunday Telegraph of 16 March 2008 and the Meet the Press television program on the same day.


Part XX of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918.

Subsection 314AB of the Act requires that the agent of the party must submit a return on which must be set out the total amount received, the total amount paid, during the financial year and the total outstanding amount as at the end of the financial year.

AEC process:

This inquiry has taken 12 months to complete.

For this matter, the AEC corresponded with: Mr Tony Sheldon, the State Secretary of the TWU-NSW; Maurice Blackburn Pty Limited, lawyers for the TWU-NSW; and Mr Karl Bitar, the Secretary of the New South Wales Branch of the Australian Labor Party.

AEC conclusion:

The donations made from the Industrial Rights, Training and Education Fund of the TWU-NSW to the Australian Labor Party (NSW Branch) totalled less than $15 000. In the 2005/06 year the disclosure threshold changed from $1 500 to $10 000 on the 8/12/05. Only one donation met the disclosure threshold in 2005/06, being for a donation of $1 500 made during the period prior to the 8/12/05. An amendment to the 2005/2006 annual return for the Australian Labor Party (NSW Branch) disclosing this donation was received by the AEC on 18 November 2008.

Date: 12 February 2009