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Australia sets up probe into union graft as reports of corruption grow

Published on Feb 10, 2014 3:31 PM

SYDNEY (AFP) - Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Monday unveiled a royal commission to investigate alleged corruption among leading trade unions as reports of widespread bribes and kickbacks involving organised crime grow.

The ruling Liberal-National coalition, which embarked on an unpopular industrial relations overhaul when last in power that cost them office in 2007, has long pledged to tackle union powers over opposition fears of a witch-hunt.

"This will not be an inquiry into trade unionism or the day-to-day activities of honest trade union officials," Abbott said in a statement.

"We don't want honest workers to be ripped off by dishonest union bosses." He said a royal commission, which has wide-ranging powers and can summon witnesses, made good on a September election promise to set up a judicial inquiry into an Australian Workers' Union slush fund.

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