The PSA has adopted the ACTU's Reaffirmation of Appropriate Values as PSA Policy.

  • The greatest disinfectant is sunlight. Appropriate disclosure of practices and policies is likely to do more to prevent any malpractice than any amount of punitive sanctions for breach of standards.


  •  A combination of full reporting to members of policies, practices and relevant results and as to receipts by union operatives, together with clear guidelines to staff as to what is expected, and effective means of detecting questionable practices, is likely to prevent and to limit more actually or apparently untoward conduct than further swelling the statute books or increasing legal penalties.


  • The need is for targeted regulation of unions and employer-equivalents, appropriate to Australian conditions, aimed at real problems and likely to be effective. To the extent that this can be achieved by self-regulation by the union movement and individual unions, there is no case for the legislative imposition of further regulatory burdens or cluttering the statute books with further, likely ineffective criminal sanctions. Calls for fully equivalent regulation of unions and companies are at best only seemingly attractive and do not withstand analysis.


  • As a practical ethical guide for union officers and employees in uncertain situations, they should use a well-tried criterion that might be called the “front page” test. This involves asking: how would some projected action omission or practice look on the front page of a daily paper? (That is not to say, of course, that the only reason for ethical behaviour should be fear of exposure, but that in practice that test can be a useful focus for reflection on what is right and prudent).


  • Like all organisations, unions should accept that attending to governance is a continuing process, not a one-time event. Better and fuller perceptions of what best practice is are likely to develop.


  • Accordingly all unions should review (and periodically review on an ongoing basis) their current governance structures, policies and procedures to ensure compliance not only with recent legislative requirements, but also with best practice principles and suitability for present economic and social circumstances.


  • The union movement has a strong collective interest in assisting unions which may need some help in meeting such of our suggestions as find favour, and in bringing back to the fold any who might choose to follow a less rigorous path.


  • Unions should, where they have not already done so, develop a code (or codes) of conduct or, alternatively, explicitly incorporate ethical principles and guidelines into existing policies, to act as an aspirational target, a guide and a point of reference for their leaders and staff generally, and an agreed standard by which members may judge their leaders’ conduct.


PSA Policy adopted by Branch Council 12 March 2013