Maurice Newman on the Unsustainable Cost of Wages

From a speech given by Maurice Newman on Monday:

Right now, one of the issues even for efficient producers is the high cost of getting goods to market. For example, the cost of sending products from Hobart to Brisbane is the same as transporting them from Amsterdam to Brisbane. This is largely due to anti-competitive coastal shipping arrangements in Australia which the previous government strengthened under union pressure and, relatively high wage costs. For example, some dockworkers can earn more than $150,000 a year while harbour pilots take home $250,000 a year for three days work. Locomotive drivers in Queensland are paid three times what their American counterparts receive. These examples are random and anecdotal but they do make the point. And if you think I have been selective, consider Australia’s minimum wage at US$33,355 for a 38-hour week against other countries with mature economies. For instance, Canada, our closest competitor has a minimum wage of US$22,766, for a 44 hour week. The European minimum is around $US 22,000, New Zealand is $ US23,000 and the United States, $US15,000, all rounded and for 40 hour weeks. A British worker receives about $US20,000 for a 38.2 hour week. On top of our minimum awards Australian employers must pay 10 per cent of their payroll in workers compensation insurance premiums, a 9.25 per cent compulsory superannuation surcharge, sick leave, overtime penalty rates and holiday loadings. Read more

Legislation Introduced to Restore Australian Building and Construction Commission

The Coalition today introduced legislation to reintroduce the Australian Building and Construction Commission.

According to Senator The Hon Eric Abetz, The bill will:

  • Improve the bargaining framework to ensure negotiations are sensible and productive;
  • Extend coverage of the ABCC’s powers to offshore construction sites;
  • Prohibit coercion and discrimination;
  • Deliver significant penalties for unlawful action; and
  • Provide the regulator with strong but transparent coercive powers.

Click here for the press release


Media Release: Qantas Chairman to Address HR Nicholls Society

I am delighted to announce that the Chairman of Qantas, Leigh Clifford, will make the annual address at this year’s meeting of the  HR Nicholls Society on Thursday 5 December. Mr Clifford has agreed to talk about the need for reform of workplace relations in order to improve productivity and international competitiveness.

Adam Bisits, President of the HR Nicholls Society, said that from his experience as Chief Executive of Rio Tinto from 2000 to 2007, and since then as Qantas Chairman, Mr Clifford has first-hand experience of the difficulties facing companies in negotiating with unions on claims which often relate to issues that are largely peripheral to conditions employees can reasonably expect employers to provide. It is anomalous that, under the Fair Work legislation and its administration, conditions of employment are effectively determined by members of tribunals who have little or no experience in running a business. Those conditions should be determined primarily by direct negotiation between employers and employees and it should be recognised that, in a less regulated labour market, there would no underlying imbalance of bargaining power between employers and employees.     Read more

Union Super Funds To Bankroll New Far-Left Publication

The HR Nicholls Society has previous raised concerns about the use of superannuation funds to advance the union agenda with a special commissioned report by Barry Rafe on anti-competitive superannuation requirements in the Fair Work Australia Act and a presentation at our last conference by Paul Fletcher MP on superannuation being used to expand union power and influence. 

Now, it appears that industry super funds are preparing to use their members money to bankroll a new far-left online publication: Read more

Let’s fix youth unemployment once and for all

The latest youth unemployment figures are startling. The highest percentage of 15-24 year olds in a decade is jobless.

The evidence is in. Mandatory minimum wages have locked a significant portion of an entire generation out of the workforce. Surely these latest figures must shock the Federal Government into action.

It is unacceptable to have a youth unemployment rate more than double that of the overall figure. Employment Minister Eric Abetz is quoted in The Australian today saying that the rising youth joblessness is his greatest concern with the latest labour data from the ABS. The solutions he proffers today are further government subsidies to and a renewed commitment to “Work for the Dole.”

The time is long past due for a meaningful solution to out of control youth unemployment in Australia. Government subsidy after government subsidy and increasing the burden on the taxpayer will not address the problem. It has been tried for decades now, the problem persists.

Government can only be the solution in one way, by removing the shackles from business. Only by removing the disincentive to employ youth will the jobless figures shrink. If the Federal Government is serious about fixing the problem, it must cease tinkering around the edges with subsidies and welfare programs. Now is the time to rectify the underlying problem and remove the shackle that is the minimum wage. Do we want a small few being paid what the government tells businesses they can afford? Or do we want the great many earning a fair and competitive wage that business can actually afford? Unless we are content with permanently locking youth out of employment, something has got to change. If youth unemployment really is a great concern to the Federal Government and it wants to reduce joblessness, the best thing it can possibly do is get rid of the regulatory barriers it has put in place. The minimum wage isn’t helping our youth; it is hurting them quite badly.

James Duncan is Administration and Research Officer at  the H. R. Nicholls Society


FWC is considering initiating action against the CFMEU

The FWC is considering initiating action against the CFMEU and its officials over right of entry breaches on four Lend Lease sites in Adelaide, but has stopped short of issuing orders to counter union threats of industrial action if the company refused to engage non-working shop stewards and fly the union flag from cranes.

Senior Deputy President Matthew O’Callaghan said it appeared from the evidence that there had been “various breaches” of the Fair Work Act’s Part 3-4 right of entry provisions.

Click HERE for more

2013 Annual Dinner with Leigh Clifford AO, Chairman of Qantas

The HR Nicholls Society warmly invites  members and supporters to the 2013 Annual Dinner of the HR Nicholls Society, with special guest Leigh Clifford AO, Chairman of QANTAS.

Mr Clifford is one of the most prominent and influential business leaders in Australia.  As Chairman of Qantas and previously CEO of Rio Tinto, he has transformed the Australian business landscape.

Robert Gottliebsen, the Founding Editor of Business Review Weekly, has argued that “Leigh Clifford, more than any other person in Australia, changed the culture of the workplace in the mining industry and made Australia one of the most productive mining areas in the world.” Read more