Media Release: Royal Commission Submission Calls for Minimal Regulation

3 November 2014
Royal Commission Submission Calls for Minimal Regulation

The HR Nicholls Society submission to the Royal Commission on Trade Union Governance & Corruption calls for existing regulatory arrangements under the Fair Work legislation and the Fair Work Commission (FWC) to be replaced with minimal regulation of employer/employee relations.

The submission, acknowledged by Commissioner Heydon, particularly addresses the reference on ‘the adequacy and effectiveness of existing systems of regulation and law enforcement’ (a)(j)

Analyses in the submission by two prominent lawyers show advantages conferred on trade unions which are unnecessary and unjustified. These include entry to work premises, ability to disrupt work performance, engagement in protected industrial action and forcing parties into regulated bargaining. Read more

How the :labour market can help South Australia Forum

The HR Nicholls Society held, on the 22nd of October, a lunchtime forum on how strengthening the South Australian economy through the labour market, other deregulatory measures and finding the right place in the supply chain in open markets. Special guest speakers were Malcolm Bosworth and Professor Christopher Findlay. This was covered in the Adelaide Advertiser:

HR Nicholls Society president Adam Bisits has called on the State Government to make application to the Fair Work Commission and call for a special lower minimum wage in SA. The free-market group advocates labour deregulation and held a forum in Adelaide yesterday. In June, Australia’s lowest paid workers were awarded a 3 per cent rise to take the minimum weekly wage to $640.90 a week, or $16.87 an hour.

click HERE to read the rest of the Advertiser Story. You can download Malcolm Bosworth’s speaking notes HERE, and his powerpoint HERE.


The following is a recent address given by Des Moore, Publicity Officer of the HR Nicholls Society, to Turk’s Head (one of the organisations created by Ray Evans) on October 8, 2014″:

Although I am a bit concerned about talking to a “prickly” group,  I feel honoured to be invited by Patrick Morgan to offer a few words on our good friend, the late Ray Evans. I welcome the opportunity to do so in the presence of his wife, Jill.

I say only a few words because the importance of Ray’s contribution to our society really warrants a book. Yet despite the enormous number of PhDs being written are any of them offering to do what would be a fascinating one on Ray? Ray himself would doubtless be saying from his grave – that is exactly what you would expect from our universities!

However his death did produce extensive praise from certain quarters on his enormous contribution to the debate on a wide range of public policies spread over about 25 years. It is almost sufficient to simply recall that he played major roles in establishing and developing the HR Nicholls Society, The Samuel Griffith Society, The Lavoisier Society, The Bennelong Society and The Galatians Group. It is quite remarkable that he had the capacity to run these groups with only limited financial and other help.

Importantly, he did however receive help from the courageous decision of Hugh Morgan to take him on board at Western Mining as a speech writer and from Chairman Arvi Parbo for agreeing that he should continue framing the 200 speeches he drafted for Hugh. One of those – titled “Yellow Cake Bob” after the Hawke government banned uranium mining – probably cost Hugh his position on the board of the Reserve Bank. Needless to say it was a serious risk for shareholders and a Chief Executive Officer to  agree in 1982 to employ Ray when he wrote in his job application  “The culture wars I now believe to be embedded deep in Western Civilisation … are fought out in every institution. We see them in the churches, within political parties, in the media, in the universities and in corporations”. Read more

Employment News is All Bad

Using the unadjusted labour force data, the September figures show an unchanged unemployment rate of 6.1%. But this apparent “stability” disguises the deterioration in the labour market.

Not only did employment fall by 30,000 but those not working or seeking to work increased by 45,000. In effect, those who lost their jobs did not even try to get back into the work force.

This is not a one off development. While over the past 12 months employment did increase by 46,000 or 0.4%, those not working or seeking to work increased by 242,000 or no less than 3.7%.

In short, the demand for labour has not kept pace with the growth in the working age population (15 years and over) and retirees and the youngees with no work prospect have increased. This is reflected in the fall to 64.5%  in the participation rate from 65.2% a year ago.

How has Australia got to this parlous situation?

While the end of the mining boom has contributed, the main reason is that Australia has a highly regulated labour market which will not allow temporary downwards adjustments in employees’ conditions in other industries. These conditions deter employers from risking additions to investment and jobs.

Unless early action is taken to remove the Fair Work arrangements, the Abbott government will not only fail by a long way to achieve the employment growth of 1.5% in the 2014-15 budget, but also the election jobs target of one million over 5 years.

Publicity Officer: Des Moore (9867 1235)

Responsive, harmonious and flexible workplaces

The following is a paper by Asher Judah, author of The Australian Century (available for $29.95 from Connor Court Publishing):

Ensuring Australian businesses remain competitive in an increasingly interconnected global economy will be one of the toughest challenges facing the nation this century. Confronted with rising demands for work-life flexibility, the third highest minimum wage in the OECD (60 per cent higher than the United Kingdom’s)[1] and multiplying sources of product and service acquisition, employers will need a workplace relations system which has flexibility and autonomy at its heart.

In order for Australia to secure a productive and cost competitive edge, three areas of workplace relations reform must be enacted as soon as possible. These are:

  • ushering in the era of 24/7 retailing;
  • returning management certainty back to construction, mining and energy businesses; and
  • reintroducing EBA’s which support growth, creativity and sustainable business activity. Read more

Recap: HRN Construction Industry Forum

The following is a summary of presentations made at the HR Nicholls Society “Cleaning up Corruption in the Construction Industry” Forum, held in Melbourne on Monday 25 August 2014.

Address by the Hon Robert Clark MLA

The Victorian Minister for Industrial Relations, Attorney-General and Minister for Finance, the Hon Robert Clark MLA, told the HR Nicholls Society at a forum on ending union thuggery and cleaning up corruption in the construction industry that:

The rule of law and competitive processes were the key underpinnings of the Victorian Coalition government’s industrial relations policy.

Following the election of the government in November 2010, the Coalition sought to use its industrial relations policy as a way to fill the void created by the gutting and subsequent abolition of the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) by Julia Gillard, Minister for Workplace Relations in the Rudd government. Read more

Media Release: Unemployed up by 15%, Employment Falls Too

The increase in July unemployment to 6.4% seasonally adjusted rate (from 5.6% in July last year), and the accompanying small fall in employment since last month, highlight the need for reduced regulation of workplace relations in circumstances where the economy is growing below trend.

Unless regulations are reduced the Abbott government’s budget forecast of a 1.5% increase in employment in 2014-15 will not be achieved and productivity growth will remain sluggish.

The regulatory problem is highlighted by the fact that the growth in the working age population (WAP) is twice as fast as the growth in employment over the past 12 months – employment up by only 0.9% while the WAP increased at double that rate (1.8%).

Before the Fair Work legislation employment was growing faster than the WAP and the participation rate was growing. Over the past three years that rate has fallen from 65.4% to 64.8%.

On top of the twelve months increase of about 15% in numbers unemployed, this indicates continued large increases in those who have given up actively looking for work – the so-called drop outs

Labour Force – Increases Since July 2013 (Original Data)

000s               Percent

Employment                                1,041                0.9

Working Age Population              3,421                1.8

Unemployed                                   96                14.9

WAP is civilian population aged 15 years and over

It is now abundantly clear that urgent changes must be made to the existing regulatory legislation, and the administration of it, just to reach the “sensible centre” and remove the bias evident in the existing arrangements.

Sufficient evidence of the monopoly position of unions has already been given to the Heydon Royal Commission to warrant immediate reforms and allow employers much greater freedom to determine employment conditions. It is anomalous, for example, that the MUA has to be taken to the Federal Court in an attempt to reduce its monopoly powers.

The proposals to reform the ABBC and other minor reforms are welcome but have yet to be implemented and will not themselves change the behaviour of militant unions.

Publicity Officer: Des Moore (9867 1235)


Employment Grows –But Faster Growth in Drop Outs

The June ABS Labour Force figures show  employment continuing to grow but at a much slower rate than the growth in the working age population (WAP) – over the past 12 months employment rose by only 0.9% while the WAP increased at double that rate (1.8%).

This indicates further large increases in those who have given up actively looking for work. And these partly reflect the adverse effects of the regulatory system.

Labour Force – Increases Since June 2013

000s             Percent

Employment                                           1,042                0.9

Working Age Population                        3,774                1.8

Unemployed                                            51                    7.5

Although the unemployment rate is up only 0.1 percentage point to 6.0% (S Adj), the labour market is much weaker than this suggests. The failure of the growth in employment to keep up with the working age population increase means continuing high drop outs of the labour force. Before the Fair Work legislation employment was growing faster than the WAP.

Unless there is a major improvement in labour demand the Abbott Government will not achieve the budget forecast employment growth of 1.5% in 2014-15. And Abbott’s pre-election jobs target of a one million increase within five years will fall well short.

The revelations at the Royal Commission show that urgent changes must be made to the existing regulatory legislation, and the administration of it,  to remove the bias evident in the existing arrangements and stop  militant unionism. The proposals to reform the ABBC and other minor reforms are welcome but have yet to be implemented and will not themselves change union behaviour.

Publicity Officer: Des Moore (9867 1235)