Keynote Dinner Speaker: Bernie Finn MP

The HR Nicholls Society is pleased to announce that Bernie Finn MP, MLC for the Western Metropolitan Region will be the keynote dinner speaker at the 2015 Annual Conference on the topic of: Advance Australia. What happened?

About Bernie

Bernie Finn was born and raised in Victoria, and has a history of civic engagement in Melbourne’s West. Bernie was first elected to represent the Western Metropolitan Region in the Legislative Council in November 2006.

Actively engaged in Melbourne’s West, Bernie chairs the Keep Essendon Airport Committee. During his first session of Parliament, Bernie has spoken on Western Metro’s behalf in favour of greater support for community values, democratic reform, accountable government, and an economic policy that makes sense for hard working Victorians and their families.

Bernie served for seven years as the first Member of Parliament for Tullamarine (1992-1999). He is also an alumni of Salesian College. Bernie worked as a radio producer, announcer and operator for fifteen years. He also started and operated his own business before working in federal politics as a media advisor.

Bernie’s community service continued in the west through his volunteer activities with Neighbourhood Watch, the Napier Street Kids Project, as the government’s representative on the Melbourne International Airport Development Committee and Victoria University, and through the Australia Day Council (Victoria), the Australian National Flag Association and Australians for a Constitutional Monarchy.

Bernie is a proud supporter of the Mighty Tigers — Richmond Football Club — and enjoys Australian comedy and US politics. He and his wife Cathy have four children.

HRN AGM Notice


Thursday 28 November 2015 – commencing at 5.30pm  

 “ Morgans at 401” Collins Street, Melbourne – mezzanine floor



  1. Welcome to members
  2. Apologies
  3. President’s Report
  4. Treasurer’s Report 
  5. Election of Office Bearers
  6. General Business


Note this meeting will be held after the annual conference in the afternoon of 28 November and before the annual dinner.

ABS Data Confirms Union Movement’s Irrelevancy

This weeks’ data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) serves as further confirmation of Australian trade unionism’s relentless slide into irrelevancy

Figures released on Tuesday showed that the number of Australians who are members of trade unions within their main occupation fell again, to a record low of 15% in August 2015.

In the private sector – where jobs and economic growth are actually created – the slide was even more drastic. Private sector union membership in Australia today stands at just 11%.

Australian workers are voting with their feet…and with their wallets.

Plainly, Australian unions no longer represent a value proposition for workers.

How else can union leaders explain the fact that on their watch, overall union membership in Australia has dropped from 40% to 15% in less than 25 years?

The only place where trade union membership remains a hot property is in the ranks of the Parliamentary Labor Party, where unions such as the militant, corrupt and criminal-infested CFMEU continue to dictate the party’s policy.

It is enormously unhealthy for one of Australia’s major political parties to be held hostage by an unrepresentative cabal seeking to impose policy solutions that don’t work, and dreaming to return to an industrial world that long ago ceased to exist.

HR Nicholls Society member Kelly O’Dwyer appointed Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Small Business

I am pleased to advise that our member Kelly O’Dwyer MP (for Higgins, Vic) has been appointed to the ministry of Prime Minister Turnbull.

I have congratulated her on behalf of the board.  Kelly is the second member of the society – after Senator Bob Day – to recently make a name in parliament.

Kelly’s portfolios of  Treasury and Small Business provide a practical setting for the IR changes the society has advocated.

The society welcomes also the appointment of Michaelia Cash as Minister for Employment and looks forward to being in touch with her.

Adam Bisits


  1. Annual conference.The HR Nicholls Society annual conference “The Fair Work Act – an Australian idiosyncracy” will be held on Saturday 27 November in Melbourne. Details soon.
  2. IR changes  the  HR Nicholls Society has sought are these
  1. Terms of employment to only relate to genuine employment issues.
  1. Employment agreements to be binding.
  2. Unfair dismissal jurisdiction to be reined in –   beginning with the recommendations of the draft Productivity Commission report on the Workplace Relations Framework, August 2015.
  1. Allow employees the opportunity to choose their union freely.
  1. Restore the Australian Building and Construction Commission.
  2. On transfer of business, allow new employers to apply their own industrial terms to incoming employees.

Mr Shorten, Please Explain…..

The Sydney Morning Herald has four questions for Opposition Leader Bill Shorten:

QUESTION: Were Winslow workers in 2005 (when the company paid for their dues) aware that they were AWU members?
QUESTION: What did Winslow get in return for paying the AWU?
QUESTION: Was it common practice for the AWU to have companies pay for the membership dues of workers when Mr Shorten was state secretary?
QUESTION: Is it appropriate for companies to pay the union dues of members?

and The Australian ten more:

1/ Can you guarantee that under your leadership of the AWU, the union did not take a cheque from an employer for union dues without signed application forms from workers, as you told the Cole Royal Commission in 2002, and that the workers knew they were being signed up and were happy for the employer to pay their dues?

2/ Can you guarantee that no worker was worse off as a result of your leadership of the AWU given:
(a) Former Cleanevent HR manager Michael Robinson has given sworn evidence the 2006 enterprise bargaining agreement was “extremely favourable to Cleanevent” (allowing its workers to be paid $18 an hour in some circumstances compared with $45 for competitors);
(b) Cesar Melhem has agreed this was a poor deal for workers; and
(c) the AWU’s admission to the Fair Work Commission yesterday that it was in workers’ interests for the 2006 EBA to be terminated?

3/ You signed off on the 2004 Cleanevent EBA which formed the basis of the 2006 EBA and in turn the controversial 2010 EBA. At the time of the 2004 EBA or at any time of your AWU tenure did Cleanevent make payments to the AWU for any purpose , including that of paying union fees for employees?

4/ Do you agree with current AWU secretary Ben Davis that deals where employers pay for union memberships weaken the union’s industrial position?

5/ Do you regret signing Cesar Melhem’s pre-selection form?

6/ Under your leadership were you aware of any instances of different
names or entries on invoices being given to payments by companies for AWU
memberships , for example cases where membership fees were labelled
“training” fees?

7/ Under your leadership were you aware of any instances of the practice whereby the AWU signed up members without their knowledge?

8/ Did the netballers who became AWU members as a result of the alliance with the
Australian Netball Players Association know they were being signed up and did
they pay individually or did the ANPA pay their dues?

9/ When the AWU first negotiated an arrangement with the Australian Jockeys Association when you were secretary, did any money change hands and, if so, what for?

10/ Did jockeys including Peter Mertens, Greg Childs, Steven King, Kerrin McEvoy agree to becoming AWU members or know they had been signed up?

MUA hit with record court order for bullying employer

The Australian reports:

The Maritime Union of Australia has been stung with a $560,000 court order after its officials bullied an employer to maintain a “closed shop” that barred non-unionised workers from employment.


Federal Court judge John Gilmour also ordered the employer, Skilled Offshore (Australia), to pay $241,000 to a Perth couple, Bruce and Lynne Love, over its role in blocking them from working in 2009.


Although the couple were willing to join the union, their membership applications were blocked by the MUA’s West Australian secretary, Chris Cain, the court found.

Employment Minister Eric Abetz said the “record payout” was a lesson to employers who “either willingly or through intimidation engage in this type of illegal behaviour in cahoots with a union”.

Justice Gilmour found the MUA’s “blatant use of illegitimate industrial action power” was designed to “bully” the company into rejecting the Loves.

Click HERE to read the rest