Employment Opportunity

Executive Director

About the HR Nicholls Society

Australia, a century ago, was the richest country in the world in per capita terms. In the 21st century, however, we face the prospect of continuing economic decline and a further reduction in our standards of living. A major factor in our economic decline and increasingly gloomy economic future, are our outmoded, straight-jacketing, economically debilitating industrial relations institutions.

The HR Nicholls Society was incorporated in 1986 with the purpose of increasing public knowledge and debate about these issues. The Society’s ambition is to bring about urgently needed reform, in our industrial relations attitudes and institutions, through the processes of debate and argument. Our aims are:

  • To promote discussion about the operation of industrial relations in Australia, including the system of determining wages and other conditions of employment; and
  • To support the reform of Australian industrial relations with the aim of promoting the rule of law in respect of employers and employee organisations alike, the right of individuals to freely contract for the supply and engagement of their labour by mutual agreement, and the necessity for labour relations to be conducted in such a way as to promote economic development in Australia.

Overview of the Position

The Executive Director is responsible for implementing and developing plans, leading projects, and working with collaborators to achieve the Society’s mission of advancing the deregulation of the Australian labour market as a policy goal with widespread public support

The Executive Director manages day-to-day operations; maintaining the Society’s social media presence and website, raising funds, garnering support for the Society’s position on the labour market, coordinating contractors and volunteers, managing finances, networking with collaborators, and representing the Society’s interests in public forums. Read more

Has anybody here seen Labor’s Bobby?

When it comes to tackling union corruption, Bill Shorten should take a leaf out of the Kennedy playbook.

Seven weeks after the release of the final report of the Royal Commission Into Trade Union Governance and Corruption, there is no evidence that the Labor Party is about to see the light. That report gave the lie to the claim that corruption within Australia’s union movement is limited to ‘a few bad apples’. Indeed, if there is not already an apposite collective noun for ‘bad apples’, then ‘union’ might be a worthy contender…


(First published in The Spectator Australia, 20 Febraury 2016)

Royal commission report: Build support for real reform of whole union system

HR Nicholls Society President Adam Bisits writing in the Australian Financial Review:

It is not enough to sense that industrial relations in Australia should change. You need the facts to warrant change. We now have from last week’s report by the Trade Union (Heydon) Royal Commission (TURC) the facts warranting change in one segment of IR, namely the financial and administrative organisation of unions. Recommendations include that oversight be moved from the Fair Work Commission to a more independent and better resourced body, for freedom of choice of superannuation fund, for the building industry regulator to be continued and augmented with compulsory investigatory powers and – incredibly for this traditional right of union officials – that they be trained in “right of entry”.

The need for facts before you act in IR was demonstrated by the Gyles royal commission of 1990 and the Cole royal commission of 2001 into building industry thuggery, both of which led to more serious enforcement of industrial relations in construction, including in 2005 by the Australian Building and Construction Commission.

The folly of not ascertaining the facts is demonstrated by both the Work Choices and Fair Work regimes, neither of which was preceded by any analysis of existing defects or of costs and benefits of regimes proposed, which would have brought public opinion on side. In fact in January 2005 a letter organised by the HR Nicholls Society urged then prime minister John Howard to hold a wide-ranging inquiry into the labour market and the reforms required. The government’s response was that it knew what it was doing!

Former prime minister Tony Abbott correctly acted on the need for facts as to trade union governance and corruption and this has resulted in the TURC report, which his successor has said will be studied and implemented.

However the report on the rest of the IR system, Workplace Relations Framework Final Report, by the Productivity Commission (PC), (released on December 21) has received only limited government support.

Will the report bring public opinion on side? It seems doubtful. At 1173 pages, eight times the length of TURC’s, the PC’s report is impossibly long, certainly for workers and employers. Read more

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.