Superannuation’s Role In Advancing the Union Agenda

The following is a presentation given by Paul Fletcher MP, Member for Bradfield, at the 2013 HR Nicholls Society Annual Conference:

Superannuation’s Role in Advancing the Power and
Economic Influence of the Union Movement”

Speech to HR Nicholls Society


It is a great pleasure to be here today to speak to this important conference of the HR Nicholls Society.

I want to speak today about the role of superannuation in advancing the power and economic influence of the union movement.

In the early nineties, when ACTU secretary Bill Kelty was agitating for the Hawke Keating government to legislate 6 per cent superannuation, and to double it again by the end of the decade, many were asking what he was doing about declining union membership.[1]

Since that time the share of the workforce who are union members has continued to fall: it now stands at a mere 18 per cent, and only 13 per cent amongst private sector employees.[2]

Yet through the sharp growth in the size and economic importance of two kinds of union-linked superannuation funds – industry funds and public sector funds – the union movement has gained a new source of power and influence.

Thanks to decisions of the Hawke Keating Government – reinforced by more recent policies of the Rudd Gillard Rudd Government – the structure and governance of today’s superannuation system suits the interests of the union movement, and union officials, very nicely indeed.  Read more

A House Built On Sand

This is a paper presented by HR Nicholls Society Board Member Kyle Kutasi at the 2013 Annual Conference on Recent developments in American Labour Law and what they mean for Australia:

Recent developments in American Labour Law and what they mean for Australia

Thank you once again to the H.R. Nicholls Society for allowing me to present this paper at what is the Society’s 33rd Conference. Who would have thought we’d have made it this far?!

In a large number of areas of law, Australians have a tendency to compare our laws and regulations to those in other parts of the world. Strangely though, few, if any, Australians – including the lawyers and politicians – have any awareness of comparative labour laws.

This paper therefore began life as a basic study in how the United States regulates the employer-employee relationships within its borders. The US is as good a place to start as any other, as its culture and institutions are very similar to ours, and we often follow trends that originated there. What I found in my research is that there are many good reasons for our ignorance of comparative labour law: in many respects, Australia is an ‘island’ with its unique system that makes comparison difficult; but in other ways, there is much that can be learned from our American cousins, few of which bode well for Australia’s industrial future. Read more

The Changing Industrial Relations Landscape in Australia

The following is a presentation given to the 2013 HR Nicholls Society Annual Conference:

I’d like to take you on a brief journey as we sit as passengers on the bus the Government have put us in.  As we drive through the changing IR Landscape in Australia, peering out through the window with no control over which roads we take, which direction we head or how fast or slow we hit those bumps along the way.  This is how things have looked for businesses and practitioners over the last few years!

There have been many changes to the Australian Industrial Relations system since Kevin Rudd was elected as Prime Minister in 2007.

Firstly the Workplace Relations Act was replaced with the Fair Work Act (‘FWA’).

It took some time for a number of the changes to be tested and for their true impact to be realised.  Unfortunately for the Australian Economy, the impact on business, on jobs, and on productivity, have indeed been realised. Read more