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I have included in this message a letter from the President of the HR Nicholls Society, of which I am a board member, seeking donations to help promote reform of the Fair Work Australia arrangements and their administration. Those arrangements are allowing well-funded militant unions to pay little regard to possible penalties and, because of the Government’s close affiliation with the union movement, these unions proceed on the assumption that little or no action is likely to be taken to stop them. I hope some of you will make a contribution to HR Nicholls Society

Des Moore

Illegal Union Activity
(letter published in The Australian, 11 September 2012.)

You suggest that the authorities “seemingly lacked the authority” to take action to deal with the militant unionism used by the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union to attack Grollo even though the union’s actions were illegal (“Fair Work system under strain”, 8-9/9).

But if this is because the Fair Work legislation itself contains insufficient powers, surely the Victorian Government must take action. This was less an industrial dispute than an attack on protect property rights which the state should support.

Indeed, as the actions by the union were declared illegal by the Supreme Court, the attackers should have been arrested and charged. The failure to do so will only lead to more militant action by the union, as indicated by CFMEU”s secretary Bill Oliver’s statement that the union was prepared to resume a blockade if agreed talks break down next week.

Also relevant is that a union representative is reported as indicating unconcern about possible large fines. This is not surprising given that the union reportedly holds assets of $40 million and that it is able to obtain additional funding from building companies by threatening costly disruptions unless money is forthcoming

Des Moore, South Yarra Vic

Message from HR Nicholls Society President, Sept 2012
(message to the HR Nicholls Society, 11 September 2012.)

Dear Colleagues and supporters,

Last year I wrote to you seeking your financial support for our Workplace Freedom Fund.

Since that time, thanks to receiving such support, the HR Nicholls Society has been forcefully advocating reform of Australia's workplace arrangements - and with some success.

Through the advocacy of the Society the government agreed to conduct an inquiry into the Fair Work Act by individuals not directly involved in its administration.

As part of our campaign we we wrote to the then Workplace Relations Minister Senator Evans, urging that the review be conducted by three commissioners and that submissions should be allowed by the public rather than the government conducting a secretive desktop review . We also ran a media campaign using media releases to create public momentum.

Eventually this was the format accepted by the government although our request for public hearings was rejected.

Of course the Society took the opportunity to make submissions . We drew on expertise within our membership to examine through a number of submissions the likely economic impact of the FWA; ways it could be improved; and, some technical aspects of it such as long service leave, permitted matters and the ability of unions to take protected industrial action.

We also made a submission to the Victorian government over its draft guidelines for its Code of Practice for the Building and Construction Industry The guidelines were amended and included three changes recommended by the Society.

Our annual conference adopted a new format being held on a weekday with a shorter timeframe. The conference garnered considerable media coverage and guest speaker, Ms Kathy Jackson of the Health Services Union , was eloquent in calling for registered organisations to be covered by corporations law. A view long held by the Society.

We have also been active in the media with opinion pieces being published in the Australian Financial Review. In the lead up to the conference the AFR published this article comparing the Society's conference with the Prime Minister's business conference being held on the same day.

We have also had opinion pieces published on the ACTU's triennial conference accusing the unions of living in a 1970s time warp while more recently commenting on the Grocon/CFMEU dispute . Our director of communications and strategy, Ian Hanke, has also appeared on Network Ten's Meet the Press programme to discuss the Qantas dispute.

Board member Peter Reith has also had regular television appearances and has used these opportunities to press for reform.

Overall we have had a moderately successful year in prosecuting a reform agenda; we have won significant media coverage, helped persuade the government to have a more open review of the Fair Work Act, helped improve the Victorian government's Building Industry Code; conducted a very successful annual conference while generating renewed debate about Australia's regulatory arrangements.

However we need to take the fight to a new level. This will include regular E Bulletins, increased public and private advocacy, media campaigns, conferences and publications.

We cannot do this without your support. That is why I am writing to you to again seek your financial support for the WFF.

I hope you will give this request serious consideration. It is in Australia's interest that we have a workplace relations system to meet the requirements of the 21st century, not the early 20th century.

Please send any donations either by cheque made out to HR Nicholls Society to our Secretary/Treasurer, Mr Michael Moore at 64 Greig St, Albert Park, 3206 or by an online transfer to Westpac BSB 033 000 A/C 697304. If you use the online transfer please advise Mr Moore

Yours sincerely,

Adam Bisits,

President HR Nicholls Society.

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