Mission Abandoned: Preface

Australian Democracy and the H R Nicholls Society

Australia is one of the world's oldest democracies. It is a country in which tolerance, freedom and respect for the rule of law is deeply embedded. However, it is also a country which has been very wasteful of its gifts. For very many years, its prosperity and living standards have been declining relative to other countries. During the 1980s, this decline became absolute. Real wages declined and welfare dependence increased markedly. Many Australians became poorer during the 1980s.

During the 1980s, violent abuse of union power marred the civil peace. Union violence at Dollar Sweets (a Melbourne confectionery company) was an example of lawlessness which deeply offended Australian values. Civil disorder can quickly plunge a nation into poverty, and the Australian community felt deeply concerned about this trend towards greater union power and legal privilege and the abuses which followed.

Increasing impoverishment (especially when caused by the abuse of monopoly power) will quickly lead to intolerance, social bitterness and hatred, and to growing indifference to the rule of law.

The founders of the H R Nicholls Society, being well aware of these things, and understanding that our unique system of industrial arbitration and conciliation (first established federally in the 1904 Conciliation and Arbitration Act) has been a primary cause of these problems, set out to influence public opinion. They believed this was the only way to bring about the great changes which are essential if Australia is to return to the road of increasing prosperity and of civil peace based on freedom and the universal application of the rule of law..

The aims of the Society, formally set out in the Memorandum of Association, are

  • To promote discussion about the operation of industrial relations in Australia, including the system of determining wages and other conditions of employment.

  • 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 contract freely 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.

The Society now publishes Mission Abandoned in order to focus public attention on the fact that there is a solution to unemployment. The issue is, how seriously do Australians want to bring unemployment to an end? The Board believes Australians are indeed serious about this issue and commends the proposals in this document to them.

Ray Evans Barrie Purvis Bob Day
President Vice President Secretary

Ken Phillips Peter Boyle Ian Farrow
Treasurer Board Member Board Member

Ross Parish David Sisson Michael Warby
Board Member Board Member Board Member