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From the Desk of the Executive Director

Ken Phillips is co-founder and Executive Director of Independent Contractors of Australia. He is a published authority on independent contractor issues and directs research on related commercial and trade practices issues. Through his numerous articles in newspapers and think-tank and academic journals, Ken is known for approaching issues from outside normal perspectives and is frequently sought out for media comment.

Small business looks to Turnbull for confidence on contracts

Sunday, September 20, 2015

The new Turnbull government faces an immediate test of its small business credentials with the Small Business and Unfair Contract Terms Bill 2015 before parliament and needing a decision.

Big business interests oppose the bill. On Monday morning, the day of the spill against Tony ­Abbott, the bill was amended in the Senate, enlarging its reach to more small business contracts than the government’s plan. More...


The Senate's sensible small business stance

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

This is a tale that dispels the myth about a dysfunctional Senate. If anything, my recent experience with the current crop of senators indicates a grouping of real professionals performing diligently in a pressure-cooker environment.

Monday, of course, was an extraordinary day with the successful party room spill against Tony Abbott. What’s not well known is what preceded the spill on Monday morning in the Senate.  More...


The ACCC opens its eyes to Australia's dirty IR secret

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has issued a big warning to corporate executives involved in doing deals with unions. They are now under a ‘watch’ notice.

Executives doing normal industrial relations negotiations over enterprise agreements and the like should not have cause to worry. But where the deals move into shady areas that could arguably have the effect of harming competition it’s now time to become ultra-careful! More...


Hits and misses in the Productivity Commission's IR review

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Australian unions will be delighted with the Productivity Commission review of the workplace relations framework released yesterday. Finally unions might be able to run another ‘it’s the horror of WorkChoices’ scare campaign. They’ve been longing for this since Abbott won government.

Unions have taken a beating in the Royal Commission into union corruption. The exposure of payola from corporations lining union financial coffers has been most embarrassing. It shows unions to be frequently more chummy with corporates than with employees. What a relief for unions that the Productivity Commission has recommended a cut in weekend penalty rates; it provides a handy shift of public focus. More...


A corporate challenge for Tony Abbott

Saturday, August 01, 2015

In his new book, When We Were Young & Foolish, The Australian’s foreign affairs journalist Greg Sheridan exposes the “weird silence in Australian politics” over the corporate money that funds internal union elections. Sheridan talks in historical terms. Bill Shorten’s evidence to the Royal Commission into union corruption exposes the same ‘weird silence’. Corporations still give generously to unions. This still funds union campaigns.

But the weird silence is now broken. Rather, truth screams loud to the non-political-junkie class of ordinary Australians. There is no ‘workers versus bosses’ war; that idea is a scam and a sham. Instead, corporations and unions are in intimate commercial partnerships. What’s changed from Sheridan’s historical explanation to Shorten’s current admission is what motivates the union-corporate partnerships. More...


Royal Commission: Shorten actions look corrupt

Friday, July 10, 2015

What’s becoming apparent from the royal commission into union corruption is something that’s bigger than just identifying corrupt individuals.

A picture is emerging that the way major business is routinely done in Australia is systemically ‘‘corrupt’’. Yes, that money changes hands for questionable favours. More...


Labor’s culture spells trouble for the Victorian economy

Monday, June 15, 2015

I’ve previously argued that the circumstances have developed for a politically induced recession in Victoria. It’s a big claim and only time will tell if my analysis has substance but it’s a claim that has historical precedent.

The central reasoning for the claim comes from an understanding of the Victorian Labor Party and union movement. These bodies don’t view commercial contracts as things having an integrity removed from politics. Instead, they see contracts as being entirely subject to political interests and whims. In fact, they view business deals as instruments to further political objectives. More...


Small business budget redefines the Coalition

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

This is a highly political budget, as are all budgets. But this time it’s political in a different way.

The Labor Party brand themselves with their century-long moral mantra of the ‘working man’. Liberals historically have allowed their branding to be defined by the negative ‘bosses party’ image. This budget breaks that mould. For the Coalition it’s a brand re-positioning budget.

It’s definitely not a big bosses’ budget. The government claims it’s “the biggest small business initiative in our nation’s history”. It’s a claim probably justified on the detail of the package. More...


Victoria is building the conditions for a recession

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Recessions can be politically induced. In Victoria, there are flashing red signals to suggest that scenario may be developing.

Let’s begin with last week’s Victorian budget.

The previous Coalition government spent four years keeping public sector wages under control. They had a ‘war’ with just about every public sector employee group and suffered electoral backlash as a result. More...


Small business policy is greater than the sum of its parts

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

It’s a bit of a magician’s act to make something big out of something small. But that’s the task the Abbott Government has put before it in staking so much of its economic credentials on the small business sector.

However, when you realise that over 60 per cent of the workforce work in SMEs, the government is not playing a magician’s game but responding to a hard-core economic reality. As the mining boom winds back, small business has to be a primary target for jobs growth. It’s already been announced that next week’s budget will strongly feature small business incentives. More...



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