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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.

A welcome disruption to the economy

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

The Unfair Contracts Act for small business people was proclaimed on November 12 this year and will go through a 12-month implementation period. The Australian Consumer and Competition Commission has immediately began reviewing commercial contracts for compliance.

The Act is a significant microeconomic reform, holding promise as a driver of innovation and jobs.

Economies are experiencing on going innovation upheaval. As a taste, banks are likely to halve their costs (and staff numbers) through technological innovation over the next decade. Automated cars  will start eliminating taxi driver jobs in the near future. Kenya has revolutionised financial transactions through phone-to-phone transfer, eliminating banks. More...


How Turnbull can realise his innovation dreams

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Dear Prime Minister,

It’s fantastic that that you’re excited about ‘being alive’ and that you’re encouraging Australian’s to get out and ‘do things’. Yep, it’s people power that makes our society and economy vibrant and strong. If anything, you’re asking us to be entrepreneurs!

But I want to put my piece of caution to you as you drive us down the innovation road. More...


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...


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...


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...


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...


Abbott's 'small' reform step is a big deal

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Abbott Government is moving forward with a microeconomic reform that will prove a comparatively simple and costless measure. Small Business Minister Bruce Billson has just released the draft (exposure) Bill to extend unfair contract protections currently available to consumers to small businesspeople.

In initiating this, the government is locking in a central plank of its small business election promise and reform package. The measure has wider and more positive implications for how the economy operates than most people might think. More...


Small retailers will suffer the ultimate penalty

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The political uproar that is the debate over penalty rates could almost be a hysterical comedy written for Australians by the ghost of Shakespeare.

Think of it. Some months ago as Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s popularity polling was crashing, he dared utter the thought bubble that penalty rates should be reformed. There was uproar from his surrogate political opponents, the union movement, headed by the ACTU. More...



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