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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.

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...


Why the government should overhaul Labor's illegal logging laws

Monday, February 09, 2015

Last year, I had a real go at the Federal Government over the impending red tape nightmare that was about to unfold with the new illegal logging laws.

In an environment where the government was, and is, doing a lot to seriously reduce red tape for both large and small businesses, the illegal logging laws were a stand-out, and quite threatening, backward step. More...


Abbott's policy muddle is taking its toll

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

It’s possible that Tony Abbott has finally twigged to just how close he is to being a one-term Prime Minister.

The ousting of the one-term Coalition government in Victoria demonstrates big change. Political commentator Laurie Oakes declared that the political mould is broken. The electorate, he said, is no longer automatically prepared to give a one-term government a second go. More...


Why can’t Colbeck see the wood for the trees?

Thursday, October 02, 2014

There’s an impending ‘disaster’ for around 15,000 small businesses in Australia as a result of the Abbott government's persisting with a Labor/Green ‘environmental’ agenda.

It’s to do with new ‘illegal’ logging laws that come into effect in November this year.

In an effort to save the world’s forests, the Labor/Green alliance, under the Gillard/Rudd governments, passed the Illegal Logging Prohibition Act 2012. It’s one of those regulatory approaches that we saw consistently under Labor and reflects an oppressive, ponderous and impossible-to-comply-with bureaucratic approach to social, environmental or other agendas. It’s a law that lacks the capacity to work in practice. More...


Axe the illegal logging laws

Monday, September 01, 2014

Environmental lobbyists are in panic because there’s the potential in NSW for land-clearing laws to be freed up. They say “extremists” want to give farmers greater rights to clear their farmland for farming.

But look at the “extremism” under federal laws, starting in November, to stop the import of illegally logged timber. The laws are green tape on steroids that put at risk 15,000 small-business people involved in timber product imports. Compliance is impossible, yet people face jail if they don’t comply. More...



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