“It's about the passion”

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.

The Coalition must heed Heydon’s powerful message

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

The Coalition parties have a history of failing whenever they attempt workplace reform. Yesterday I explained that the Turnbull government is positioning itself for a fall by promoting the Heydon report as being anti-union.

The report isn’t anti-union; it’s anti-corruption. But by focusing on the report as if it is anti-union, the Coalition presumably believes this will give it political advantage. Wrong! More...


The government’s misstep on the Heydon corruption report is a gift for Labor

Monday, January 04, 2016

The Turnbull government’s response to the Heydon Royal Commission Report into union corruption sets the scene for policy and political failure. It has responded just as the union movement and Labor hoped they would.

Further, Labor and the unions have already started their process of a slow and steady ‘kill’ of the Coalition on the issue. They have a surprisingly high chance of success. For the government, my perspective is probably a counterintuitive unsettling of their obvious glee over the Heydon report. More...


Union corruption shows why we need transparency in super

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Around 20 years ago, when I was writing for another news outlet, I received out of the blue a large cardboard box in the post. It contained the true financial records, including source documents, of a high-profile union. My suspicion was that it had come from a senior union official who’d just been kicked out of the union. When I checked the real records with the union’s officially declared financial returns, nothing matched. The official returns were a fabrication.  

On Monday the Victorian boss of the construction the CFMEU, John Setka, and his deputy, Shaun Reardon, were arrested and charged with blackmail. The blackmail charges relate to the CFMEU putting pressure on concrete company Boral to stop supplying the CFMEUs hated construction firm Grocon. More...


Making sense of the CFMEU-MUA merger

Monday, October 19, 2015

There’s considerable reason to speculate over why Australia’s two most militant and powerful unions are merging. The construction union, the CFMEU with 90,000 members and the maritime union, the MUA with 15,000 members, are to become ‘one’.

The explanation for the merger given by the National Secretary of the MUA Paddy Crumlin on ABC News is that unions are facing great threats. The whole ‘business’ (of unionism), he says, has become a legal minefield. Better financial and legal resources can be achieved through economies of scale. 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...


Victoria is heading down NSW's path of corruption

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The current attacks against the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption for overreaching its authority are a comparative diversion from a larger systemic problem.

New South Wales has a long history of ingrained corruption. It’s a bigger issue than just corrupt individuals.

Rather, individual corrupt behaviour is the end result of a political, governance and business system that masks, almost legalises and certainly facilitates corruption.

The problem goes back a long way. More...


Victoria is no longer the place to be for business

Monday, April 20, 2015

The events of last week in Victoria where the government is spending $600 million to $1bn to not build a vital road link isn't just a colossal trashing of taxpayers’ money, but something much more.

It should be seen by anyone who wants to invest, develop or do business large or small in Victoria as a signal of the state’s unprecedented environment of risk. This is because the usual rule-book of commercial activity has been dumped and replaced with new rules in which business is exclusively reliant on political favour. It is a risk environment of third-world proportions. More...


Victoria's building union crackdown reaches the next level

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

In a significant development the Victorian government this week imposed the first sanction against a construction firm for breach of the Victorian Construction Code.

McConnell Dowell Contractors is no minnow in the construction game. It reports around $3.5 billion in construction works on its books at any one time, operating in Australia, New Zealand and Asia. It is a major builder of infrastructure, currently building, for example, large-scale water supply tunneling in Brisbane and the Gold Coast Light Rail. More...


Victoria must brace for an election wrecking ball

Friday, September 05, 2014

In many respects, Victorian voters will have to choose between a Coalition government and a CFMEU-controlled Labor government at the looming state election.

The CFMEU has dominated the headlines in recent weeks, with evidence from the Royal Commission into union corruption unearthing serious allegations that it has engaged in potentially criminal behaviour. Its links with prominent crime figures have also come under scrutiny.  More...



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