“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.

At last a fair deal for hard-working subbies

Saturday, December 10, 2016

In the commercial construction sector the people who always get it in the neck are the small subcontractors — the subbies — the people who actually do the real work on the ground.

This newspaper, The West Australian, has run a long and deserved campaign demanding action. But where’s the State Government response?

Well, finally, we have seen some action. More...


Gig economy and unfair contract laws suit self-employed

Friday, November 18, 2016

Two current events occurring some 17,000km apart reveal regulatory tension over the “gig” economy. One event tears at the new economy while the other is working with this economic change.

Last weekend, Australia’s unfair contract laws covering small business people began. Late last month, a precedent-setting judgment in London declared two of Uber’s 40,000 British drivers to be employees and thus entitled to minimum wages.

The Australian event is accommodating the gig economy within a regulatory framework. The London event assaults the structural heart of the gig economy. More...


Why is Wesfarmers so opposed to the ‘effects test’?

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Wesfarmers’ chief executive Richard Goyder was a high profile player in the recent unsuccessful lobbying against changes to competition law which will see the introduction of an ‘effects test’. The Business Council of Australia, of which Goyder is a board member, likewise opposed the changes.

But big business opposition was not universal. The Australian Industry Group and the Shopping Centre Council of Australia for example did not oppose the changes. Although the AiGroup have expressed concerns on the detail, as have others. More...


Big firms aren’t budging on business behaviour

Thursday, March 10, 2016

This week Robert Gottliebsen praised the CEO of the Commonwealth Bank for quickly apologising over revelations of how some customers had been treated badly by the CBAs insurance arm (CBA’s mea culpa a sign of the times, March 7).

Robert’s point is that the apology is an indication of the cultural shift starting to occur in large Australian firms. Once the CBA, on legal advice, would have denied liability and sought to stare down the accusers. More...


How Turnbull can push through corruption reforms

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

On current form, the Turnbull Government won’t have the numbers in the Senate to pass the reforms recommended by the Heydon Royal Commission into union corruption. This predicted failure is of the government’s own making.

The cause is as I’ve explained in articles over the last two days (here and here). The government is presenting the Heydon report as a union condemnation report. It is not. It is a report exposing corruption in Australian unions and businesses and recommends reforms to fix this. More...


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...


The ACCC needs to try harder on collective bargaining

Thursday, December 17, 2015

It’s illegal to smoke marijuana but it’s okay to use a bong! That seems to be the type of message the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission is sending in its latest decision to allow the Transport Workers Union to collectively bargain with the giant Japanese-owned transport company Toll.

Collective bargaining under industrial relations laws gives unions the legal authority to bargain collectively for employees, frankly whether employees agree to that or not. It’s the union that owns and controls the process, not the employees.  More...


Turnbull's corruption fix

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Some months ago I happened by chance to find myself sitting at a dinner function next to a senior company executive of a large firm named in the Royal Commission into Union Corruption. Evidence at the Commission revealed that his company had made secret payments to a union in return for certain ‘favours’. He was one of the executives involved in decisions to make the payments.

The discussion between he and I was somewhat explosive to the extent he stood up and left just as entrée was being served. (I think it was rather fine slices of ham with melon.) 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...



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