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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.

Some revolutionary thoughts for the New Year

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 a year of revolution
The Foreign Affairs Editor for The Australian, Greg Sheridan, has described 2016 as a year of revolution.  From Brexit to Trump, the rise and (current) fall of ISIL, global terrorism, the game play of Putin, military muscle-exercising by China and the election of the drug-pusher killer President of the Philippines all indicate revolutionary shifts from the status quo. Sheridan says that 2016 will be seen by historians as a “fundamental year of change of direction on par with other great pivot points of global history”. 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...


The weird world of global politics

Saturday, January 10, 2015

The era of weird, unpredictable politics seems to be well upon us. This is happening even though people claim they want stability and rationality to prevail.

Take just one situation. At the federal level, Clive Palmer’s party has split after less than six months in the Senate. The investigation of Palmer’s alleged fraud against China’s largest company continues to go badly for him. The Palmer Party’s electoral support has crashed. Given this experience, you’d think that voters would rush to support either of the two major parties if stability is wanted. More...


International Policy Discussion

Sunday, April 06, 2014

This video explores the freelance landscape across the world with Ken Phillips representing contractors in Australia, Professor Patricia Leighton outlining her research into the rise of independent working across Europe and Simon McVicker discussing freelancing in the UK More...


There’s no stopping China

Sunday, December 01, 2013

ICA board member John Findley has been doing business in China continuously for some 30 years. He’s been saying for ages that China’s growth is not going to stop. Here’s my analysis from a recent conference in Macau.

All those Western market analysts who are worried about, and reacting negatively to, the ‘slow down’ in China perhaps need a good lesson in reading Chinese economic tea leaves. I received such a lesson in Macau last week when attending the International Small Business Pan Asia Congress.  More...


China's slower growth may be temporary

Monday, July 08, 2013

Macroeconomic data from China has economic analysts worried that China has shifted into a lower economic growth phase. This has contributed to a decline in ore and other commodity prices around the globe. In turn, this has resulted in a view (a new consensus!) that Australia’s strong economic position based on the minerals sector is under threat. More...


Riding the tidal wave of self-employment

Thursday, April 04, 2013

There’s a cultural and economic shift that’s been underway for a while, but is now feeding into local and global political positioning. The impact on business strategy is not far away.

The considerable presence of self-employment in developed economies (around 20 per cent of workforces) is finally feeding into government policy. In this year's State of the Union address, US President Obama emphasised the importance of small business in a jobs-led recovery. More...


3D printing revolution = surge in self-employment

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Technology is – again – about to transform the way people work, resulting in another big surge in self-employment.

This next technological revolution is 3D printing. It’s here, it’s now, but it’s just in its tiny beginning. Simple 3D printers are already within a price range for most people – at under $1500. Certainly they’re a novelty at the moment, producing paper toys and the like, but could explode in affordable sophistication. More...


The 9th SMEs in a Global Economy Conference 2012

Saturday, November 17, 2012

"Rising to the Global Challenge: Entrepreneurship and SME development in Asia"

Some reflections on a regional small business conference held in the capital of Laos, Vientiane. November 2012.

Last week I attended a regional small business conference in the capital of Laos, Vientiane. Friendly people. Great value for money! Lao culture very much alive! If you visit, I’d recommend riding a bicycle around town. It’s dead flat with lots of interesting side streets, restaurants, temples and so on. The traffic appears slightly chaotic but in fact moves at a surprisingly gentle, courteous pace.  More...


The super self-employed taking over the world

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The great communist-era Premier of China Zhou Enlai was once asked what he thought were the implications of the French Revolution. He famously replied that it was too early to tell.

In this same tradition the French President, socialist François Hollande, has tried his own revolutionary tactic but it has backfired big time. In seeking to repair France's teetering public finances, Hollande decided to whack France's entrepreneurs with big new taxes. Two weeks ago Hollande announced that anyone who sold their small business would have to pay 60 per cent of the sale price to the government. More...



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