“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.

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...


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...


Royal Commission: Shorten actions look corrupt

Friday, July 10, 2015

What’s becoming apparent from the royal commission into union corruption is something that’s bigger than just identifying corrupt individuals.

A picture is emerging that the way major business is routinely done in Australia is systemically ‘‘corrupt’’. Yes, that money changes hands for questionable favours. More...


Labor’s culture spells trouble for the Victorian economy

Monday, June 15, 2015

I’ve previously argued that the circumstances have developed for a politically induced recession in Victoria. It’s a big claim and only time will tell if my analysis has substance but it’s a claim that has historical precedent.

The central reasoning for the claim comes from an understanding of the Victorian Labor Party and union movement. These bodies don’t view commercial contracts as things having an integrity removed from politics. Instead, they see contracts as being entirely subject to political interests and whims. In fact, they view business deals as instruments to further political objectives. 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...



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