“Protect, Promote, Provide”

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.

Safe super depends on total disclosure

Friday, January 29, 2016

One of the most arrogant aspects of Australia’s industrial relations system is the treatment of workers as if they are stupid and cannot make decisions for themselves.

The existing superannuation system takes this assumption to high levels. It assumes that workers are so dumb that they must not be allowed to decide where their retirement superannuation money is parked. 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 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...


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...


The ACCC opens its eyes to Australia's dirty IR secret

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has issued a big warning to corporate executives involved in doing deals with unions. They are now under a ‘watch’ notice.

Executives doing normal industrial relations negotiations over enterprise agreements and the like should not have cause to worry. But where the deals move into shady areas that could arguably have the effect of harming competition it’s now time to become ultra-careful! 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...



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