A ban on NDAs would rob women of choice

In recent negotiations on behalf of a woman who was sexually harassed at work, I found myself in an unusual position. My client sought an NDA (non-disclosure agreement). They generally prohibit all parties to the agreement from talking about the claim to anyone. She continues to wrestle with the trauma that her experience caused and…

Why change at the top will make women feel safer

One day last week, the front page of this newspaper published a gruelling catalogue of allegations of sexual harassment and misogyny made by Commander Donna Wheatley, the second-highest ranked woman in Victoria’s firefighting agency, Fire Rescue Victoria. Wheatley has dedicated almost 20 years of her life to the agency before she succumbed to her mistreatment…

Freedom of speech: Voltaire would applaud Trump Twitter ban

Contrary to suggestions otherwise, Voltaire would have applauded the decision by Twitter and Facebook to suspend the access of Donald Trump to their platforms. Much like John Stuart Mill, the British philosopher and guru of classical liberalism, Voltaire supported criminal laws against libel, slander, incitement to violence and treason. Mill is credited with developing “the…

A spending-led economic recovery will soon rely on robust wage growth

In his genial and occasionally subversive manner, finance journalist Alan Kohler recently shared a graph on social media that compared two periods of sharemarket gains. The graph showed that in the 30 years to 1988, 92 per cent of gains were derived from economic growth. But in the decades since then, the majority of sharemarket…

As much as everything changes, everything stays the same

Another major election and another round of carnage for professional pollsters. Journalist Mona Chalabi spoke for many of us when she wrote: “I do not know how many times polls have to be wrong or how wrong they have to be for us to finally walk away from the dangerous seduction of predicting political outcomes”.…

Private becomes public for politicians in a changed world

Prior to the Four Corners expose, ‘Inside the Canberra Bubble’, going to air, ABC chair Ita Buttrose made a difficult judgment call. The Morrison government had applied “extreme and unrelenting” pressure on the national broadcaster to pull the program. In recent years, the ABC has repeatedly caved in to governmental pressure. On this occasion it…

Enlightened paternity leave scheme one pathway to gender equality

The findings of sexual harassment against former judge Dyson Heydon by an independent investigation commissioned by the High Court have provoked a wave of new inquiries and proposals for reform. One of the first out of the blocks was Attorney-General Christian Porter ordering a further investigation into allegations that Heydon engaged in further sexual harassment…

Underpaid Workers and Wage Theft

The recent mea culpa by Woolworths of a decade-long underpayment of thousands of its employees came as an embarrassment to the workplace regulator, the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO). The record-breaking underpayment of $300 million to some 5700 employees appears to have unfolded right in front of the regulator’s eyes. Then this week a class action…

Small workplaces and corporate profit are driving wage stagnation

As Australia endures its seventh consecutive year of wage stagnation, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has pledged that the next election will be “a referendum about wages” and will focus attention on “who the economy should work for”. Since Reserve Bank Governor Phillip Lowe belatedly declared a “low wage crisis” in June 2017, the federal government’s…

In this age of surveillance capitalism, the law is left for dust

Can the immense power of the world’s largest oligopolies to plunder our privacy and shape our lives be reined in? In recent days, German antitrust authorities struck a modest blow in consumers’ favour. The ruling of the Federal Cartel Office will prohibit Facebook from aggregating personal information it collects from consumers with that collected by…

The Wages Crisis in Australia

I have a chapter about the changing nature of work in Australia called “Fractured Work” in the book “The Wages Crisis in Australia” published by The University of Adelaide Press. Download the Free PDF