The grand compact we had to have

Paul Howes’s idea of a grand compact has merit, but it should focus on things that really require action and not IR changes. The decision by Toyota to close its Australian operations will undoubtedly catalyse the odd industrial relations Ayatollah to declare another jihad on the Fair Work Act. The groundwork had already been laid…

Bullying the final frontier of Workplace Rights

While workplace bullying is a serious public policy problem, our existing legal and policy settings have been a resounding failure. The Tea Party politics that engulfed the federal Parliament last week succeeded in achieving one of its objectives: drowning out the Federal Government’s public policy initiatives in education and the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Although…

Neutral Milk Hotel Live Review

Twenty years ago, together with about 150 others, I attended a concert in a small pub in Collingwood. The headline act stumbled onto the stage completely shrouded in darkness. We could barely see him. He mumbled incomprehensively. The mumbling evolved into a dirge. The dirge became a song and four minutes later, as it finished,…

Mental Health And Productivity: A Love Story

My career as an employment lawyer has been dedicated to assisting employees (or ex-employees) with workplace issues including sexual harassment, workplace bullying, unlawful discrimination or wrongful dismissal. I have represented a range of different employees including the CEOs of listed entities, media and sporting professionals,  financial services executives and blue collar employees in a range…

The solution to Australia’s woes: persuade people that there is no crisis

In the 2013 federal election campaign, both major political parties jockeyed to show who was better placed to inflict harm on persecuted people seeking asylum from Afghanistan, Iran and Syria. How has it come to this, and what can be done? Australia has a long tradition of treating asylum seekers badly. Barry Jones has recently…

No moral limits to what Rudd will do to win

What, if any, are the moral limits of political affiliation? As a lifelong ALP voter, I have reached mine. Recent political events have provoked a moral crisis in me. The elevation of Kevin Rudd was met with jubilation by many. At the same time, it posed sickening questions of morality for many lifelong ALP members…

What’s (also) wrong with the Left: Josh Bornstein on Helen Razer

Helen Razer’s recent angry excoriation of the Left  — for, among other things, its “conspicuous stupidity” and “cheesy individualism” — reminded me of the anger and frustration I experienced some years earlier sitting in an auditorium, listening to a speech given by one of the parliamentary Left’s best and brightest, Lindsay Tanner. When Tanner entered Parliament in 1993, he…

When you understand hate, you understand Rudd’s fall

The resurrection of Kevin Rudd was treated as inevitable, but anyone who had considered the esteem with which he was held by his colleagues would have known better. Robert Mitchum relished the role of an evil preacher in the 1955 expressionist thriller The Night of the Hunter, a film that still resonates in Nick Cave’s…

Time to Outlaw Toxic Bullies

Before seeing my client, I am handed a folder of documents by a colleague who shakes his head at its contents. The folder contains a detailed description of a group of employees who appear to have ritually enjoyed degrading one of their co-workers. It makes disturbing reading. When I walk into the room to meet…

A Most Unequal Contest

Employees cannot negotiate with employers as equals. That’s a Howard myth. The Howard Government’s industrial relations reforms are an attempt to resuscitate a myth that was discredited more than a century ago: the myth of freedom of contract. The new laws will shift employees away from collective agreements and awards and onto individual employment contracts.…