Fair Work Bill buries neo-con labour laws

The end of Work Choices! Congratulations Julia!

Also to Greg Combet and the other true believers who said we would defeat Howard’s industrial relations misadventure.

And to Emily and Terrina who are featured in the video.

24 November 2007 seems so long ago.


74 Responses

  1. Good riddance to bad rubbish!

    Until the next time…and there will be a next time. The Libs will never give up on extreme IR policies.

    Lucky they’ve still got Hendy & Co. on the payroll as advisors to start plotting and scheming the next version of WorkChoices and don’t forget HR Nicholls/$weetie Costello waiting in the wings.

  2. Yes WCs is gone. Thanks to the brave and fearless Senator Fielding. LOL. The truth is that he got such a battering over alcopops he was easy meat. But it’s way, way too late. Now not just ‘easy meat’ but ‘dead meat’. A political carcass swaying in the breeze

    I for one am not across the detail but I suspect that the replacement simply pulls back only on some of the worst excesses.

    kittylitter, on March 21st, 2009 at 1:25 pm Said:

    still got Hendy & Co. on the payroll

    Any more detail on that? I know Hendy became Nelson’s Chief of Staff but disappeared off my radar since those times. Has he been retained by Turnbull and, if so, then in what position?

  3. Any more detail on that? I know Hendy became Nelson’s Chief of Staff but disappeared off my radar since those times. Has he been retained by Turnbull and, if so, then in what position?

    No more detail N5, I just assumed that he went from nelson to turnbull, haven’t read or heard anything in the news about any other position that he’s taken up since turnbull got the job.

    Anyone else know?

  4. On Senator f, I wonder if the government were prepared to lose the alcopops at the expense of sen.f, in order to make him easier to deal with when the real crunch came?

    Oh, and good riddance to bad rubbish.

    although, it won’t be the last we hear of it. I can see Labor getting as much mileage out of ‘the party of workchoices’ as the party of workchoices did from ‘the party of $90billion debt’ over the last 10 years.

  5. I guess this means Virginia Trioli from ABC 2 News Breakfast is going to have to revisit her opinion that Labor didn’t achieve much in this parliamentary session. As in “eat her words”. We all have to sometimes.


  6. That raises the question of the other two former ACCI refugees – Michael Potter and Nicolle Flint.

    Where are they now and what influence are they having in the turnbull/costello faction fighting?

    …But Hendy wasn’t the only refugee from the bosses’ union given shelter by the Liberal leader.

    The ACCI’s former director of economics, Michael Potter, is now Nelson’s chief economist and another ACCI alumni, Nicolle Flint, occupies an adviser’s role.

    Liberal MPs see ACCI as a key driver of WorkChoices. They see WorkChoices as a key cause of their defeat last year. They believe ACCI failed to provide support for the policy in the election campaign.

    What they don’t see after all this is why ACCI personnel, unable to deal with the new government and unemployable elsewhere, should be taken in and given plum jobs by their leader. (Crikey)

  7. I noticed this negative comment regarding the Fair Work Bill:

    Steve Knott from the Australian Mines and Metals Association says the bill still gives unions too much power, which will divert much needed resources during the economic slowdown.

    “The last thing we want to be doing at the moment is chaperoning union officials around jobs sites,” he said.

    “Unfortunately, we’re going to have divert resources to external agendas, and when we do that it comes off the bottom line, so less people will be employed as a result of that activity.
    (ABC on-line)

    and then this:

    Mines Minister Norman Moore says BHP Billiton has vowed to improve its safety record after the fifth fatality in Western Australia in eight months.

    A 45-year-old contractor died at the company’s Newman operation this week.

    Mr Moore held a meeting with BHP management yesterday to express his concern about the company’s operations.

    He says BHP has agreed to develop a management plan and will outline its new safety measures at a meeting next week.
    (ABC on-line)



  8. Now let’s get the history straight;

    Jones asked Turnbull if he had made a tactical mistake in saying the Labor Government had a mandate to get rid of John Howard’s WorkChoices laws.

    “Can I just cut you off there?” protested Turnbull. “Let’s get the history straight here. The person who said WorkChoices was dead was Brendan Nelson after the election.”

    It was Nelson not Turnbull that said WCs was dead. Really?

    Turnbull sounded for all the world like a man passing the buck – a leader offloading responsibility on to his predecessor for a position that had become inconvenient.

    Turnbull is just not a natural politician. he can’t see the political pitfalls that await around every corner. Thus the ALP:

    … are going all out to portray him as a weak leader abandoning his principles and allowing himself to be pushed to the Right because of pressure exerted by Peter Costello.

    I T may be a bum rap, but Labor can certainly point to enough inconsistencies and changes of position to make the story plausible.

    More here.

  9. kittylitter, on March 21st, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    I would be very surprised if Turnbull kept Hendy at al on his personal staff. I suspect he would have his own ‘favourites’ to reward. It is possibly the case that the ideological warriors you identify are buried somewhere as Opposition staffers but that means they would’ve accepted significant pay-cuts.

    I’m sure some reader would know. We can only hope the info is forthcoming

  10. I can see Labor getting as much mileage out of ‘the party of workchoices’ as the party of workchoices did from ‘the party of $90billion debt’ over the last 10 years.
    Tom R, on March 21st, 2009 at 2:12 pm Said:”

    Actually it was $96B with interest payments of $8.5B/year which we now do not have to pay. But we will have to start paying interest again soon. Apparently we are borrowing lots of money from overseas to pay for Kevvies spendathon. I have heard that Labor is going to make it $200B this time rather than $96B.

    As for WC’s the average Aussie does not have the slightest idea what Workchoices was only that it was supposedly bad according to you lot. The young girls in the clip also have no idea what they are talking about.

    You people may be right but WC’s was not in long enough to say whether it was good or bad but you did run a very good political campaign against it.

    The most i can work out was that WC’s was about flexibility. Flexibility for workers and flexibility for management.

  11. Yay! Mention the death knell of WorkChoices and our favourite bridge troll (and president of the J.Howard Fan Club) just has to stick the boot in somehow.

    Honestly though, I would appreciate hearing a logical rebuttal to the rah-rah on the Fair Work bill. there are “some” things in there I actually do strongly disagree with. For example, work records for people not in a union should not be made available to union officials. The may be subpoenaed in the case of suspected OH&S violations or similar, but to be made automatically available to an external third-party feels very wrong to me.

    Tony of Melbourne – care to share an opinion?

  12. Neil of Sydney,

    I apologise Neil

    It looks like they will still be getting mileage from that debt figure for a lot longer than 10 years.

  13. “Also to Greg Combet and the other true believers…”

    A very quaint description of one so ambitious

  14. but to be made automatically available to an external third-party feels very wrong to me.

    Ben, this is one of the many furphies being spread by the Liberals to frighten the natives. It may be worth your while to have a browse of the legislation to see what it actually says. It’s available at http://www.workplace.gov.au/workplace/Publications/Legislation/FairWorkBill.htm

    The relevant section starts at section 481 of the Fair Work Bill 2008. A small extract follows:

    (1) A permit holder may enter premises and exercise a right under section 482 or 483 for the purpose of investigating a suspected contravention of this Act, or a term of a fair work instrument, that relates to, or affects, a member of the permit holder’s organisation: (a) whose industrial interests the organisation is entitled to represent; and (b) who performs work on the premises. Note 1: Particulars of the suspected contravention must be specified in an entry notice or exemption certificate (see subsections 518(2) and 519(2)). Note 2: FWA may issue an affected member certificate if it is satisfied that a member referred to in this subsection is on the premises (see subsection 520(1)).
    (2) The fair work instrument must apply or have applied to the member.
    (3) The permit holder must reasonably suspect that the contravention has occurred, or is occurring. The burden of proving that the suspicion is reasonable lies on the person asserting that fact.
    (5) The permit holder may inspect, and make copies of, the record or document at: (a) the premises; or (b) if another place is agreed upon by the permit holder and the affected employer—that other place.
    Note: Personal information obtained by a permit holder under this section may be regulated under the Privacy Act 1988. See also section 504 (which deals with unauthorised use or disclosure of employee records obtained under this section).

    There are many more sections relating to the behaviour of permit holders and penalties for any inappropriate action. I strongly recommend having a browse if you wish to get your mind around the facts, rather than the spin.

    It’s not as straight forward as a thug union enforcer marching unannounced into an employer’s premises demanding to inspect records of non-union members, as the RWDBs would have you believe.

  15. Are there any employers on this site, because i would really like to gain some other viewpoints. I employ 20 people in my company, and this concerns me greatly.

    My workers conditions and pay are well above the industry we are in, and i go out of my way for my people. Some takr advantage of that – so what protection do i as an employer have. Remember the knife cuts both ways.

    Constructive comments appreciated.

  16. I’m not an employer, concerned small business owner, but this site may be of some help to you:

  17. concerned small business owner, on March 21st, 2009 at 6:04 pm Said:

    Were you in business before workchoices??

    Somehow they managed then.

  18. The problem of being an employer this size especially in the current economic climate, is that we are really in no mans land. We are to small to have a dedicated HR person and now too big to be exempt from these new reforms.

    We’ve had personal issues with our employees where they have gotten themsleves into major financial problems and we as a company gave them loans to help them out and cover bills and pay renst / mortgages. If they skipped on me where would i stand. My predicament is that who is there to stand up and help the employer. I called the unions about this situation and they could not offer any assistance or guidance, they just fobbed me off to a State Government agency which didn’t have a clue. I find these kinds of issues important because it effects my employees which in turn effects my company which then effectcs myself and my family.

    I think alot of the comments above really don’t understand what some small businesses face.

    It would be easier and make more financial sense to make 5 employees redundant, push the other staff to work harder, increase my profit margin, but is that the right thing to do. You can see for yourself that it’s not.

  19. concerned small business owner,

    That is a great gesture of lending your employees money, but, you must remember, that is really stepping away from industrial issues. You are really doing somehting special, and, if you are worried about them ‘skipping’ on you, I would suggest setting up some legal recourse at the outset of these loans.

    Again, that is not industrial related, that is a financial arrangement between you and somebody else.

    Also, if you afraid of laying anybody off for a perfectly legitimate reason, just ensure that you have followed the applicable laws.

    The unions will be able to guide you here, but I would also make sure you have read the relevant award yourself. just in case (union officials after all are not infallible.

    Yes, it adds overheads to you, but that is the price of business in a more even workplace. And, I think you will find further down the track that it will also give a better return, as you will always have the award to help determine exactly what your recourse is.

  20. Workchoices may be dead in name, but it probably achieved one of its principal objectives.

    It moved the debate to a more rational position.

    The fact is that the ALP would never have moved to introduce the current legislation if the starting point had been the previous legislative model.

    Industrial relations and employment legislation is now more reasonably balanced than it would have been otherwise.

  21. You alright there TomM, weren’t you the one just the other day having a go a Gillard cos this legislation is supposed to take us back WORST than before workchoices.

    So which is it??

    You have me very confused (not a hard task, granted, particularly after a few ambers)

  22. Yes Tom it is you.

    What I had a crack about a few days ago was the award “modernisation” process. That was part of the initial “Forward with Fairness” legislation.

    The Award “modernisation” remains an illustration of ministerial incompetence by Gillard.

    There are still plenty of problems with the ALP legislation, but it is better than they originally proposed.

  23. YesTom, it is you.

    What I had a crack about a few days ago was the award “modernisation” process. That was part of the initial “Forward with Fairness” legislation.

    The Award “modernisation” remains an illustration of ministerial incompetence by Gillard.

    There are still plenty of problems with the ALP legislation, but it is better than they originally proposed.

  24. Thanks for the clarity TomM, and welcome back

    When you said ‘the previous legislative model.’ I assumed the workchoices model.

    Silly of me.

  25. Great work, Julia and the cast of thousands of everyday heroes who fought to end 12 years of Howard-induced darkness. Australia is once-again a land where the fair go prevails.

    This means closure for hundreds of thousands of ordinary working people who personally suffered under Howard’s vicious, unnecessary and extreme industrial relations regime.

    And Minchin, Andrews, Costello and the other beady-eyed neo con nuts of the Liberal AWA Party will ignore the people’s loud, clear voice on the need for balance at work at their extreme peril.

    The culmination of the Your Rights At Work campaign reminds all of us of good will that when we work together for the common good, almost anything is possible.

    I’ll be opening another bottle of Margaret River red tonight and toasting our Julia, despite still feeling a little seedy after last night’s raucous celebrations in Elwood.

  26. This means closure for hundreds of thousands of ordinary working people who personally suffered under Howard’s vicious, unnecessary and extreme industrial relations regime.
    gab, on March 21st, 2009 at 10:44 pm Said:”

    Got any evidence for this?? Where I worked workchoices got the workers $1,500/year extra.

    Furthermore WC’s came into existence in 2006.

  27. Labor can certainly point to enough inconsistencies and changes of position [of Turnbull]

    I guess that’s why people are calling him U-Turnbull.

    As others have said, we have only won the battle not the war. As long as there is a Liberal Party (or whatever name they may morph into) the malignant genes of SerfChoices will always burn hotly in their DNA. A vote for the Liberal Party is always a vote for WorstChoices.

  28. Those that call this a victory for the “true believers” (as if there are any in contemporary politics!) ought recall exactly how far Workchoices moved the position of the ALP.

    A few years ago, there is no way the ALP would have approved –

    • a secret ballot in place of a traditional union show of hands, for industrial action,
    • the option of a secret ballot to approve (or not) an agreement,
    • limitation on negotiations over industrial (as distinct from employment related) matters,
    • a continuation of statutory individual employment instruments,

    While this legislation contains enough ambiguity and deficiency to keep plenty of law firms busy for a few years, it is an improvement on the traditional ALP policy.

    And if there was a competent minister, it would be an even more acceptable piece of legislation.

  29. “Got any evidence for this?? Where I worked workchoices got the workers $1,500/year extra.”

    Probably needed it to keep up w/ the rising cost of heaps of interest rate increases in a row under Howard/Costello…and rising cost of healthcare…& secondary education for their kids…& the ridiculous shooting up of petrol prices partially due to John Howard’s mate GW Bush’s war. And once the Busheviks pulled the rug out of our economies who woulda been there to catch the workers as they fell? Not Workchoices, that’s for sure. It was a potential black hole for many…not a safety net.


  30. Tom of Melbourne, on March 22nd, 2009 at 7:58 pm Said:

    And if there was a competent minister,

    Must admit my faith in her ‘judgement’ has been shaken of late, not so much in the IR area (which I know little about) but in the ‘education portfolio’. To be in awe of Joel Klein says so much about her (mis)understanding of schools and how they operate.

    While I blame her Fed advisers, in the final analysis. she has to be held responsible. But let’s make no mistake, this is the direction Rudd wants to go anyway. And in the IR area I suspect Rudd’s influence is massive.

    Further evidence he is not beholden to the unions.

  31. Not Workchoices, that’s for sure. It was a potential black hole for many…not a safety net.nasking, on March 22nd, 2009 at 9:51 pm Said:”

    I have heard this said many times before. You people seem to speak with such authority. You just know that WC’s was bad for the worker. Are you sure you are not making this up?? Just playing politics??? Throw some mud at john howard and hope some will stick.

    I do not have a PhD in IR laws so I cannot say whether it was good or bad but you are so sure that it is bad.

    Who knows?? It may help employment. i would take a 10% pay cut for a permanent job.

    “And once the Busheviks pulled the rug out of our economies ”

    Apparently this sub-prime thing goes back 30 years in the US. Govts encourging people to take out loans they cannot afford. Apparently Jimmy carter and Bill clinton were involved in this. It did come to fruition during Bushs time but who knows who is to blame. once again you just like throwing mud and hope some will stick. If you are telling falsehoods I do not think you care.

    I see Prof Steve Keen has just published an article where it says the current govt large increase in the FHOG may be leading to people taking out home loans they cannot afford leading to a sub-prime crisis in Australia.

  32. You seem to have a bad case of PhD envy Neil.

  33. Neil of Sydney, on March 22nd, 2009 at 3:46 am Said:
    “Got any evidence for this?? ”

    No I do not. I am the evidence.

    😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆
    ( https://blogocrats.wordpress.com/2009/03/18/an-education-diversion-to-financial-doom-gloom/#comment-29085 )

  34. You do not seem to comprehend how the sub-prime loan got it’s name, and why it was called sub-prime.
    Perhaps I can assist with your comprehension.

    A sub-prime loan, as I understand it, was a housing loan afforded to the least privileged in US society, fostered albeit philosophically by the US left.
    Which is to say, a sub-prime loan was mostly a loan of 100% of the purchase price of the property, to those who could least afford to make regular loan repayments. Freddie and Fannie were well aware of the risks involved with such loans.
    However, what is seldom told is that in recent years, the now remorseful (yeah right) Governor of the Federal reserve, Greenspan, sold money to US commercial lenders based on the cash rate of 1%. IMHO, Greenspan new full well the impact of Chinese imports into the US, the de-industrialisation of the US, the problems with the US motor vehicle industry, the cost of 2 futile wars, Bush tax cuts to the rich only, the expanding US budget deficit, unsustainable household credit levels.
    It gets worse from here. Fannie and Freddie bought money at face value plus 1% of. They then sold that money to lowly-paid sucker borrowers at interest rates of between 8% to 15%, which led Freddie and Fannie to a disastrous race to see who could lend the most money. As the number of loan defaults grew, in the end, Freddie and Fannie were trading technically insolvent. Knowing the poo they were in, Freddie and Fannie then recouped some loaned monies, helping their liquidity status, from unsuspecting foreign bond traders by parceling up ‘mortgage bonds’ for sale to whomever wished to purchase ‘junk’ bonds, on the strength of mortgages/funds each held out in the marketplace, many of which were ‘unsecured loans’. Freddie and Fannie knew full well that should any large number of their ‘bond’ holders cash in those bonds, Fannie and Freddie did not have the ready cash to buy back those bonds on maturity or before maturity, with interest, (insolvent, liquidity shortage).
    Traders on Wall Street knew they were selling virtual/actual junk bonds for Freddie, Nationwide, and Fannie. Real estate agents knew they were arranging suspect loans for suspect buyers. Neither complained. Both took the commissions with glee. Both must have known these loans were unsustainable, that default rates would soar, the numbers of housing stock would then outstrip demand sending house prices crashing down.
    Greenspan seemed to be more interested in flooding the market with cheap money, having no regard for the damage he was causing.
    Irrespective of whom was in political US command, the writing was on the wall.
    Dumb Bush is either dumber than I first thought, or more corrupt than first thought. I think both.

  35. The above is for Neil’s benefit (hopefully; although I get the impression Neil is well aware of the above, yet still in denial).

  36. Oftenbark, on March 22nd, 2009 at 11:59 pm

    To quote him, Neil still thinks he’d have been getting a “permanent job” in return for his “10% pay cut “. Denial, perhaps, doesn’t quite go far enough in capturing the essence of the refreshingly naive Neil ‘worldview’, although he’d probably make a lovely and compliant (wage) slave for someone on a temporary basis after a 20% haircut.

  37. N5 – “And in the IR area I suspect Rudd’s influence is massive.”

    I agree. Rudd uses his personal authority to great effect. He personally doesn’t run the union line and doesn’t rely on their support. I suspect that much of the current balance is due to his personal independence.

    Unfortunately, there is only one of him in government, and he cannot be across all the detail, the detail is what the minister screws up.

    Julia Gillard has proven she will seek to cultivate union political support through policy favours. She will continue to do this, as she positions herself as a successor (heaven help us).

  38. Tom M

    Just because Julia Gillard happens to have the same opinions as unions why do you think she will automatically cultivate support through policy favours.

    Tom if you agree with someone on an issue will you simply cultivate political support through favours.

    Maybe, like me, she simply thinks it is the right thing to do, have you ever thought of that.

  39. i would take a 10% pay cut for a permanent job

    A paycut and job security? lol! SerfChoices will give you one and not the other. It delivers paycuts and removes job security by allowing you to be sacked for no reason, with no notice, no warning, and removed entitlement to compensation.

    It’s the worst of both worlds.

  40. In was wondering. If the USA has less a workforce which is less unionised and with labour laws which are more ’employer-friendly’ than Australia. Why the unemployment there has gone up so substantially?

  41. Guido

    The reason GREED. Nothing more nothing less.

  42. Nature 5, you might find this interesting…brought a smile to my face too:

    Teachers for CEO Merit Pay:

    Because sabotaging the global economy shouldn’t earn you a bonus.



  43. Nas,

    Are these same teachers for or against teachers’ merit pay?

    Just asking.

  44. nasking, on March 23rd, 2009 at 10:30 am

    Good link.

    While ineffective at improving student learning, these teacher merit pay ploys are more successful in achieving their real aims: to produce an American myth that unmotivated teachers are to blame for a broken school system in an effort to deflect attention away from systemic inequality

    Pretty well sums it up.

    As for: Tony, on March 23rd, 2009 at 11:10 am Said:

    Are these same teachers for or against teachers’ merit pay?

    Surely you jest. I should imagine that teachers will go along with merit pay for student OUTCOMES when and only other ‘human service’ professionals such as doctors, social workers, university lecturers, psychologists and the like also operate in this OUTCOMES mode. And even then it would be a mistake.

    Nevertheless Obama has touched this tar baby as well:

    With their disciple now in Washington, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, they are attempting to remake our schools in the image of a production line where simple input-values are used to measure the efficiency of any worker

  45. Guido,

    In the US, the minimum wage has been stagnant for years and there is an ‘anti-union, unions = communism’ fear and smear, propaganda line being run by business. Against the law, employers actually harass, intimidate and fire pro union employees.

    This existing extreme, pro-free market IR system may change though. There is new legislation before the US senate, the Employee Free Choice Act which will give choice back to the employee and help to prevent the exploitation of workers by corporations like Walmart.

    Barack Obama was heavily backed by unions in his campaign and he has stated that

    I do not view the labor movement as part of the problem. To me, and to my administration, labor unions are a big part of the solution. We need to level the playing field for workers and the unions that represent their interests – because we cannot have a strong middle class without a strong labor movement.’

    Pro-union organizing bill coming in U.S. House:

    WASHINGTON, March 9 (Reuters) – A bill making it easier for U.S. workers to unionize will be introduced on Tuesday in the House of Representatives, escalating a battle between congressional Democrats and corporate America.
    The bill would let employees form a union if a majority of them in a workplace sign authorization cards.

    …For U.S. businesses, which generally seek to minimize union representation, no bill is as widely opposed. Both sides are pouring money into campaigns for and against the bill.

    Retail analysts have said Wal-Mart Stores Inc, Home Depot Inc (NYSE: HD – news) , Lowe’s Cos Inc, Target Corp and Macy’s Inc face more unionization risk under EFCA.

  46. For Neil and: “Got any evidence for this?? Where I worked workchoices got the workers $1,500/year extra.”

    Likewise ancedotal evidence. According to hubby, those onsite on AWAs were nicknamed ‘the veggies’ (with apologies to veggies) as they were on far inferior pay and conditions than those on negotiated agreements. This is in WA.

  47. I was just reading about the merit pay issue this morning. Obama wants it and he has a fight with the teachers Union coming. This must be where Julia Gillard is getting her advice/policy from.

    Obama Faces Teachers’ Unions on Pay:

    President Barack Obama Tuesday will for the first time confront a powerful constituency in his own party: teachers’ unions…

    …Obama’s plan to embrace merit pay will come in a speech before the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Washington, say administration officials who briefed reporters. Teachers’ unions say merit pay causes teachers to compete against each other, rather than collaborate, and is unfair to those who work in disadvantaged areas where it can be harder to boost student performance.

    But polls show the policy is overwhelmingly supported by the public, and it offers Obama a chance both to burnish his reformer credentials, and point to a split from party orthodoxy.

    In addition to rewarding good teachers, Obama also will seek to push out those who aren’t getting results.

    “He supports improved professional development and mentoring for new and less effective teachers, and will insist on shaping new processes to remove ineffective teachers,” said a background statement issued by the White House.

  48. kittylitter, on March 23rd, 2009 at 12:13 pm Said:

    must be where Julia Gillard is getting her advice/policy from.

    No! She would be getting her advice from the Department. A department that employs no teachers, manages no schools or educates any children. But they are well-versed in the prevailing ‘common sense’ and thus unable to comprehend that there are motivations above and beyond the pursuit of the dollar.

    This article outlines some concerns as to Obama’s choice.

    I would have loved to have seen Linda Darling-Hammond become Secretary of Education in an Obama administration. She’s smart, honest, compassionate and courageous, and perhaps most striking, she actually knows schools and classrooms, curriculum and teaching, kids and child development.

    These have never counted for much as qualifications for the post, of course, and yet they offer a neat contrast with the four failed urban school superintendents–Michelle Rhee, Joel Klein, Paul Vallas, and Arne Duncan — who were for weeks rumored to be her chief competition.

    Arne Duncan got the nod. But Joel Klein got the trip to Australia, no doubt on the advice of the Department who were able to capture an unknowing Minister very early in her administration.

    Joel Klein is another ideological warrior who sees schools as factories.

  49. I’m unfamiliar with the issues around performance pay for teachers.

    I know that learning outcomes are assessed for children, so presumably it is possible to measure improvements and declines in the outcomes for a population of school children.

    But whether this translates into money, I’ll leave that to the experts for the time being.

    I do think that the parent community ought to be more involved in the management of the school, including involvement of appointment of the principal.

    I don’t think there is sufficient opportunity in areas other than fund raising.

    With regard to AWAs, one of the opponents might explain how a non union member is able to enforce a common law letter of appointment in circumstances where the employer breaches it.

    AWAs are more easily enforceable, and it is neglectful of the government non to have a reasonably accessible mechanism for the 86% of private sector employees that aren’t in unions.

  50. That is a very good article N5.

    Joel Klein is another ideological warrior who sees schools as factories.

    Yes, when I heard him on radio, I felt very worried about education in Australia.

  51. Tom of Melbourne, on March 23rd, 2009 at 12:44 pm Said:

    I’m unfamiliar with the issues around performance pay for teachers.

    Tom here is a primer that does a good enough job in setting out the pros and cons.


    I do think that the parent community ought to be more involved in the management of the school, including involvement of appointment of the principal.

    I think the issue hangs on the meaning given to ‘involvement’. A bit like Hospital Boards. There will always be a tension between ‘professional’ and ‘lay’ opinion.

  52. Tom of M

    “AWAs are more easily enforceable”.

    Thats simply because the employer wanted the employee to sign them in the first place. If they did not benefit the employer they would not have been offered in their hundreds of thousands by employers like the Banks and Telstra.

    As I have told you before during employment with my previous employer I was telephoned by my boss every day and sometimes twice a day asking why I had not signed and sent back my AWA for over 3 weeks until I finally gave up and signed it for some peace.

    What I and the rest of us did not know was that our bosses were being paid bonuses to sign up everyone onto AWAs. If you cannot see how corrupt the issue of AWAs became then I don’t know what would make you see past ideology and look at how they were implemented by big business.

    The thing is you cannot prove anything and as for giving bonuses it was considered an appropriate form of remuneration for an outcome beneficial to the company. Have you ever tried to take an employer like the Banks to court, it drags on for years and is delayed for years until you and your funds are exhausted. Big Business simply creates unlimited resources to ensure the dispute never reaches a conclusion which could inspire others to do the same.

    Very hard to prove coersion or pressure when the calls are scripted in such a way to avoid possible court action yet convey the hidden reason for the call.

    Despite your hatred of unions you may care to know that most of them will help any employee whether they are union memebers of not if they have a problem. I saw it many times.

  53. Thanks N5. Interesting article.

    Al at risk of offending Nasking again, I’ll provide a comment about teachers and remuneration.

    The problem with teaching isn’t that they need additional incentives to teach well, it probably has more to do with the basic structure of the remuneration. It isn’t high enough. Remuneration need to be higher to allow teaching to offer the income that can be achieved in by professional engineers and builders labourers.

    The lack of quality outcomes probably has more to do with the system than the efforts of the teachers. Like most bureaucracy, that dealing with education is likely to be characterised by ill defined accountability and multi layered shared accountability.

    That’s one of the reasons that I think a school board ought to have a significant involvement in the management of schools and appointments made. It is the leadership of an organisation that sets the culture and provides the motivation.

    Variable remuneration comes in as a much lower motivating factor for most people. But incentives and remuneration are easy to identify, and proposals for variable incentive based remuneration structures are always much easier to develop than a leadership/willing/contributing culture.

    Shane, when an employee signs a letter of appointment, how much negotiation do you think there is? AWAs were enforced by a government inspectorate, letters of appointment aren’t. They rely on the willingness of an aggrieved party to initiate proceedings. That’s actually where all the costs come in.

  54. Despite some believing that respect is earned, I believe that until the demand be made that respect be given back to teachers and we support disciplinary measures against unruly students rather than parents abuse and threaten teachers the situation will develop into an Amercian education system where sudents simply do what they like without any ramifications.

    Speaking from my own experience detention was not a deterrent at all, but the possibility of the cane certainly was. I understand this will cause outcry by some but it is my own experience.

    By the way this respect must also be extended to others in public service such as ambos and nurses and the police. yes there are corrupt staff or ones that should not receive respect buyt they are by far the minority.

    I think if you poll teachers they are leaving because of the violence and unruly behaviour and allegations of improper touching that destroy their careers and life rather than the lack of remuneration.

  55. Just noticed this, an opinion that ought be clarified –

    nasking, on March 21st, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    You seem to drawing a link between a comment by an employer association and a tragic fatality. What are you implying?

    Is there evidence of a link between safety performance and union membership? Please share it with us.

  56. Legion: A quick reply regarding Niel’s take on wage reductions.

    Workchoices had no other underlying cynical target than to transfer industrial power to the employer, where the employer could adjust wages and conditions to the detriment of the worker. Payback to the HR Nicholls society by the sleazy Rodent for HR’s, and other liberal toffs’ undying Liberal support.

    The ABC World Today featured a segment where a gentleman (did not catch the name, unfortunately) is proposing wage cuts to the lowest paid workers in Australia as a measure to maintain small enterprise viability, as a measure also to maintain current employment levels. Can’t comment on that just yet as the GFC may be headed to a more dire stage. Times are difficult.
    However, for one to claim Workchoices assisted the worker in attaining better work conditions and wages is purely dishonest. Workchoices was introduced by the slimey Rodent at a time when the Rodent himself stated ‘Australian workers have never had it so good’.
    Hence, one may be lead to believe Workchoices was a philosophical push aimed at shifting the power base.
    Perhaps Neil can enumerate the number of times the Liberal party, whether in government or opposition, supported just ONE ACTU claim, without amendment, for better wages and conditions presented to the Australian Industrial Arbitration Commission. I eagerly await the result.
    As an employer in past years, I can tell Neil, categorically, lowering (workers) wages in my industry would have compromised the quality standard of product, would have created an air of animosity between worker and management, good craftsmen would walk, to better offers; morale and production totals would have suffered badly, hence affecting sales and profits.

  57. Tom of Melbourne, on March 23rd, 2009 at 2:13 pm Said:
    The problem with teaching isn’t that they need additional incentives to teach well, it probably has more to do with the basic structure of the remuneration. It isn’t high enough. Remuneration need to be higher to allow teaching to offer the income that can be achieved in by professional engineers and builders labourers.~~

    Agreed, most definitely agreed. Adequate $s so that teaching is seen as a best choice rather than as an also-ran.

    However, further down the track, having attracted our best and finest to the teaching profession: a crook teacher will still be a crook teacher even if a highly paid crook teacher. The problem is with IDENTIFYING what is a good teacher. Is it the level or literacy and numeracy of their class..No of course not, far too simple.

    Is it a popularity vote via parents as has been suggested. Noooo…please no. Ya’mean that the footy head teacher who sits on his backside and spends most of his time chatting up the female teacher in the adjoining classroom might get the popularity vote??

    In conclusion: I don’t think that there can be ‘teacher assessment’ but that it must be a school assessment because all teachers work as a team.

    Just for those who missed it, I firstly trained as a primary school teacher and later an educational psychologist. Not that it means much as everyone’s opinion is equally valid in my opinion…above just as a matter of reference.

    Having said the above..anyone wanting assistance with kids learning to read, just ask reb or joni for my email. Am happy to help. It’s easy..mostly.

  58. Min – I’d prefer to give parents credit for a little more sense than providing teachers with a popularity contest based on football coaching, chatting up colleagues or similar. I don’t think that relates to any point I made.

    Performance and motivation are related to both team and the individual, if either factor is discounted or ignored a lower outcome can only result. It is best to ensure that management/development systems account for both of these factors.

    Organisations more complicated than schools run development and performance systems (that account for a team and for the individual) quite well.

    I think parents ought not select individual teachers, but there is a good reason to allow a school council to have an oversight of selection of principal and deputy, and a direct oversight of the performance and development systems they administer.

    As I suggested earlier, the culture than motivates any organisation is established by the leadership.

    Parents ought to have a greater role in guiding the schools that educate their children.

  59. There are basically 4 ways to try to improve the quality of teaching:
    1. A vast army of inspectors
    2. Endless Student Testing
    3. Ongoing professional development/inservice training
    4. De-Merit pay

    You may guess which one I think is the only cost effective, any effective way to spend scarce education dollars.

    There are no silver bullets to replace gold stars.

  60. Tom. I suspect that it’s one of those situations where you just have to be there. In my experience, it’s almost impossible to assess a teachers ‘performance and motivation’ from ‘outside’. For example, one might have a quietly achieving teacher given the most difficult class in the entire school. This teacher for a number of reasons might not be popular with either the school principal nor with the school community.

    And yet nor will this teacher’s achievements be ascertainable via academic results of his/her class.

    And yet we still need to have a way to assess results. But the only way is extremely complex and will not happen. This is to assess each child’s abilities (tested at least twice just in case the child was out of sorts with a head cold or teething) – compare each half year for the next 2 years (after all, some children are late bloomers, have had events happening in their lives such as parents separating, having to have their tonsils out).

    Sounds too hard? That’s because it is.

  61. Tom of Melbourne, on March 23rd, 2009 at 5:17 pm Said:

    there is a good reason to allow a school council to have an oversight of selection of principal and deputy,

    Tom it depends on what you mean by ‘oversight’. If you mean the ‘final say’ and if you refer to a public SYSTEM of education, then I would beg to differ.

    A study I read some time ago (and I have no link) showed that in New Zealand, the ex All Black type was the “Boards'” preferred choice for Principal at the expense of seemingly better qualified candidates. Women in particular were the most discriminated against.

    There are a number of practical problems with giving Boards unlimited powers in public systems. Firstly, Boards tend to be unrepresentative of both the immediate and wider communities. Certainly they are most unrepresentative of minority groups who lack both the time and skills to ‘get involved’. If you want the Board to have that power, then why stop there? Why not put the selection of a Principal up for a community-wide popular vote? That’s the way they select Sheriffs in the good old USA do they not?

    Secondly, there are legislated ‘system imperatives’ which many Boards fail to understand or implement. Thus the Principal can be caught between a rock and a hard place. Simply, who is the boss? perhaps the one who pays his wages? or the one who appointed him to the position?

    One could go on, but when it comes to the Hospital Board, for example, should it be empowered to select the Head of the hospital? On what basis do they make their selections? And on what basis do they actually make those selections?

    Not saying I have the answers, just trying to identify some of the public policy problems.


  62. N5, I don’t have an off the shelf solution to teaching, and I’ll happily admit that teaching is a long way from the things I understand.

    But a school is probably not significantly different from other social or business organisations. One of the things that differentiate successful organisations from those that aren’t, is alignment of stakeholders, and alignment towards a defined objective.

    Each level of an organisation should add unique value, otherwise accountability is confused. Accountability in education doesn’t look well defined.

    Parents are obvious stakeholders in the school community; they do not have a defined role.

    Education appears to be a bureaucracy; I can’t see any common effort towards an objective.

    I haven’t yet developed a strong opinion, but there are many models of organisations where the leader has to take input from various groups of stakeholders. It isn’t that complex. Advisory boards often recommend decisions and appointments without having the organisational governance authority is a reasonable model that occurs to me.

    I sometimes thank the complexity around education is a result of it being quite introspective. I don’t see that education learns much from valuable experience of organisations outside education.

    I think this is an odd contribution –
    “There are basically 4 ways to try to improve the quality of teaching:

    1. A vast army of inspectors

    2. Endless Student Testing

    3. Ongoing professional development/inservice training

    4. De-Merit pay”

    I’m not sure why student testing has to be “endless” and I’m not sure why the development necessarily has to be professional. Motivation, dealing with stress, conflict and anxiety are also relevant. These factors are regarded as personal development rather than professional. Feedback and dialogue within any organisation also assists to improve performance, and is not necessarily part of “professional” development.

  63. Tom of Melbourne, on March 23rd, 2009 at 8:55 pm Said:

    Tom let me quote (partial I know)

    But a school is probably not significantly different from other social or business organisations.

    Probably not significantly different? Well let’s see.

    Tom if one sees a school as a business organisation then one can also see the ‘church’ or even a ‘family’ also as a business? As I understand it, the main driver of a business is the ‘profit motive’. It is the ‘common sense’ of business- the dominant, or even the only, driving ideology. Let me assure you that other motive forces are alive and well in the broader community.

    The business ideology has problems if applied universally. I think.

    Let’s apply the ‘profit motive’ to a family. LOL. When the wife ‘wants it’, the husband could charge a properly calculated fee. Time. effort. skill. mood, opportunity cost, personal and electronic technology employed, etc could all be used to generat an appropriate quote. And because ‘profit’ is the motive and turnover is the game the husband in question should advertise his services widely. (Ring a bell Tom?)

    In this way, a market could be created and the ‘wife who wants it’ would also realise that she is just part of a business model that suits all situations. Perhaps an extra fee if pregnancy rather than pleasure is the goal?

    Tom! Business is Business and Education is Education. The driving ideologies of educators, by and large, is not profit in much the same way that families don’t operate on business models (as the main driver).

    If one wants to look for the mixture of ideologies that drive teachers, one should give some weight to the ‘missionary’ ideology (nothing to do with position). You know, it’s worthwhile doing for its own sake. That children ‘deserve’. That it’s the ‘right and good’ thing to do.

    Now what’s profit got to do with that? Indeed what’s busines and the way it operates got to do with the driving ideological force?

  64. N5 – Not wishing to be particularly difficult, but that’s why I said “SOCIAL” or business organisations. I suppose I could have added community, but I thought this would be self evident in the context I provided. These organisational principles don’t simply apply to organisations that measure their success by volume of dollars.

    I was actually referring to some principles that unite objectives and create success, whether the success is measured by profit or some other achievement. Voluntary organisations, clubs, government departments, even schools exist because they have objectives.

    Alignment of objectives throughout an organisation, assignment of clear accountability and a defined voice for relevant of stakeholders aren’t just good things for businesses to do, I can’t think of a single organisation that wouldn’t benefit through more attention to these factors.

    But perhaps education is so introspective that a unique set of principles apply.

    Organisational success may have nothing to do with profitability, and compartmentalisation of opinion (such as your example above) is obviously another factor that is holding back thinking about education.

    And the outline I’ve provided is probably that required if you wish to progress –
    “it’s worthwhile doing for its own sake. That children ‘deserve’. That it’s the ‘right and good’ thing to do.”

  65. Everyone dreams of having the perfect teacher…remind you of anything?:

    Thirty Seconds of Stepford

    I love to be the perfect corporate teacher.


  66. Guido, during the eight years of the Bush Cheney regime, average American wages increased by .01 per cent per annum, according to the US Government itself.

    So after eight long dark years of massive increases in corporate profits, dodgy and/or criminal financial engineering and rampant tax avoidance, the average wage increased by less than 1 percent.

    It’s a pity the great majority of ordinary Americans don’t have union coverage. Here’s more proof of the crucial role that unions play in civilised societies in protecting ordinary people against predatory corporations and the endless greed and mean-spirits of right wing extremists, Business Unions and many (not all) Bosses.

    While the rich got much richer between 2000 and 2008, the average life span and average height of ordinary Americans declined markedly in the den of inequity run by Bush and Cheney, according to the latest US Government data.

    No wonder the average American is on the verge of rioting now. No wonder they want to fraudulent CEOs prosecuted and jailed.

    The only model Bush Cheney and their unaccountable right wing nut jobs provided us with is how not to run a democratic and civilised society. Yet this was the same model that Dear Leader Howard based his disgraceful and unmandated industrial relations regime upon.

    Fortunately the Australian people are canny and obviously have much better BS detectors than Americans do.

    Thank goodness we can choose to join/or not join a union and have access to free legal advice and independent dispute resolution mechanisms if things go awry in the workplace.

    Thank goodness, as gab notes, the fair go has returned to our work places.
    And finally, my sincere thanks to all who worked so hard to turn the lights back on in Australia. We’ve all helped ensure an Australian future for our children when they too reach the workforce.

  67. Oops, the lead stat in my above post should read: during the eight years of the Bush Cheney regime, average wages increased by just 0.1 per annum, according to the US Government itself.

  68. The Big Business unions were right behind Howard’s unfair workplace regime. The Liberals, urged on by ACCI and others, autocratically tried to eliminate individual choice and balance from our workplaces. Without an electoral mandate. As a result, the majority of the Australian people were offended and voted accordingly.

    As Mike Steketee wrote presciently in The Australian in June 2007, big business would end up wishing they’d never heard of WorkChoices. But most big business advocates at the time were inflexible and arrogant in the way they tried to force people to accept an unfair process. They failed for all the obvious reasons and now it is big business that needs to reflect upon the error of their ways. Not whinge about the consequences of their own actions.

    One of the important things Howard forgot in his moment of political madness, is that lucky people like us who live in a democracy have the right to freedom of association. It’s actually enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. If ordinary people choose to join unions it’s because they perceive benefits like professional collective negotiations and free legal advice on workplace issues to be in their interests.

    If ordinary people feel membership of a trade union don’t offer them anything, they are free not to join a union. Ordinary people have choice and they decide what’s best for them.

    Good bosses with a long-term focus on building their businesses have nothing to fear from the new system. All employers, even the duds and thugs, have access to independent dispute resolution mechanisms should they need them.

    The sky is not about to fall in. The system we have returned to – after a failed neo con experiment was last week consigned to the dustbin of history – is similar to the Hawke-Keating model that delivered unprecedented employee productivity gains over almost 20 years and boosted businesses profit shares to record levels.

  69. And that incompetent Gillard proves yet again just how much of a toadie she is to the union movement (sarcasm)

  70. Tom R, I haven’t suggested that Gillard is an incompetent politician, just that she’s an incompetent minister.

    These are 2 quite different things.

    I’d always agree that Julia Gillard is a very clever and expedient politician, as well as an incompetent minister.

  71. Well, she got her bill through, so cannot be all that incompetent a minister.

    Although I was using the term incompetent in the generic sense, thanks for that invaluable clarification

  72. Tom of Melbourne

    Please call me Kevin.

    In the teaching game professional development is jargon that embraces personal development related to work. Such as handling stress, motivating students, colleagues and yourself. It is a very broad term that covers many forms of appraisal as well.

    “Endless” testing happens when the tests become the ends in themselves and not the means to better learning. Teaching to the tests is becoming a Western waste of time that will be made worse if teachers are paid by the test results.

  73. yes Kevin, I struggle to see how a performance bonus would assist teachers to become better teachers. I suspect it would simply lead to unhealthy discussion about student allocation and selection.

    Bonses are useful in some professions if they drive desired behaviour, but I agree, the behaviours desired of teachers are difficult to quantify and measure. Bonuses also need to be of such a size that they are worth striving for, and I can’t really see the public sector education system implementing individual bonuses of this magnitude.

    So, I agree, bonuses need not be part of teachers remuneration

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