Productivity, productivity, productivity

Stop celebrating over the Carbon Tax and get back to the main game. The mantra in real estate is location, location, location. In economic policy, try “productivity”.

This is a warning shot from Robert Gottleibsen. Of course Grace Collier has been on this theme for a long time. Hence the Hutt Prize that she shared with Hendo.

And somewhere along the line — either in cabinet, the ACCC or the Productivity Commission — someone will look at the disaster graph (see below) in Treasury’s budget papers. Without productivity growth our income per head goes down the gurgler, with widespread implications for community prosperity and share prices. Among the people whom we will blame for that fall will be those who saw the anti-productivity agreements and had the power to act but did nothing.

Lets hear it from Grace Collier.

THIS is a true story about despicable corporate cowardice and appalling executive conduct.

Shareholder money is being used to hire union officials to harass companies to extort money for anti-competitive purposes. This story perfectly showcases how collusion between business and unions hampers competition and pushes up the cost of living for Australians.

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20 Responses to Productivity, productivity, productivity

  1. wreckage

    Unions are businesses.

  2. Has the head of the ACCC resigned in disgrace yet?
    Has the board of Toll sacked it’s CEO?
    Tony sacked Scott and nailed the auction sign up at Ultimo?
    The boss at GE scurried home with tail between legs…

    Thought not…

  3. Ubique

    Australian Trade Unions run protection rackets with the connivance and support of the industrial relations club, the justice system and governments. We’re all victims of it. Enough is enough.

  4. 2dogs

    The LNP convention last weekend passed this excellent step in the right direction:

    That this Convention of the LNP urge the Commonwealth Government to amend the Fair Work Act 2009 (the Act) to remove the provisions relating to the Transfer of Business rules (Part 6-3A of the Act) and to amend (Part 2 – 8 of the Act).

    So new owners won’t inherit the previous owner’s stupidity or spinelessness in dealing with the unions.

  5. Peewhit

    Unions are not businesses, they are cartels. The union officials may use their positions to advantage themselves, but it is still a labour cartel.

  6. Squirrel

    The shameful details recounted in the Gottliebsen article suggest that the mantra should be “competition, competition, competition”. We pat ourselves on the back about having an open, competitive economy – blah, blah, blah – but it sounds as if we might as well be back in the days of the tariff wall and quarterly wage indexation (at least then, things were a bit simpler). Seriously though, a bloody good shake up of competition policy, laws and administration is clearly in order.

  7. mareeS

    The piece by Grace Collier in the Weekend Oz shocked even me, and I thought I had seen just about everything as a participant on both sides of union/corporate skulduggery. Outright criminality is pretty much a given fact in certain union dealings, and that’s what you go along with to get along, but the collusion she described involving Toll and unions as a way to whack competitors is outrageous. I’m a Toll shareholder, in fact I grew up with the Toll boys back in the day when it was a family company, and I’ve had my say this week. Criminal charges should be laid, and would be if Australia had the anti-racketeering RICO laws of the USA.

  8. Blogstrop

    Yes, but …
    Without the leverage that IR laws give them, the unions would not have been in any position to influence companies, blackmail companies, extort companies. Under the Howard government they were on the way out.

  9. Poor Old Rafe

    Can the coalition find the will to tackle serious IR reform to undo the vandalism of the previous administration?
    Will the Royal Commission provide the circuit breaker to explain to the general public the extent of the poison pills in the IR system, especially the ones planted by Rudd and Gillard?

  10. john constantine


    in victoria, you can shoot a man in the face, kill him, then go back on a building site, ‘negotiating’ with normal people, business as usual.

  11. struth

    As I said as soon as this carbon repeal bill was passed, we are more broken than some seem to think and although taking this useless air tax away is a great thing and will help somewhat, it is not all that needs to be done by far.
    Our main productivity problems lie with bureaucrats. Those taxpayer funded arseholes in worksafe and various hundreds of other departments doing the job FOR the unions with taxpayers money. No union fees required.
    Unions then use “safety” with the big companies, and the smaller companies they can’t get at, they get their buddies in the public service to bring down.
    Until IR laws are looked at, (something that could already have been done by now) we are stuffed.
    The whole corrupt thing needs a bomb up it’s backside.
    Looking just at unions, who’s membership is quite small in Australia these days, is needed, I grant you that, but the greater problem, by far these days, our taxes pay for.

  12. Dr Faustus

    Can the coalition find the will to tackle serious IR reform to undo the vandalism of the previous administration?

    Be surprising. They have already fallen at this fence; Abbott has promised the union movement that WorkChoices is dead, cremated, buried, the grave ritually pissed on – and never to be seen again.

  13. Chris M

    Thanks for the article Rafe however personally I’m kinda backing off the productivity thing a little with the recent tax increases. It’s a disincentive so I’m being disincentivised or something… should feel more chipper with the carbon tax going I guess but then I’m surrounded by people who now want to vote it (Labor) back in again.

  14. .

    The personal income tax return is enough to kill productivity for weeks. It is a bloody nightmare. How many ATO staff are unionised?

  15. thefrollickingmole

    This isnt just a labor administration thing (though it grows in leaps and bounds when they are in) business is all too willing to sign up to apparently self harming rules and regulations precisely because they figure it raises the barriers to entry for new players, and, if they can get a seat on the panel/organisation designing it, cripple the competition.

    Case in point: The rental (Mr rentals/radio rentals etc) market just had the shit regulated out of it by ASIC, my old company used the new regulation to not only take back my franchise for no money, but actively boated how it would make “all our franchises” more valuable by restricting competition.

    Ive seen this in action, established player LOVE regulation, what adds $.001c to Woolies cans of baked beans shuts don or even better blocks new starters altogether.

    Im more sure than ever that union super funds are profiting through insider information, investigation please ACCC?? (yeah right)..

  16. .

    Im more sure than ever that union super funds are profiting through insider information, investigation please ACCC?? (yeah right)..


    If I ever get audited by the ATO, I’m going to to refuse to cooperate until Julia Eileen Gillard is investigated for tax fraud.


  17. Des Deskperson

    ‘How many ATO staff are unionised?’

    The main union in ATO is the Australian Services Union, which used to be the Federated Clerks Union, right wing corporatist rather than socialist but hardly business friendly. How many? Difficult to estimate, but the ASU claims 120,000 members in Australia across a whole range of sectors – federal, state and municipal public sectors, the ‘community’ sector and private enterprise. ATO has 20,000 staff, so if it were highly unionised, one would expect the overall numbers of ASU members to be higher. On the other hand, ATO is an old style hierarchical organisation where you would expect a higher level of unionisation than many other APS agencies. My guess: 35% unionised.

  18. notafan

    Des I think the CPSU is still the main union, Federated Clerks went there not ASU which still has a Tax Office Branch. There was a dedicated Tax Office Branch of the CPSU but it got rolled in some sort of coup years back.
    ASU were always smaller but vocal.
    Might find membership up since the redundacies started but 35% is probably ballpark.
    I use the pre fill option on eTax it gets some of the share stuff done, no good for the business part.

  19. Des Deskperson

    ‘ASU were always smaller but vocal’

    You’re not wrong and, in my experience, far less reasonable and flexible than the CPSU.

    As for union membership in the APS, overall and by individual agencies, it’s hard to calculate, particularly since the CPSU’s ‘Commonwealth’ membership of ‘around 50,000’ still includes the ACT Public Service. I’ve estimated that it’s about 30% overall, but I’m mindful that it fluctuates greatly between agencies and is likely to be higher in the larger, more hierarchical and less prestigious agencies, hence a guess at 35% for ATO.

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