||Issue No. 293||20 December 2005|
Waves of Destruction
Interview: Back to the Future
Unions: A Real Page Turner
Industrial: The Pin-Striped Union
International: Around The World In 365 Days
Legends: Terrific, Tommy
Your Rights At Work: Worth Fighting For
Politics: The Year That Was
Economics: Master and Servant Revisited
Culture: 2005: The Year of Living Repetitively
Bad Boss: The Bottom Ten
Religion: Hymns from a Different Song Sheet
The Locker Room
Free to Rat
Tax Cuts and Cockroaches
Proportion, Not Distortion
Harper's Bizarre Excuse for Failure
Ian Harper was a director of Australian Derivatives Exchange which had its trading licence revoked in March 2001. At the same time, Professor Harper was preparing a paper for investment bankers that argued Australia would have a healthier economy if sweatshops had been legal, last century.
He established his "Fair Pay" credentials with a stinging attack on the thinking behind the 1907 Harvester decision that established the principle of a basic, or living, wage.
"Employers in the sweatshops of lower Manhattan were not obliged to raise wages to 'fair and reasonable' levels," Harper wrote. He said while this meant a greater gap between rich and poor in the US, it gave that country a leaner manufacturing industry and a stronger economy.
It is a line of thought run by the extreme Right HR Nicholls Society and the Business Council of Australia which, this year, argued "fairness" should not be a factor in wage setting.
Harper ripped into the Harvester Judgment, which defined a fair wage as being sufficient to keep a family in a civilised condition, as a direct cause of Australia's comparatively weak manufacturing industry. He blamed it for the eventual sell-out of Harvester to Canadian multi-national Massey-Ferguson.
"Australia may have lost more than a homegrown harvester - we may have passed up the chance of owning a multinational agricultural equipment manufacturer!" he wrote.
Fifteen years after the judgement, the owner of the Harvester company, Victor Mackay, was still railing against the living wage decision.
"God did not make men equal - it is no use trying to pretend He did, or to make laws as though He did, or to pay people according to their requirements instead of according to their services," he wrote in a letter dated March 10, 1922.
Eighty nine years later, Harper endorsed that philosophy.
At the same time, he was a non-executive director of Australia Derivatives Exchange, which went into administration after just a few months of trading. The Australian Securities and Investment Commission revoked the company's license to operate an exchange.
The Federal Government said it was aware of Harper's history when Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews appointed him head of the Fair Pay Commission in October.
"What this shows is that Professor Harper has a real understanding of business and the operations of a company," a spokesman for the Minister said.
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