ALLA 7th Biennial Conference 2014
ALLA's 7th National Conference was held in Manly, Sydney on Friday 14 and Saturday 15 November 2014. The theme of the conference was 'Under the Microscope: The Next Phase of Australian Labour Law?'
After many years of major industrial relations changes in the 1990s and 2000s, the core Australian labour law system has been relatively stable since the passage of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth). However, the change of government in September 2013, the foreshadowed Productivity Commission Review and continued developments at industry level and the common law may mean that the next 'phase' of Australian labour law involves yet another round of major 'reforms'. ALLA's 2014 Conference was an opportunity to reflect on the development of Australian labour law to date, and cast a critical eye over further foreshadowed changes.
The program commenced with a keynote speech by Peter Gray AM, former Judge of the Federal Court of Australia who served from 17 May 1984 until May 17, 2013 reflecting on changes to industrial law and relations during his time on the bench. He was followed by Professor Anthony Forsyth (RMIT University), on the topic 'Is there really an industrial relations club?' The plenary session was chaired by ALLA President, Professor Andrew Stewart (University of Adelaide) and Professor Joellen Riley (University of Sydney Law School) provided commentary on the speakers.
Saturday morning's panel discussed the topic: 'Leadership at the Workplace: what's Labour Law got to do with it?' The Panel included Dr Linda Peach (Workplace Gender Equality Agency), The Hon Jonathan Marc Hamberger PSM (Fair Work Commission), Neil Napper (Lander and Rogers Lawyers) and Susan Price (PriceWaterhouseCoopers). The panel discussion was a lively affair. While most panellists agreed that law was important in the promotion of workplace leadership, there were divergent views as to exactly how important it is!
Friday and Saturday were also busy with a variety of engaging and thought-provoking parallel sessions on themes including Discrimination, Enforcement, Contracts, Low Wage and Precarious Workers, Supply Chains, Unions, Bargaining and Industrial Action', Worker Mobility, Social Policy and Corporate Culture.
ALLA Research Degree Scholarship
This year, ALLA announced a new scholarship for students enrolled in a research degree (such as PhD, or LLM by thesis, or similar) in an Australian or New Zealand University. The objective of the scholarship was to provide financial assistance for one or more students to take part in the national ALLA conference and present a paper at the conference.
The recipients of the ALLA Research Degree Scholarship were as follows:
- Allison Ballard (Women's Legal Centre, ACT & Region, & University of Canberra), for her paper on 'Mediation and its role in silencing or managing complaints of workplace bullying';
- Angelo Capuano (Monash University), for his paper on 'Capturing the complete meaning of "social origin" in ILO instruments', and;
- Gabrielle Golding (University of Adelaide), for her paper on 'Terms implied in law: are they really "necessary"?'
Phillipa Weeks Prize
The Phillipa Weeks Prize recognises the contribution of Professor Phillipa Weeks to Australian labour law scholarship and her unswerving support of young and upcoming scholars. For a tribute to Professor Weeks see here.
The prize is awarded at each ALLA National Conference for the best paper presented by an emerging scholar. Any person contributing a paper by the deadline for the submission of papers was eligible, unless they hold the
academic post of Associate Professor, Professor or an honorary professorial position, or are a judicial officer.
The winners of the Phillipa Weeks Prize for 2014 were Rosalind Read and Zachary Smith (CFMEU Forestry and Furnishing Products Division), for their outstanding paper, 'The next phase of regulation of Registered Organisations in Australia: Is there any need for corporate style regulation?'
This year, the Prize Committee included a special commendation for the impressive paper presented by Dr Richard Naughton (Monash University) on 'Learning from History: an Analysis of State Industrial Relations Legislation Pre-dating the Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904'.
Thanks are due to our Conference Sponsors, The Sydney Law School at the University of Sydney, The Workplace Ombudsman and the Federation Press. ALLA would also like to thank the Centre for Employment and Labour Relations Law at Melbourne Law School which sponsors and organises the Teaching Workshop, and the Sydney Law School for providing lunch to Workshop participants.
Papers from the conference will be available shortly to all ALLA Members.
For more information about the conference, please visit the conference website.
Pre-conference workshops on teaching and research
Two pre-conference workshops were also held on Thursday 13 November. Associate Professor Beth Gaze co-ordinated the teaching workshop on 'Teaching anti-discrimination law as part of labour law'. Professor Richard Johnstone co-ordinated a research workshop on the topic of 'Theorising' in the labour law context. Both Workshops were well attended and have become an important pre-Conference fixture for those members interested in teaching and researching in labour law.