Australian management over rates its capabilities and talents when compared to other countries. There is less investmenbt in people and less innovation. Our political and business leaders are risk averse and lack vision.

Another free to use public interest information web site on the
Mosaic Portal Network

Concepted and created by

Kevin Beck
Melbourne Australia


Disclaimer: Obviously not every professional recruiter, or Australian employer, will fall within the parameters of the content of my article. However statistically, according to research of the human resources industry, and the history of performance of employers, and managers, in Australia, indicates a large number may. (Kevin Beck).


What is the basis and justification for the above assertion?

Robert Walters ( one of Australia's most successful human resource professionals and recruiters has produced research "Developing High-Performing Teams to Drive Business Performance and Engagement", inter alia, the research demonstrates that

· 63% organisations may be missing out on top talent due to inflexible selection criteria

· one-third of first round interviews are conducted by people who are not close to the role they are recruiting for (20 per cent said senior management, followed by 11 per cent who said human resources).

· Even if they are familiar with the role, the content of jobs changes very rapidly. In this age of ambiguity and constant change we all have to learn new skills and take different directions in our roles in timeframes measured in a few years (3).

Medium-sized employers were the most flexible in their hiring practices, with only 59 per cent requiring all criteria to be met, compared with 63 per cent of large organisations and 66 per cent of public sector employers.

Being too prescriptive in the advertising criteria could also dissuade good applicants from applying, with 45 per cent of professionals saying they would self select out of the process if they didn't meet all the requirements.

It is worth noting here that it is often said that women are more likely not to apply for jobs when they don't meet 100 per cent of the criteria, which means that those employers trying to increase the gender diversity of their workforces might think of being a little loose in their advertising around the skills and experience they deem necessary.

There were a small number of hiring managers (7 per cent) who say applicants would pass through to the next stage of the interview process if they didn't meet most of the selection criteria, but might perform well anyway.

These hiring managers may have been recruiting for jobs where skills could be easily learned on the job.

According to Robert Walters, as many as 63 per cent of organisations may be missing out on top talent due to inflexible selection criteria. The survey also reveals 32 per cent of professionals say the biggest negative influence on their performance is poor leadership, followed by not having clearly defined goals and objectives, and not being adequately recognised for high performance.

More than half say their organisation does not do enough to reward high performance and the same proportion of professionals say they are managed with a "top-down" leadership style (where leaders make decisions without consulting team members).

Almost all (95 per cent) say they prefer other, more consultative, leadership styles."

Go to Robert Walter's web site


To answer this question, I went in search of research on the probability that all companies are "leaders in their sector" as claimed in almost every recruitment advertisement. I also wanted to know how many applicants that a recruiter chooses are likely to be excellent and on balance able to fulfil all of the criteria demanded?

"Much of the strategy and management advice that business leaders turn to is unreliable or impractical. That's because those who would guide us underestimate the power of chance. Gurus draw pointed lessons from companies whose outstanding results may be nothing more than random fluctuations. Executives speak proudly of corporate achievements that may be only lucky coincidences. Unfortunately, almost no one provides scientifically credible answers to every business leader's basic questions about superior performance: Which companies are worth studying? What sets them apart? How can we follow their examples?......

We defined two categories of superior results: Miracle Workers fell in the top 10% of ROA for all 25,000 companies often enough that their performance was highly unlikely to have been a fluke; Long Runners fell in the top 20% to 40% and, again, did so consistently enough that luck was highly unlikely to have been the reason. We call the companies in both these categories exceptional performers. For comparison purposes, we also identified companies that were Average Joes. A total of 174 companies qualified as Miracle Workers, and 170 qualified as Long Runners." (Harvard Business Review, 2013, Michael Rayner and Mumtaz Ahmed, 3 Rules for Making a Company Truly Great)

Go to Harvard Review article

Hiring Gets A Failing Grade

"Most companies react to hiring situations as emergencies; that might explain why so many do it so poorly. When we surveyed 50 CEOs of global companies, along with a pool of executive search consultants who rated about 500 firms, we found hiring practices to be disturbingly vague: Respondents relied heavily on subjective personal preferences or on largely unquestioned organizational traditions, often based on false assumptions.

The executives we surveyed held widely differing views regarding the desirable attributes of new hires. They emphatically disagreed on whether it was best to hire insiders or outsiders, on who should be involved in the recruiting process, on what assessment tools were most suitable, and on what the keys were to successful hiring and retention.

Furthermore, 43% of the executive search consultants reported that their client companies considered the number of years of relevant work experience to be one of the top reasons for hiring a particular candidate, whereas only 24% gave similar weight to the ability to collaborate in teams-and an alarmingly small 11% factored in a candidate's readiness to learn new things. In today's increasingly turbulent business and economic landscape, in which, as one of us likes to put it, "even the past has become unpredictable," we find this neglect of a potential candidate's adaptability mystifying.

Assessment practices were equally variable (even within the same company). On one end of the scale, in 32% of companies, candidates for senior positions went through only one to five interviews; at the other end, 12% of firms subjected candidates to 21 or more. Shockingly, only half of the top-x managers recruited were interviewed by anyone in the C-suite. Fully half the companies relied primarily on the hiring manager's gut feel, selecting a candidate believed to have "what it took" to be successful in any job. What's more, we found that companies based their hiring decisions mainly on interview performance, paying relatively little attention to careful reference checks.

Given the ad hoc quality, lack of specified criteria, and inconsistency of practices among the companies we studied, it's no wonder that usually about a third of promising new hires depart within three years of being recruited." (Harvard Business Review, Boris Groysberg, Nitin Nohria and Claudio Fernández-Aráoz, May 2009 Issue)


I contend that many Australian employers do not look beyond the four walls of their business to think about their place in Australia's economic and social fabric and their job of employing and developing their staff. If they do it is at the behest of a HR Manager or Adviser, or a caring employer.

Some do, and they are small, medium and large but a majority do not. They reside in the Harvard's "Average Joe" category of business performers or perhaps even lower. In many respects, Australians can be very myopic about many things, not thinking deeply but more consumed with the practical tasks and process of their work.

Thousands of talented Australians are culled in the job application process before they even get to interview. A lot of these are older Australians. There are few, if any recruiters who would dare challenge the client's myopic perceptions and criteria selection.

The Internet has allowed all sorts of characters to become recruiters.

"So my message to all recruiters is simple. Lift your game or leave!" (Steve Heather)

"If you joined recruiting to make a fast buck with no responsibility and the only way you find out that your service is no good, is by having to continually find new clients (because the old ones don't come back) then I can think of another industry you are far better suited to!

If fast money is your over-riding driver you are going to be disappointed. The industry is professionalising and standards, compliance and entry costs are all also rising.

More specifically, if you think recruiting in the 'super lucrative mining space' is just the ticket then think of this:

Mining usually leads the economic cycles. Most generic industrial businesses are affected by a slow burn of economic and industrial cycles with things picking up and declining gradually. If you supply services to those sectors you can usually see the cycles coming and therefore plan for them, unless you live under a rock and your only reading material is Facebook!

Mining is different - it is usually great or bad, with short time spans between and is therefore much harder to plan for.

Lastly, about the only thing Mining, Mineral Processing and Metamorphic have in common, is an "M". They are not the same thing. You are going to have to invest in knowing more than just recruiting and search if you are going to be accepted and deliver sustained success."" (Mining People International, May 2013, Steve Heather, Managing Director & Principal Executive Search

Go to Executive Search


Then there are the corporate pressures on recruitment professionals. They may respond to these by working like real estate agents getting listings (applicant bank of resumes) and meeting demanded targets - risking volume over quality.

I think this may be one of the drivers behind the 6 second read theory of resumes and the use of robots.

On the basis of the Harvard Research, cited above, most recruitment companies and their client employers, are unlikely (statistically) to be in the high performing group designated as "Miracle Workers" and the "Long Runners". If the majority keep up their ways they will be lucky to be classed as "Average Joes". Similarly, the HR Managers in the corporate world. Statistically their choice of a candidate for a job who will perform is more likely accident or luck.


I contend that a majority Australia's businesses are overly dogmatic, and prescriptive, about the skills and experience they put into the criteria for selection. They seem unable to comprehend the transferability of skills and experience between different sectors. So, they dictate in the job advertisement that the applicant must have experience in the same industry sector e.g. banking, retail, FMCG, and the like. They then over specify the rest of the criteria effectively demanding that applicants are clones of the employer.


( Our ideal client is at the crossroads of achieving the objectives they have for their business... the point in time that makes navigating the right pathway forward, with the right resources, their critical next step - John McKinstry, Managing Director

"It is nem's view that the vast majority of Australian businesses are operated by owners, and managers, who are experts in three of the nine areas. They do not usually require assistance from nem in these areas.

In a further three areas they are not experts but are usually capable and have satisfactory arrangements in place for assistance from existing external service providers. While nem can assist and guide activity in these areas it is generally not where nem finds it can add the most value.

There are usually another three areas where businesses lack visibility.

These areas usually fly under the owners' and managements' radar, creating blockages and issues that are difficult to navigate through.

While the symptoms eventually become obvious to all concerned, the causes remain elusive and difficult to identify; particularly for those who are close to the business."

(Extract from
Nem Australasia web site

If the above is the case how can employers, their HR personnel or recruiters, assess applicants in the 6 areas where the employer and the assessor are likely to have no expertise?

Cloning, Cannibalisation and Churn Creating a clone criteria is like nepotism. Such myopia leads to an ingrained, and embedded, culture which is synonymous with what has happened to Australia's major banks. The culture is atrophied and now the banks are being confronted by Parliament and customers, media and commentators.

The employer's Human Resource Department Manager, in some respects, have put them in the hot seat. It is also unlikely that Australia's current risk averse management, and business owner, or corporate executive, is going to employ someone with far greater experience than they have. The assessment of someone being over qualified only has applicability if the role is low level and low wage.

Much of Australia's current process cannibalises existing businesses creating churn. It does not add value or expand the nation's talent base.

The advertisement invariably talks of "career progression", as if every applicant is going to be young and looking for the next step up the career ladder.

In the world of the public service nonsense, and nebulous, criteria apply. Being able to meet this below takes precedence over public policy skill, leadership drawn from the private sector and practical abilities.

Australian Government Senior Executive Service criteria:

Shapes and manages strategy

· Inspires a sense of purpose and direction

· Focuses strategically

· Harnesses information and opportunities

· Shows judgement, intelligence and common sense

Criterion - Achieves results

· Builds organisational skill and responsiveness

· Marshals professional expertise

· Steers and implements change and deals with uncertainty

· Delivers intended results

· Manages financial and physical resources in a constrained environment

Criterion - Builds productive relationships

· Nurtures internal and external relationships

· Facilitates cooperation and partnerships

· Values individual differences and diversitybr>
· Guides, coaches and develops people

Criterion - Exemplifies personal integrity and self-awareness

· Demonstrates public service professionalism and probity

· Engages with risk and shows personal courage

· Commits to action

· Displays resilience

· Demonstrates self-awareness and a commitment to personal development

Criterion - Communicates & influences effectively

· Communicates clearly

· Listens, understands and adapts to audience

· Negotiates persuasively

This sort of criteria, instead of being precise, and pithy, runs to many, many demands making the process cumbersome and often repetitive. I think it would among other things deter external applicants, keeping the jobs available for seasoned internal applicants.

The effect of this criteria, and insular selection screening process, can be seen in the current state of Australia's public services. "The Australian Public Service lacks the right staff, December 10, 2016, Sydney Morning Herald. This claim appears to be supported by evidence - the number of costly failures of information technology projects.

Academic institutions as employers, and big corporates, are to my mind similarly obsessed with over specifying and arduous application processes.


In addition to the use of nebulous criteria we have the narrow specification: "The applicant must have experience with one of the Big 4."

These are the Australian banks and the global accounting and consulting firms. Such a demand shows a clear lack of knowledge about the operation and ranking in the market place of firms such as these. They are not the gurus and the experts that their brand might position them as. They are just BIG. They are nothing more than big name companies with large employee bases that have the full range of human abilities working in them. Not everyone can be excellent.

The use of criteria as a screening tool also shifts the onus for all effort onto the applicant who must assemble a unique response and then risks having the "technology robot" used by the recruiter dismiss the application before any human reviews it. The assessor does not have to use too much mental agility or thinking. The "auto - no reply" standard email to tell you there were applicants who more closely matched the strict criteria. Experience assessment seems to be anywhere from as little as two years and up to ten. Which means older, and more experienced, applicants need not apply. They will only accept candidates that match the criteria 100% and who match the stereotypical profile.

It is clear that many recruiters do not have the ability or the knowledge to effectively distil a complex, and talent laden, resume particularly one where the applicant may have held a number of positions and differing roles in their careers as they transitioned between vastly different sectors. This is likely the case with the younger the recruiter assessing an applicant over fifty years of age.


How much research does the everyday recruiter in Australia, and the HR Departments of companies, do?

I do not think they do much beyond looking at their employer's world of work. They have little if any knowledge of whether their employer is actually the leader that they claim to be. Many employers and recruiters have no concept of how transferable skills, and experience, are nurtured and developed across time and career and sectors. Mobility seems to be viewed as a negative, some sort of instability, where the employer perceives it is better to have twenty years in one industry sector than diversity.

For that matter small to medium Australian business owners, and managers, similarly have no concept of how their business can be affected by only looking at the experience of applicants over the last decade or two and employing on this basis.

Younger recruiters have no experience, or knowledge, of boom and bust, the privatisation of state owned enterprises, that the National Electricity Grid does not really exist, or the litany of failures of today's businesses. They may see the name of a prominent company in a resume and for them it is synonymous with experience and industry excellence. Do they consider that the management of one of Australia's largest enterprises lost market share over five years to fall from being number 1 against its competitors and the company managers went on a three year retail experiment culminating in the loss of around 1.6 billion dollars as recently as 2016. If an applicant presented a background in marketing with this company would the recruiter be impressed? I think they would just see the FMCG experience and have little comprehension of the above.

Do recruiters look at resumes, and the companies named within, and consider that many in Australia have a record of fines from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for misleading conduct, false advertising, prosecutions by Fair Work Australia for stealing wages, by Immigration for selling Australian work visas, financial planners working for banks squandering, stealing and losing people's life savings or a plethora of big name companies selling zombie insurance policies that are worthless?

Dick Smith (Australian electronics retailer) was sold and then on-sold again and a year later it went into liquidation. There are many other high profile retail, building construction, real estate and technology companies who have similarly gone belly up. A major airline wanted a bail out loan of three hundred and sixty million dollars, and a guarantee of its debt, from the Australian government.

It takes a combined effort of boards and managers at every level of an organisation to achieve these outcomes.

The irony is that many of the people (employers) specifying the job criteria would probably not meet it 100%, themselves.

Big organisations are more likely to take a chance on diverse applicants, who whilst not meeting 100% of the specified criteria may offer transferable skills and deep experience from another industry. People who are talented can also learn easily.

Though invariably big business in Australia is owned by a multinational where the decision maker is tens of thousands of kilometres away in another culture staring through the lens of a CRM stifling the employment ability of the Australian CEO or Managing Director.

In one job advertisement, I looked at, the employer demanded that the applicant for "Senior Change Manager" be certified in the use of a proprietary change management software. This effectively placed a piece of technology over a highly skilled, and experienced, applicant who may not have had exposure to this software.

Part of the problem with this restrictive approach is that it assumes that the people doing the hiring know exactly what skills, and experience, are needed to do a very good or even excellent job.


Another professional, Robert Half offers some advice:

"10% of employee turnover in Australia is the result of poor hiring decisions with almost two thirds (65%) of Australian HR managers admitting they have hired an employee who did not meet expectations….

David Jones, Senior Managing Director at Robert Half Asia Pacific "In a candidate-driven market where competition for top talent is high, it is pertinent that companies put in place efficient recruitment processes. Even though misjudgements in recruiting cannot always be avoided, companies can minimise the risk of a bad hire and the consequential costs by reviewing and evolving their recruiting processes, making sure hiring methods have been adapted to recent market changes. Companies should also ensure they work closely with their HR department and a specialised recruiter to establish a well-developed recruitment strategy."

DON'T go it alone, consult colleagues on attributes and competencies for the open role, and work with a specialised recruitment consultancy to find the best candidates.

DON'T use standardised job descriptions, in order to make your job description more attractive and increase the right applications, consider adding more information such as company values, compensation, additional benefits and training opportunities.

DON'T seek where others do, source actively. The passive candidate market offers a huge potential. Many candidates are open for interesting job offers, although they might be currently employed.

Developing employee programs where premiums are granted for successful referrals can also be very useful. DON'T think the internet has all the answers, cultivate a talent pipeline by personally reaching out to your network and recruiting sources. Online tools can be valuable, but personal interaction is the most important aspect of the hiring process.

DON'T take too long, extend an offer once you identify your top candidate. Companies that don't move quickly risk losing good people to other opportunities.

DON'T' offer a low salary, offer a compensation package that, at a minimum, meets the market standard. Stay current on prevailing trends by reviewing resources such as the 2016 Robert Half Salary Guide.

DON'T fail to differentiate between must-have and nice-to-have candidate attributes. Identify the skills that are mandatory and those that can be developed. The goal is to hire the person who is the best match for the job and your work environment.

Go to Robert Half's web site

Write a Resume Masterpiece


Australian employers are failing to support and engage older workers which is costing them, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of South Australia and the University of Melbourne surveyed 666 Australian workers between the ages of 45 and 75 over a three-year period about their work experiences. They found that employers who addressed and invested in older workers reaped significant benefits including a committed, stable and engaged workforce, however many organisations were “far from up to the challenge” and could face problems as the workforce ages and people retire later in life.

Lead researcher, Professor Carol Kulik, a research professor in human resource management at the University of South Australia’s centre for workplace excellence, said age stereotypes were “notoriously persistent” in organisations.

“Mature-age employees [are] commonly perceived to be less productive than their younger counterparts, lacking initiative, disinterested in learning or developing, and resistant to change,” Kulik said. “Mature-age employees are aware of these age stereotypes and worry that they may inadvertently confirm them. The resulting stereotype threat demotivates mature-age workers and lowers their engagement. “Our research shows that employers who address older workers’ concerns while also investing in training actually reap significant benefits including a committed, stable and engaged workforce. “Unfortunately, organisations have been slow to adopt mature-age practices, even though our research shows them to be highly effective in reducing stereotype threat and increasing job engagement among older workers.”

Mature-age workers currently account for 40 per cent of the total Australian workforce and according to latest Australian Bureau of Statistics figures more than four million Australian workers are aged 45 years or older. Moreover from 1 July, the pension age is set to rise by six months every two years, climbing to 67 by 2023. The government proposes to continue this rate of increase until the qualifying age reaches age 70 on 1 July 2035. With an increasingly ageing workforce, this latest study Engage Me: The Mature-Age Worker and Stereotype Threat, found it was essential for Australian employers to keep older workers engaged and harness the power of their older workers in order to boost the economy.

Researchers found mature-age workers reported lower stereotype threat and higher engagement when employers had high-performance practices that focused on employee training, rewards, and participation, or had adopted mature-age practices that focused on age-specific training, job design and career-management opportunities. The high-performance and mature-age practices had independent effects, so workers were most engaged when their organisations invested in both types of practices. The practices were especially important when mature-age workers reported to young managers, were surrounded by young co-workers or worked in manual occupations where age-related physical declines could be visible.

“Employers and managers need to be aware of the unintended signals that environmental cues send to mature-age workers,” Kulik said. “Policies crafted to recognise and encourage mature-age workers send consistent, durable signals that lessen those workers’ concerns about negative managerial attitudes and increase their focus on their work. “Organisations can try to eliminate age stereotypes, but managerial attitudes are stubbornly resistant to change so focusing on management practices may have more immediate – and more enduring – effects on mature-age worker engagement. “Organisations will enjoy the highest levels of engagement from their mature-age workers when they add age-specific practices to their management practices including training designed to upgrade mature-age worker skills, opportunities to redesign jobs to accommodate mature-age worker needs, and phased retirement programs that allow mature-age workers to ease into retirement.”

Source: Study Highlights Cost of Ignoring Older Workers, January 16, 2017.

Older Workers: Australia


This article ponders the shifting sands beneath the feet of corporate executives who may not have paid attention to influencing factors beyond their daily horizons. It opines the behaviour and style of two senior executives (as representing the practices, mores and hegemony of modern companies and their senior executives) one an American with a true multinational corporate background in global roles, with a strong technology sales management background. The other, an Australian, working for a multinational company executive but with a limited (non global - limited to Australia and New Zealand mostly) role and a much shorter and shallow experience with a financial background. This case study of management style, and hegemony, is based on my observations and somewhat intimate knowledge of the corporations in which they worked, the internal culture, motivation and beliefs of employees, the industry and customers. Additionally, I am deeply networked into the enterprises' structures and operations.

As stated above both executives worked for multinational companies headquartered in the United States. Both had quite narrow careers with little movement across industry sectors. One had quite a long employment rising up through the ranks of the Australian subsidiary, which had an annual revenue when he became CEO of circa $80M. The other was an import from a major multi-billion dollar United States technology enterprise into another one that was much smaller in scope with annual revenues around $US400 -$500M. Common characteristics from my perspective was a self-belief in their own capabilities and a somewhat "Teflon" attitude. I think both believed they were skilled networkers and that they exercised industry influence. One was a big talker from day one. He told a multicultural audience at a conference in Asia how he, through his vision, drive and ambition, would take the enterprise to a billion dollar per annum corporation within a few years.

The other less showy executive individual had his sights set on a much smaller annual turnover in Australia but a significant increase over two years, more than doubling company performance to circa $A180M. The US parent entity of the Australian enterprise is a billion dollar corporation. Both companies acquired external businesses and both executives were tasked, with others, in merging and making the acquisitions work. The American based executive had the support of colleagues and dedicated people in a collegiate environment. The Australian executive had eschewed a collegiate environment and appeared to have no awareness as to how to create one. The acquisitions have proved costly and problematic for both enterprises. One executive made no apportionment of blame about failing to meet the grand revenue target, the other blamed everyone else and sacked many people.

Today, both executives are gone, quietly without fanfare for different reasons. Neither achieved their lofty financial goals in the time frame. The US departure was more open and known to the industry, the Australian departure occurred over a weekend without the knowledge of the employees of the enterprise and the departure became known very quickly through gossip and the grapevine. One week later customers in the Australian enterprise have not been formally told. The American executive will no doubt move on to greater things. The Australian executive is shackled to a small market place and opportunity unless he moves internationally. In both cases the employees of the organisations were caught unawares.

This is not because the Board kept it quiet (that is only one reason), the reason I believe employees were caught unaware is that most do not see context and mosaic. I predicted the departure of both openly within the respective organisations and in the market place. It took longer than I predicted. One might call me a futurist but I contend the signs are always present in the jigsaw of their corporate world and politics.

I see the world differently and that is one reason why astute executives engage me and remain in communication with me after I have left their organisations or employment.

I am of the view that most employees, and middle managers, including some higher up rarely see the impact of their endeavours and failures beyond their small horizon and day to day working lives. In my experience observing these two corporations and the industry sectors in which they operate very few people seem to be readers of human behaviour, the nature of power and external threats.

In every multinational corporations there is the underlying competitive tensions and the nature of internal power plays that often define who survives and who leaves. Other defining characteristics of the two enterprises are, in my personal view because I do not presume to be accurate in every respect. I am theorising and forming my views from data, information and actual experiences and an unusual capacity to infiltrate large organisations even though they may be global. My research and analysis methodology uses qualitative and quantitative reasoning and processes. No doubt many in the organisations will disagree and I invite debate and contradiction.

Top down management and compliance structure

Day to day monitoring of performance and adherence to corporate demands for target achievements

Salaries paid are not market leaders but rather they are market followers

The US based headquarters' executive's tendency to revert to their home grown experiences and American perceptions quite often not understanding the nuances and cultures of their overseas subsidiaries and employees. Particularly so for Asia where employees have more opportunities, are not shackled by the economic strictures that define America and above all the "politics and context of distance".

Employees are a necessary resource (treated as a cost), to be managed at least possible cost and are ultimately expendable

Employee demotivation and a lack of trust in pockets and in large areas of activity particularly where an organisation is very very complex

Failure to realise that customers quite often did not, and do not, respect them or actually know what the enterprise stands for

Marketing hype (internally generated to employees and to the outside world) that does not reflect capacity, and realities, of the company's actual capabilities or their product's performance. An element of boosterism.

The influence of external persons and/or vested interests on employees and corporate objectives is not realised or taken account of. Particularly in the case of those external individuals, and entities, who have the resources, and wherewithal, to engage with the two enterprises - these may be competitors, individuals, ex-employees, regulators or one of the least known and acknowledged - game theory corporate player.

Acquiring expensive external businesses and the exigencies and challenges in integrating the differing cultures

Questionable due diligence in mergers and acquisition ventures

Single minded focus on business and the customer to the detriment of other stakeholders and their needs, perceptions and motivations

Narrow definitions of customers and needs

Failure to realise changed societal contexts of business decision making

Growing disenchantment with corporate elites, corporate ethics and anti-social behaviour in pursuit of commercial and self-interest objectives

The rise of functional stupidity - smart people with stupid ideas (this theme is explored in depth in one of my other articles)

There are no doubt other characteristics that are common to many complex organisations and that define the modern multinational owned enterprises but the ones above are sufficient for me to conjecture upon. "Leaders may be able to articulate a vision, but very few actually live the vision each day. However, as this author writes, a leader who lives, breathes and weaves the vision into the fabric of an organization inspires everyone to a higher performance every day. ….. A vision is successful when it "speaks" to a wide audience, tells an engaging story that people want to be a part of, challenges people, and creates a sense of urgency. Success occurs when the vision becomes embedded in the daily decisions and actions taken of those you want to lead. A vision is not merely an extended strategic plan or "mission." When we see a vision that is working, guiding an organization to sustained growth, we know that behind it are leaders who are comfortable leading with their hearts as well as their heads. This article describes what a leader needs to do to sustain a vision - and the growth of an organization." (Source: WALKING THE TALK (REALLY!): WHY VISIONS FAIL by: Mark Lipton, Issues: January / February 2004, Ivey Business Journal)

I conjecture that neither enterprise has achieved the grandiose visions extolled by the two senior executives now departed because of the above barriers which are accentuated where the enterprises are managed in a top down demotivating fashion. Interestingly, veiled and sometimes overt threats, are the management tools of choice in both enterprises. These are shrouded by the role of the Human Resources Departments within the holy grail of the American capitalism model that people are employed to deliver. For most employees continual failure is not an option. For the privileged there are many chances to atone and the response of choice, sack people to achieve the bottom line. The shareholders must be served first.

I further argue that the top down management approach coupled with the role of work, and career, in American hegemony leads to employees that are uninquisitive, and unaware, of the world outside their organisation. So many people adopt the company policy and ethos as mantra to be followed independent, and regardless, of regulations and laws, customer reactions and responses.. If they do know of one or both corporations, my experience is, existing, and potential customers do not understand who either of the enterprises are and what they stand for. Both enterprises implyBoth enterprises claim they are unique in line with the theory of the "unique selling proposition"and the internal marketing to employees by management. However, neither company is unique in terms of products and offerings. One of them has quite limited technology offerings, limited software and a large part of the business is locked into a very challenging sector - printing. Why they may believe themselves to be unique, is not apparent to me. unique is an adjectivebe, ing the only one of its kind; unlike anything else.

I have quite extensive experience of both enterprises about whihc I am writing but I am not at all sure how all the pieces fit together, and what the two companies actually stand for, so how are external parties such as customers supposed to know? On the inside I observe that many parts of the enterprise operate as silos.

The modern world of business is shrouded in ambiguity and there are signs that both executives (to differing extents) did not adapt to this ambiguity and did not react to signals or ignored them. They both operated under models and modus operandi that had served them well in the past. One of them had far greater career aspirations inside their respective organisations than the other one had. Both executives had visions of extensive careers rising up through their respective organisations. Whilst one tended to hide from the world the other walked the world stage. They both had a singular focus, on the dollar and when that failed to materialise they were exposed. They then went into damage control and fixing strategies. I wonder what they are thinking of today just after their mutual departures? One has gone on his own terms, the other probably has not.

Among the lessons that many senior executives may not learn is one very important: when threatened you either contract (buy) the threat (entity or person), defeat them or form an alliance. In this case I saw no evidence that either of the executives did any one or all of these things. In fact they both engaged in confrontation and were surprised when they were met back equally or with greater impact over a sustained period of time. That which is fleeting to them can become a cause to others. Interestingly both organisations have other senior executives who adopt the alliance approach and work to calm the situation neutralising the threat internally and externally. Mty two subjexcts on the other hand engaged in gladiatorial type management style.

The two executives I am looking at as a case study in management always acted to terminate the employment of the threat or the challenge or to ridicule or debase. In one case the executive could not get rid of the internal barrier to his aspirations to rise to be the ultimate boss, he discerned this and left. The other appeared oblivious to his impending fate whihc many outside the company were predicting. Senior executives, and CEOs, who are complacent and risk averse whilst subtly or overtly demonstrating a propensity to be autocratic, and who are slow to react and are reluctant to ask for help will crash. The mode, and circumstance, of their departures will differ as in the case of the two executives in this case study.

Both executives in my view operated in isolation of the majority of employees. A common trait where executives seek out the company, and approval, of their own class. "When it comes to garnering commitment and engagement from employees, there is one thing that leaders need to demonstrate: Respect. That's what we saw in a study of nearly 20,000 employees around the world (conducted with HBR and Tony Schwartz). In fact, no other leader behavior had a bigger effect on employees across the outcomes we measured. Being treated with respect was more important to employees than recognition and appreciation, communicating an inspiring vision, providing useful feedback - even opportunities for learning, growth, and development." (Source: Christine Porath, November 19, 2014, Harvard Business Review)

Employee relationships can have an effect on company productivity. If employees do not like each other but have learned to work together, then that kind of relationship is beneficial to the company. But if employees and managers begin to show a lack of respect for each other in the workplace, the results can be counter-productive to the entire company. Staff members that show a lack of respect for each other create breaks in company communication.

Employees that do not respect each other will not find it necessary to exchange important information in an attempt to put each other behind on company updates. The problem is that this prevents information to getting to other employees and starts to affect company-wide communication. People who do not respect each other do not give each other credit for the skills they possess. For example, the manager of an auto mechanic's shop who does not respect his top mechanic may decide to give jobs to other mechanics instead. The result can be that the quality of work suffers and the reputation of the shop is damaged. (Source: The Effects of a Lack of Respect in the Workplace, by George N. Root III, Demand Media)

Whilst elements of the above syndrome have occurred in both enterprises, over the years, they are more marked in the Australian company where the dysfunction permeated the whole organisation top to bottom. I would pose that this was one of the contributing reasons the Australian executive has left the firm. The industry, and customers, have known of the internal dissensions and dysfunction for a long time within the Australian company and it has affected the company's performance resulting in sanctions by the customers and subsequent loss of contracts.

Both enterprises will move on and the loss of either will have little impact. Except that the Australian company may have a chance to reverse the decline. The question that arises in my mind is, will either or both of the organisations and their remaining management and employees learn from this or will they simply go on with their traditional mores, customs and methods of operation? Will they have discerned the existence of the external threats and influences and vested interests and move to counter or neutralise them? I predict they will not.

Both enterprises need a massive cultural change and a different way of thinking or they will decline, one more swiftly than the other. Will any external observers in the corporate world think about the things that I have raised here and wonder what lessons and other surprises lay hidden from their view including within their own enterprises? For me the lessons are - the mighty fall quickly and there are a lot of people in Australia, the United States and elsewhere who have little or no respect for corporate elites who do not work to earn such respect.

Finally, I think that more CEOs, Senior Managers (and Employees for that matter) need to take account of the external stakeholders (define that definition widely) and others who are using the technology of the world for a purpose. The most astute executives will neutralise an external threat by harnessing the individual to them. There seems to be few astute executives who have realised and identified those external threats which most see through a narrow prism of competition, market forces and the burden of regulations. Below in this web site I examine the nature of power, influence and the game that external threats can bring to any enterprise, anywhere.


live in Houston where two industries reign supreme: Oil and Gas and Healthcare. I applied to positions within HR at reputed hospitals/healthcare companies only to get feedback from the recruiters/hiring managers that they decided to go with candidates who had relevant industry experience. The recruiters are pleased with my experience and my accomplishments however, knowing the industry was important. To me, it seems like a counterproductive measure to always recruit candidates who have industry experience. Candidates from different industries can bring fresh perspectives to the current environment and can be key to staying innovative. I can understand the importance of having industry experience if I was applying for an executive position. Is it just another way for a company to be nit-picky and rule out candidates? Am I missing something? I have interviewed with tech companies that do not seem to mind that I will be a newcomer to the industry. ( Aditi Arrabolu, PHR, SHRM-CP, on LinkedIn)

Cory M. Cunningham, on LinkedIN - After service plan on hearing the comments "Thank you for your service" and "You do not have (industry) experience," often in sequence / almost the same breath. I concur with those who realize this is myopic, but understand industry experience is often used to reduce the number of candidates for screening. I have found the only true way around it is by finding a connection within an organization to bring you in,which is often another former military member. Hopefully, this opens the door for you to shine (which you must do) and it brings you in at an appropriate level (as taking a significantly lower position to "get in" will often set your market value and provide a steep hill to climb.) Keep up the fight, the transition is often time the largest life challenge for veterans.

Daniel Tay, LinkedIn, I have 20 years in many aspects of Quality from Engineering related industries like Oil & Gas and Semiconductor. I tried going into non-engineering related industries like training. medical or finance. Although the positions I applied are exactly what I have done in the 20 years, they would not even consider talking with me. Can anyone advise what I should do to improve my situation? Thanks!

Kevin Beck Perhaps if we started naming the companies and the recruiters the mass of publicity might start to get a message across? Have you noted how many companies claim to be expert in digital or social media or use it to garner customers yet seem oblivious to the impact it can have on them. Publish articles (posts) on your profile targeting particular interests, companies and executives see what happpens.

Ashutosh Parekh on LinkedIn: Hello all, This is not new information by any means. Aditi I share your pain and frustration because I living it right now as I hunt for my next job and I am in IT one would think it would be easier but it is not. Very few companies consider good experience as a bonus in a candidate they all think bottom line. Here is my take on this. If you want to enter into new field only way is by forgetting big salaries and consider yourself as new starter or perhaps single notch up nothing more. I have 15+ years of experience in supply chain activities with oracle ERP function and technical background but that does not really count. I have been out bid by others because they agreed to work for a cheaper pay. Experienced people have two things working against them. 1. Payscales and 2. current industrial experience. and only 1 way to beat that is start low and grow again.

Devangkumar Desai Do not be discouraged and keep trying.I do not know if you are born here or an immigrant. I do not know your line of work but I would say that this may be one of the way to say you big NO. I have faced this "no experience in our industry" or "Lack of Australian or US experience" kind of rejection. For me who was in technical and scientific areas it really was an excuse to reject because there may be trust issue or outright discrimination or nepotism because either you look different, speak differnet or you are not in their network.

Sterling McGhee, Spoken well, I thought it was just me. I was recently turned down for two positions. The first was with Goodyear as a purchase buyer and the 2nd was a management trainee position with Enterprise car rental. I'm a retired soldier with a Master's degree in business and my primary career is logistics. During my interview with Goodyear, the purchasing manager told me he could teach me about procurement but his concern when hiring the candidate he was looking for someone who he could count on to come to work daily. As a soldier, we don't call off. The enterprise position came down to me not having any sales experience but I thought as a manager trainee they would teach you this. Personally, I believe these companies are going though the motion of looking for outside candidates but at the end of the day they only hire internal. In today's world and far as I can remember, it's not what u know, it's who u know.

David Leach Abiti, don't take it personally. It's a filtering technique. From the Co's point of view, they prefer someone who already knows their industry, which makes sense on one level. But they don't realize they're missing out on the intangibles other candidates might have to offer. Outside perspective, collaborative personality traits and other soft skills are often equally, or more important to overall job performance. It's a numbers game and, as Sterling pointed out - who you know. Keep reaching out with your applications and building your network. And keep learning. Stay the course. Be awesome!

Margaret Musoke To be open to fresh ideas, they have to be open to others from different industries. Some good companies understand this and take it into account. I find the health industry to be the most rigid.


In this article I concern myself predominantly with commercial and non - political enterprises including institutions such as universities, public services and large not for profits but there is relativity to politics and government.

“Knowledge linked to power, not only assumes the authority of 'the truth' but has the power to make itself true. All knowledge, once applied in the real world, has effects, and in that sense at least, 'becomes true.' Knowledge, once used to regulate the conduct of others, entails constraint, regulation and the disciplining of practice. Thus, 'there is no power relation without the correlative constitution of a field of knowledge, nor any knowledge that does not presuppose and constitute at the same time, power relations.” (Foucault 1977,27).

Harold Geneen was the CEO of USA Corporation International Telephone and Telegraph, his memoirs written in 1984 are a window for us to learn how large, complex multinational firms use accounting and control systems (in this age CRMs and ERPs) for surveillance, discipline and control of management and employees. This narrow knowledge of numbers and activities will be directed into raw and blunt power by an average CEO, MD or VP. Average being the benchmark of most large enterprises and organisations. Average can still deliver success but not greatness and differentiation.

Fast forward to 2015.

The senior leadership of commercial enterprise will cloak these systems as tools of good management providing them up to date timely information about the business. There are elements of truth in this. However when one examines the vertical control (cone) management model one can discern how a narcissistic personality (owner, CEO, MD or VP) will utilise the tools. Where such people have come from limited disciplinary fields, having worked only in a few global enterprises we can observe the space between knowledge and power.

This observation can also me made of our politicians although the tools used are markedly different. In politics it is the objective of high office, benefits and a little or a lot of power that drives In both cases the knowledge level against the power level of the individual is in severe imbalance. The only place one might find a balance and openly see it is observing a fine jurist such as those in the High Court of Australia and in our higher state courts, where power is tempered by knowledge.

Accounting and finance objectives (revenue at lowest cost) invariably drive the CEO and the challengers for that role and thus the whole enterprise.. They will all employ, or elect, clones of themselves to reinforce control and discipline and the ethos. Any challengers of the status quo, who may be brought in and protected by senior lower level managers and politicians, will eventually be eliminated.

A true leader in an enterprise will be able to engage in open discourse with anyone of any level in the organisation, and externally, without having to resort to norm producing discourse which effectively draws the employee back into the comfort zone of the senior individual. The true leader exhibits knowledge without reference to power or role. The fake will exhibit language designed to reflect or capture their contrived reality. They see their role as taking the enterprise forward to new heights by adherence to their model.

What ultimately traps them is the differential between their knowledge (drawn from multidisciplinary experiences in different enterprises) and their concept of power. The sycophantic, obsequious, manager will ape this power regardless of ethical compass and critical examination.

Knowledge is who you are and no one can take that away from you. Knowledge, it is said, is power but in the modern era of dumbing down knowledge is applied selectively by enterprise to specific functions, tasks and goals. Knowledge is not general, it does not embody observation or understanding of the human behaviour and motivation of the employee, it is about output. There are exceptions. Such exceptions have been grasped by the bosses of Apple and Google by the innovators but note these can be narrow.

The CEO, MD and VP lacking a broader knowledge will not turn their attention to creating a social benefit as Apple and Google have. They will be focused on revenue and cost. They may donate to charity and support good causes but this is viewed as part of the (limited) good corporate citizen model.

But today knowledge, as it was viewed in 1600 when the Knowledge is Power phrase was coined, is in the hands of the world delivered by technology and not necessarily by deep education. Specialised knowledge doesn’t necessarily embody power. Specialised skills, particularly in technology are of value provided the market does not become flooded, which it appears to. It is assumed that knowledge can be acquired on demand at little cost or even effort. This is technical or general knowledge rather than knowledge garnered from a life of experience, research and career endeavour. It does derive from the CMS or the ERP or the disciplinary processes of the “surveilled” enterprise.

When a mentor passes knowledge on this sharing is power. How many organisations that you have worked in are littered with mentors passing on knowledge? I worked in the State Electricity Commission of Victoria, in the eighties and nineties, at that time the largest vertically integrated mining, generation, transmission and sales energy enterprise on earth. I became a senior officer in charge of the commercial operations of a number of power stations and a manager of technical and engineering people of high skill though I was not an engineer. I owe this to so many mentors (engineering, technically and administrative at every level all the way to GM level) who gave freely of their time, experience and knowledge.

Between the years 2006 – 2014 I worked at the Datacard Corporation, where people from across the world with decades of experience mentored me. Today I work at nem Australasia, with partners whose resumes are littered with global success in so many disciplines and who give freely of their time and experience to each other. Do you experience this in your organisation? The culture changes when the “revenue – cost” manager takes control. The making of revenue imbues this person with power (not knowledge) and the Board loves it as the balance sheet rises. For this type of boss to maintain the position requires absolute control and manipulation, and a detachment from humanity to a certain degree where the Corporation and the Shareholder/s become paramount and the people are merely the means to achievement. Where unemployment is high, such as in the United States, the people will be fodder to the machine. Unlike in Asia, where self - esteem and dignity are highly valued and skill is in short supply.

It often takes several incidences and experiences to educate the myopia out of the US based corporate executive. Some never learn. Here in Australia the local CEO or MD, running the multinational subsidiary will invariably be slave to the international corporate ideology and culture. So how does a CEO, MD and VP blend knowledge with power? They learn from history and uniqueness. In 1971, Darwin E. Smith became chief executive of Kimberly-Clark, a paper company whose stock had tanked 36% behind the market over 20 years. Smith transformed Kimberly-Clark outperforming the moguls who ran Hewlett-Packard, 3M, Coca-Cola, and General Electric. Humble, shy and unpretentious he embodied intense professionalism and a will to succeed. He described himself as “eccentric”.

Colman M. Mockler, CEO of Gillette made it a multidisciplinary corporation through sheer determination and humility in leadership. Compare these people to the flashy executives of today.

The Chief Executive of Australia Post, Ahmed Fahour, a government owned enterprise, who was written up in the Australian newspaper magazine feature (8-9 August 2015) as a driven man full of self but to many a divisive personality. Australia Post is in deep strife and is posting millions of dollars in losses. It is embroiled in union and employee disengagement, in criminal internal investigation of its management and contract labour practices, in a political mire. The magazine story reports a challenging personality, it states that Mr Fahour wore a white suit to the staid establishment Melbourne Flemington Spring Racing Carnival. Morning suit is the accepted dress code for the elite. This does not denote humility, in Australia’s highest paid public servant, maybe a touch of eccentricity.

What can we say about these examples and the blending of knowledge, power and humility? They deliver greatness and differentiation that sets these enterprises and their bosses apart.


Power naturally comes to a leader but that power is not a tool of leaders.

Initiative, intelligence, confidence and dedication are qualities most employers look for in top employees and executives. Rarely are they looking for the greatest attribute, humility. Goals are achieved, revenue is up by a mix of sales and canny accounting. But at what human cost?

Despite the success of arrogant executives, there’s a business case to be made for more modest leadership attributes, according to a 2012 study co-authored by Johnson. It found that humble employees make better leaders in part because they foster learning, which helps with employee retention and job satisfaction.

Although some in business may view humility as a weakness, recent research suggests it is a strength savvy talent managers look for. Definitions of humility range from modesty to meekness, but Johnson said the quality ultimately boils down to three characteristics: the ability to learn from others, knowing your strengths and shortcomings, and appreciating the contributions of others.

Building humility in leaders also seems to be working for Google Inc. Laszlo Bock, senior vice president of people operations at the Silicon Valley giant, triggered some buzz recently when he was quoted in a New York Times column saying humility is one of the leading attributes he looks for in a candidate, while expertise is the least important factor. The other qualities that aspiring “Googlers” must possess, he said, are cognitive ability, emergent leadership skills and a sense of ownership.

And culture, whether it’s of a company or a country, plays a huge role in which behavior gets rewarded, according to Chamorro-Premuzic. In the U.S., the workplace narcissist is often tolerated as long as he or she is competent, compared to in the U.K., where a more modest and self-effacing approach is valued.

“Cultures differ significantly and substantially in their ability to tolerate arrogance,” Chamorro-Premuzic said. “In most industrialized Western places, like Los Angeles, arrogance is not just tolerated but celebrated. ... That isn’t the case in Korea or China, where self-improvement and humility is what’s promoted, not just in business but in school.” Judging by recent surveys that show most employees who are disengaged from their jobs blame their managers, companies must do a better job of managing the jerks at work.” (Source: Talent Management, Rita Pyrillis, July 11, 2014)


For thirty four years or so the Australian economy has been in growth phase.

The GFC shock was offset by a canny and quick response to pump prime the Australian economy bullet proofing it. This, for some, was heresy. The squandering of the precious surplus. debt is anathema.

The beatings and warnings fall on deaf ears since the populace have been programmed to be complacent, to assume that the economy can be managed politically. The millennium generation has known no real adversity or austerity thinking that they can leave one job and simply get another or go overseas and work in London. They pursue the dream, the career, two incomes, the big house in the right suburb, the lifestyle.

Politics and business is of little consequence to them other than to deliver child care and social welfare to families via the tax system. Government sirens sing melodies to the families.

Much is made about the skills of Australia’s workforce and the need for retraining every time a major business or industry sector closes such as car manufacturing. The halting and unclear policy regarding shipbuilding and investment in our own manufacturing debilitates not just those industries and local communities but the states and nation as a whole.

Towns in regional Australia go through book and bust blithely follow the stated wisdom of government and big business investing heavily, borrowing and riding the wave. Then it is gone. This has happened to the whole State of Western Australia. Most if not all eggs are placed in the China basket, in dreams of an Indian resurgence and Asian tiger, a revived United States. Our decision makers in governments and business are looking ever outwards. China has caused a lot of angst as its economy slows and the Chines government alters the exchange rate and seeks to curb massive outflows of capital into places such as Australian property. Here we can observe the Australian crowd mentality coming into action, similar to the regional towns, investors rush to buy up multiple residential properties on interest rates that are at best tenuous assuming that property prices will only ever go up.

Tens of thousands of Australians are over committed and Australian banks are juggling potential bad debts. Add to this the changes in global financial rules that require banks to hold more capital. The Australian and New Zealand Bank shook the market and caused bank stocks to wobble as it raised billions and share prices are tanking. Maybe it is time for Australian investors (individuals and fund managers) to look more closely at unlisted stocks if they want decent returns. The darlings are crashing. It is only a matter of time (a year maybe two) before interest rates rise between 3 and 4% sending those speculator home investors to the wall.

Under this environment of ambiguity, rapid and sometimes destructive change and global instability there needs to be a coming together of politics, government, business, unions and community. The abandonment of partisan stupidity and gladiatorial Labor – Liberal intransigence and façade.

The decision makers have to stop taking the easy way, waiting for commodities, waiting for China, waiting for something beyond their control and look to themselves. The government focuses on cutting the ranks of public services and outlays because that is the tradition the “Expert” way, that is all they know. If they invest it is in roads. They dance to the Expert economist’s predictions and propositions (unless it is politically dangerous to do so) the ratings agencies and the voices demanding austerity with little, or no, understanding as to why it isn’t working?

It is not the Australian workforce that needs upskilling (talent languishes unemployed) it is our politicians, governments, bureaucrats, business and union bosses. They have to go back to the core of how they are chosen, how they get the roles and what level of ability they have to perform those roles.

In my paper on “”what type of boss you have” I canvass the categories of managers and the research indicates that those enterprises that have managers in the Strategist and Alchemist category are those that excel. It is a very difficult transition from one of the other categories into the top. Expert managers also relate to Expert politicians and bureaucrats. The status quo is maintained. I would hazard that our leaders and decision makers are mostly in the Expert category with a few high profile ones in the first category of Opportunist. The Expert is confounded by the environment we have today. Their expert discipline, and training, focuses on singular dimensions revenue and cost. Half yearly financial announcements (August 2015) show profits delivered predominantly by cost cutting. The story is manipulated by referring to the “underlying profit”. This is a parlour trick for the unaware and uninformed. The Australian Security and Investment Commission does not like such methods of reporting because they are basically not true. It seems to me that a majority of politicians, business, bureaucrats and union leaders are more concerned with process, and adherence, than they are with substance and examination of new ways and ideas. They are uncomfortable wandering out of their comfort zones of what they have experienced (or not) and what they know or think they know.

The Australian Public Service Commission has focused on the decline in skill of the Public Service and are engaged in deciding what new criteria and models will drive the future. Whilst public servants are supposed to be a-political there is a valid proposition to examine that many of them are Labor by nature and view, waiting for the merry go round to deliver the real government. We can see the obsession with process in the operation of the Victorian State Labor government, first choice – let’s have an enquiry and a committee and Minister these representatives must be on it. In NSW the public service is moribund and bound up in turf protection. The other public services are not only obstructive but can be dangerous in their incompetence. They do not even recognise they need to upskill and adapt. Having a degree or a certificate is not a panacea delivering real skill and ability.


In 2005 the Harvard Business Review published an article entitled “The Seven Transformations of Leadership”, authored by David Rooke and William Torbett.. David Rooke ( is a partner at Harthill Consulting in Hewelsfield, England and William R. Torbert ( is a professor at Boston College’s Carroll School of Management in Massachusetts. They are coauthors of Action Inquiry: The Secret of Timely and Transforming Leadership (Berrett-Koehler, 2004). “Most developmental psychologists agree that what differentiates leaders is not so much their philosophy of leadership, their personality, or their style of management. Rather, it’s their internal “action logic”—how they interpret their surroundings and react when their power or safety is challenged. Relatively few leaders, however, try to understand their own action logic, and fewer still have explored the possibility of changing it.” (Source: April, 2005, Harvard Business Review) Research has informed the authors to create categories of management types.

The Opportunist

Characterized by mistrust, egocentrism, and manipulativeness, a title that reflects their tendency to focus on personal wins and see the world and other people as opportunities to be exploited. How they will react to an event depends primarily on whether or not they think they can direct the outcome. They treat other people as objects or as competitors who are also out for themselves. The demographic appears to only cover 5% of enterprise Executives. They legitimize their actions as necessary in the dog eat dog world of global competition and pursuit of the objective. They are short term operators focused on daily/weekly delivery of results across their respective organisations.

The Diplomat

The Diplomat wants to please higher level of management and avoid conflict. Their logic is to cooperate and perform the daily tasks well. This person performs well in support roles or in creating the bonds amongst the colleagues and are mostly found in the lower levels of management, supervisory, customer service representative and human services..

The Expert

This is the largest demographic. Experts try to exercise control by perfecting their knowledge. These CEOs and Executives are likely to come from backgrounds of accounting, engineering, law, investment and marketing. They will rise up through the ranks of corporations and are unlikely to have a resume of many jobs. They use hard data, and logic, CRM systems, ERP, People Management. KPIs and Performance. They will pursue continuous improvement, efficiency, and perfection. “But as managers, they can be problematic because they are so completely sure they are right.”” (ibid)

The Achiever

The most likely to transform from the Expert character. This is the next largest demographic and they invite and are relationship oriented. They will enjoy wide and open networks of people and relationships. They are team leaders who will implement new strategies and test them. They are longer term thinkers and will look at 3 – 5 year horizons. The staff turnover and burn rate is lower in an organisation lead by an Achiever. They clash with Experts who find them hard to get oi with because they are less influenced by the data and the rules and more by the impacts on the motivation and performance of their enterprise. They allow flexible non adherence in those who challenge the status quo (The Individualists) for the betterment of the enterprise. The Expert is a perfectionist pursuer based on logic and over engineering.

The Individualist

This demographic is getting into the rare statistics. They are aware of ethics and the possible conflicts between their principles and their actions, or between the organisation’s values (and lack thereof) and implementation, or eschewing of values for purpose. “This conflict becomes the source of tension, creativity, and a growing desire for further development. Individualists also tend to ignore rules they regard as irrelevant, which often makes them a source of irritation to both colleagues and bosses.” (Source: ibid) The Individualist will often be personified by a view as a renegade, an uncontrolled cannon. The Expert will view the Individualist as a divisive person because the Individualist will use both expertise, diplomacy and opportunity as methodologies to get the end result. They can work in teams and on their own. They draw a lot of human resource department attention and will be the subject of complaints from those who like rules and structures and their own little power world. The Individualist threatens almost every other category listed previously. The Individualist will be known across the whole organisation regardless of whether it is a small, medium or large global entity. The stuff of story and legend. Their relationships may be wider, and broader, than the Achiever. They are likely to be informal leaders.

The Strategist

The demographic is much smaller less than 5%. Strategists use personal relationships, organisational relations, and politics, national and international development to work their place in the organisation. They study power and influence and Gaem Theory and other management methodologies. They are charismatic and diplomatic whilst exhibiting elements of the Individualist. They are rarely Opportunistic and can exercise Expertise since they can assimilate large volumes of diverse information They see constraints and perceptions, they create and harness shared views and engage in organisational transformations from within and without. An alienated Strategist, of diverse ability, is a severe danger to the Senior Leadership because they absorb the knowledge and expertise of the enterprise, know its strengths and flaws and its people cultures. They move effortlessly across cultural borders and more likely to harness relationships outside the core of the Senior Leadership local power base. The Strategist handles conflict extremely well and comfortably and will deliberately generate conflict at high levels of the enterprise to get attention or to send a message. Strategists are highly effective change agents who can effect it from within or without over time. They are longer term deployment and tactical implementers who see and think in logical and patterned ways, following along the defined paths and methodologies adapting only after they realise the strategy is not working. They can sometimes leave adaptation until it is too late.

The Alchemist

The rarest category, according to research, only 1%. They can renew and reinvent themselves changing from one engagement to another, they will operate in multiple organisations. “The Alchemist has an extraordinary capacity to deal simultaneously with many situations at multiple levels. The Alchemist can talk with both kings and commoners. They can deal with immediate priorities yet never lose sight of long-term goals. They do and deliver what they promise even if it takes years.” (Source: ibid) Transformation to the being an Alchemist is the most difficult and unachievable since it requires a rewiring of the brain and abandonment of fear and the straight jacket of experience and individual barriers. It is the high risk category of management that tests assumptions, strategies and expertise all at once on many fronts inside and outside the enterprise. The Alchemist will harness and nurture a following for decades. Humility (in that they do not steal other’s thunder) carry no big titled business card if they carry one at all and this nurturing of existing, and creation of new, relationships are their most powerful values. They will have mentors but rarely seek out new ones rather adopting a mutuality where they co-mentor their mentors and often can be found as advisers to people running public and private enterprise, institutions and not for profit community development. They tend to look at the enterprise they are in and at the industry, or sector, as a whole. They are very political and know bureaucracy’s power and limitations.

Hundreds have lost their job due to Woolworths (Supermarkets) Australia Board and Management Incompetence

Some years back Australian Coles Supermarket belonged to the Myer Retail Group. It was not doing all that well. It was bought by Wesfarmers who also pown Bunnings. Coles along with Woolworths Supermarkets holds about 80% of the Australian FMCG Grocery business and large chunk of fuel and alcohol outlets. Coles was in a parlous position and if Woolworths Board and senior Management had foresight and reasonable ability along with retailing knowledge as well as passable marketing and customer service it could have delivered heavy damage to Coles' market share and operations. Instead the Board invested hundreds of millions into a hardware chain called Masters. These stores which are quite well dressed are supposed to have taken share of Bunnings, instead the strategy and marketing management made a complex mess losing hundreds of millions.

Meanwhile Woolworths Supermarkets continued to run a tired marketing dressage (Fresho Food People) and a protection of their profit margins at great cost to their base line operations. They blindly serve the shareholder and not the customers. Sacking hundreds of staff to acheive their profits and diminishing their competitive advantage if they ever had any. The money they wasted on their Masters adventure could have been used to refurbish their tired stores, create new product lines, engage in basic customer service and training in order to render Coles to the second ranking. But myopia afflicted their entire Board and management. Coles was given breathing room for a long time.

Woolworths aliented suppliers and unlike Coles would not admit to unconscienable conduct or lack of an ethical compass.

Wesfarmers Board and CEO invested in Coles and imported high;y tactiical and skilled retailers from the United Kingdom. They created mundane but effective marketing - Down Down and Down. Then converted that to staying down. Together with Aldi, Coles has become synonymous with being cheaper and a deep discounting entity. The customers moved to these two. Now they check, like I do, who is cheaper on specific items. The loyalty is gone. The Woolworths Rewards Card is a failure in cementing loyalty and is inferior to Fly Buys. The discounting wars has also impacted the next tier FMCG company Metcash who supply, among others, IGA chain of independent store owners and Supabarns. The latter falling to acquisition in June 2015 I do believe to Coles Australia.

Woolworths has publicly demonstrated how to destroy value, and image, in a long and arduous effort of many years. Woolworths Australia's Board, and former and current CEO are high profile executives. They have been perceived in corporate circles as people of talent and expertise. The theory is that the leaders and managers in our business icons are the best money can buy and up there with the rest of the world. The Australian Industry Group Report (refereed below in this site) says they are not and Wolworths demonstrates that it is not the case. The proposition that Woolworths is a well managed company is, and was, a facade. Big revenue streams, glossy marketing, television ads and a corporate bureaucracy, hide a lot of things.

Woolworths is now a public farce, with an own goal by a bungling and ineffective big business with marginally talented people in key positiions. Their operational abilities are more aliged to the Australian Industry Group report given to Parliament on the poor capabilities of Australia's managers in many of the nation's iconic corporations, and within medium and small enterprise, described below. "Breeding Ponds for Local Jerks". Woolworths never allowed new blood of talent in. Maybe it was just arrogance or a modicum of fear. Perhaps they kept talent out because they might question and threaten the incumbent's hold on positions. The Chairman, and Board, stubbornly stay on metering out ongoing damage and refusing to accept responsibility or admit their incompetence. The CEO had the fortitude to resign. Tge Chairman doesn't demonstrate much to hold him in high regard. The employees who lost their jobs did not get to be stubborn and stay.

Now Woolworths will continue to pay a very expensive price until the shareholders with the voting power tell them to get on their bikes. The culture of indifference to reality has permeated the total enterprise from the top down to the shop floor and the motivation of the staff is destroyed. Only a sycophant or sheep would beleive that they work for a great company and its reputation can be restored.

In the context of people management what benchmarks do Woolworths Human Resources apply in determining who gets to work at the company when the bosses themselves fail basic tests so publicly and are unsuitable as key performance indicators?


This is the headline of an article in The Australian Financial Review newspaper, page 44, 16-16 June, 2015. The article poses the proposition that regardless of whether our managers are push overs or jerks they are falling behind the rest of the world. Six years ago Australian employees rated their managers eight in global rankings for being held in high regard. By 2014 Australia was 10th.

In Sydney in May 2015 a US management consultant Brian Robertson, who travels the globe ranking management talent, described Australia's corporate managers and ineffective and infantilising. He said the modern dynamic of management was that management assumes they can't trust people to be autonomous, and productive, adults if left on their own.

I have worked under this modern patternof management hegemony, for a US mulitinational, run by managers who micro manage, and scrutinise, every hour of every day of every week. The company spends millions on monitoring employees and the CRM fill out. They use a mix of cajoling, pressure, fear and threat as the primary mechanisms of driving sales success and productivity in the pursuit of endless growth. Managers are not the world's most lovable breed. When I raise this with them they are proud of, and invigorated, by their power and the challenge. They love the pressure and the pursuit of one objective - revenue. They of course get the big bucks, not the small beer received by the shop floor. They are inculcated with a gladiatorial mentality. Their ethical compass is askew or broken.

A report prepared by PwC for the Australian NSW Chamber of Commerce, in 2014, ranked Australian managers last of 33 developed nations for collaboration. They do not make good team players.

Few companies are investing time amd resources in equipping their under skilled managers. Short termism is driving corporate ethos.

Many Australian companies do have luminary leaders but at the next level down and into the belly of management they drop away.

HSBC Bank has announced it will cut 50,000 jobs. The productivity will not fall since the Board and Management will require the reduced number of staff to work harder and longer. This will lead to poor performance and employee churn. But slash and burn increases profit and seduces shareholders.

Unambitious risk averse Australian corporate managers have contributed to the decline of innovation and success so much so that Australia has plunged to 116th out of 142 countries according to the above PwC report.

Australian corporations are locked in a destructive culture, hard to overcome historical and cultural attitudes to power, control and hierarchy, creating often insurmountable barriers and obstacles.

Despite these truths we see every day misleading, and blatantly, false job advertisements where almost every company is described as a "world leader". In what? Claims that they are an employer of choice with heavily sought after careers. Teir management is described as exceptional and dynamic. They will probably receive hundreds of applications and the applications will come from individauls who are unlikely to have read the Australian Industry Group or PwC scathing assessments of the state of our nation's management capability. The applications will come from people who may have done a cursory examination of the potential employer by looking at their web site or a modicum of investigation by looking at the annual report.

The culture of the company will be dressed up in the effusive job advertisement. After all it's easy to buy a pliable recruiter or human resource practitioner. It's not as if there is a shortage of employment agencies.

The likely trajectory of a company's future is masked by short term results and manipuklative accounting and human resource practices. The cancer takes years to envelop the enterprise if it retains the same cultural hegemony. Employees move on and the unambitious under performers who know how to work the "internal politics" stay.



"A lack of "self awareness" by ineffective company managers is contributing to Australia's slipping international reputation of corporate leadership, according to a new Australian Industry Group report presented in federal parliament on Wednesday. The report, which may shock chief executives and confirm some workers' poor opinion of their bosses, suggests urgent co-operation between government, business, and the education sector to arrest Australia's slide to the bottom of international rankings of leadership and management practices. The AI Group's Addressing Enterprise Leadership In Australia report said leadership was recognised for the role it plays in contributing to innovation through improving operations, organisational structures, new business models and design thinking. But when it comes to converting research dollars into commercial success, Australia ranks 116th out of 142 countries and ranks last out of 22 OECD countries for collaboration.

The report also found Australian managers overestimated their company's management capabilities - even when managers were asked to ignore their own performance. "This blind spot brought on by a lack of self-awareness amongst managers in manufacturing firms is of great concern as it leads to an under-investment in leadership capability development, the consequences of which can be far reaching," the report said. AI Group chief executive Innes Willox said businesses needed to be willing to improve their existing leadership and take a longer-term view when they consider how to create value for shareholders." (Australian Financial Review, Jun 3 2015 at 1:47 PM Australian managers overestimate themselves, Australian Industry Group finds, Fleur Anderson)

"Managers ineffective and infantilising, Vivid future of work event told", June 5, 2015, Sydney Morning Herald, Rose Powell

"Usually, politics happens in companies because it's the most effective way to get stuff. It's a shame, but the way to get it done is to play the system instead of just having a transparent set of rules." Mr Robertson's comments come the day after a damning report into Australian managers presented to the federal Parliament by the Australian Industry Group. The report found Australian managers overestimated their capacity but were also the world's least effective, ranking last among OECD nations and 116th out of all 142 countries surveyed, for their capacity to turn research investments into commercial success. Workplace politics and feelings of professional frustration were key reasons employees looked for jobs, an activity Australians were remarkably enthusiastic about, another employment specialist revealed. Three-quarters of full-time employees were either actively looking for new job opportunities or were open to being headhunted, global job search engine Indeed's vice-president, Paul D'Arcy said."

Wandering the corridors of Linked In one might assume that Australian managers were world class and being associated with tnm via Connecting may be well viewed internationally. However the above report puts paid to such a value proposition. It is well known among those who are (as stated above) continually on the hunt for jobs that the chances of receoving a high quality resume assessment and interview is plauged by personality, politics and myopia within Australia's corporations and government agencies, institutions as well as small to medoum business. Unlike international recruiters and managers Australian managers tend to look for clones that fit their comfort zone.

They are unlikely to take on someone from a completely different sector. For example try entering high level consulting, banking, retail (with Woolworths or Coles) past the gatekeepers of their human resource divisions if you do not have years working specificallly in their sectors. Try becoming a consultant if you have not wallowed in the tier one firms. The proposition that a highly effective person can transfer from a totaly unrelated industry eg power utilities, education, general consultiing and others seems beyond their comprehension.

No matter how you may have delivered high impact change affecting not only an organisation but perhaps the economy itself, or how you may have delivered an outcome against all odds in a complex and quite risky enviroonment, it will be of no merit if you have not inter alia stacked a supermarket shelf or ripped off a supplier, or sent an investor broke, charged exorbitant usery rates and disconnected your moral and ethical nerve centre.

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NOW IT'S Australia's FIAT CHRYSLER bosses

It is alleged that Clyde Campbell and Veronia Johns, former bosses of Fiart Chrysler Australia engaged in lavish spending buying luxury goods for staff, spending up big at a Melbourne hotel, food accommodation and spa treatments. Their life style included undertaking driver training. They then used Fiat Chrysler company funds to race at Autralia's Bathurst Raceway, at a purported cost of up to $A800,000. The annual staff Christmas party is reopted to have cost $A1 million including boooking a 100 rooms at hotel. Anyone who questioned the spending got their marching orders.

Fiat Chrysler has filed a law suit in Australia's federal court. A $A400,000 yacht was purchased, trips to Rio, New Orleans, New Zealand, and Victoria Racing Cllub memberships totalling $A244,800 and $A380,000 in gift vouchers.

The couple claim the charges are baseless and scandalous and are politically motivated inside Fiat Chrysler.

As Australia's high profile executives and companies slide deeper into the quagmire, the unknowing person applies for a job, recruiters work for bent company executives, in company human resource managers, staff at every level, remain mute, the PR companies spin the lies and misrepresentations, the media finds out belatedly, and anyone, or an enterprise, earning big $$ of these types dump ethics and morals. They are complicit in their silence and acceptance often accepting largesse and swimming in the sewer of power, money, greed and inflluence. Alternatively they carry out no research of the nature and behaviour of their clients and personal associations.


Some, maybe a lot of, Australian Human Resource Recruiters might behave like Real Estate Agents?

These advertisements below appear on a jobs board in Australia, there are thousands like this. A few tell I have read do not bosster are to the point, most embellish. How many jobs on these sites are real? Some unkind critics, cast aspersions, saying the recruiters and jobs boards, are loading non existing jobs to gather resumes. Obviosuly if the client company logo is used this practice is not industry wide.

There are certain descriptions, and phraaes, used in the real estate industry that convey subliminal messages if you know them. The Australian recruitment business is no different. They booster, exaggerate and mislead. This first one takes the cake for drivel, use of nonsense descriptions and buzz words. The requirements demonstrate a myopic limited view of the market place. It's a WOW!

This advertsiement, including typos, is for a Relationshp Manager (aka Sales grunt). "You're an amazing and experienced Relationship Manager with an impeccable track record of client development within the who's who of Australian Tier 1 customers. This is mainly Melbourne but might include Sydney and is within a Digital, Software and/or DevOps Services led engagement. Your focus will be on the strategic and structured client development, wbuilding upon our trusted relationship status across senior stakeholders and influencing wider. You will likely support those around you in their own development plans due to your expertise in this area. You can have the confidence of Odecee's Experts to WOW clients with bold, insightful and eloquent solutions, easing the conversation on what is next and how we can assist in a sustainable manner inline with our business strategy and values. Your strengths include senior stakeholder management and account management and you have the humility and leadership skills that see people flocking to work with you and can talk the talk around Digital, Software Development and DevOps."

This ad begins with the usual hype and goes end to end in its end to end - according to the ad this company is a "leader in industry sector"....Now recognised as one of Australia’s fastest growing and most forward thinking financial institutions, our client is continuing an exciting journey of growth."

"You are an end-to-end Change Manager with experience of planning and delivering significant programs of work. You will be required to have a strong change methodology / framework, experienced in end-to-end Change Management, including putting together communications and training plans.... 5+ years of experience within change management, more recently as the leading change manager, managing end to end change for large cross functional business projects....Proven in depth change management experience"

So this applicant is going to be a leading expert proven, with five years of experience.

"My client is considered a leader in developing and driving investments via technology-driven platforms. ... Like many emerging growth businesses, a high level of commitment and pro-activity is required to ensure success and they see the appointment of this role as strategic in this process. "

So how can they be a leader if they are emerging? The person who wrote this advertisement is .....?

"The City of South Perth is a unique and vibrant Western Australian municipality, located only 4kms from the Perth CBD."

How is it unique other than it is on the Swan River in Western Australia?

"As a Council, South Perth retains a strong and positive reputation for sound governance, community consultation and an ambitious strategic plan."

The Consultant who wrote this advertisement has never done any research on this Council.

"is a market leader in the design, manufacture and building of residential, rural, commercial and storage solutions across Australasia"

The most common claim by every company, and recruiter, regardless of truth, company ethical record, Board and the quality of management. Is they are "world leaders". How many leaders in the world, in a particular industry sector or business can there be? Define what world leader means.

"We're an Australian owned licensed electricity retailer with a unique position in the retail market. We provide large suitable commercial and industrial electricity users energy solutions to significantly reduce electricity costs via access to the wholesale electricity market."

There are at least six, Australian and multinational, electricity market retailers in the Australian NEM that can claim this. The company, and its recruiter's description in the advertisement implies a lowr level of ethics and perhaps that this employer is delusional. Did they read the recruiters advertisement?

"the leading textile rental company in the world", how does the recruiter know this? It is a very big world changing every day.

"market leading, privately owned, motor dealer group", we all know there are an extraodinary number of car dealers given territory to sell in across Australia. This one is, according to the recruiter, the market leader among many.

"Our client is a leading global coatings organisation". Just as these people calll their clients leaders, assuming there are multiple columns to lead, so to do new media companies tell us that they can put their client's web site, number one in search engine listings, despite there being billions of sites on the web?


Go to Ethical Editotials

Lowest grade management on display

They probably teach employees the technical basics of how to use the checkout. But there is no evidence there is any deeper training in customer service or the basics of the firm's business.

Recently I was asked to open my bags at the checkout and the checkout operator looked in and asked for receipts. I asked why she needed receipts? I asked her if she knew her employer product logos and brands because it was clear they were not Woolworths products and price labels. The products were cearly all Coles competitor brands and Coles price labels. I declined to produce recipts and she said it was policy, she callled her supervisor. Slavish adherence to policy even when the obvious is clear. One might presume that the employee may have bben given some training or might have a rudimentary knowledge of the products being sold by the employer and the brand logos that are their trademarks versus their competitors. Not necessarily.

Recently there was an expose on Australian Broadcasting Corporation ABC 4 Corners affecting ever major supermarket . Fresh food sold in Australian retailer supermarkets and fast foood chains, all stores were named, were the effort of migrant labour working under slavery and usery conditions. Farms, chicken production (brands named) and more. In my local shopping malll I was told that store management did not get the staff together and say look we have a major issue about a programme on television last night. Customers might ask whether our products are sourced from places using slave labour? Tere was no advice or indication to employees how to answer or react. At the checkout in Aldi customers were discussing the programme. The chheckout operator had no cklue what they were talking about.

This is not an isolated case. I have ben sworn at (with four letter words) by a major Australian retailemployer for telling her it was rude to talk on her mobile whilst serving me. The chain was Woolworths.

The Human Resource representaative told me this was not their policy. How dumb is that statement. As if a store would have a policy that allowed employees to swear at customers. The employee would be spoken to. I shopped there again. The employee made no apology. This is typical of the
low grade management exhibited by that company and many more. The management have no service culture assuming that low prices is the mechanism which allows them to avooid training, ethics, service and model management.

Australia's federal parliament wants many older Australians to work until we are 70.

The bodies of many people working in labouring and heavy trade jobs will not hold up.

For others that is all very well except the employment recruiters are unlikely to have been born when older Australians created the economic, and social, foundations of the nation. They have no idea of the change agenda or the contribution nor of the "disruptive innovation" we birthed.

Are any of the following propositions fact or partially correct or disputable even wrong?










The underlying ethos and attitudes required to effect such a major shift in demography andentrenched attitudes to employment stereotypes do not exist.

Unlike lateral thinking natiions like the USA, and Asia, that seek out talent from a wide net, Australia's advertised job descriptions, supplied to recruiters too often define experience and skill within a narrow band.

Many small employers have a poor record of managing their employee workforce and talents. many SME owners are barely competent in running a modern business.

We are a nation grappling with agism, bias and discrimination, not only against women but against many people of ethnic background.
Australia's archaic industrial relations policies and systems

Overblown Capabilities of Employment Agencies

Corporations claiming to be "a world leader" smacks of arrogance and hubris.

There are exceptions. Innovative and creative thinkers, like RMIT University Melbourne, who looked outside the box and appointed Mr Bean as Vice Channcellor of the "Open University", he does not have the standard academic background.

In the USA employers value age, and experience, that is why American companies are successful and better managed. I will tell Australia's federal government Treasurer, Joe Hockey, and his colleague Ministers, that the government's proposition we should all work till we are 70 is all very well except... the recruiters, and employers, are not on board, or mature enough, at this time to change the culture of agism nor comprehend the multiple benefits.

I am testing the recruitment process, between February and March 2015, I applied for 30 jobs that I thought I was well qualified matching and exceeding criteria. Process is slow, five negative responses, without feedback or reasons, not one interview offer. It is a rude sysstem without exception. Recruiters are blunt and often patronissing with platitudes wishing me well in my career.

Bias against older workers endemic and 'quite frightening', according to Age Discrimination Commissioner Susan Ryan, By political reporter Naomi Woodley, ABC, Updated 17 Sep 2014, 8:55pm

The reluctance of Australian employers to hire older workers is costing the country about $10 billion each year, according to Australia's Age Discrimination Commissioner. Susan Ryan says bias against workers over 50 is endemic and she fears it is much worse than previously thought.

Time for businesses to recognise older Australians' value Businesses also need to undergo a "sea change" to see the value in employing older Australians, according to Ms Ryan. "We get a lot of formal complaints at the [Human Rights] Commission, and they take the form of people being nagged into taking redundancies, or people being told they're no longer suitable for their task, and being laid off," she said. Employers have to say to themselves, I want the best person for the job, not a person that I'm judging by the number of birthdays he or she has had Susan Ryan

"People being told they can't undertake training that would be necessary for promotion or even to maintain their position because their employer thinks they're too old or they won't get their money's worth investing in their training." In the 2014 federal budget the Government announced businesses would be eligible for up to $10,000 if they employed a job seeker over the age of 50 and kept them in employment. While other wage subsidy programs have not had a big take-up rate, Ms Ryan said she hoped this one would be successful. But she warned there was more to be done.

"Employers have to say to themselves, I want the best person for the job, not a person that I'm judging by the number of birthdays he or she has had," she said. The commissioner has also questioned the need for an influx of foreign workers on 457 or similar working visas, when so many older Australians are still willing to work. "I agree if we do have serious skills shortages, and we do have overseas workers who can come in, that's a sensible thing to do," she said. "But it's very hard to believe, when you look at the numbers of unemployed people in their 50s and 60s, the numbers of people who are willing to train, who are willing to move for a job." "You have to ask yourself, are employers looking at our local talent pool of mature workers before they decide they need to import labour? I don't think the answer is yes in every case." She says research previously commissioned for the Australian Human Rights Commission found a 3 per cent increase in workforce participation amongst workers aged 55 and over could contribute $33 billion to the nation's gross domestic product (GDP). "It's big, big money," she said.

"When you look at numbers like that it's hard to understand why more effort isn't being made to ensure those people can work longer."

Australia’s Wasted Talent Jul 29, 2014, Opinion, employment, hiring, human resource, job, job application, job market, migrants, talent, By Kin Kok Low, JOM Magazine

"Jimmy Teoh, an experienced software specialist, sent job applications to more than 50 companies in Australia but after attending just two interviews in a year, he packed up and returned to his former employer in a Scandinavian country. Despite being an engineer with working experience in Iran, Nasir Abdul Wahid could only land part-time work at a not-for-profit organisation here. Another engineer, Christopher Lee, currently works two jobs as a factory operator and a cleaner in a fast food joint. Lisa Zhang’s commerce degree had secured her a job in numerous global corporations in China but only got her as far as a salesgirl position in Australia. There are many more like them. In my volunteer work to help new migrants find employment, I’ve met hundreds of qualified, experienced professionals looking to get their foot in the door. These new migrants were all granted visas under the Professional/Skills category but Australian hiring managers are somehow unwilling to take a chance on them.

In 1992 my family uprooted itself from Malaysia to move to Australia. That was also the year that Australia underwent a recession. Official unemployment was at 10.5%. For new migrants it was about 50% and for a human resources professional like myself, it was almost 100%. I have an honours degree in economics and had spent 10 of my 18 years at JP Morgan Chase as its Vice President, Human Resources Partner for North Asia and Regional Human Resources Manager for ASEAN, India and Pakistan. Yet I spent two years submitting over 500 job applications only to snag eight interviews, all of which ended with “your qualifications and experience do not match our requirements”. I didn’t understand how my degree, multilingualism and vast professional experience weren’t good enough even for junior positions. I suffered depression and low self-esteem, and questioned my decision to move to this “country of opportunity”.

I finally landed my first job through a mutual friend who conveyed my plight to a Malaysian property tycoon with seven properties in Australia. Before I knew it, I was appointed the Human Resources Director for Vista Australia. At the end of the day, it wasn’t a job application that led me to that opportunity but the power of networking.

The local experience

Even today Australian hiring managers perceive new migrants as “hiring risks” solely on the basis that they don’t have local experience. During my 10 years as Human Resources Manager for Webforge Pacifica and Dow Chemical Australia and New Zealand, I learnt that many hiring managers harbour strong doubts as to whether an Asian can get the job done.

While Asians can prove they have the technical skills for the job, Australian hiring managers want them to also prove their soft skills like leadership, teamwork and problem solving as they perceive Asians as passive and submissive.

Recruitment and selection

Once, while working as a division human resources manager for an Australian company, I was asked to assist in a selection process for another division that needed an acoustic expert. The engineering director had shortlisted a candidate from China but the human resources director disagreed on the grounds that the candidate had ‘failed’ tests on patterns, numeracy and English.

I was told to interview the candidate again and convey the reasons for the rejection. This candidate had a PhD from an Australian university, was lecturing in another and had previously worked for Boeing. The tests that he had failed were designed for quick-thinking Year 12 students not for research scientists. I strongly recommended him and he was hired. We had almost lost a talent to a competitor due to a one-size-fits-all recruitment and selection process. Recruitment companies equally subscribe to this flawed system". (end of extract)

User #441474, Ex HaysEmployee

"You wake one morning and you are a Recruitment Consultant! That’s how easy it is to break into the industry. You start your first day in the agency and you are told by management that you are “an expert” in your field and to assume that persona.

I have been in the recruitment game for over 10 years and I have made a successful career from behaving in the opposite manner to my peers and competition. In fact, I believe 90% of the industry is marred by incompetent, unethical, smooth talking, aggressive, greedy “salespeople”. That’s effectively what they are “salespeople” and they are not interested as you the “candidate” or “client”, rather the commission and KPI targets they need to achieve in order to keep their job.

This mindset is not the fault of the individual. It is the way they are trained and educated by the management of these agencies. Recruitment Agencies are highly competitive and stressful work environments, and unsurprisingly the reason for ridiculously high staff turnover.

The Recruitment industry in Australia problem stems from English based recruitment firms setting up business and bringing their people here to conduct business as they do in the UK. Although, it is a successful model for being profitable, recruitment agents not only have a poor reputation in the UK, but have a worse one here in Australia. The only difference is, is that the Brits are more tolerable to being blatantly lied too and crap service. Here in Australia, we call a spade a spade and we want quality and truthful service.

I am now an Internal Recruitment Manager for a major international manufacturing company. As a business rule, I will not do any business with any English people or English based firms. In my time, I have met hundreds of these fast talking English people, and knowing them personally, I know for a fact they don’t care two hoots about you…. It’s all about them. They are “show ponies”, flash suits, mismatched bright shirts and ties, big bling cuff links and an air of confidence bordering arrogance. Don’t get me wrong, I love English people, I have lived in the UK for over 3 years and made some amazing friends. I have interviewed many “experienced” agency consultants in my time. One thing that is very evident almost none of them knew how to conduct an interview or even know how to ask effective questions…. And they call themselves “Recruiters”!!! Ask yourself this question. “When was the last time I visited an agency and was actually interviewed?”

Recruitment Consultants screen in the same way they were once screened when they applied for their jobs…. They go by “looks”. And if they “like” you, they will be inclined to help you! I was once a recruitment consultant for a major UK based agency that boast they are the largest in the world (not necessarily good either... I might add), and here are some home truths about the way they conduct themselves in the market. This behaviour is encouraged by top management. Most English based firms conduct themselves in this manner too. INTERNET ADVERTISING

Ninety percent of the jobs are “FAKE”!!! This is also the reason why they don't disclose the client's name over the phone (not due to confidentiality.... but rather, there is no client.... seriously think about it). The advert is designed to promote the perfect job with excessively high salaries. This obviously acts as a net for attracting candidates. You meet with the consultant, who will then reduce your salary expectations and gains your permission to “float” your resume to various organisation on their database. Large corporate Recruitment Agencies will lead you to believe they have strong relationships with “the client” when in fact nothing could be farther from the truth. There is no relationship between client and agency, and in most instances PSA don’t mean crap (*). (*) PSA only exist with companies with large volume needs, for example in Industrial (warehousing, pick packers, etc), and Banking and Finance (collections, etc) and Call Center type roles. (*) I once worked as an internal recruiter for a company that had over 100 agencies on our “PSA” panel. All these agencies were out there boasting that they were doing business with us. The fact is, for a 12 month period, we did our own recruitment and spent zero dollars on permanent agency costs. The reason why we had a “PSA” panel was to eliminate recruiters from poaching our staff….. Suckers!

The truth is…. Recruitment is “TRANSACTIONAL” and it’s all about timing. The agency contacts a company and by slim chance a person with your qualifications and experience is required, an interview will be set up. This is truly a numbers game! The consultant will make between 10 – 20 calls or e-mails on your behalf and if the consultant is any good, he or she may be able to secure the 2 – 3 interviews.

How to avoid the recruitment agency horror stories, Fiona Smith Columnist, BRW Australia, Published 04 April 2013

"Every industry has its deadbeats – but some manage to do an excellent job in giving everyone else a bad name. The recruitment industry is particularly prone to “bad apples” because of the fly-by-night nature of so many of the people who work there and the short-term focus of monthly targets.

In-house recruiter Dan Nuroo recently mused about why people hate recruitment agencies on his blog. “I knew a guy who placed the same person into a permanent role three times in a year! Twice in the same company, just asked her to go by her maiden name the second time around so as to not raise suspicion,” he writes. “He made a fee each time upwards of $20,000 (in the days of three month replacements), and would brag about it. I’ve heard of agents blatantly using their sexuality to try to get work to the point of offering ‘the full service’ for work.”

I had a boss, who actually told a young lady that she’d better go to the ladies to fix her dress as the straps kept falling off. ‘It’s not accidentally happening’, he was told. (True story).” Speaking to BRW, Nuroo (who has worked in-house and in agencies) says he has also known agents to threaten to “empty the car park” – poach all the staff – if a company refused to use their services. Indeed, I have seen a similar response online from a recruiter complaining about IT company Atlassian’s restrictive contracts for recruitment agencies. Nuroo, who is general manager of recruitment at IMA Management and Technology, is not anti-agency but is warning employers to be careful about the agencies they use and to think about what they want from them.

“There’s a few bad apples,” he says. He says he would not use agencies for his day-to-day hiring, because that is his job. Where he does use them is for “different” roles, for sectors of the market where the company doesn’t have expertise or the network." (end of extract)

"Why ‘agency recruitment’ is totally screwed, By Greg Savage on March 11, 2014, Greg Savage,

"The recruitment agency business model is grotesquely dysfunctional.

It is broken. Yes. It. Is. Certainly for permanent recruitment. We are just so used to it, have it so imbued in our psyche, that we don’t appreciated how farcical and damaging it is. For everybody.

Multi-listed, contingent job-orders benefit no-one.

Clients, naively thinking they get a better service because they get agencies to compete, actually get a far worse service because they are actively encouraging recruiters to work on speed, instead of quality.

Recruiters suffer because even if we want to, we can’t really ‘partner’ or ‘consult’, or ‘value-add’, and in the end we only fill one out of five jobs, if we are lucky, destroying profit in many cases, and the careers of recruiters too, who simply burn out, chasing rainbows. And, the often ignored fact, candidates suffer the most because they do not get service or due care from third party recruiters, who are too busy chasing mythical job orders in competition with five other recruiters, to actually focus on the candidates needs. That’s right. If recruitment worked like accountants, or lawyers, or doctors, or even real estate agents, where the service provider is not working on each case in competition… our recruiters would work on 20% of the orders they currently do, but fill 300% more! And who would benefit the most? Candidates! Yes candidates, who would no longer be treated like cattle, but rather like crucial partners, as they should. No wonder candidates are increasingly avoiding job-boards, and recruiters, and transferring their job search energy to web-searching, social media, and other tactics. Yes, that’s a screwed system all right. But it is getting worse as recruitment evolves." (end of extract)

Greg is the founder of leading recruitment companies Firebrand Talent Search, People2People and Recruitment Solutions. He is an established global leader of the recruitment industry and a regular keynote speaker worldwide. Greg provides specialised advice for Recruitment, Professional Services & Social Media companies.


There are many environmental factors contributing to the need for people to remain in, or rejoin, the workforce at older ages. Making this difficult are the stereotypes about the limitations of older workers. Research, both in Australia and overseas, highlights considerable discrimination against older workers. This paper reports on the findings of two small empirical studies that found job advertisements, although not likely to include overt age limits - due to age discrimination legislation, still appear to target particular age groups, and that the wording of such advertisements can be constructed quite purposefully. Although only one job category was used for these studies, together with the summary of the literature, the challenge for age discrimination is shown to be considerable. Although federal age discrimination legislation has recently been passed, it is predicted that, without significant education and training of employers over a period of time, age discrimination in employment will continue, just as it has under state-based anti-discrimination legislation." (Source: Bennington, Lynne --- "Prime Age Recruitment: The Challenges for Age Discrimination Legislation" [2004] ElderLawRw 8; (2004) 3 Elder Law Review 27)

Age discrimination operates at both the younger end of the continuum and at the “older” end[39] but the focus here is on discrimination in respect to older workers. The term “older” begins to operate in employment at different points for men and women.[40] [41] Some jobs in which women predominate are notoriously allied to ‘youth’ – hairdressing, secretarial work, modelling, sex work, etc whilst jobs where men predominate have less emphasis on ‘looks’ insofar as this concept is applied to women. Even ‘male’ jobs that require physicality seem to have a far broader age-spread – for example, road workers vary in age, although it may be thought that ‘young’ men only need apply, similarly with factory work, executives, heads and upper echelons of government departments, academics (upper echelons in particular are mostly old or older males).

Age limits for jobs also vary, depending upon the country of origin and the sample used, but in Europe, age discrimination seems to start at 45 years or earlier in terms of employers being prepared to hire workers.[42] The age range of interest to employers appears to quite narrow. For example, Loretto, Duncan and White[43] refer to as “prime age labour” or the 25-3 5 age group as the age group employers prefer to hire. The support for this notion is growing. For example, in the United Kingdom, McGoldrick and Arrowsmith’s[44] summary of the research found that the upper age limit for positions varied between 40 and 50 years, but their own study found a mean upper age limit of 37.1 years. In Australia, a Queensland-based team[45] found that employers preferred 26 to 35-year-olds for almost all categories of employment. Victorian-based research also indicated that recruitment agents, when recruiting for secretarial positions, were most interested in those of 25 years of age, followed jointly by those 23 and 30 years of age.[46] Only two out of 180 recruitment consultants in this study thought that those above 37 years would be suitable to employers, even though the average age for a female secretary in the state in which the study was carried out was 36.38 years.[47] (At this time there was state-based age discrimination legislation and the federal Age Discrimination Act 2004 did not exist.)

An analysis of the advertisements used in this Victorian study revealed clear age targeting. A separate study had secretaries rate the individual words used in the advertisements indicating that words such as “buzzy”, “fast-paced”, “go-getter”, “high-flyer”, “can-do”, “switched-on” and “on-the-ball”, “recent graduate”, “at least 2 years experience”, “flexibility”, “dynamic approach”, and benefits relating to “gym” and education were associated with the early 20’s age target; “dedicated”, “hard working”, “loyal”, “unflappable”, “down-to-earth”, and “common-sense approach” were associated with the late 30’s age target; and experience at a “senior level” and a “mature” approach were associated with the over 50’s age group.[48]

Given that over 90 per cent of advertisements for secretaries in this study conveyed a “defined” age expectation,[49] the connotations for prospective applicants were clear. Even without blatant references to age, the wording could easily have deterred potential applicants from even inquiring about jobs, let alone applying - that is, they might screen themselves out on the basis of age. Further study is required to understand how these processes work.

4 Job Advertisements The job advertisement, one of the most common methods of recruitment,[50] has been widely criticized.[51] Although there is general agreement that the purpose of the advertisement is to attract suitably qualified candidates and to encourage them to apply while acting to screen out those who are likely to be deemed unsuitable,[52] strong views exist about what should or should not be included. The main point of contention appears to be whether the desired personal attributes should be mentioned. Eighty per cent of advertisements for personnel positions have been found to contain some reference to personal attributes and their use increased over the ten year span of the study.[53] Yet, even though the specification of age limits for jobs is unlawful in some countries, it is not always overt and some greenfield-sites have been reported as recruiting on the basis of age and personal attributes rather than skills.[54] Given that employers have age preferences, and given that it is generally unlawful to publish age requirements for jobs (there are some exceptions), it might then be expected that job advertisements will contain covert messages about age limits, as appeared to be the case in the Victorian-based study.[55] Moreover, it appears that potential candidates prefer to see this type of information in advertisements;[56] they use whatever information is provided to assess their potential similarity to the firm that has the vacancy. Most candidates do not wish to invest their resources into applying for a position if they are unlikely to meet the employer’s image for the position.

Whether or not the inclusion of personal attributes adds any value to potential applicants, it has been suggested that their inclusion might also have a more sinister side, in that they might act as a form of covert discrimination. For example, it has been pointed out that recruitment advertisements can be discriminatory in respect to the type of copy used – who is portrayed and who is omitted will affect whether potential applicants feel that they will be compatible with the firm.[57] There have been more specific claims that advertisements contained implicit ageism[58] and evidence of words with ageist overtones have been noted.[59] Overall, though, recruitment advertising has attracted little attention in the study of discrimination in employment which is somewhat surprising given that the 1 990s saw a great deal of attention being paid to diversity management. [60]
(Read L Bennington's full research paper)

"Multiple generations working side by side in the workplace not only affect the makeup of an organization, but also how these same organizations address engagement, values, sustainment, tenure, and build toward the retention and transfer of institutional knowledge. Today, as the oldest baby boomers (1946 to 1965) prepare for retirement, some Gen Xers and many millennials are not remaining employed long enough to learn from their older colleagues.

A 2012 study by PayScale, called “Gen Y on the Job,” found the median tenure for millennials to be two years compared with five for Gen X, seven for baby boomers and 10 for silent generation workers. As a result, the institutional knowledge, history and business continuity possessed by the silent generation and baby boomers might vanish with Gen Xers and millennials retaining little or no knowledge.

The inability to retain and transfer institutional knowledge could result in a steady increase in employee turnover and further loss of institutional knowledge, translating into higher costs and lower institutional efficiency." (Extract: When Knowledge Left the Building, Andrew M. Peńa, February 14, 2014)

Why Greg Savage Thinks
‘agency recruitment’ is totally screwed>


Setting aside whether or not Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott, and senior Ministers, have an agenda on industrial relations or whether Mr Abbott cannot lie straight in bed I wish to address the matter of the Australian Productivity enquiry into Industrial Relations orchestrated by the Abbott government and vested allied busimness and other interests. It is focused on the so called sacred cows, minimum wages, penalty rates and impediments to Australia's productivity created by successive governments (state and federal) stupid industrial relations system and legislation, poor return for money Fair Work Commission and its politically apointed decision makers and awards.

The usual business associations have welcomed it lathering up to justify their existence because they are not stellar at innovation or ideas on any of their average working days. The enquiry will take a year keeping everyone occupied as if they are dooing soomething of worth and long term value. The gladiators and spear carriers of all interests are oiling up. It's exciting time for the vacuous, and the clones, in business, politics, unions, media, associations, research institutes and academia.

The Commission enquiry will not examine the performance, and value adding (minimal or an absence thereof) from Australia's two political parties and their incumbents. If they did the resulting research might not be flattering, it might shine a light on the ineptitude and lack of capability, poor policiies and contrived practices. It wil not examine the effectiveness and quality of our education least TAFE become affronted by an assertion they are delivering lowest common denominator "competency versus deeper learning". The Austra;lian Productivity Commission will not examine in its 2015 enquiry Australia's education and training systems and its value to productivity, least the sacred ideology of Australia's Labor Party and unions that Vocational Education and Training (VET)enhances the opportunity for a person to gain a job is challenged. The enquiry might find VET does not enhance the likelihood of a person getting a job. The myriad of job agencoes living off public funding labouring under this fallacy would be at risk.

Vocational education and training, impacts, values, disinterest, prejudice and the politics of employability

Beck, Kevin R.
Affiliation: Faculty of Education
Date: 2003
Document Type: Masters Research thesis
Keywords: vocational education; Australia; evaluation; unemployment; economic policy
Access Status: Open Access
Document Site

Description, © 2003 Kevin R. Beck

This study questions the proposition that undertaking vocational education and training (VET) enhances the likelihood of getting a job. The research opines that the perceived impact of VET in the employment decision is ideological and based on circumstantial evidence not measurable in the absence of specifically focused, large scale, longitudinal research. The research contends that unemployment, and the role of education and training in reducing unemployment, intersect in a highly politicised and manipulated environment lacking the necessary data and research to inform public policy and that this environment has spawned a new class system in Australia - "Employability".

The research states that, in Australia, too many individuals and employers exhibit little regard for the value of education and training preferring experience and attitude, whilst the government makes little effort to instil a desire for life long learning engaging instead in denigration of the unemployed and shaping of public perception whilst frustrating independent analysis of its claims for success in dealing with this social enigma. Work, according to this researcher, has been elevated to the point of becoming a religion and humanity is now valued by business, and government, solely for its "employability" in an act of faith policy set that allocates education and training to a role subordinate to, and supporting of, employability. Decisions on the value of education are left up to individual choice in a narrowly focused set of policies shackled by economic overtones and a failure to promote life long learning.

The research locates these, and other assertions, in a conceptual framework that explores the intersecting themes of society, economics, politics, education and training, through hermeneutical interrogation of empirical, theoretical and philosophical research using content, thematic and materialist semiotic analysis within an ethnographic - inductive design. The study surfaces the proposition that research and balanced economic and social evaluation techniques, together with a sophisticated debate and a set of values and policy of life long learning, does not shape public policy and action. Instead, the drivers are primarily narrow ideologies, acts of faith, unproven assumptions and the objectives of politics and capital.

The researcher ultimately concludes that the decision to employ is more influenced by the external complex interactions of agency, practice and social structure and the singular conditions of interview.

Citation: Beck, K. R. (2003). Vocational education and training, impacts, values, disinterest, prejudice and the politics of employability. Masters Research thesis, Faculty of Education, The University of Melbourne.

If the Australian Production Commission enquiry were to examine this scared cow it might find Australians have a low regard for training, don't want to and if they haave to do it want someone else to pay.

The enquiry will not examine the competency of thhe people who work on Boards, (Institutions, Corporations and Governments'), the Chief Executives and Managing Directors and the myriad of middle management. If it did it might find Australia's management talent, and practices, are not worlld class. The politician's ideas, policies and capabilitiies (Labor and Liberal) are not world class. They are corrupt, in measurable ways, to their very core. The rewrite their resumes constantly. We only have to look at the performance of these politicians from 2006 - 2014 to sustain such a belief. We only have to look at the behaviour of executiives in our banks, finance sector and major retailers like Woolworths and Coles too observe an absence of ethics, quality management and a propensity for illegal behaviour. They are not alone.

Thus Australia's Prime Minister, Mr Tony Abbott, unable to throw of his myopia, pursues ideology and his own perceptions and prejudices along with his colleagues and fan club decade after decade. Enstein said it all when he described stupidity. Doing same thing over and over forever expecting a different outcome.

halo effect Phil Rosenzweig

In the face of abject failure, Australia's political, and business elites have lacked the humility to acknowledge error, with one exception

An unconscious Bias Against Women

Employers appointing people who look like them

"Commonwealth Bank chief executive Ian Narev says he has “no doubt” he has been guilty of unconscious bias against women in the workforce, and believes it is widespread. (Australian Financial Review, Ian Narev ‘guilty’ of bias against women, 11 March 2014)

Leading chief executives have conceded that many Australian companies have a problem with women in senior roles, saying some men "fear having to compete with women". The private and public sector leaders said in an Ernst & Young report that businesses needed to change their mindset about gender equality if they wanted to fully harness the financial benefits of having a diverse workforce. "From both a social justice perspective and from a practical standpoint of wanting the best person for the job, I think it’s frankly ridiculous that we only appoint senior people from 49 per cent of the population," Coco-Cola Amatil chairman David Gonski said. The report, titled In His Own Words, deliberately focused on male leaders and their views on workplace equality. The report also criticised the federal government's new paid parental leave plan as being biased and legislating along gender lines. "Its model is pegged to the woman’s salary, assuming this will always be lower than her partner’s," the report's authors wrote. (Sydney Morning Herald, Australia, October 25, 2013, Some men 'fear competing with women')

As Australia’s progress towards gender equity in the workplace slows, prominent male leaders from the public and private sectors speak candidly about why gender equity is a national imperative, why diversity initiatives alone aren’t working - and the changes Australia needs to embrace for everyone’s benefit. Why is gender equity important?

Beyond the ethical argument, male leaders believe Australia simply cannot afford to leave half the population out of the hiring equation. In their experience, diversity at all levels lowers risk and improves organisational performance. In a diverse organisation: leadership groups make smarter, more informed decisions; customers are better understood; employees are less cynical and more engaged; and organisations gain competitive advantage. Brian Hartzer, Westpac’s Chief Executive, Australian Financial Services says gender equity is an economic imperative."(Source: EY, Building a better working world,

Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders?, by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, 9:00 AM August 22, 2013

There are three popular explanations for the clear under-representation of women in management, namely: (1) they are not capable; (2) they are not interested; (3) they are both interested and capable but unable to break the glass-ceiling: an invisible career barrier, based on prejudiced stereotypes, that prevents women from accessing the ranks of power. Conservatives and chauvinists tend to endorse the first; liberals and feminists prefer the third; and those somewhere in the middle are usually drawn to the second. But what if they all missed the big picture?... The truth of the matter is that pretty much anywhere in the world men tend to think that they that are much smarter than women. Yet arrogance and overconfidence are inversely related to leadership talent — the ability to build and maintain high-performing teams, and to inspire followers to set aside their selfish agendas in order to work for the common interest of the group. Indeed, whether in sports, politics or business, the best leaders are usually humble — and whether through nature or nurture, humility is a much more common feature in women than men. For example, women outperform men on emotional intelligence, which is a strong driver of modest behaviors. Furthermore, a quantitative review of gender differences in personality involving more than 23,000 participants in 26 cultures indicated that women are more sensitive, considerate, and humble than men, which is arguably one of the least counter-intuitive findings in the social sciences. An even clearer picture emerges when one examines the dark side of personality: for instance, our normative data, which includes thousands of managers from across all industry sectors and 40 countries, shows that men are consistently more arrogant, manipulative and risk-prone than women." (Source: as cited)

Australia's Jetstar Airline (owned by Qantas) Shows It's Unethical Business Practices and Low Quality Human Resource Management Practices
A cheap airline in every respect

"Jetstar fined $90,000 for making cadets pay for own training Thu 6 Feb 2014, 7:42pm ABC News Australia

Jetstar has been fined $90,000 for making six cadet pilots pay for their own training. The Federal Court handed down the fine in Sydney after the airline admitted it breached the Fair Work Act when it deducted $17,500 from the wages of the cadets to cover the training. The pilots, recruited between October 2010 and January 2011, were employed on individual contracts through a New Zealand-based Jetstar subsidiary while they underwent six months of training. After their employment was transferred to Australian entity Jetstar Group, Jetstar tried to recover training costs from the pilots despite being advised it was unlawful under Australia's Air Pilots Award 2010, Justice Robert Buchanan found. Jetstar deducted a total of $17,500 from all six pilots' wages, including one pilot who had refused to agree to it. The money was returned two months later after a legal challenge by the Australian Federation of Air Pilots (AFAP). Justice Buchanan said Jetstar had shown a lack of evidence of contrition or remorse over the events. "The respondents used their vastly superior bargaining power to effectively brush aside any personal resistance by cadet pilots, not desisting until the AFAP stepped in," he said. "The conduct of Jetstar Group and Jetstar Airways was calculated solely by reference to their assessment of their own commercial interests." (end of source)

The fact that Jetstar management thought that it was oaky, regardless of legality, tells us a lot about the company, its Chair and Board, CEO and Human Resource Executives. It speaks volumes of the corporation and its valuing of employees, ethics and principles. It is indeed a budget airline in every respect.

Let's Value the Talent and Loyalty of Australia's Car Manufacturing Workers

September 2013: It is quite difficult to have a mature debate in Australia about critical policy given the quality of media, and union, representation who would raher sensationalise or engage in gladiatorial contests. So we see the debate about the level of government subsidies paid to Holde, Ford and Toyota reduced to short grabs, word limited press articles and political point scoring raher than a deeper analysis of the major issue.

In the G20 group some 19 countries manufacture cars. All subsidise the industry for a ramge of reasons most of which have little to do with cost of local labour (compared to less developed countries) and more to do with global dynamics. It does not help that of the three major car manufacturers in Australia, two are owned by US centric and myopic corporations where the ethos is that America is the centre of the world. We have seen this in decisions regarding Ford and its Forrester SUV by the US parent and the announcement that Ford is leaving Australia.

Yes it is grist for the media, and the unions, when Holden soughta wage reduction. But the fundalental question is what forces external to Australia cause this and what factors and policies can be brought to bear to solve cmplex and vexing issues.

car manufacturing directly employs about 50,000 Australian workers. When one considers the downstream industries the employment ratio grows exponentially. Offshoot industries and the impact on other activities in and around the car manufacturing is evident, particularly in Gellong, Victoria, Australia

star is born
Australian Future Fibres Research
and Innovation Centre (AFFRIC)
Geelong Victoria

Innovation in this regional town, which built its economy on Ford, creates a climate of more innovation and cross breeding.

A car worker is amongst one of the most skiled and highly sought after employees. Trained in complex logistics, supply, manufacturing and technology these workers and managers can migrate to mining, services and many other industries. Technology developed for car manufacturing finds its way into other areas of Australian society. Rather than look at car making through a prism of government funding and limited return media, policy makers, some union officials and critics might look at the Innovation Ecosystem into whihc car manufacturing fits and informs.

What determines innovation success? I do not belive that it is the underlying technology or the monetary value proposition. There is an interdependency amongst all of the players in this scenario, an its impacts outward to the down stream industries and seeding of R&D, these partner networks that define the innovative nature of the ecosystem. Politicians business community need to learn how to adapt and build their local, regional and national econsystems. The developing innovation may fit into Science Based, Technology Based or Service Based Ecosystems, or straddle one or more. Science and technology can merge. New battery technology, paints based on nanomaterials coating, parts that convert the mechanical energy of the vehicle into electrical generation are all born due to the car industry.

So let's broaden our minds, and value the talent, and dedication, of the Australian car manufacturing worker who demonstrates incredible loyalty for the company and love of their product, rather than sniping away with churlish intent on a vested interest.

"Exploitation found in unpaid work experience, Thursday, 7 February 2013: Extract of media release

University of Adelaide legal experts say the use of unpaid internships and work experience in Australia could in some cases be seen as a form of exploitation, and might result in legal action against employers. That's one of the key findings of a major report into unpaid work experience - commissioned by the Fair Work Ombudsman - which has today been publicly released.

The report, called Experience or Exploitation? The Nature, Prevalence and Regulation of Unpaid Work Experience, Internships and Trial Periods in Australia, is the first of its kind for the nation. It contains six key recommendations aimed at preventing the exploitation of workers who undertake unpaid work experience where that work is not linked with a formal education or training program. The report's authors are two of Australia's foremost labour law experts, Professor Andrew Stewart and Professor Rosemary Owens from the University of Adelaide's Law School. "There is significant evidence of unpaid work experience, internships and trial work that could be seen as undermining the award system and other labour standards," says Professor Stewart. "In some cases, these practices may be considered a form of exploitation of unpaid workers, and we believe much can be done to educate businesses and workers alike to reduce the problem." Professor Owens says: "By work experience and internships, we're not talking about volunteers who work for a charitable or community organisation, or people on work experience programs as part of their education. There is no issue with these programs.

"However, there are real instances of employers who repeatedly use unpaid internships instead of paying someone a wage to perform that labour. At this point, as we've seen in countries like the United States, 'experience' can move into the more dangerous territory of 'exploitation'," she says. To read the full report
click here

With the decline in ethical management, and behaviour, in Australia it is no surprise that the University should conclude that exploitation exists. If our most reputable corporations, their Boards and Executives, are prepared to exploit the poor workers of Bangladesh and Cambodia,

"Monday 24 June 2013, Australians love a bargain, but what's the real cost of cheap clothes from the sweat shops in Bangladesh? On 24th April this year more than a thousand people were killed when an eight storey building collapsed in the heart of Bangladesh's capital, Dhaka. The collapse of Rana Plaza turned the world's attention to the shocking conditions workers in the country's clothing industry are forced to endure. In recent years, Australian companies have flooded into Bangladesh to take advantage of lax labour laws and the lowest wages in the world, paid to the predominantly young, female workers in the factories. Next on Four Corners reporter Sarah Ferguson sets out to find where the clothes we see in our major retail outlets are made. What efforts do Australian companies make to ensure the factories are safe and their workers earn a living wage? Australian retailers blocked our enquiries at every turn, refusing access to factories wherever we went." (Source of extract: ABC Australia, FASHION VICTIMS, By Sarah Ferguson and Mary Ann Jolley, Updated June 25, 2013)

and to misuses the Australian 457 work visa system for their advantage, and greed,

"'INSUFFICIENT COMPLIANCE CHECKS'".... But Jobwatch, an employment rights legal centre in Victoria, says insufficient compliance checks mean some 457 sponsors are getting away with exploitation. For Walter, an experienced restaurant manager from Italy, being granted a 457 visa marked the start of a stressful period in his professional life. He was granted a visa on the basis he would be employed as a restaurant manager. But his sponsor ultimately forced him to work in a less senior role, and threatened to have him deported if he did not do the 50-plus hours a week demanded of him. "The job described was that I had to be the restaurant manager of that place. I had to make a roster, I had to deal with the suppliers, deal with the customers, like running the place actually. Instead after the first week he completely changed his mind. He doesn't give me the power to manage the place. Actually I was just a waiter, no more, no less." At one point Walter was made to work three weeks without a day off. He says he felt like a slave." (Source: Are 457 visa-holders being exploited? 5 NOV 2012, 7:52 AM, SOURCE: PHILLIPPA CARISBROOKE, SBS, World News Australia)

why would Australian employrs of all shapesa nd sizes, not exploit Austalian workers too?

Holden Australia, extracting mega millions from taxpayers to stay manufacturig in Australia, now want workers to take a pay cut. The exploiters of employees, and others beyond our shores, are often ably assisted in their endeavours by their Human Resource practitioners, Recruitment Providers and Lawyers. (Kevin Beck, June 2013)

"The Fair Work Ombudsman today announced a new focus on educating employers and employees about the legitimacy of schemes for unpaid work experience, following research by the University of Adelaide Law School. The FWO commissioned the research, published in the report Experience or Exploitation?, which uncovered a growing number of businesses using unpaid work schemes as an alternative to hiring paid staff. The report also found young people and migrant workers are particularly vulnerable to being exploited through these schemes. Key sectors of concern for unpaid work were trials in the hair and beauty industry, retail and hospitality while unpaid internships in the media, accounting and legal professions are quite widespread." (Source: FWO to crack down on unpaid work experience after research reveals exploitation: What your business needs to do Thursday, 07 February 2013 11:12, CARA WATERS, Smart Company.)

"The Fair Work Ombudsman does not want to stifle genuine learning and development opportunities such as vocational placements linked directly to formalised training through universities or other training institutions. It will focus on exploitation, such as a young person required to work unpaid in a cafe for a full week to test his or her "suitability" for a paid position as a barista, waiter or kitchen-hand." (Source: Work experience, not exploitation, the key 22nd Mar 2013 1:40 PM, Coffs Harbour Advocate, Australia)

"Performance reviews are useless and staff numbers are always being cut back. Is it any wonder everyone hates HR? How many HR officers does it take to change a light bulb?

A: Four. One to assess the risk of the light bulb changing process, another to consult the light bulb and its stakeholders, yet another to ensure that the health and safety procedures are being adhered to while the bulb is being changed, and a fourth to actually change it. Everyone hates human resources. It’s one of the pet peeves of most employees. But then, let’s face it, most HR people are not that bright and HR has not proven to be an effective career track. It’s certainly not the fast track to the top. Historically, it’s been a depository of people who haven’t made it somewhere else. Not going anywhere? There’s always HR. HR is widely seen as obsessed with duplicative and wasteful process, turning every minor transaction into a forest of paperwork. It’s also regarded as a handmaiden of management with HR people behaving like Soviet bureaucrats, spouting the ideology and then doing the opposite as required by their political masters. One of the great management thinkers Gary Hamel was brutal about HR when we had a conversation about it some time ago. "HR is mostly interested in compliance, both compliance with external laws and regulations and things that govern employment, and internal compliance, like are people following the rules and doing what they’re supposed to be doing,’’ Hamel said. “Now a certain amount of that is alright but if you ask what contribution HR has made to helping organisations become more innovative, to helping people become more passionate, I don’t think they see their job that way, sadly. Either they don’t understand what it means to get the best out of people and build human capital or they understand it but they’re not doing it.” Writing in BNet, Margaret Heffernan sums up the problem perfectly. Heffernan writes: “In most companies, HR lacks organisational clout because it doesn’t have its own P&L. No revenue = no influence. That some firms have outsourced their HR function goes to show just how low it can fall within the corporate power structure. Others claim that HR doesn’t exist to do anything — it’s just there to prevent lawsuits... (Source extract: Why everyone hates HR, November 10, 2010, Sydney Morning Herald, Executive Style, Australia)

"I've never had a positive interaction with Human Resources. "It starts with annoyance. In the technology field, HR is the department that stays firmly mired in the 80s with everything on paper, using outmoded forms, usually with false information and always requiring signature after signature for things which are unlawful, overreaching, counterfactual or frivolous. "It reaches into unease. HR staff feel the need to put a 'friendly face' on all interactions, empathizing and finding common ground with employee concerns. However, they do not work with other employees on a regular basis, so they're empathetic strangers. It rings false, and no bond can be established on this basis. "But it's much worse than that. Human Resources always sides with corporate interests. If there's a legal concern, such as a legitimate harassment situation, Human Resources will act as a mock support system for the involved parties, but ultimately act to protect the organization from perceived threats which may never be released at the expense of providing a healing resolution for anyone." (Source:Do You Hate HR? By Susan M. Heathfield, GuideFebruary 7, 2013)

"I’m old enough to remember real personnel departments that did serve a useful purpose....But in my experience I find few of them very professional. (Source extract: The destructive uselessness of HR departments, Posted on April 24th, 2012 by James Higham, The-destructive-uselessness-of-hr-departments/

On the positive side

"Mapping the HR Value Proposition A systemic approach that makes visible and credible the value-added contribution of HR professionals In their must-read book ‘The HR Value Proposition’, (see the Further Reading section for details), Professors Dave Ulrich and Wayne Brockbank outline a practical approach for HR professionals to add business value. They state “HR professionals add value when their work helps someone reach their goals. It is not the design of a program or declaration of policy that matters most, but what recipients gain from these actions. In a world of increasingly scarce resources, activities that fail to add value are not worth pursuing…The HR value proposition means that HR practices, departments, and professionals produce positive outcomes for key stakeholders – employees, line managers, customers, and investors.”

Unfortunately, in some organisations HR is still not seen as an occupational group that delivers value to key stakeholders. In an article from a Melbourne newspaper, The Age, tilted ‘Getting down and dirty with HR’, (August 31, 2005), critics view HR as “the handmaiden of management, the only one without smarts to work as a strategic partner…In most organisations HR is seen as a cost centre…when Channel Nine boss Sam Chisholm recently got rid of his HR director and deputy (to cut costs), he ordered senior staff to take a crash course in how to do human resources.” Ulrich and Brockbank point out that if HR professionals want to hold onto their jobs and increase their influence, they must focus less on what they do – their processes and systems – and more on the value they can deliver to the business. They must ensure they have a direct line of sight with their key stakeholders. (Source Mapping_the_HR_Value_Proposition.pdf)

"The Value Of HR, by Darin Phillips"

This presentation includes key research into the value that human resources teams can provide through strategic, competency-based talent management practices...

In "High cost, low productivity nation" no mention is made of excessively overpaid business leaders
or the poor productivity of management. The comments from business leaders come across as whining. The real problem is the under-performing managers who are failing to lead. As the productivity of managers falls they quickly turn to unions as a scapegoat. Unions have a duty to protect the interests of their members. This idea that a union involvement "verging on nil" is ideal, shows up managers as being naive." (Source: Greg McKenzie
Australian Financial review
Overpaid business leaders fail to lead, 16 FEB 2012)

"QANTAS grounded its entire domestic and international fleets indefinitely last night - stranding thousands of passengers - as it declared it would lock out all workers engaged in industrial action. Announcing the unprecedented action against three unions, Qantas's chief executive, Alan Joyce, said the drastic strategy meant the cancellation of all flights, effective immediately." (Source: Airline that stops a nation, October 29, 2011, Sydney Morning Herald)

Australia's successive governments have implemented ideological, gladiatorial, archaic and myopic industrial relations laws, and systems, that add to the above

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Careers, Professions
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Australian state government cuts vocational training 2012

How Important is Education to Your Job?, Fri, 05/20/2011 In "A Successful Woman"
In a word: very! Some jobs don’t ask for anything beyond a high-school diploma, but these are generally low-paying positions that won’t offer you any room to advance. Most employers worth working for will require that you have a degree before they’ll even hire you, while many want you to continue your education in order to qualify for advancement. The level of education needed for any given job will vary by both the field and the particular position, but if you’re interested in improving, you’re probably going to have to think about continuing education at some point.

Victoria Australia: "TAFEs hit hard, courses to be cut
VICTORIAN TAFEs could be forced to shut down or amalgamate after the Baillieu government slashed spending to 80 per cent of vocational courses as part of $100 million in cuts to skills funding. TAFEs were reeling after the government announced drastic cuts to fee subsidies for courses including hospitality, fitness, business, events and retail. The cuts will lead to sharp fee increases for students and are expected to result in courses being abolished and job losses. Victorian TAFE Association executive director David Williams said the budget cut was the biggest funding cut to TAFE in history. ''Many current TAFE courses will cease and some facilities are likely to be closed,'' Mr Williams said. ''The budget clearly indicates Premier Baillieu has broken his promise, as frontline TAFE staff will inevitably need to be retrenched in significant numbers to meet lowered funding.'' The Victorian Government cut the government subsidy for most vocational courses after demand burgeoned in recent years. The subsidy, originally expected to cost the government $900 million this financial year, has surged to $1.3 billion. Spending will be cut to $1.2 billion next financial year." (Source: Jewel Topsfield May 02, 2012, Sydney Morning Herald")

"Ted Baillieu's razor gang, PM seeks friends
Baillieu's razor gang. Victorian treasurer Kim Wells has wielded the axe in handing down the Victorian state budget, with $2.9 billion worth of public sector spending set to go in the next financial year. TAFE courses also fell victim to the cuts, with $100 million worth of skills funding to go, while the government will seek to increase fines as a way of filling the revenue hole. The deep cuts will see Wells post a predicted surplus of $155 million for 2012-13." (source: The Power Index, Wednesday, 02 May 2012)


I wonder about business and government ethical practices in recruiting, and employment, in Australia? It is not only recruitment firms are perceived as being biased on age and race and who demonstrate incompetency, it is also human resource practitioners, in many companies and in the public sector. Policy makers, employer associations, the media and the unions, are focused on industrial relations and gladiatorial contests and vested interests than the development of human capital and career employment. We meekly accept that there is no job for life except in closeted industries, local, state and federal government. people appear to be expendable.

It is often put about that the younger the recruiter professional the more likely that they are to be biased, and incompetent, at reading the applicant and having a knowledge, and of the industry for which they are recruiting. Every word every interaction can be reported on twitter or on facebook or any number of social networks yet recruiters go on oblivious to this. I have formed this view from many years of engaging with recruitment agencies, and human resource practitioners and reading cases of bias and incompetence. I observe extremely poor human resource management in private enterprise and the public sector every day across Australia and internationally in Asia, the United states and the United Kingdom. My most memorable interaction was In Sydney (2011) with a recruitment specialist in a high profile firm in North Sydney. She assessed that at my age I was unlikely to come to grips with the Internet and all of its capacities. The second most memorable was also in Sydney (2010) who informed me that I was unsuitable for a position at an energy company because I had no nuclear power station experience. When I enquired why this was relevant she informed me that NSW power stations were all nuclear.

"Since the introduction of the Age Discrimination Act 2004 (Cth), experiences of age discrimination in employment among mature age workers have featured prominently in the complaints of age discrimination received by the Australian Human Rights Commission. In 2008-09, I undertook a series of consultations with peak bodies including age-based community groups, legal service providers, business groups, unions, academics and relevant government departments. As well I undertook research to learn more about the barriers to employment facing mature age workers. A number of general themes emerged including mature age workers' access to appropriate skills and training, the ability to balance unpaid caring work, issues of law reform and the lack of detailed Australian research into these issues. One of the foremost barriers that emerged was that of unlawful age discrimination - and this in the face of one of the most significant demographic shifts in modern human history where populations across the globe are ageing. Age discrimination is entrenched through ageism, which can be found in almost every sphere of public life. It doesn't just exist - it thrives. Disturbingly, unlike other forms of discrimination, age discrimination and ageism don’t yet seem to be at the point of being stigmatised." (Source: Age Discrimination – exposing the hidden barrier for mature age workers Australian Human Rights Commission, 2010)

You can download this full report

" Resume writing and "ageism" in recruitment Stereo typing people based on their age is sadly a common problem in Australia and it is estimated that over 80% of mature employment seekers have suffered some form of ageism in their job search. However, there are still a number of organisations that seek out diversity in age across their teams and value experience, so age can also work for you as opposed to always working against you. Therefore limiting your applications the right types of positions can often help avoid unnecessary disappointment. What to look out for in a job description: Employers will never say "looking for someone in their mid-20's" in a job advertisement as it's breaking discrimination laws. Instead, an employer will use subtle phrases such as "two years experience" to help guide applicants into knowing the type of candidate they feel will be best suited to their particular positions." (source: ITouch Professionals,"

This company gives tips on how to spot agism and how to try and get around it.

"Ageism Rife in ICT Sector Anthony Wong The 2010 Intergenerational Report released by Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan earlier this month has highlighted the need for urgent action to combat the negative impacts of age discrimination. The ACS Age Discrimination Task Force is preparing a comprehensive report on ageism, exploring the contributing factors, costs and possible solutions. Anecdotal evidence suggests ageism is rife in the ICT sector, with the latest ACS Employment Report revealing that more than 20 per cent of Australian ICT professionals have experienced age-related discrimination while over 30 per cent of senior ICT professionals remain unemployed. It’s a global issue, with the US, UK and Europe all reporting low participation levels for mature age professionals in the ICT sectors. According to a study by the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA), workers aged 55 and over account for only 6.8 per cent of the ICT workforce, compared to 11.7 per cent of the broader working population. Similarly, a 2007 report entitled Diversity Management in the ICT Industry, prepared for the EU’s Union Network International, reported: "ICT workers are significantly younger than the population as a whole; while the 45+ age group is growing as a proportion of the population, 80% of ICT professionals are under 45." The EU report also identified "widespread and long-standing age discrimination in recruitment to ICT work based on unproven assumptions about age: that older workers are less healthy than younger workers and are consequently likely to have high sickness absence rates, that their skills are obsolete, and that they have difficulties in learning new skills." Australia’s Commissioner for Age Discrimination, Elizabeth Broderick, claims that age discrimination in recruitment and employment practices is "pervasive, systemic, invisible and accepted". (source: Anthony Wong is President of the ACS and Chief Executive of AGW Consulting P/L, a multidisciplinary ICT, Intellectual Property Legal and Consulting Practice.)

But agism is not merely limited to employment. It is entrenched in attitudes of employees and those who do not like working with the aged in our society. "As discussed in Section 2.3.2, ageism constitutes a significant barrier to clinical placement in aged care services. Equally this is a significant inhibitor for the development of a TNH – but not necessarily a lasting inhibitor once a TNH has achieved positive results (also discussed in Section 2.3.2). The negative impact at the planning stage is illustrated in these two examples from the TNHP initiative in the USA. The lingering mistrust between education and service and the hurdles of contract negotiation that this created seem small compared to the entrenched attitudes toward the aged, most particularly the institutionalized aged. Undergraduate students were less than exuberant about a clinical placement in the home. Staff members were blind to the fact that there could be more quality of life for residents …. (Bronner 2004: 6 quoting Lucille Joel, director of the TNHP project at Rutgers University). The faculty were uninterested and unmotivated. It was hard to get them to redirect their interests and carve out space in the curriculum. Gerontology has never been as sexy as critical care or oncology nursing (Bronner 2004: 6, quoting Joan Lynaugh, Associate Director of the TNHP project at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing)." (Source:Implementing the Teaching Nursing Homes Initiative: Scoping Study - Bridging Education, Research And Clinical Care - The Teaching Nursing Home: Discussion Paper, 4.6 Overcoming Ageist Attitudes, Australian Government Health Department.

I am currently experiencing numerous examples of recruitment companies ending young temporary workers and others who last a few days and or months and then leave. No mature workers are offered for consideration. From time to time I apply for jobs to test the market and to determine if my perceptions are correct. Recently I applied for a job in one of my client's enterprises, where I am an executive. I did not get and interview and when I asked the recruiter why I was told that there were better candidates, more skilled and experienced. The candidates arrived and they were university graduates with two years experience in narrow spectrum skills. I declined to agree to their appointment and terminated the interview process dropping the agency off the company's service provider list. I continually list on a number of major recruitment firms web sites. Most notably when I do receive an interview the recruiter or human resource practitioner have little clue about the industry, major players in it and most prominently have no idea that I am well known within the sector. In my view they do not do their homework. They are oblivious to the proposition that it is they who are being interviewed, assessed and reported on.

I cannot see any evidence that the Recruitment and Consulting Services Association (RCSA) is having any sway in addressing this as a failing in their industry standards.

"The Association is instrumental in setting the professional standards, educating and developing Member skills, monitoring industry participant performance and working with legislators to formulate the future. Members are kept up-to-date on information regarding best practice techniques, resources and technological innovation, along with legislative changes impacting on employment." (Source: Workforce Participation of Mature Age Workers Submission of The Recruitment and Consulting Services Association (RCSA) December 2011)

"RCSA, as the peak body representing recruitment and on-hire service providers in Australia, are acutely aware of the important role played by mature aged workers. RCSA has been working with all forms of Government for the past decade on ways to further utilise the mature age workforce to provide a partial, yet significant solution, to the ongoing skills shortage, a shortage which is as relevant to the State of Victoria as any other. With this in mind, RCSA welcomes the opportunity to participate in this Consultative Forum and to provide our thoughts about opportunities to increase workforce participation for mature age workers." (source: ibid)

"Overall, recruiters were positive about older workers and believed that they have an array of positive attributes to offer future employers including good skills, life experience and the capacity to effectively mentor younger employees. They found older workers had positive attributes including being reliable, steady and loyal employees who turned over their jobs relatively infrequently. In terms of their more challenging attributes, some recruiters identified that older workers have relatively more health concerns and also request greater levels of work flexibility, including reduced hours or part time work. Some found older workers were slower than younger workers and had different expectations of their career progression, often being happy to stay at the level they have reached during their work life. Further some older workers possess out dated skills and were identified as needing to actively improve their work skills- particularly IT- to improve their potential for job placement. Of course, there were equally many experiences where mature aged workers retained current skills in IT." (Source: extract ibid)

The submission by the RCSA, extracted above is
worth reading

Having read the report and the quotes from recruitment agencies within it, it is not clear why there is a persistent reporting of bias and discrimination in Australia. If I had to make an assumption I would say that there is a common trait across Australia, people making decisions have narrow education, they are now imbued with a shallow focus on competency and short termism and they are pitifully unaware of laws, politics, human behaviour and all of its implications. There is a dumbing down and narrowing of education, skill, knowledge, research capacity, comprehension, awareness and anticipation, in almost every sector of employment, economy and society within Australia.

"Female CEOs are a rare breed in Australia, particularly at the very top. The nation has the lowest percentage of women in top business roles compared with the UK, the US, Canada, South Africa and New Zealand. A 2010 census by the Equal Opportunities for Women in the Workplace Agency (soon to be the Workplace Gender Equality Agency) reveals just six female CEOs in the top 200 companies where women hold a mere 104 of 1300 key executive positions. This does not bode well for efforts to get more women on to the boards of publicly listed companies, as former senior executives tend to make up the majority of board directors".(Source: Women and Leadership: Putting Unconscious Bias Top of Mind Published: May 10, 2011 in Knowledge@Australian School of Business)

"Unconscious bias against women remains firmly established in the workplace and is an ongoing barrier against women reaching leadership roles, a new report has found. The Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) will today release its report, Women in Leadership: Looking Below the Surface, which it says examines the high degree of unconscious gender bias in the Australian workforce. The report is due to be officially received in Melbourne later today by Federal Minister for the Status of Women, the Honourable Kate Ellis MP. Chief Executive Professor at CEDA, the Honourable Stephen Martin, said the report will provide facts and figures to business leaders offering a case for resolving gender equity issues. Professor Martin also said the report highlights some of the unspoken, underlying unconscious biases that exist and are hindering change."(Source: HC Online,Unconscious gender bias’ in Australia: New report 27/09/2011)

"Organisations are damaging their employer brand and bottom line by engaging in poor recruitment practices, according to new research. A survey of more than 500 recruitment managers, by psychometric testing firm SHL, revealed one-quarter felt over stretched by the number of applications they are receiving during the economic downturn. This is having a knock-on effect on their recruitment processes, with nearly half of the 1,600 workers surveyed reporting they were left with a negative view of an organisation following an unsuccessful job application." (source: Personnel Today, Poor recruitment practices damage consumer brand and bottom line Kat Baker 08 June 2010)

"Tell me about yourself? What are your strengths and weaknesses? Where do you see yourself in five years time? In the decade I have been writing about employment these would have to be the top three most detested questions. There are some fabulous one-off hated questions. One woman wrote to me after a weird question from a potential boss. "He wanted to know how I would react to him banging his fists down on the desk – and did just that to demonstrate." It shouldn’t be an issue because the answer is not to take the job if it is offered. Another woman in her early 30s told me she was interviewing in front on a panel for a role in an elite team within one of the top banks. "This guy asked me if I had any plans to get married and have children one day. The HR manager was sitting next to him and nearly fell off her chair." (source: Hated job interview questions and how to answer them,"Kate Southam, Monday, May 09, 2011,

"Seriously, we know work sucks. We know how monotonous and frustratingly hellish your commute is. We know what an unpleasant tool your boss can be and we know there's at least one coworker who sucks the ever loving life out of you. To help alleviate the symptoms of work rot, browse our latest job stories and post your own (anonymously, of course). You can't keep this crap bottled up!" (source: Go to:
Job Schmob "Why I hate recruiters and I hate recruitment agencies they SUCK! OK so I know that this is a forum for recruiters, but let me tell you something, I hate them, I've thought long and hard about the reasons why I hate them and following is the list. 10. "Recruiters have NO IDEA what the skill set is that they are trying to fill" 9. "I am not sure if the post-interview feedback is honest or I don't get feedback at all hard to do this can it be?" (Source: Review

There have been a few things going around the recruiter blogosphere this week focusing on the service recruitment consultants deliver. Greg Savage wrote a great post: "God I Hate Recruiters" based on a discussion he'd had with a friend on the cricket field. Yesterday Recruiter Daily posted an interview with a recruiter Ian Bellingham. He said he was amazed at the poor service he'd received from recruiters when he had been recently looking for a job. It's sad that this is news. It seems that many people consider consultants a necessary evil. Research last year from Destination Talent showed that 64% of executives have found a job at least once in their career using a recruitment service. However, 33% had negative opinions, and only 18.66% considered recruitment firms to be effective. I can't really see the service job seekers receive and the perception of the service they receive changing in the very near future“ for a few reasons. The commission based business model that agencies use is entrenched. It's a known model. There's big money to be made. It takes a brave business to break that model. Sales success is easy to measure and reward. You're a consultant. You place a person. You meet your money targets. You get the commission. However, like Greg says, it's not a model that leads to recruiters looking after the individual. Read my piece on the silent treatment you may receive as a job seeker as a result....."

Continued: "The "perception" that recruiters deliver poor service will not change in the future. It will always be difficult for people to think they are getting good service. When people look for jobs they are vulnerable. Change is traumatic or difficult for most of us. That's why we put up with jobs we loathe and stay in careers we detest......

..."I think there are game changers at play as people become more socially media savvy. Facebook easily connects old friends. Jobs get passed around quickly and easily. Linkedin also has some interesting features which now allow you to look at an advertised role, then see who is in your network who knows the advertiser." (Source: Should we really "hate" recruiters? by KARALYN on MARCH 2, 2011,

"The recruiter works for the employer not you." (Source: blogs)

In Australia we are forever in a world governed by the cycle of employment and mass redundancies, boom and bust in employment opportunities, the two speed economy and the failure of governments, state and federal, to create coherent long term policies all the while focusing on self interested political cycles and retention/winning office.

Then there are the poor attitudes of the general population to ongoing education, the failure of the basic education delivery (reading, writing and literacy), the laziness of those who will not put in the effort to gain a higher education, the lack of lifelong learning policy at state and federal levels of government, the undervaluing, and under utilisation, of talent and a myriad of other examples all compounding the loss of morale, and the waste of human capital and potential in Australia. (Kevin R Beck, Melbourne Australia, 2012)

Threats, cajoling, fear, retribution and must do harder in your job

There is a theory of "endless growth" that permeates the thinking of modern economy. The endless growth of sales and the market of gross national product. When the world suffered the global financial crisis there came a shock. The proposition of "endless growth" is perhaps a myth. Can population, resources, production and infrastructure expand at complementary rates? There is another theory - "productivity improvements". Employers demand "productivity improvements" in return for wage rises as if the two are homogenous and comparable. However not to be deterred economists and market theories and the corporate planners turned to developing nations. Endless growth would occur via China, India, Asia and Brazil.

In line with this endless growth managers of people demand an ever increasing effort of productivity improvement. Politicians throw it around as if it can be quantified. The public service must return a dividend in the form of productivity improvements to justify their salaries. Never mind that they perform vital, valuable and often irreplaceable services. OWNING THE EMPLOYEE

One can read the rhetoric as to how business, and government, enterprise and institution value their employees. Despite this there are employers in Australia who believe, and act according to this belief, that they own the employee. They dictate what they may do both at work and after work. Take for example the pettiness of an employer who would worry about post it notes on computers screens and hanging coats on the back of chairs. These are the managers of companies whose contributions are usually the most questionable and who hide in the enterprise existing as parasites on the people. They eat away at morale. We can from time to time point to Australia's most ignorant employers, they vie for leadership in this area. They exhibit a long history of intrusion, bullying and use of threats, as their human management philosophy.

The silence of Australia's governments, and Ministers for Employment, as to these corporate policies, in this regard, is deafening. Any government worth its salt knows that the only real asset we have as a nation are the people. yet they do their best to keep them out of Australia, to dumb them down, to demand improved productivity whilst themselves
delivering very little except stress, low morale and fear of loss of job.

Tell the world your workplace




Advertising says a lot about an entity whether it be government, institution or private enterprise. The advertising for Australia's largest bank, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia is, to my mind, nebulous and without a clear message. It is obtuse, sometimes extraordinarily immature even condescending. Some time back they had a crack at humour using American basket ball themed advertisements with ridiculous propositions and activities totally related to Australia. Apparently the message was that the Comm Bank was not a big dumb American corporation or that Australians were not as stupid as Americans. If that was the intent of the ad it was not a very nice theme. Regardless the intent was not clear.

Then they resorted to an advertisement with a large pugnacious bull dog engaging in seductive persuasion with a french poodle. The owner of the bull dog was apparently in the bank. The Bank management may have thought we would be titillated, or excited, amused or want to remember, the two animal's conversations. The approach worked I remember clearly the ad. Would I bank, or do business with the Commonwealth? On occasions by the nature of my work I have to. It is has never been a rewarding, and usually it has been a costly, experience. Was the dog of an ad another stab at humour? The message seems to be that the dog did not get time to have its way with the female because the service was so fast and the owner, also a particular character came back. Unfortunately the advertisement may have said more about the quality of the agency, the management who approved the ad and the type of customer they saw in their mind's eye than the bank's actual service.

It is reported in the media (February 2011), and confirmed by employees of the bank and the union, that the latest gem from this weird enterprise is to threaten employees with disciplinary action, even dismissal. if they engage in any activity within or without of work that may be deemed by management to dismiss the bank's standing in the eyes of the community. This is not a surprise to me. I think that elsewhere in my web sites and in this one I have other commentary on the Bank's practices. The Bank also indicates in its policy pronouncement that the same applies if an employee knows of someone else within the bank or anybody outside including social media posters and bloggers who may criticise or engage in commentary and criticism that this ignorant enterprise deems to be not of it's liking, if the employee does not report it. What is the calibre of the bank's board and CEO that they would permit this policy, and action, to be carried out? One of the earlier ads that the bank ran perhaps sums up what we, the community should think of them - "Which Bank?"

CBA faces back down on social media policy, Published 6:13 AM, 4 Feb 2011 Last update 10:21 AM, 4 Feb 2011, By a staff reporter of the Business Spectator

Commonwealth Bank of Australia Ltd will meet with the Finance Sector Union, following criticism its recently introduced social media policy is unfair and unworkable. The two-page policy, which if breached could result in termination, says employees cannot "comment on, post or store any information about bank-related matters" or speak negatively about the company. The policy, released in December and obtained by Business Spectator, also requires employees to report any "inappropriate or disparaging" comments made about the bank on a social media site to their manager, and the bank's media and communications team. This could include comments from third parties on any social networking site. The policy also asks staff members to help it remove or delete material deemed inappropriate." (Source as stated above)

What qualities or lack thereof lead the bank's management to believe that such a policy is okay? Is it ignorance, lack of education and experience, lack of knowledge, poor social skills, perhaps it is a one eyed myopia that causes an employee to believe that the rights of the corporation are above all others? Where is the ethical compass here? I have a personal view that company employees are oblivious to the likely consequences or outcomes of their actions. They act, according to my view of them, in isolation of interests, and influences, beyond their horizon. Whether those be regulatory, legal or other. Poor motivation leads to poor performance. But do employer's actually care? (Kevin Beck, "Which Bank - precisely, who cares?" Melbourne 2011)

Industrial relations in Australia is a political football with inept and quite stupid politicians extolling new ideas every five minutes as part of their values statements. The current labor government, under former leader Kevin Rudd and current Julia Gilllard, has enacted another set of laws, exhausting anyone who has been trying to implement the last lot put out by the former conservative government under John Howard. Neither party can attest to having human relations credibility. Under Rudd, the biggest employer the Commonwealth treated employees like slaves. The human resources departments of Australia's public, and private, sector are sycophants proxy representatives of management attitudes, policies and practices. Everyday we see the quite stupid manner in which they go about dealing with their most precious resource - people.

"WORKERS have downed tools for a second day running at Victoria's Wonthaggi desalination plant amid attempts to placate union fury over a spying scandal. Construction company Thiess was holding crisis talks in Melbourne today with the Electrical Trades Union, the Construction Forestry, Mining and Energy Union and other unions in an urgent attempt to resolve the industrial dispute at the $5.4 billion plant. Tensions erupted at the construction site this week after The Australian revealed that joint venture partners Thiess Degremont had hired the man known by unions as "Australia's number 1 scab", Tasmanian Bruce Townsend, to carry out covert surveillance of employees and contractors at the plant. Thiess has admitted to its arrangement with Mr Townsend, code-named the Pluto Project, but has described it as highly unusual and inappropriate, and maintains company executives had no knowledge of the surveillance operation." (Source: Desalination plant builder tries to calm union anger over spy scandal, Natasha Robinson, Pia Akerman From: The Australian November 19, 2010")

The Brumby lead state labor government of Victoria is as inept as the federal labor, and liberal politicians, in that the Victorian government has fostered a climate of intrigue, and spying, by allowing memorandums to be signed between police, private companies and others, when confronted with sensitive unpopular matters around construction of projects. The desalination plant is a hot political potato a week out from the
Victorian state election.

Add the above and the mediocre management practices to the proposition of being interviewed by a half baked, semi experienced and often quite dumb employment agency consultant and overall the state of management of human capital here is a disgrace. Any company that uses an agency to filter applications needs to make sure that the consultant has half a brain because the majority according to anecdotal opinion do not. This is rather unfortunate given the aging nature of our workforce, the practices of agism, discrimination and bigotry by the public, and private, sectors.

"To most people, the term "capital" means a bank account, a hundred shares of IBM stock, assembly lines, or steel plants in the Chicago area. These are all forms of capital in the sense that they are assets that yield income and other useful outputs over long periods of time. But such tangible forms of capital are not the only type of capital. Schooling, a computer training course, expenditures on medical care, and lectures on the virtues of punctuality and honesty are also capital. That is because they raise earnings, improve health, or add to a person's good habits over much of his lifetime. Therefore, economists regard expenditures on education, training, medical care, and so on as investments in human capital. They are called human capital because people cannot be separated from their knowledge, skills, health, or values in the way they can be separated from their financial and physical assets. Education, training, and health are the most important investments in human capital." (Source: Human Capital, by Gary S. Becker,"

The Australian governments rabbit on about skills, training and education and then a great cost on it. Employers often see it as a personal thing and adopt a blinkered approach. Education should be free of cost so that the individual may choose, across the course of their life, to engage in life long learning. Yet it is not. The myopic governments and enterprises of Australia see education's primary function and "preparation for, and competency in, employment. In this respect they are dumb and dangerous. The great number of Australians are lazy and many are under, or lowly;y, educated. Schooling and learning is a chore. Australian competition policy, lack of funding and the little to no innovation on the part of our education ministries and political leaders, has lead to a packaging of education into competency streams, certificates, shallow and cheap fast track education. It has seen education become a business not a core element within our culture. In November 2009, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, is an extreme disappointment. He is a man of hollow words, crowing an education revolution. He crowed it in 2007, and every year since. So where is it? With regard to education

After his first year, or so in the office of Prime Minister, Mr Rudd is seen to have no more intellectual policy credibility on education than that of the Prime Minister or Minister of Education in any other administration, now or in the past, at state or federal levels in Australia. He is as far as I can discern, a politician of slogans and a large serving of humbug. Deputy Prime Minister, Julia Gillard of the multiple portfolios and super human capabilities, is no more revolutionary but nevertheless trots out the mantra that we are having an education revolution. With respect the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, are deluding themselves ably assisted by the federal department. But in fairness read about the government's policies, and actions, and discern for yourself the depth of the revolution at DEEWR.

Australian Labor's Trick or Treat
A Mediocre Education Revolution

"Abstract: Primary and secondary data sources confirm that Australia is trapped in a low-skills/low-quality cycle. Among the factors that have contributed to this cycle are the following: the relatively small average size and low technology base of Australian firms and the relatively short-term planning horizon and under performance of many Australian enterprises (compared with the planning and performance of their counterparts in the United States and New Zealand). The theory of a low skills equilibrium, which states that all major stakeholders in skill formation contribute to maintaining the low skills equilibrium, provides a broader-based explanation for Australia's problems regarding worker skills and quality. Five key stakeholder groups influence the nature of the demand for quantity and quality of skills: enterprises; groups of enterprises; the government; employer associations; and individuals and training providers. Specific measures that each stakeholder group can take to move Australia into a high-skills cycle have been identified. Unfortunately, because of Australia's continuing high levels of unemployment and the poor performance of Australia's other economic sectors, many Australian employers and the Australian government will likely remain under pressure to continue following an ad hoc, low-skill/low-quality approach to forming intermediate skills in Australia's economy. (Contains 51 references.) (MN)" (Source: ED413512 - Is Australia Locked into a Low Skills/Low Quality Cycle? Working Paper No. 10.)
Monash Univ., Clayton, Victoria (Australia). Centre for the Economics of Education and Training. Education Resource Information Centre (ERIC)

November 2009: The Australian Labor government under Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has trumpeted an education revolution. Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard has carriage of this impressive policy and action programme the proof of which is more in the oxymoron political spin than revolutionary developments. The labor government's policy propaganda is not a revolution of intellectual and human capital development but more of the same focus on competency and skills, and the labor party's blue collar drive mentality to the nation's life long learning.

Whoopy do! For Gillard and Rudd the political spin and media managers of modern government in Australia. The revolution is a new national curriculum and a building programme of school halls and class rooms, but not new advances in teaching skills and innovation. It is difficult to have a revolution if those in charge of education (the Australian state governments) are inept, blinkered, myopic, riddled with vested interests and persist with having mediocre Minister and senior managers of Education Departments in charge. How could NSW ever have anything of quality under the labor governments Of Bob Carr, Morris Iemma and Nathan Rees, and an atrophied bureaucracy which became impaired, and moribund, decades ago.

The federally funded building programme is to line the coffers of state and territory governments via creaming, to keep special labor mates and local contractors employed during the global fiscal crisis. It is not about providing vital resources to state of excellence learning centres. Victoria runs advertisements extolling the virtue and quality for education. Why? If it is so good why would the Brumby government have to convince us?

The Rudd government's education revolution also involves giving every child a computer so that they can enter the questionable world of "technology shaping" and the questionable value of such learning tools. They can experience the internet's dumbing down and lazy, impact on
learning I have never heard the words - "life long learning" emanate from the lips of the Deputy Prime Minister or for that matter the Prime Minister of Australia. I cannot remember ever seeing it in the labor party's (Kevin Rudd manifesto of 2007) policy paper: "The Australian economy needs an education revolution, New Directions Paper on the critical link between long term prosperity, productivity growth and human capital investment, Australian labor Party 2007

It is nowhere within the evidence based policy formulation rhetoric of the Prime Minister.

"The PM promised an education revolution and what we have got is questionable funding of school halls, which only occurred as a result of the GFC and concerns over the delivery of computers and questions from the states about who pays for software and other associated costs. So much for the lofty ideals of the revolution and new federalism. Fail." (Source: Business Spectator, BALANCE OF POWER by Steve Murphy, RSS feed, Posted 16 NOV 2009

JULIA Gillard's $14 billion primary school infrastructure programme is making work for lots of tradesmen.

But could her "Building the Education Revolution" actually be bad for education? The correct answer could be yes in Tasmania, where business fears that Canberra's budget stimulus will simply erect more buildings in half-empty primary schools. Tasmania's primary schools could be 50per cent vacant by 2020, the state Labor government's demographic advisers warn. Tasmania needs an education revolution that involves rationalising its existing school buildings, not building more of them. Erecting a new library or hall in every primary school will either be a waste of money or make it politically more difficult to close or merge under-utilised schools. Or both."(Source of extract: Education revolution builds halls in half-empty schools Michael Stutchbury, Economics editor From: The Australian October 29, 2009 12:00AM) Kevin Rudd's education revolution is nothing of the sort. It is exactly as stated in the opening abstract to this article. "Australia is trapped in a low-skills/low-quality cycle."


September 2009: I sat in front of the consultant, working for the big name firm, and she queried me on my energy industry knowledge. having worked in one of the world's greatest engineering entities, the State Electricity Commission of Victoria, I though I was in a pretty good position. Specifically she wanted to know about my "nuclear power station" experience. When I pointed out that I came from a thermal power, coal generating, environment she expressed disappointment. When I asked why, she said that nuclear was a prerequisite because the power stations in New South Wales, where her client resided, were all nuclear. I looked at her for some time silently then got up and left the room. When she asked what I was doing she was affronted when I expressed my derision for her ability to conduct a valid assessment. There are no nuclear generating power stations, with the exception of a small reactor in a science laboratory in the south of Sydney, in Australia.

Reading this weekends newspaper I observed more drivel, in the careers section. The new breed of recruiter shaped by technology, who is "comfortable working on people issues that can sometimes be soft, but also in quantitative environment where people issues are pretty rigorously analysed and considered before decisions are made". (Australian newspaper, August 29 - 30, 2009, Professional)

What does it mean? it doesn't mean anything. It is nebulous twat. perhaps it is trying to justify using technology to short cut experience and ability. perhaps it is replacing brains with machines and Google, word resumes and key word sorting programmes looking for criteria that is largely irrelevant. Perhaps it using technology cause the brains have gone walk about. Computers assisting the recruitment consultant challenged by poor education and sometimes a lack of intelligence. Australia's governments, corporations., employers and the citizenry at large, have no inkling of, or desire, for life long education and learning. The person who may have spruiked this cant may be faced with employing narrowly educated, inexperienced and sometimes, very mediocre employees, passing them of as talented, at great charge to clients.


In a bedding factory in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne Australia, Greek supervisors oversee the labour of a group of predominantly Indian and Pakistani workers who earn $A15 per hour handling beds, single, double, queen and king size. The work is hard and some only last weeks and months. If they handle a bed wrongly they are told that they will be given a warning and they can lose their jobs. The supervisor's main tool is fear. A typical instrument of the ignorant foreman in a workplace where the senior management ape rhetoric but little else. The operation is not well organised and trucks have to wait if the bed is not ready when they come to pick them up. The supervisors shout for the "loaders".

This is not an exception. This is the norm. The company managers treat the employees as disposable. Not just here but in many factories and retail outlets and businesses across Australia. These are brand name industries. This business by name, and advertisement, extols the orthopedic qualities of its products. If the worker even looks like they will answer back, or be recalcitrant, there are many more, willing to travel by bus and train, for hours, to take their job. According to someone who worked there, the workers come from across Melbourne. Racism is rife and thick in the air.

This is the legacy of a modern society, and economy, where globalism calls the tune and the ignorant rise in the ranks of modern enterprise to sit in the executive suites and the boardrooms of the businesses and corporations. It is the modern era of a self serving political and business class in close collaboration, where money and profit are the primary objectives. The human resource practitioners in this particular bed manufacturing enterprise are blind to what occurs. They may be, according to some, sops to management, betraying the professionalism of their trade. But hey, have you ever met another type of HR person, who is to be admired, in the place you work in? I haven't. They are usually compliant and rather like their influence and place in management.

What Does the Nurses' Dispute in Victoria Tell Us About Our Human Resource Management Practices
And the Calibre of the People In Charge under a Labor State Government?

A Picture Says a Thousand Words

Well perhaps it tells us that the manner of determining public policy in Australia is very low grade. The pool of ministers, particularly in the states, seem to offer little in the way of talent and capability. They are however imbued with excess of hubris.

"Andrews again chose not to answer the specific questions.....At a media conference the next day, Brumby was asked whether he believed there was room for improvement in the way ministers answered questions in Parliament. He conceded nothing. In fact, he suggested that if there was a problem, it was the Opposition's fault. "Ministers answer the questions appropriately, they answer the questions which are given to them by the Opposition. I don't think there's an issue with answers, I think there's an issue with questions." This from a man who as opposition leader in the 1990s wrote a 46-page pamphlet called Restoring Democracy in which he said "we need to improve the question time as a matter of urgency" and called for parliamentary rules to be changed to "make ministers answer questions directly, factually and succinctly". This from a Government that under its former leader used to at least pay lip service to the need to avoid hubris or arrogance. (Source extract:A question of hubris Date: October 18 2007, Paul Austin, The Brumby Government is subverting question time and blaming its lack of openness on the Opposition. The Age Newspaper Melbourne.

The Minister for Health in Victoria, Daniel Andrews, demonstrates this proposition as the Victorian nurses' dispute grinds on, in every hospital, in Victoria.

" THE state public nursing union has accused hospital managers of unprecedented intimidation and harassment of nurses involved in industrial action. Armed with more than 2,000 complaints faxed to her, Australian Nursing Federation Victoria branch secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick today said some nurses had been threatened with the sack. "They have been threatened with fines and dismissal for speaking out to the media and having their pay docked," she said. "Managers have been sitting outside toilet doors waiting for nurses to come out to ask them about their participation" (Source: Herald Sun newspaper,Kamahl Cogdon and agencies, October 22, 2007 10:47am)

What can we say about managers who sit outside toilets? The Minister and Premier are shocked. Then why did the managers think that they had the imprimatur to do this? They take their lead from ....?

The federation, representing the nurses, is fighting a one sided battle. In this regard Joe Hockey's proposition set out below, that the unions days are really past, may be prescient. The nurses seek so little against what they give the community yet the politician's rate their own objectives, and interests, above them. They take their pay rises which are all very nice from an independent tribunal. They thus shield themselves against criticism. Do they use an independent tribunal for nurses? They live in a fantasy of spin replicating reality that they are there for the public good and are guardians. Federal Minister Tony Abbott, the statistical wonder whiz of the federal government, says that he can offer $6,000 for retraining to bring them back. Statistical whiz? Look at his history, black and white, a futures man.

Kevin Rudd, ever the shallow throw away ventriloquist, says that he can put over 9,000 nurses back into the system over five years, if elected. This is drivel. He calls the Victorian situation the "argy bargy" of negotiation. This man dismisses their lives, and problems, as so much argy bargy. This is flaky politics at its most decrepit. What system? Why would any one go back to a health system of under funded, under resourced, drudgery, poor administration, political manipulation and trickery. The political players in the Victorian episode, which repeats with tedious regularity across all our public sector institutions, are tarred with the same brush. Why should the average person bother with democracy and elections? Our system is fractured and in many places broken, corrupted and corroded by the politicians, and machine men and women, of the Australian labor and liberal parties. The nurses? They are just an example of who is political fodder to the system. As the federal election itself grinds on we see the two leaders and the state bit players, warts and all. They are not very attractive to the voters. The nurses of Victoria are. Let's vote them into office instead of the politicians.

The Australian labor party at state and federal level descries the Australian government "Work Choices" (see below in this web site. Yet Andrews demands that the nurses obey the federal law as he does. He chooses to use it as a justification and a shield when it suits. He is a poor role model for he demands the nurses return to work. This ignores the morale and performance issue for which he as the Minister of the public sector system is ultimately responsible. Given the decline in accountability and responsibility in the Victorian government he is likely to accept such. Thus he is happy to have workers who do not want to be there forced to work. This is typical of the manner of management. He is supported in his short sighted ignorance by a poor performing public hospital administration and management. Happy to escalate the situation to desperate measures this ignoramus is paid from the public purse. There are no performance measures. The Premier has no standards and measures that demand that the public interest be served and Ministers actually do a good job. Who would work for the Victorian public service under these conditions? People with little opportunity to go elsewhere perhaps? Thugs and those who are comfortable with the belligerent style of supervision? Those who have no inkling of management and human resource practice?


Shock horror and the gasps of Australia's media when Joe Hockey had the nerve to say that the role of unions is essentially over.

"Workplace Relations Minister Joe Hockey says the role of unions in Australia is essentially over. He has taken the Government's attack on the trade union movement to a new level. Mr Hockey says falling union membership proves the independent Workplace Authority has replaced the role of unions. "Gradually they've been falling and most dramatically even under Keating and now they're just down to 20 per cent," he said. "One in five workers are choosing to join the unions. "Now unions have an important safety role in some industries but overall Australians are choosing not join the unions because they see them as irrelevant to their lives." (Source extract: Unions irrelevant, Hockey says, Posted Thu Oct 18, 2007 8:12am AEST, ABC News)

An intelligent person listening would discern the logic. Union coverage has fallen to 20% and is only 15% of the private sector workforce. People are not electing to join unions. This is fact. Further changes to legislation and the structure of industrial relations has altered the system. Thus collectively the role as we have known it is essentially over. But no. The journalists have to put their own spin and the semi aware respondents have to blather about the James Hardie representations and the asbestos cases. This was not the crux of the statement and there is still a role in advocacy for those who want to utilise it. The greater number of workers do not.

I was a union member for decades and also employed by a union for four years. Up until 1985 I remained a union member. Over the years I noted that they took my three or so hundred dollars a year and rarely responded to my correspondence and definitely gave me no service. Fundamentally I entered management ranks and the trade unions (not including the professional associations unions - engineers, medical) do not service managers. They are archaic in their perspectives. Thus they became irrelevant due to their own ignorance and failure to service. The Prime Minister was not forced to defend Hockey or the unions. He stated as Hockey did that they have a role. Albeit it is now a minor one and they are given far too much credence by a sycophantic and admiring media, particularly in the ABC. As for the labor parliamentary party having a surfeit of trade unionists, that too is fact.

2007, The New Millennium - Australian industrial, and employment practice, is a hotchpotch of ideology and in many ways antiquated concepts. It is a simplistic and short term view of almost every aspect of what makes a nation's people perform as if they were one.

The Australian government has framed, with the help of a law firm and selected industry advisers, a policy set underpinned by law. It is a pugilistic and acrimonious initiative designed to eliminate third party interference (lawyers, trade unions and advocates) whilst giving relatively unfettered power to employers.

The government claims as a core justification the delivery of improved productivity and labour market reforms. This may well be the case although it will be impossible to independently determine this due to the propensity of misrepresentation and slanting statistics in the Australian public sector. The silencing of critics as a natural and growing strategy may be effective in the medium term but will result in the reshaping of the nation and its values eventually creating a political backlash.

The sleeping time bomb


The Personal Web Site of KEVINRBECK
Privacy Statement, Uses and Motivation

Articles, commentary and critique, authored by Kevin R Beck unless otherwise attributed

Eddy McGuire, former game show host and a football club president is Chief Executive of one of Australia's oldest television networks. He has expressed a desire to "bone" employees. This is his terminology for sacking them. The number is his head is 100. He also likes to deny the obvious truth and deny all of this. He gets caught out all of the time. As a very public Australian Chief Executive he presents another one of the many faces of human resources management ignorance in Australia. His devaluing of people also devalues the brand of the enterprise he heads up. Public displays of his management expertise indicate there may be a problem with transmission from celebrity television host to executive. Publishing and Broadcasting, the owners of Channel 9, will seek to extract value from the network to fund their diversification into gambling. Eddy McGuire's future employment may be in jeopardy as a different style and set of abilities are sought by new partners or owners of the asset.

For many similarly inclined executives, of Australian enterprise, the adoption of good management and ethical standards, is only a consideration if the "macho" and "blokey" disregard for good management and
ethical principles affects their future, their ego, personal public image and/or the corporation's revenue. If no one of substance and influence objects they continue in their myopic, and destructive, ways. All of these factors are in play under Mr. McGuire's inexperienced hand.

One day the greater number of Australians will wake up to the fact that the small number of people who inhabit, and dominate, Australia's economy, political and business enterprises (public and private) are purveyors of a hollow rhetoric. They do not value them beyond simple notions of productivity and profit. They are the expendable resources of these peoples' personal aspirations, interests and perhaps greed. One stark example is redundancies and downsizing. Overstaffing, poor performance and other factors that affect an enterprise's performance are direct outcomes of Board, CEO and senior management decisions. It is a reflection of their misjudgment and poor skill. Yet these decision makers retain their jobs and are applauded for taking the hard decisions.

Ajax Engineered Fasteners is a key component supplier to major Australian car manufacturers Holden, Ford, Toyota and other parts assembly companies. The Australian car industry suffers from product over supply, too many models, poor design and market interpretation, under whelming management and industry sector decisions. The car manufacturing industry in Australia lives as a parasite on the public purse, of state governments, receiving subsidies least it pack up its ball and bat and go overseas substantially hurting community and economy. The management of the car companies use this as a blunt instrument in bargaining. For a long time the car companies have used their dominant, and perhaps collusive, bargaining and industry power to limit what companies such as Ajax might charge them for its bits and pieces. Put crudely the car manufacturers, like the supermarket chains and other large players, like to "screw" the little manufacturer. Whilst they (the major car manufacturers) bleat about their conditions, plight and costs they refuse to listen to the plight of the small component suppliers. Ajax's costs have risen over a long time and the manufacturers have refused to accept part of that burden and alter the supply contracts. Their actions and myopia have lead them along a precipitous path. It would seem logical to an external observer that if we continually go in search of efficiencies using techniques such stringent unsustainable pricing enforcement in contracts, supply rationalisation, "just in time inventory" and ultimately limiting the number of competitors by creating pricing barriers that something has to give. The Ajax financial collapse and the subsequent predicament that the manufacturers faced of having to stand down 10,000 workers in the final days of August 2006, due to lack of component supplies (when a major supply company falls over) is of their own making. We might typify it as "ostrich like - head in the sand management style" hoping the bleeding obvious would never happen. Brinkmanship and bluff is a trademark of the players including unions, management, boards and politicians in the Australian economy. In this case the car manufacturers and some other companies have had to inject cash into Ajax via the administrator to keep their own company manufacturing production going. Did they have a plan and a solution? No. The cash injection is a six month short term fix whilst highly paid executives demonstrate publicly their incompetence. Having faced this crisis and added a band aid they are doing what they always do trying to pass the buck and the cost to someone else. That is all they know and in the meantime uncertainty damages morale, productivity and the general fabric of economy and society in another sector of Australian life.

This web site highlights, and comments on, aspects of the failure of policy, planning and research
by Australia's governments and employers
to comprehensively identify, assess, harness and apply human talent in Australia.
It examines, based on experience and research, recruitment and selection practices, the dominance of short sighted, myopic and risk averse employers, of little imagination and national interest values.

It provides glimpses of excellence
whilst highlighting the poor investment in research and development in Australian enterprise, human and other as well as the low investment by a large sector of employers in employee education, training and skills development, leading to the dumbing down of Australia. The owner KEVINRBECK poses the hypothetical question, are employer associations mature, balanced and innovative in their representation or simply parrots of ideological theories and propositions?

The rhetoric spin is that we live in a democracy in which we can participate and be secure. This is not the reality. We live in a nation governed, and managed, by a handful of individuals, who come together in different ways and in different forums to shape and manipulate our thinking and actions. We are an acquiescent nation that allows our lives to be managed by politicians and employers. We only react when our little patch of being is threatened. We have little regard for the talents of our people and allow government's, employers and interests to use what they want. We are in the grasp of a handful of people of limited capacity and vision and we wonder why our lot is one of struggle. The political system and our government system and public service is of no value to us if we permit a small number of people to take the wealth and demand that we produce more. It is not the Work Choices legislation that will end the days of John Howard and the grasping employers power over the greater number. It is not the policies of the Labor party, and its political class, who are no better than those they criticise, that will change this. It is not collective bargaining or improving riches for the middle class. It is the dawning that we are imprisoned by our own disengagement and myopia. To change the ways things are we must take hold of our democracy and government demanding how we want things to be through our elected representatives. It is about bringing the power collective to a realisation that they are dependent upon labour, and capital, cooperating for their ongoing personal position and wealth. It is about us stating that we are talent enough to do things differently to their flawed ideologies and methods.

Australian executives are not well known for their human resource management and practice knowledge and skills. For that matter Australia's politicians are not all that experienced or innovative in this arena. It was once that the public services lead the way. That was until the senior executive service was corrupted by politicians who wanted the "public" service to become "the government" service". Now Australia's public services are inhabited by an arrogance and lack of ability that is on display every day. Some Departments are worse than others. The federal Department of Immigration, the Defence Department, and the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations seem to be trend setters in the declining standards of industrial relations in Australia. The confontationist model that was once the hallmark of management practice is not the best practice model for the nation. The Australian government's Work Choices is a poorly designed system. It is in many ways exploitative model of how not to intervene in human resources management in the engine rooms (employers) of the Australian economy. The trend setters at state level would be Tasmania, way out in front, Queensland and New South Wales. These three with the federal agencies named above demonstrate poor administrative, human resource and citizen service talents.

The private sector was never a trend setter of excellence and of late (July 2006) exhibits a myopia and excess that over time can only damage the nation. Among the leaders in repressive practices for human resource management are Telstra. This is not surprising given the backgrounds of the senior management. The Commonwealth Bank, examples given below and from time to time Virgin Airlines for its discriminatory employment practices and Australia Post. There are many more examples. There seems to be a parallel between trashing the talent in the organisation and trashing the
brand. Poor human resource management principles, and awareness, is reflected in the associations that represent business. The Australian government recently passed its Work Choices legislation, described below, in detail, in this web site. Not satisfied with the raft of Draconian, and belittling, principles Australia's largest employer group wants to take the excesses and domination of employees further. There are no human talent values in the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) discernible to an external observer. I have never had much time for people who earn high salaries being parrots of big business so that the individual CEO can avoid public scrutiny. The ACCI wants to abolish the 38 hour week limit. The AICC and its members believe that in order to maximise corporate profit workers must drive themselves in to the ground and be away from home and social life simply because some enterprise deigns to employ them. The AICC wants to alter (lower the benefits of) annual and sick leave provisions in the existing federal laws. They want to decide what the level of annual leave should be for all categories of workers including shift workers. They want to change the laws regarding pregnant workers. The membership of the ACCI might want to look to the skill, and ability, of its CEO lest the individual CEO's are tarred with the same brush of poor opinion and the jaundiced observations of this scribe. The ACCI after all merely mouths the desires of its membership, or does it?


"A mine worker from the Hunter Valley in New South Wales, who says she was sacked last month after refusing to sign an individual contract, is taking her case to the Federal Court. Lorissa Stevens, 21, says she was bullied by mining industry contractor Mining and Earthmoving Services (MES) and then lost her job after she refused to sign the contract. She says she was horrified by several clauses, including one which would see her fined $200 if she took a day off sick without giving at least 12 hours notice. A claim has been lodged in the Federal Court on behalf of Ms Stevens, who says she is upset by the experience". (Source: Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Australia, July 4, 2006)

When the Australian government enacted its Work Choices legislation it was based on the premise that employers would bargain with employees because they valued their skills and talents. The reality it seems is quite different as the content below will demonstrate.

CCH NewsArticles on Employment, Leadership and Ethics


Case Studies

"Workers walk away from bad bosses, March 29, 2007 01:29pm"

"EVERYONE'S worked for a bad boss at some point in their career, but it seems the tables are turning, with employees increasingly walking out on maddening managers. A survey has found 82 per cent of office workers have quit a job rather than put up with an outrageous boss. Chandler Macleod's Recruitment Solutions general manager Lorraine Christopher said with the unemployment rate at a 32-year low, companies needed to start training their managers. Over 75 per cent of survey respondents claimed they'd knock back a job with better pay if the manager had a poor reputation. Ms Christopher said the survey proved "people don't leave organisations, they leave bad bosses''. "This study should serve as a timely wake-up call for organisations,'' she said. "Businesses simply can't afford to overlook any employee.'' The survey of 233 office workers found more than 26 per cent claimed their boss never facilitated career development, almost 20 per cent reported a complete lack of regular and honest feedback and more than half said their manger did not always keep their word or provide leadership." (Source:

A large number of Australian employers seem to disregard, perhaps not know about or do not understand the concept of human capital.

"Over the years, the terms used to describe staff and employees in businesses have changed. We have moved from "personnel" to "human resources" (HR) and now "human capital". Other phrases, such as "talent management" have also emerged. These terms can appear to be dehumanising. That is why some HR manager titles include the word "people" in preference to "human resources". The important point is the mindset behind the organisation’s operation....

The term human capital is recognition that people in organisations and businesses are an important and essential asset who contribute to development and growth, in a similar way as physical assets such as machines and money. The collective attitudes, skills and abilities of people contribute to organisational performance and productivity. Any expenditure in training, development, health and support is an investment, not just an expense." (Source: Human capital concept - definition and explanation, Derek Stockley,

Australian unionism revitalised

The Australian government has passed a set of legislation euphemistically (spin) titled Work Choices. These legislative provisions have exposed the core of vacuous rhetoric that employers around Australia use to describe their human resource practice. The responsible Minister, Kevin Andrews has risked his political career on this legislation. He will lose it. Not only is his seat in parliament at risk, along with many of his colleagues, so too is his personal integrity and reputation. Kevin Andrews professes Catholic values. He will be judged accordingly and on current assessment his Catholic peers seem not to be impressed with Cardinal Pell being a solid critic of the Work Choices legislation. The legislation has exposed and unleashed the fools and callous among Australian employers, who were once kept in check by unions, state and federally regulated awards and laws. The Minister heads up a Department which has been exposed by the Australian Productivity Commission and the Auditor General for its propensity to manipulate statistics. The Department of Workplace Relations does not have a reputation for integrity or quality public sector management.

In amongst the myriad of convoluted, complicated and incomprehensible raft of regulations and cant, are provisions aimed at neutering the Australian Trade Union movement. The Australian government of John Howard, populated by Ministers of his choosing, does not have a strong record demonstrating an ability to read and predict the future. Far from neutering the union movement the legislation will actually lead to a reinvigoration of the membership. Women will join the unions because they are most at risk under the heavy handed approach engineered, and implemented, by Minister for Workplace Relations, Kevin Andrews. The government presumption is that the younger workforce of today is predisposed towards individualism, risk and adventurism. The problem is that they are not and the older members of society are returning to employment.

The government has a glaring hypocrisy. It claims that the changes will increase productivity and open up the labour market to great expansion. Within its own public service agencies there are hundreds of collective bargain employment agreements in place with more being negotiated. The public service is not rushing to test the new system. The government also thought managers would like to oversee individual contracts rather than just have one document. That again is a miscalculation. The final miscalculation is that the Commonwealth legislation will withstand the High Court challenge being mounted by the states starting Thursday 3rd May, 2006. I think that the Work Choices legislation will not pass the constitutional test. Large segments of the act may be struck down by the High Court. The
Australian Constitution specifies the Commonwealth government's powers under the corporation provisions. One might read the document as referring more to the regulatory regime of how corporations might behave and what "commercial" and "criminal" laws might be applicable rather than how they should employ people? The Constitution also sets a limitation in industrial relations powers to conciliation and arbitration. The High Court is actually the only defender the citizenry has left in Australia, against the excesses of the multiple political executives of the nation, particularly the executive cabinet of the Australian government. Inflammatory language, rhetoric and adversarial behaviour that is destructive, ignorant and debilitating.

The pigs are flying

The Howard government has instituted a new set of Workplace laws, based on the federal government's constitutional powers. There is much debate and criticism regarding these laws. One perspective that has not been debated is level of maturity, and the characteristics, of Australia's employers. The reaction is many has been to interpret that they have open slather to sack employees or to rearrange their employment to less favourable conditions. The epitome of the lack of maturity, regard for talent and the methodology of valuing employee skill is the Cowra Meatworks case. In April 2006 twenty nine people were sacked and then offered their jobs back at $200.00 per week, lesser wages. This irrational action, in the face of laws that state this is illegal, arises due to the collective efforts of many people. Their individual contributions, during ten years of the Howard government, add up to a dysfunctional system of their direct making. It is an adversarial system of human resource policy and thinking that instead of adding value and enhancing the nation brings out the worst elements. These forces are in the ascendancy under John Howard's "Backward Australia" plan.

First, and foremost, it arises from the immaturity of Australia's senior political figures and their intemperate words and constant carping. For many years the conservative parties have shrilled about unfair dismissal laws and their impact on the economy. This has become the central theme. It is a constant whining. How the laws are limiting to small business and to productivity. Whining from people who have a constant need to blame someone or something. There is no research or evidence of this. Secondly the environment has been electrified by the zealous, and ill thought, out pursuit and persecution of unions, as the architects of evil. Interestingly politicians see no similar evil in their own political machinery.

At the forefront of the belittling, whining, and smart arsed insults, has been the former Minister for Workplace Relations, Mr. Tony Abbott. When he was in the portfolio he created the Australian Building and Construction Commission. Its primary function is to investigate, threaten and punish. It emulates its creator. It is a thuggish model of public policy, belligerent and of questionable worth. It entrenches an "adversarial cancer" in our approach to human resources management and employment issues. It exists to demonise, and to prosecute, and companies, who do things that the federal government does not like. The Commission is backed up by a policy that states companies will not be eligible for federal government contracts if they do not obey the federal government's view of how things should operate. True there is corruption and collusion in the building industry, thuggery and violence. True there is an ignorance in the building construction union leadership that has created the tension and hostility. This is largely due to their limited education and factional control where the not so articulate and reasoning in the industry, gain, and hang on to, union office. The federal government has fuelled this hostility. The approach of "political thuggery" is on both sides with wild cat behaviour on the part of the unions and blunt instruments of legislative power on the part of the government. This use of blunt instruments is one of the trademarks of the Howard government. Lacking the ability of persuasive argument, well researched and thought out debate, they resort to intimidation. This role model is adopted by quite a few people in Australian enterprises. Particularly those prone to exploitation.

Employer Associations' leadership has further entrenched the hostility, demarcation and
gladiatorial style of the approach to human relations management in Australia. Management is merely copying the style of Australia's politicians.

Senior business figures have continually pushed the Australian government for removal of
unfair dismissal and the right to restructure (fire, downgrade or demote) for operational reasons. The federal government legislation does not define what "operational reasons" are. The constant attacks on employment security and career prospects, and introduction of management decided employment flexibility, are aided, and abetted, by human resource practitioners in the larger companies, such as Telstra, the Commonwealth Bank, Australia Post, the National Australia Bank, the Australian Wheat Board, the federal government agencies and many more enterprises. There is no consideration of the national interest and the development of human capital in Australia by such short sighted and myopic policies developed, engineered and rammed him by corporate executives. It could be argued that too many highly paid executives are semi - literate in human behavioural and management theory. They appear to believe that they operate in vacuums, affected only by the world that they know or have identified. There is a permeating view in many of the larger organisations that their arrogance and decisions cannot, and should not, be challenged. The organisation is a shaping influence on behaviour and belief. Particularly sophisticated organisations with strong managerial and human capital systems. Employees, particularly middle managers are programmed to ape the mantra and often engage in sycophantic emulation of their bosses intimidating views and their own inexperienced, or substandard, notions of control, and management of people, over any other form of getting the best out of their human assets.

They are very good at spouting the rhetoric and the latest theory, to their peers and the sometimes to public at large. The organisation employs lawyers, and human resource advisory, and employment, agencies to ensure domination of the "acceptable employee and management modus operandi" and the cultural fit. They
manage risk and cultural fit. These two managerial dynamics have taken on a greater importance than the actual skill and ability of employees and they stifle innovation and creativity. The "managerial class" frame the workplace laws and give effect at each level of implementation moving their corrosive ideology into government. This threatens the public interest as Departmental Secretaries and senior Ministers, and advisers, come to believe that the private sector models, particularly competition and risk management and the shedding of accountability, have currency and application in the public sector.

"The new breed personifies qualities the Howard Government plans to enshrine in controversial legislation now before Parliament, fundamentally changing the nature and mission of the Public Service. They are managerialists and economic rationalists with a mixture of public-sector and private-sector experience. They are believers in radically smaller government, where most government services are delivered by private operators and where the "red tape" of accountability is kept to a minimum." (Source: The Axemen Cometh The Sydney Morning Herald, November 1, 1985.)

In the federal government the laws around employment are influenced, and often drafted, by external entities such as law firms. Within every large organisation it appears that managerial and human resource practitioner
(airheads) populate the structures and have taken over policy and action at the highest level. Among their weapons of culture shaping and control are the psychological tests, tools that have no proven foundation of accuracy or worth other than for management legal fairness and other similarly inspired gobbly gook. These are products sold by snake oil purveyors to be swallowed by the gullible.

A worrying trend is the infiltration of airhead management, and fad theory, practices within Australia's public services. At the federal level, Immigration, Customs, Taxation, Foreign Affairs and Trade - to name but a few. At the state and territory levels, education, health, transport and utilities. Ministers are displaying their poor administrative, judgemental, rational and communication abilities almost every day. Senior advisers actively interfere in the administration and activities of the public services at federal, state and territory levels.

Examine the responses of the Deputy Prime Minister, Mark Vaile, at the Cole Enquiry into the Australian Wheat Board. The Minister was too absorbed in trying to learn his job and it was not his responsibility anyway. Weak kneed he blamed someone else and whined. The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer, showed us his smug and arrogant side, stating that he never read international diplomatic cables except when he ran out of things to read on the plane. These two do not bother to read the material provided by spy agencies, intelligence sources and the large staff complement operating overseas. What a waste of money then and why have them if these two, and others in Ministerial offices and departments, cannot be bothered with what they send in. This is an example of jow people in senior roles view the work of others. Downer tells us that when he did bother to read one he dismissed the assertions because they were written by a "low level Captain". What a supercilious, class oriented and arrogant little man Downer shows himself to be.

The highly paid Ministerial advisory staff in the offices of the Prime Minister and the other Ministers, seem to have never thought about the consequences. The Australian public service does not push the point because the Minister may become annoyed. What were the sources of information, and advice, that the Prime Minister, and these two senior Ministers, used to inform their cabinet colleagues about the international ramifications? They seem to have turned a blind eye to the implications of the Work Choices policies and legislation in the hands of many Australian employers? It would seem that they were very selective. Why should employers, particularly many seemingly incapable of reading and deciphering legislation or learning the art of human resource management behave any differently?

The media advisers to the Ministers, add to the climate of misrepresentation and confusion. The should tutor the Minister Andrews, on the power of words. We find the nation engaged yet again in adversarial behaviour and with demarcated hostility. Kevin Andrews, the Minister for Workplace Relations, contributes to a gross waste of time and resources. The Work Choices legislation is a public statement of ignorance of human resources management. The government is ably assisted in this regard by the various employer associations who place short sighted ideology and profit before stable and reliable planning and implementation. The nation's policy and action is framed on short term, selfish business objectives. Why does the Minister for Workplace Relations appear surprised by the
emerging state of affairs that has come about?

Perhaps Australian management could take a leaf out of American practices and entertain their customers like this in Australia. There are employers in the nation who are similar in their views about what employees might do to please customers. We prostitute so much in Australians society why not go all the way.

What do the federal government rules say about
exploiting people in sheltered workshops? Probably nothing because that is a welfare issue and not real employment. Governments and certain business interests can demonise trade unions but when it comes down to it the creation of workplace inspectors and a massive government bureaucracy will never replace the good work of those in Australian trade union representatives dedicated to the welfare of others. The Minister for Workplace Relations, Kevin Andrews, and like minded others, prefer to belittle and denigrate their contribution whilst egotistically self applauding his, and the government's own, efforts and views. These are such good qualities in our senior public leaders that so many want to emulate them.

On Monday the 10th, and Tuesday 11th, of April, 2006, the Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade and the Foreign Minister, both provided an insight into the level of competency in their own management of their portfolios and that of their senior staff. Ignoring the "pass the parcel" antics and lapses of memory, the underlying theme was one of incompetence on the part of all parties. Cables were sent many times from the USA to the Ministries pointing to large scale corruption by the Australian Wheat Board in its dealings with Iraq during United Nations sanctions and the invasion. The Minister did not read them or cannot recall them and the staff were not astute enough to discern the future implications. Thus the task of ensuring that the matter of incompetence is addressed falls to the titular head of the Australian Public Service (APS), Dr. Peter Shergold who can only deal with the bureaucracy and not the performance of Ministers. The Prime Minister will not deal with the incompetence of his Ministers for there are no managerial or public interest standards set for the people whom he unilaterally chooses to appoint into these roles.

It has been apparent for sometime that the pool of talent upon which the APS draws is shrinking. Director roles are being filled by people who are inexperienced and of lesser ability than the older public servants who have left the ranks. Australia got in this mess through a failure of people who are paid to do a job, not doing it. It was not that they did it clumsily or that they were instructed not to do it. It was simply that they are incapable of performing the roles for which they are employed. Dr. Shergold has the unenviable and challenging task of rebuilding large parts of the public sector human capacity.

If you have spent time inside recruitment companies and saw how many of them treated their staff, the limited backgrounds, and experiences, of some of the recruiters that interview applicants you might want to consider suing them for misrepresentation. People in their early thirties are holding themselves out to be experts in industry sectors and assessment techniques. One wonders why companies would employ their services such as advising on human resource matters when they are incapable of running their own human resources productively and have such limited, and narrow, experience and expertise. You might want to interview the company's call centre staff to get an idea of their own practices before you chose to contract the company to advise and guide you. Many of the well known enterprises are simply appalling in their Draconian and often childish styles of management of people. Particularly those that adopt the US model of staff motivation through fear and oppressive micro management.

Recruitment companies are literally a dime a dozen on the sidewalk. They have an association and code of practice that seeks to give them some legitimacy and dress them up as competent. The implication is that if they follow this code they are exemplary service providers. They tout the expertise of their staff. They are effectively call centres, listing jobs like a real estate agent. A large number of recruitment companies engage in misrepresentation, breaching the trade practices act every day. They misrepresent their products and services. On balance what they claim and offer is often not deliverable. The hype does not match the performance. Their advertisements are too often misleading, the jobs, in a lot of cases, are non existent and their smooth talking banter is nothing more than rhetoric that they learnt in rote school. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission ignores their behaviour. It is a world of cons. A con by the applicant and a con by the agency.

Day after day I have sat and read resumes that include qualifications that read like some primary school credential. Short courses offered up as credible education and training, deliver in house within businesses that have trouble justifying the quality of their product let alone their training. Applicants who were simply too lazy, or did not have the opportunity, to further their education. They have grasped at the quick fix courses offered up under the Australian Training Framework. Courses of little substance and duration deliver by "nationally accredited training institutions", private and state owned Training and Further Education Institutions. These are shallow competency based courses with assessment that is not based on a rigorous content, mind taxing puzzles and substance. However they are like locusts plagues across the Australia nation devouring the foundation of our education. One must question the capacity of the person who offers them up as credentials supporting an application for employment beyond anything other than for things such as fork lift driving.

In comes the short listed applicant to be interviewed by someone whose life experience is measured in days not decades. It is no wonder that the recruitment industry is held in such low esteem. Add the experience, knowledge, ineptitude, and questionable ability, of the interviewer, who themselves come late to work and are unreliable, to the misrepresentations of the company on its web site, and in the brochure, and the industry is quite contemptible. Creeping into the Australian lexicon, and operation, are the spurious, and questionable practices employed in the United States of the America, the bastion of sleaze marketing and misrepresentation which lauds the employment practices of Wal Mart. Put your resume on one of the many job boards, that promise employers will come flocking to read the document and see how many hits you get. It is laughable on one hand but of greater import when you realise that it is quite dishonest. The purveyors of hollow promises are playing with peoples' sensibilities, hopes and aspirations. Having studied and worked with recruiters I find none are reliable or as qualified as they claim. They are the used car sales people of human aspiration and dreams. They emulate other purveyors of dishonesty and trickery, namely Australia's politicians. Like the companies that exploit candidates and employers, with drivelling justifications as to why one should use a recruiter, senior politicians exploit the gullible and also manipulate through misrepresentation. The difference being that the politician purportedly is there to serve the public interest. Like the recruitment companies that infest Australia's landscape, Australia's government is about glossy advertisements, smoke and mirrors without much substance and result. It is not about Australia's human capital and talent. The world of "work choices" in Australia is not a quality product, experience or environment. It is far from world best practice whatever that might be.

Questions of the maturity of Australia's Political System. Take for example Kevin Andrews, the federal Minister. He says on radio that the new laws introduced by him permit an employer to sack someone from their livelihood on a "personality difference". This is an immature and reckless statement hardly worthy of a senior figure in politics. One can always consider the adage - pay peanuts and you get a monkey but he is not paid peanuts and one assumes he is not a monkey. Though he does dance to pretty common ideology that drones on and on with raucous effect. The Minister ought to be aware that as very senior member of the Australian government cabinet words can be weapons. However history shows that he, and his Ministerial colleagues, have little comprehension of their role and the onerous responsibility it brings. Perhaps he is self absorbed with his place in history as the reformer of Australia's labour market. Pity that it appears that he did not educate himself about Ministerial responsibility and the power of language before he took his oath to serve or at least gave it some thought over his time in parliament. The question is, who does he serve? The record shows that it is not the national interest. Pity that he is not confronted more often about not being a role model that is worthwhile emulating and listening to.

As federal Minister for Workplace Relations he has taken the government's mean, and tricky status, to a new dimension when he released his Workplace Relations Amendment act and the regulations in March 2006. The act has been touted as a simplification for it seeks over time to abolish awards, the power of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission, tribunals and union power neutering anyone who effectively opposes the government's will. To propose with your employer that you include a provision for dealing with dismissal (calling it an unfair dismissal) in your employment contract is a criminal offence. The fines are in the tens of thousands. To do anything to attempt to block the government's objectives, using freedom to contract, is a criminal offence, to propose that people might belong, or not, to a union is a criminal offence.

What is criminal is that an elected, and paid public official, a Minister of the Crown can act against segments of the population in pursuit of an ideological objective. What is criminal is the manner in which the Minister focuses denigration upon a particular segment of the nation's population. Unions are legally incorporated bodies. If they go about their legal business in a manner that the Minister does like he and sanction them. This is Draconian piece of legislation with puerile and sanctimonious overtones. It is poorly framed, with some 1,500 pages of incomprehensible legalese with no complete copy to which one can refer. It is has 440 pages of regulations for employers and employees and is cross referenced to legislative
instruments that will have little meaning to any who is not Kevin Andrews, not a lawyer and not one of the Departmental public servants who produced this diatribe of pure targeted spite. Perhaps the ever bright neo conservatives in the Australian Business Council and Industry Group, can decipher it. "Do as I tell you or you will pay", is the simple summary I discern of Kevin Andrew's contribution to public policy.
Rather than gather the nation to work together to growth, economic wealth and harmony the Howard govern met likes to conquer and divide, create division and make its perceived enemies pay. These are mean people who have for years been kept in their bottles until the very stupid voting public let the genies out to
bite them.

Australia has become meaner as a place to work and people who would want to migrate here should think carefully about that. There are companies, including some indicated below, who will find Andrew's legislation the ants pants. They are not Australia's leading employers or leading human resource lights, they are definitely not world best practice role models in their field. This piece of foolhardy and reckless legislation will cause the fall of the government but worst, it will damage the nation irreparably for it imbues hatred into legislation even though it is veiled and covered in velvet glove lies and misrepresentations. On behalf of a corporation, covered under the legislation, I rang the Kevin Andrew's Department's hot line and asked a simple question,. If the legislation mandated a maximum 38 hour week, but employees could demand reasonable extra hours. What did this mean? My client currently demanded that staff work 40 hours per week. The Department adviser referred me to another service, Wageline. I net to their incomprehensible web site which has state and territory and federal awards. I rang them, they could not tell me. They said the employer would have to pay overtime. The employer (my client) disputed that and said that no consultancy in the world worked a 38 hour week. I was none the wiser after two hours of web crawling and phone calls. Tis is not atypical of the Department under Kevin Andrew's administration. I have had previous experience wit their misrepresentations and propensity to waste the money and time of other people. This is a hallmark of the Howard government, wasting the peoples' money in office and in dealing with people externally. When you deal with a member of the Howard government remember that they are first and foremost, their interests, their objectives and their egos. They are not unique, labor state and territory ministers, and departmental heads, are similarly inclined.

There seem to be few glimpses of excellence at Australia's Commonwealth Bank.

Shareholders of one of Australia's leading banks, a very large and prestigious corporation, might be lead to question the competency and ethics of the board members, chief executive and senior managers particularly in relation to human resources expertise and strategy. In the week of December 15, 2005, the bank was fined $750,000 in the federal court for breach of the Workplace Relations Act. The bank had forced 250 people to resign and then reemployed them through a third party company. These people were effectively devalued and robbed by the bank of fair payment for their abilities. I think this is unconscionable conduct and shows that at this bank, employees are not the greatest asset. Perhaps the Board and managers think they are. Australian banks have been held in contempt by consumers for their charges and pursuit of greed coupled with branch closures and poor service delivery and it appears that senior managers learn nothing and attract further ridicule and contempt. Perhaps the Board and the fool who made the decision to be creative, should pay the fine and not the shareholders. The board and managers are likely to make another brilliant decision, costing shareholders more money by appealing the judgement.

As if this were not enough the bank management compounded its poor record with another brilliant idea, producing a "grooming handbook".

5 December 2005, Commonwealth Bank
"The Commonwealth Bank today said that the grooming guide that the Bank had issued to its retail banking staff was intended as a guide only. Hugh Harley, Group Executive, Retail Banking Services said that the Bank is very proud of the way its staff present to work. The grooming handbook was developed in conjunction with the new corporate collection which was issued to staff in March of this year, free of charge to staff serving customers directly. With the issue of the new designer collection, staff had shown a keen interest in personal presentational matters. The Bank has been holding workshops for staff to show them the full potential of the new attire and how to present it in the most professional manner. In this context, the grooming guide had been developed, as a guide only, to support any staff looking for additional information. Response from staff to the new corporate collection has been overwhelmingly positive. In particular, staff serving customers directly are very appreciative that they were given a high quality wardrobe free of any charge. Mr Harley said, "The guidelines are just that - guidelines. They should be seen in that context. The guide was developed in response to staff interest in personal presentation and I apologise to any staff who may have been offended or who do not feel comfortable discussing such matters".

Australian bank apologises for grooming guide, 06/12/2005 14:13 CANBERRA (Reuters)
One of Australia's largest banks apologised on Monday for a "grooming handbook" that suggested staff wear flesh-coloured underwear and advised against shiny stockings because they make legs look fatter. The grooming guide -- which also recommended that earrings should be no bigger than a small coin and that women should wear no more than two rings on each hand -- was given to retail banking staff at the Commonwealth Bank.

Do you bank with, and use the services of, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia? If so why?

Human Capital

Careers guides and news articles
human resources management


Endowing "superiority".

Work at Australia Post and be endowed with the status of "superior officer". On the ABC news at 6pm on Friday November 25, 2005, an Australia Post spokesperson said that employees who were absent on the day that national protests occurred against the federal government's Work Choice legislative diatribe would be asked to explain their absence to "superior officers". This is a particularly inspiring description of people in supervisory roles in one of Australia's largest public sector enterprises. The Australian government finds nothing wrong with this. Of course one can understand why they would not the actions of Australia Post substandard in management theory and practice, when one looks at the record of the Howard government, and the record of other government owned enterprises and the people with whom, the Australian government deals and appoints to represent it. The Australian government under John Howard's devalues people into economic increments. It is both a culpable, and a negligent government, in the administration of one of the largest enterprises in Australia, the federal parliament and government. A litany of poor management, ignorance and questionable ethics taints it and this permeates downwards to industry, and enterprise, as managers emulate the example. John Howard, and his Ministers, have given a legal license to the mistreatment of human capital, dressing it up as economic necessity under global competition imperatives. Only the stupid, or semi-literate, the bigoted and those without vision of what we as a nation might be, would accept the propositions of Howard's human capital strategies. The quality of leadership and lack of ability to create a national bonding towards goals, might explain why Australia does not achieve its full potential. It seems also evident that Australia's full potential would not be achieved under the federal labor opposition ranks, of 2006, given the quality of leadership and ability, therein.

The Commonwealth Bank, Australia Post and other examples we see every day, demonstrates that the nation (citizens, shareholders) allows people of limited ability to take the running in too many sectors.

What are the classifications of people at Australia Post other than "senior officer"? "Less than ordinary officer", "ordinary officer", "above ordinary", "extraordinary" and "superior"? What description might the CEO, and Board, have for their esteemed office and positions in this enlightened publicly owned corporation?

I fully support Australia Post, execute the people! How brazen, and treasonous, employees are to dare to exercise their democratic right to protest against the government.! Not on the government's (public) dime indeed!

Why not, you unenlightened, despotic small minded lot in charge of Australia Post? Why are you wallowing hypocrisy, is it to impress your political masters? The Australian government has no qualms in spending $50M - $60M of our dime, pushing its own agendas, ideology and flaky theories, through shallow, childish advertising. which is short on substance and strong on misrepresentation. If quality for the buck is a determinant, then government should consider not paying its creative agencies for producing much of the drivel that comes out. If quality of human management in government enterprise and the public service is a goal then again it should consider what sort of talent it is employing to achieve this. Enough frivolity and sarcasm. Those whom about I rant are not worthy of a second thought. We know high minded objectives of the value of their employees, or anyone else outside their circle, are not to be found on the Australian government's agenda.

Now back to the government inspired hunt for those who challenged its authority. Imagine what anarchy would occur if employees were allowed equal time, rights and costs, to similarly argue, protest and advertise their feelings about their employment future, conditions and rights.

What a pathetic, and mediocre, set of human management standards and responses have crept into our enterprise lexicon, courtesy of the "communications spin doctor" and the mentality of management. What poor role models Australia has, in its major enterprises, particularly government owned business enterprises. There is a gulf between the published mission statements and standards and the exposed face of modern enterprise. Are we to suspect that the inquisition is alive and well in organisations like Australia Post and that people are imbued with class, status and traits of superiority through employment?

We cannot tell much about the
quality of how people are managed in this government enterprise. The Human Resource governance document is of such depth as to almost overwhelm. In terms of its primary goal, shareholder value, revenue and a change from its past it successful. However apart from what we see at the counter it is, like all of the Howard government enterprises not really transparent in terms of fullsome reporting, and being accountable to the people that own it, the Australian public. It extols the standard rhetoric. Consistent with modern management practice human assets are not the most valued in the strategic business plan. Talking to Australia Post's independent contractors, particularly in rural areas, one gets a sense of an organisational culture that is impervious to humanity in regard to how it deals with people. It is said that Australia Post plays hard ball knowing that jobs are in short supply, investment is high and contractors are thus locked in. A "slavery" style contracting process that is about minimising the returns on investments that contractors can make on their trucks, equipment, outgoing costs and labour. They never know if their contracts will be renewed or if they will actually retain them during the tenure of the one they have. They pay a five-figure performance bond and the return on their capital is less than 3%, if that. As petrol and costs rise it can overall become a negative. Contractors need the cash flow. They rise at 3am and work in all conditions. By comparison the "senior officers" earn six figures with no outgoings. A forensic examination of the Annual report gives clues as to what sort of organisation Australia Post is inside.

Bondage through fear and insecurity is one of the managerial tactics used by the less inspired, and mediocre, organisations in the globalised world of competitive work to control people. At the counter staff are polite and efficient but none wear "superior officer" nametags. It is unlikely that "superior officers" actually man the front line service delivery and nor are they likely to be responsible for the quality of service. That is the task of those who will have to explain, and justify, themselves to "superior officers". We might have a further window to the style from the media spokesperson's statements. To determine where such cultures have been nurtured we can look at the quality of human policy, politicisation and penchant for
retribution, vengeance and payback all hallmarks of the Howard government. Such traits seem inherent in the performance profile of some senior ministers, ministerial staffers spreading this corrosively into senior public servants. We might ponder what are the benchmarks, and merit criteria, for appointment to public sector boards?

Australia Post is a placid organisation. It is never in the headlines for "bucking" the government line, unlike Telstra. So as the senior officers of Australia Post, with the government's consent enquire into the unexplained absence we can be assured that the use of fear, to control, is something that the Howard government admires and practices. The only anomaly is why Howard, and his government troops, do not wear uniforms and boots?

Threats to the professional practice of teaching in Australia

The quality of human resource management practice is affected by the quality, ethics and behaviour of the politicians and high profile leaders, in our communities as well as by the efficiency of the operations of the public, or private sector, enterprise itself and the quality of its decision makers and managers.

By Comparison to the examples above there are enlightened employers

There are not too many employers in Australia who will take on the disabled and give them employment and self respect. Disability Works Australia has identified these more enlightened human capital practitioners.

Many people are defined predominantly by their work.

As sad as it may seem, for many work is status and the definition of their personality and being. It has become the central feature of modern existence and the lines of living and working are blurred. The hours of work, and intrusion into personal life have had different effects on peoples' opinions and satisfaction.

Technology is a pervasive instrument that allows the employer unfettered reach, anywhere, anytime. Society is complex and the nature of our policy planning and organisational behaviour systems have not kept up with advances in technology. Theories of human resource management abound yet our governments and many employers, . can only visualise and promote archaic,and simplistic, workplace relations.

Extract: Give us a break: Australia is hard at work
By Tim Colebatch
Economics editor, Canberra
July 7, 2005

"Even with four weeks' annual leave, Australians are already the hardest-worked citizens in the Western world. We bear an average workload of 1855 hours a year - more than workers in the United States, Japan or anywhere in Europe.

Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews wants his changes to allow workers to swap two weeks of annual leave for money, but in fact our four weeks is already in the lower half of Western leave levels. Whether you look at annual leave, public holidays or total working hours, comparison with other Western countries suggests Australian workers are far from being the bludgers we think. Koreans aside, no Westerners spend more time in the office, shop or factory than us.

In a book of statistics, How Australia Compares, Sydney academic Rodney Tiffen and Age columnist Ross Gittins found that Australians have the longest working year of any Western nation for which data is available. Australians on average work 1855 hours a year, or 38.6 hours a week if you assume they work 48 weeks a year. That Australia also has the West's second highest rate of part-time workers, Tiffen and Gittins add, "makes its position at the top of the league of hard workers even more remarkable". (end extract)

The senior members of Australia's parliaments are career politicians who have limited experience, knowledge and awareness. Put simply the members of the Australian government are pontificating and some would say that they do it without a clue. I cast no such aspersion. There must be some clues? They do, on the face of it, appear to be producing legislation that is unbalanced

Dear Kevin

"The Democrats opposed the Work Choices legislation because it was unfair, unwise and there was no empirical economic justification for the changes. Please feel free to visit the Democrats campaign page on the Work Choices Bill."
Democrats policy and media on the reforms Kind regards
Kellie Caught
Workplace Relations Adviser
Senator Andrew Murray Australian Parliament

I think this is a significant problem. Politicians, governments, and many managers of human endeavour and labour make decisions based on ideology, untested theories, outmoded ideas, concepts, policies and a lack of new ideas and strategies.

The Australian Labor party has, for years, claimed that the major failure in Australia's human capital planning is the lack of focus on training. This is not the case. The greatest problem that Australia faces is the immaturity of the policy and decision makers. The mediocre planning of government, and industry, and the definition criteria and selection processes in use. Despite a reality of an ever-lessening pool of experience, job advertisements, and selection practices, still focus on the proposition that for a person to be successful in a job they must have experience within that sector. The advertisements are cannibalistic, recycling people. One of the most tedious of advertisements are for consultants. They invariably specify that applicants should ave experience with "top tier" firms and the "Big 4". These are the organisations that have been investigated for corruption and fraud worldwide. The best known firms have had to be broken up to survive scandal. The greatest commercial failures in the world involve companies that used the services of these firms. What is it with recruiters and employers that they are mesmerised by size and and smooth marketing?

Playing it safe, there is little, if any, recognition of the possibility, and potential, of transferability of skills across sectors. Much of this myopia has to do with Australian management, and consultants', aversion to risk, lack of knowledge and the human trait of choosing people who relate on a personal level with their interviewer. The situation is further exacerbated by the protectionist barriers maintained by professional associations. It appears beyond the comprehension of those who make decisions that there are fundamental skills, which are generic. Successful people in other sectors learn very quickly in new ones.

Additionally the quality of policy, and practice, in human resources management and the harnessing of talent in Australia is closely linked to
ethics and leadership. Qualities that may be severely lacking in many areas of public and corporate life.

Best practice human resources management
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CAREERS International job market, employment, work, news, associations and jobs services

US employment laws


Wednesday 16 November, 2005, one hundred and fifty (151) academics representing the majority of Australia's academic industrial relations expertise lodged their submissions with the Australian Senate enquiry into the Australian government's Work Choices employment legislation. They were not flattering in their critique.

Kevin Andrews, the Minister for Workplace Relations, responded when asked if he would take their criticisms and views on board, that there was "no substitute for common sense" and that the legislation was evolutionary. Such is the quality and the measure of the political debate and perhaps the intellectual capacity of the Minister. On this statement we can be assured that the world is flat. Common sense would imply that under Minister Andrews' hand there would be little future for nonsensical and noncommon sense, research of any kind such as flying to the moon. There is no proof offered to support the government's, Minister's, some industry associations' and employers' claims that these laws will enhance Australia's
productivity. There is no research, or supporting evidence, in the world. Thus the government must go beyond the planet into the mystique.

The newly appointed Chair of the Fair Pay Commission, says that he will be taking his guidance from God and one can see that under the Howard government, the dark ages of Christian crusades, servitude of the masses to the princes, and kings, of government and enterprise is in the ascendancy. Howard, and his cabal, seem to have a mistrust of intellectual enquiry, unless it is supportive of, and consistent with, their myopic perceptions and beliefs. Some critiques argue that Howard has diminished Australia's intellectual institutions. There is nothing exceptionally intellectual, or factually robust, about the government's polices, actions and decisions.

The government has printed a very simplistic, almost childlike, booklet called Work Choices, a reader for the challenged public who might find it hard to decipher complex statements and claims. The booklet tells us much about the level of maturity of the Minister, the Department and the members of parliament who think that it is all worthwhile and substantial in its content. It states categorically that an employee's award will be protected and that they may elect to stay on it. What the booklet does not say is that the
legislation clearly states that this option will apply only to the date of expiry of the award and that it may not be renewed. The employment arrangement will then revert to the five minimum conditions until, and if, an Australian Workplace Agreement is negotiated and agreed. The government's publication misleads by omission. This is common tactic and this is its record.

On Tuesday 15 November 2005 a national day of protest is planned against the Australian government's proposed workplace, and employment, laws. One can gain a sense of the level of maturity of the Australian government, public service managers and employers generally by how they are responding to this event. This is in essence a political protest by citizens against the policy actions of their government. However it is being characterised by some politicians, by the public service and by employers and their associations as a strike". This is puerile and demonstrates how immature we are as a nation in approaching human resource management and strategies. The media airways are filled with a crescendo of parroting. Those who characterise the political protest as a strike demonstrate their inability to conceptualise the nature of a true democracy and the level of their maturity and ability to deliver strong and effective fair government. For them democracy is voting once every few years and keeping ones head down for the remainder so that the "people who are in charge" may have unfettered control. At every level of Australian society without challenge.

The federal public service has decided that an employee may not take leave to demonstrate their opinion of the proposed legislation. How ignorant and what an interference with democratic rights and process! It is all very well for employers to engage in lobbying, and influencing, governments and to seek to get the legislation they want but is illegal for the ordinary employed person to do so. Activism in politics is actively discouraged. According to the "power collective" employed people must put their (employer') interests first above public good, vibrant democracy and challenging debates.

The leaders of our nation, at so many levels of political and corporate life tend to be a narrow minded and self interested lot whose greed, corruption and desire to dictate has resulted in this piece of legislative crap being offered up as innovative and visionary policy for the economic, and social wellbeing, of Australia.

The Australian government demonstrates that it has no innovative, or unique, ideas reading human resource management practice and how it might create a cooperative society for the advancement of Australia. It borrows its policies largely from a country with an obscenely rich ruling class where half the population is mired in poverty and slavery. This is not surprising when one looks at the background, and pronouncements, of the policy makers in Australia's federal government and how the Ministers of that government, and senior public servants, run the administration with little regard for quality management practices.

The Australian government's proposals for employment laws is another sure fired way to put barriers and impediments in the way of harnessing, and deploying, Australia's productive human resource talents.

Australian government television advertisements for the proposed changes to workplace relations, industrial relations and employment in Australia are one line printed statements, a page of print with boxed statements "protected by law" overlaid in the newspapers. Governments, and their media advisers, treat the electorate as if they are only capable of understanding simplistic concepts. These advertisements are to cost taxpayers around $45,000,000 - $50,000,000. One advertisement says that Australia cannot afford the 130 separate pieces of legislation, thousands of pages and six different jurisdictions. On that logic Australian cannot afford the 10,000+ pages of taxation legislation, health legislation, education legislation and nine multi jurisdictional systems that cover the federation.

The Prime Minister and Minister for Workplace Relations are often unable to articulate a comprehensive, and cogent argument,to justify their presumptions and claims. They resort to printing their single sentence thoughts in the media. Unlike them people within communities are able to pose
telling arguments for and against.

Now if it says that page could not be found it is because Fairfax has removed Margo's web diary, and Margo. Seems she did not take kindly to interference in editorial freedom. You will see a really nice statement on Fairfax's site. But you can find Margo by entering "webdiary Australia" into Google.

Workplcae Relations Minister, Kevin Andrews, appears evasive and somewhat trite in his explanations. when asked specific questions about legislation and policy debates. He has no evidence or research to support his broad assertions and simplistic assumptions. Of greater concern is the slapdash and manipulative approach of the Australian government to important public policy issues and to shaping legislation. Everything has to be rushed through. Legislation is poorly articulated and conveyed by Ministers to the people drafting and there is some form of "thought transference process" negating the need to clearly enunciate the intent. The employment legislation is convoluted, conflicts with other pieces of federal and state laws and with the Australian Constitution. The Prime Minister fatuously denies the obvious.

The Prime Minister states with conviction that certain Australian employment conditions are protected by law. The advertisements are over printed with this statement. When the fine print of the 800 or so pages of legislation, and regulations, are studied it can be seen that the Prime Minister misrepresents and misleads the public. The Australian government has a solid, and constant, record of misrepresentation on most contentious public policy issues. It is a government of expediency. The end justifies the means of the ideological pursuit. There is no research or intensive investigation of their beliefs. The policies of the Australian government are too often acts of faith without foundation merit. They feel it in their guts. These political role models shape other decision makers and their influence can be seen in the
decline in ethics, and standards, in Australia.

Compounding this is the decline of standards and expertise in the human resources industry as the Australian workforce ages and more experienced practitioners leave to be replaced by people of narrow expertise, education and experience. The growth in the market place of specialist human resource (employment, training and services) enterprises, and disappearing teaching of human resource (soft) discipline in universities, leaves Australia exposed on many fronts. If you look at the membership of cabinets of Australia's parliaments, and membership of boards, and the level of influence exerted by those who might be described as human related practitioners in those places it is clear that a significant number of Australian decision makers hold little regard for these disciplines preferring to take the advice, and guidance, of the hard core practitioners of economics, computing, finance and law. In these places the human resources agenda is given token recognition. There is no concerted national strategy, planning and cooperation between government and industry, beyond simplistic concepts and self interests' protection. The process of participation and debate, communication and listening denotes extensive immaturity, lack of expertise, vision and innovation within key areas of Australian society. Much of what is published, government reports, committees, corporate vision and mission statements and such can be seen to be hollow rhetoric. The most prominent examples being the Code of Conduct and Values of the Australian Public Service and the Big brand name audit, legal and consulting firms. Australia desperately needs an organisation that can act as a "bullshit" filter, a role currently being undertaken by an overworked legal and court system in the absence of an investigative and enquiring media which is also afflicted by the talent drain of an aging population.

On Sunday, 9 October 2005, the Prime Minister and the federal Workplace Relations Minister, Kevin Andrews, held closed meetings with special interest groups to unveil the government's industrial relations and labour market reform intentions. This is typical of how Australia's political leaders, particularly the Prime Minister and the federal government act. Though they are not alone in this. The state government of Steve Bracks, in Victoria, is as myopic, insular and ignorant in its own practices.

The Prime Minister in response to questions, about the impact of proposals on the nation responded glibly that we should look to his record. This is standard response which is drivel. It is a response full of hubris standing on a foundation of political sand.

Which record is that? The one where he, whilst in opposition, railed against Asian immigration? The manner in which special interests receive consideration, and patronage, and others do not? Buying votes and pork barreling? Corrupt, and manipulative, practices in managing the business our parliament? The record of exclusion and bigotry? The record of borrowed, and expediently jettisoned, ideas and policies? The sneaky, and underhanded approach to government? Or perchance the record of the government, and its senior personnel, and their manipulation, omission, lies and deceit? Torturing refugees, deporting Australians? Can we look to the doctored pictures of people in the ocean and the claims of the Prime Minister about children being thrown into the sea by their parents? Or perhaps the existence of weapons of mass destruction, the abandonment of Australian citizen, David Hicks, to torture, sexual deviancy and the inhumane practices of his captors? Denigrating the courts and legal system? Perhaps the Prime Minister is referring to the perpetrated falsehood that he and his government are responsible for economic prosperity in a global world where money market, commodity prices and big business influences the outcome? What record would he have us rely upon that is an indisputable fact of his time in office that does not involve some element of deception, manipulation and degradation?

John Howard is unable to articulate a human resources policy, industrial relations system and a need for change through trust and leadership. The Minister for Workplace Relations, Kevin Andrews similarly lacks the ability and no one in the Australian government of John Howard, at ministerial level, appears to want to answer questions honestly and in detail. They must instead spend $50,000,000 and more on television and media advertising using tricks, lies, misrepresentations and mass manipulation techniques. Howard has made squalour in government and art form.

Australia operates in an environment where political, and corporate deviance, is rife underpinned by adversarial and substandard political governance processes and systems. There is lack of trust, evidence of very poor to criminal examples of ethical behaviour, by interests engaged in significant areas of the nation's economy and society. The politicians, union officials, representative bodies of employers, legal and other powerful interests have combined, and colluded, to create a system of self serving principles and operation It is a corroded environment where self interest of one form or another is placed before public interest and even human decency. Collusion to create a cartel is illegal under the Trades Practices Act. However the Trade Practices Act does not apply to our system of government, politics and power. It does not help that there are six states and a federal government, unable to create a common system of processes in the nation.

It is the opinion of the author that the Australian government's proposals for labor market reform and employment legal practices, are yet another example of the lack of detail, consultation and open government in operation in Australia. They appear to be cobbled together from a hybrid of systems, and ideas, borrowed from the sources below in this article. For example there are commonalities with the government's proposals and with Vietnam labour laws and other developing world countries as well as bits and pieces from the USA. They are designed to limit third party intervention in the arena of employer and employee. They are a determined effort, by the coalition parties, as always to put the aim of destroying union power before any other logic. They are the creation of the unimaginative and the unethical.

They are the work, ideas and propositions of people who are left brain thinkers and who appear to sneak about. They should be treated with scepticism by the working people of the nation. The Howard government proposals will fuel the poor record of harnessing Australia's human talent. The successive federal Ministers who have held the portfolio of Employment and Workplace Relations have no discernible experience, or qualifications, in people management and human resources. Yet they propose dramatic alteration and systems without any credible justification of substance. The Prime Minister likes to refer to productivity claiming that it will rise. Is this true? Is productivity the same as workload?

The Australian government, particularly the Minister for Workplace Relations, Kevin Andrews, has no data and research to support such claims.
This apparently will be undertaken by the Fair Pay Commission. The new Chair of that Commission has stated that he will be assisted by God's advice to make his decisions. Will God's advice come by email. Letter or other mechanism to be recorded, in accordance with public record legislation?

This drivel is typical of the low standards exemplified in decision making and argument in Australia. The Ministers of governments, not just the federal, prefer to fly on ideology and assumption.

""Libertarian policy prescriptions are based on just a few principles, outwardly appealing in their seeming simplicity ...'simple rules for a complex world.' The first ... is that social problems can be resolved by creating a market. Are schools failing? Create a free market in education. Is there pollution or waste of resources? Create a market in the resource or the right to pollute; ... Is there a shortage of human organs for transplants? Let people sell their body parts. Not enough babies for adoption? Allow people to sell their babies ... " And with equal deftness, Aune fingers the trouble: "These principles of 'economic correctness' are increasingly mouthed in the universities and especially in conservative think tanks, but their obvious long-term implications may strike ordinary Americans as horribly cruel. They need to hear this economic gibberish first-hand... Free-market rhetoric is powerfully persuasive only to a certain kind of elite audience; uncoupled from nationalist begins to lose its power to motivate general audiences in a positive way."

Aune goes on to focus closely on the rhetorical practices of several major libertarians: the legal scholar Richard Posner, the novelist and Greenspan mentor Ayn Rand, the philosopher Robert Nozick, and the polemicist Charles Murray. He shows how the "realist style"of economic argument works, combining the definition of any "object, person or relationship as a commodity"; reliance on quasi-logical argument; appeals to irony (via reference to the "inevitable perversity of well-intentioned social programs"); failure to respond to opposing arguments (because "in real science, when fundamental questions are settled, only cranks dispute them"); and perhaps above all,
the avoidance of empirical investigation".

Such avoidance has been made an art form by the Howard government and its Ministers. There is little research and no evidence for his claims just manipulations and assumptions, and there is no defineable relationship between productivity and the policies espoused by John Howard, the government and the supporting business community. The eminent American economist J.K Galbraith states categorically that there is there is little solid evidence that high unemployment results from labor market rigidities and that such policies have widened the gap between rich and poor. Employment is an outcome of demand for goods and services. In the United States he claims that full employment is sustained by the tacit acceptance of large scale poverty by the administration and the greedy in society.

Questionable claims and statements of disputable fact

The Prime Minister, whose qualifications by comparison are that he did a law qualification back in the sixties and progressed to become a wily politician, is clearly misleading the Australian people when he categorically states that there is a positive relationship between the government's legislative intentions and the likely outcome effects on productivity. This view is challenged with deep research and experience in the USA and Canada.

"For decades, workers' wages were tied to productivity. The idea was simple: When workers produce more either tangible products or services in an hour of work than before, they are being more efficient and, usually, that means more profit for a corporation. Historically, increased efficiency flowed to workers in the form of higher wages. Not anymore. The link between productivity gains and wages
has been broken." (Tom Paine, July 14, 2005)

The Prime Minister also claims that the government's policies will result in higher wages and more jobs. "Empirical studies have concluded that, when we aggregate among all workers, the labor supply curve is upward sloping and fairly steep (that is, labor supply decisions are highly wage inelastic or insensitive to changes in the wage rate). Stronger influences on labor supply come about with changes in population, labor force participation rates (demographic changes) and immigration flows." (Ruby, D. 2004)

The Australian government has proposed sweeping changes to Australia's employment laws using corporation powers within the Australian Constitution based on false, or at best very questionable, premises in an environment that has deep problems arising from a lack of complementary planning and action in other arenas of the economy and society and a failure to work in concert with the broader community. If these proposals pass the parliament then the government will do untold damage to Australia's human potential and enshrine "employability" and "short term expediency" because they refuse to admit that the roots of the problem are broad and pervasive.

The Australian states currently operate their own industrial systems with the exception of Victoria. It is highly unlikely that the Australian government will deeply research its policy, be open and transparent in looking at every angle before it seeks to shunt this legislative junk through Australia's parliament. The Australian government has yet (at October 2005) to unveil comprehensive documentation of its planned changes to workplace relations and labour laws in Australia. It will do this at the last minute in the last session of parliament before the end of the year. It will deliberately limit public, and parliamentary, scrutiny. This is a reprehensible tactic and a degradation of Australia's parliament. The government of John Howard, will care little for such concepts as vibrant parliamentary processes and democratic representation and debate. Most people believe that the government's numbers in the Senate render any any notion of parliamentary representation as academic. Based on statements to date by the Prime Minister, John Howard, and the Minister for Workplace Relations, Kevin Andrews, the government's justifications reflect an archaic view of "employer - labour" dynamics and practices. They are economically framed and give employers control of human capital with little protection to those who do not have bargaining power. The government will simply add to the failure to value Australia's human potential other than for its "employability". This narrow concept of peoples' value is also reflected within the government's Education and Training policy portfolio which continues the quick and nasty "competency approach" to education and training based on industry views of employability , which has the effect of dumbing down Australia.

Engaging in adversarial games. consistent with history, the Australian Council of Trade Unions launched an $A8 million campaign in a preemptive response to try and stymie the government's plans for labour market reforms. The media love this and it allows them to avoid having to do any deep investigation or analysis. According to the commentators the ACTU caught the government by surprise and the media made much of this. Poll surveys indicated in the week of 8 July 2005 that some 65% of the Australian population were skeptical even opposed to the government's reform package. Of that 65% a large proportion were implacably opposed. The government's response was that the ACTU advertisements were misleading. The government began what is expected to be its $A20 million advertising blitz on the 9th July, 2005. The debate is emotive and politically charged and it is highly likely that gross misrepresentations, and distortion, will be undertaken by all of the adversarial parties involved. The government claims productivity and other future benefits which cannot be quantified. Trust is not a value that can be easily associated with such environments and it is always interesting how politicians ignore this fact. They are generally not believed by people who are suspicious of motive and agenda. Thus they tend to stick to the faithful audience and rarely play to the ambivalent, critical or objectionable audiences.

On Wednesday 13, July 2005 the media reported a survey which purported that 83% of business in Australia said that they had no intention of hiring extra people. This was juxtaposed against the Prime Minister's claim that employment would be created. Peter Hendy from the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry claimed that 17% of business would employ extra people. This he said correlated to some 200,000+ businesses. These are the type of broad-brush justifications and arguments that are used to colour the debate. Add to them advertisements that are misleading and statements that are incorrect and there is reason to mistrust what the Prime Minister and senior Ministers say. Much of their claims are fortune telling, some are meaningless and unprovable, each side counters. The NSW state government is sponsoring a discussion forum in Sydney for Thursday 14, July 2005 and that is also polarised. One business representative stated that he might be the only Christian in the lion's den. Religion and state are coalescing. History demonstrates that the Australian government prefers the tactics of shaping, denigrating and of stealth, misrepresentation, manipulation and threats as its primary tools of governance. The Prime Minister and senior members of the government are never directly associated with this type of activity. Instead they employ ethically, and morally challenged, subordinates to trash Australia's democracy and public service. An example of the Thuggish approach to industrial relations can be seen in the creation of the Australian Building Commission. A body whose task is to seek out corruption in the industry. The government based this model on something it saw on a television drama and staffed it accordingly. The Commission manages to be confrontational, and objectionable to employers, employees and trade union members and officials. It is yet another failed exercise of liberal Minister Tony Abbott.

At the apex of the federal government's conceptual model for industrial relations is the Individual Workplace Agreement (AWA). The process is not about finding the type of people like those described above in politics, union and business. The federal government of the Howard coalition is a closed shop. It is the mirror image of the people they ridicule. It is a myopic, and mechanistic, approach to ideas, policy and execution, by people with little knowledge of what happens behind the scenes and a perception that they, and their confidants, are the drivers of outcomes. They are not. If Howard wins this adversarial game, it will not be of his making. He is a person who merely holds office. Others deliver the goods and most of the delivery is quite poor. He is the front man and the face of the liberal party that cringes before his will. Listen to him speak and you may see that vision, imagination, and leadership, are not his forte.

The essence of the government's excruciatingly brilliant concept (excuse me, or not, for my sarcasm and ridicule of all of this mediocre stuff) is a contract between employer and employee. So novel it should win the Nobel prize? This contract, over which business leaders, with little human resource management expertise, salivate, can contain anything that exists today, including parts of awards and collective bargaining agreements. It can exclude a lot of things under a "bargaining away" process. It is predicated on the proposition that both parties are of equal negotiation power. Real people, in the real world know that such a concept is "bullshit". However in the surreal world of politicians and public servants in Canberra, miracles apparently occur, in their imagination, regularly. The contract may contain the method of determining disputes. All of this is guaranteed, and watched over, by Honest John and his lieutenants. He dog whistles the same political tune, every day of every year, "trust me I am from the government". There are the odd Ministers and the public servants, advisers and immoral spin doctors, paid to doctor pictures and documents to make it so as required. The second refrain John sings is " I did not know!" The modern day political leader, and the acquiescent public servants, advisers, and the machine men and women of politics have perfected the art of the con, in every dimension.

According to the chorus of John's current tune, the AWA implies that everything can stay if an employee so chooses, if the employer will not agree then the employee should according to the government find a new job. An award (at state or federal level) cannot over rule an AWA and the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC), which has had legal jurisdiction over awards, conciliation and arbitration, cannot interferer in an AWA. The AWA is registered with an office within the Ministry of Workplace Relations. The AIRC is to have its powers and role circumsized and it will not be able to set wages and conditions. So much for the independent umpire and the likelihood that a public servant will challenge the government's will and look after the individual. That is the first bad element. The Ministries of the federal government cannot be trusted to serve the public interests as the Immigration Department, Department of Defence and Foreign Affairs and Trade, to name but a few demonstrate day after day. Their role models are Ministers of the Crown and a government with a very poor record of honesty and integrity in good governance.

The second bad element of the government's intentions is the abolition of the Industrial Relations Commission's powers to arbitrate. The government prefers to use the courts and as a sop to natural justice it offers $4,000 in legal aid if the worker can prove that they have a likely winnable case. The cost of the court action will be five times that and more to the employee. The government behaves as if it is selling consumer services instead of governance and democracy. Conciliation can be carried out by the Industrial Relations Commission or some other agreed third party. This is a method rewarding the "friendly lawyers and advocates" who operate behind the scenes. The government is creating something called the "Fair Pay Commission. This is a name probably created by marketing and communications zealots with little else than shallow imagination and slogans rattling around inside their collective little minds. It will take over from the Australian Industrial Relations Commission and will be governed by a limited set of powers. It is to decide the minimum wage and minimum conditions having regard to the state of the economy.
It should be noted that politicians will be exempt from the employment changes, applying to the wider community, and they will retain the Remuneration Tribunal which has unlimited power to decide their pay and conditions. The level that federal politicians are paid is determined by the Tribunal giving consideration to what state parliamentarians around Australia are receiving and not to the state of the economy. Politicians will not be required to bargain or enter into an AWA or contract and they will enjoy no diminution of any facet of their current conditions. By comparison a non-politician will have their award conditions removed if they are a new start employee or they change employers.

The third bad element is that the government, and certain business representative organisation officials, approach human resources policies with a pathological hatred of unions. The unions have contributed to this by employing, or appointing, intellectually challenged officials in some sectors and through a mix of illegal activities, stupidity, thuggery and poor service to their members. Union officials should not have access to employment premises that are private property but labor state governments give them access. The two together have fuelled the adversarial environment and even ideological hatred.

This debate exposes a world of immature, and petulant, people playing games with the community at large. There will be a right of entry for health and safety issues but the person calling the union official in has to do so in writing. The government of John Howard has always liked to "identify and label" people and have them outed. It is a less than subtle method of ensuring that people keep their mouths shut out of fear. This is an extension of the model of control used by the federal Department of Immigration - fear. It is an extension of the electioneering style of Howard, fear. The government plays on insecurity and peoples' fears. The Prime Minister is in danger of over playing his hand. His statements are in conflict with other policies and laws. He says that if a person cannot negotiate the wage and conditions they want then they make seek another job. What if they are unemployed and on welfare benefits? To decline or leave a job has penalties attached under the social security legislation. So Howard is yet again either deceptive or ignorant. It is also hypocritical for the government to do business with, and allow participation by, the Australian Medical Association and other employer and professional associations and decline to do business with, or discriminate against, registered trade unions. The employer associations are registered under the same industrial legislation.

If John G Howard appreciates his "economic" record then it is strange that he would place it at risk by implementing a policy that may reduce overtime and penalty payments. Which in turn affects taxation, disposable income, demand and consumption on a wide scale across the employed landscape. This policy can trigger rate increases in the money market, affect mortgages and default levels and cause a housing market slump. This is indeed dangerous stuff economically and politically.

It is unlikely that main stream media will extend their imagination to such levels, research the scope of this article or cover, in any depth, the intricacies of the debate and possibilities in detail. They are more likely to cover the conflict between the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Australian government with Labor standing on the side. The Australian federal labor party is dysfunctional to the extent that it cannot take a leading role with its front bench members and strategists standing around sucking their thumbs and looking everywhere for a toehold. They are now powerless to defend their constituents and the disadvantaged in the Australian community. This is the real tragedy in the litany of failures of the federal labor party. The greater number of Australians are unrepresented in the federal parliament.

The architects of the government's proposals did not come up with these elements out of their creative minds. They borrowed them from a myriad of sources.

Australian industrial laws and systems

The Australian government's proposals and justification

Alternative views of the impact of the above proposals

Australian Council of Trade Unions perspectives

Minimum conditions, Vietnam

Labor and employment laws, by country across Europe, including the United Kingdom

Good practices in labour administration.

Labour relations, Ontario Canada

Labour laws and systems, Netherlands

Sample collective labour agreement, Netherlands

Bureau of International Labor Affairs, USA

Federal and state labor laws research utility, USA

Free trade and the issue of labor and employment laws

Pleasing the International Monetary Fund, changes to employment law in Colombo

Committee for Worker's International

The government's advertising campaign theme is that the changes will improve choice and cooperation, thereby improving productivity which in turn will lead to more jobs and better pay. By osmosis upwards everyone will be protected against the unscrupulous and the stupid. This is a simplistic notion that fails to take account of the more complex and deeper-rooted systemic problems of the nation's approach to harnessing and deploying talent across a wide range of fronts.

Why is Australia's productivity low?

Is it? If so the reasons are complex and are largely the failure of governments, institutions, decision makers and planners in Australia who are unable to work together to build a cohesive strategy and then implement it. They are bonded like cement to an ideology and refuse to accept the simple proposition that their theories and efforts are not working. They focus on redressing perceptions of imbalances, power and control. Their failures to cast aggressive, and antagonistic and mediocre approaches, by all parties (unions, governments and employers with media exaltation and legal exploitation thrown in) permeate society. Such infantile chest beating, and one upmanship approaches, are reflected in the policies, practices and operation of public and private enterprises. These entities operate in isolation of the whole. Some are effective, others are neither here nor there, even laughable, and then there are some that are simply horrible, inefficient and anti-social.

The mere changing of labour laws and industrial processes will not do the things the government claims. The problems are largely to do with education and the maturity of everyone in the process all the way from the top to the bottom. There is no model or template of best practice strategy, few shining examples of excellence and applaudable benchmarks across our political and corporate landscape. People are not really assets are they? They are expendable. Enterprises shed thousands of employees to boost their profits and share price. This is the most prominent strategy adopted by government, and business, decision makers alike. Get rid of people.

Counter to the truth and in the face of evidence to the contrary, the Australian government persists in arguing that management value their employees because if they do not they will not have a successful business. This presupposes that Australia's managers and executives have the fundamental benchmark skills, and experience and abilities, to fulfill such a premise. It also assumes that employers know how to assess and
value performance , both in selection interviewing and ongoing work assessments. My personal experience (based on over 5,000 interactions between the years 2000 - 2005) is that most do not. The resume interpretation, lateral ability, interviewing techniques and skills of many recruitment professionals are measured in a range from mediocre to extremely poor. Of the hundreds of recruitment agencies with which I have dealt I can name three that I consider excellent. As for the others their mediocrity lies in quick decisions made on limited reading of the resume, poor preparation for the interview, poor industry knowledge or none and a tendency to assume and mirror their own perceptions and bias. To be fair all of the recruitment firms are are constricted by risk adverse and myopic clients who specify narrow industry based experience and criteria. The use of criteria to bring everyone to a common response is a lazy approach. Human resources management is complex and there are many issues in Australia that indicate the nation has a lot to learn.

Many employers do not have good reputations. The long record of employers disposing of people to boost profits and productivity and the short term planning reported in company returns and in research, would seem to belie this.

False assumptions as to expertise

A common mistake made by those in positions of leadership, or public profile, is to
assume that they are good communicators and managers.

Heather Ridout writes in the Australian Financial Review (Monday 10, October, 2005) in support of the proposals. She is Chief Executive of a business representative body, The Australian Industry Group. She tells us of the complexities of the system of 4,000 awards etc. mentioned above. She makes no mention of the interests including her own members who helped create those systems. The article is trite fluff without substance and attribute. She says that China and India are emerging global giants in industries not burdened by over regulation. In China thousands die every year in the mining industry and in both countries counterfeiting is rife. They are not global giants in manufacturing, as she writes, they are unethical environments of thieves, and crooks, and only the Australian government and their most sycophantic supporters would state that China should receive major trade nation status.

Ms Ridout does not tell us about the abilities of her organisation's members, the corporations and their managers and how they have contributed to the debacle that Australia now finds itself in. True there are too many complex awards and the parties to those awards have been derelict. The government is going to have a task force examine all of these awards and streamline them into a national single and less complicated set. No doubt Ms Ridout will get a seat. The government will exclude those who criticise belying their continued refrain that they "choose people on merit".

Instead of using the human abilities of their employees, many managers hunt voodoo systems and fads, for the secrets of productivity, sold by an industry (much like computers) that has a thousand new and different, but eventually obsolescent, ideas every day of every year. Magic remedies such as
Sigma Six, which appears to be based on a conflict oriented models with staff, and experts, described as "master black belt", "black belt" and "green belt" practitioners. Among other strategies, they promote lean, and some would say, mean environments. But is "leaner" synonymous with "fitter" in business parlance?

What if Australia's employers and managers were employed to do, or they actually learnt to to do their jobs? What if the trade union officials actually did their job meticulously and with the interests of their members at heart? Australia's decision makers and planners, it seems, think the terms "productivity" and workload" mean the same thing or are interchangeable. They appear to learn nothing from observing societies such as Japan, Sweden and other performing countries and rationalising why they become such economic dynamos and why the United States stumbles towards a financial and social crisis. In the case of Japan and Sweden it is largely the result of cooperation between governments, politics, business, unions, entrepreneurs, institutions and citizens. In Australia people pursue their own agendas, to some extent based on perceptions of their own abilities and the righteousness of their ideas.

As evidenced in the Australian government's confrontational approaches, and the barracking of industry representatives (who themselves do not have to manage operational businesses for profit and reward) there is no cooperation of any bipartisan, meaningfully significant, and long term, level. There are no national human resource policies, strategies and standards to which everyone contributes. Policy makers would rather engage in puerile displays of political one upmanship and ego, as if democracy, and government, is their personal playground. They are exalted, and egged on, in this by the media and self interested external stakeholder's.

They (governments, ministers, politicians, bureaucrats, political parties, businesses, entrepreneurs and institutions) each, in segmented isolation to each other, advertise their own exceptional brilliance, and achievements, whilst extolling that the employed must all work harder together, whilst those above that govern, direct, plan and employ are not required to do so for the same level of remuneration.

The Australian government conducts narrow, selected, meetings, advisory committee structures and consultative processes. They become irate when the churches criticise the manner in which people are treated. The outcome of the liberal governments' approach, is a flurry of repackaged theories, restructures of the labour market and pursuit of ideology without adequate foundation. The Australian government, and many employer approaches, are based on notions and structures of hierarchical power and influence, where one group seeks to have dominance over another. The Australian government is one of the largest employers in Australia and one only has to look at the public service to see this model of hierarchy and patronage in action.

A civilised, and well functioning and rich (in every sense), society is one based on mutual trust and cooperation. By comparison, the ideology of capitalism, and competition, in Australia is taken to every level of the nation and is exercised externally, and internally, everywhere. It is based on conflict and control not trust. The failure to work together to tap, harness and deploy all of Australia's human talent demonstrates the immaturity, and self-indulgence, of the nation's power collective.

The citizen is now a consumer of services, slave to the economy, and as such has swallowed the hook of capitalism well and truly and instead of being happy and mutually assured we are insecure and need a John Howard to protect us and guide us all to a never reachable nirvana, for which it is our role to strive ever harder.

people are Australia's greatest assets, then why do our systems, employers, enterprises, institutions, governments and management treat them as disposable, ignoring, squandering and under utilising, their talent and potential?

Is the outcome of our approach challenging or stressful?

"There is a widely held view that Australia's seeming incapacity to produce adequate full-time, remunerative work, distributed equitable amongst households, amounts to a social crisis (Borland et al. 2001). Australia appears to be faced with a growing gulf between ' employment-rich' and 'employment poor' households, a gulf which now has regional and spatial aspects as well as social. Recent experience shows that jobs growth alone cannot address the marginalisation of large numbers of people of workforce age". Click here for source

building communication to millions


The reasons that the church - state divide is morphing is directly attributable to governments and corporations, their policies, style, actions and misinterpretation and miscalculation. Membership of political parties is on the wane whilst membership of evangelicalism of many types is on the rise. The federal government involved church, and charity, when it abrogated welfare, in favour of the pursuit of small government and fiscal restraint, and through its employment services model, contracting them for the Job Network. The governments, and public services, are exhibiting a degraded performance in their moral and social roles, and responsibilities, preferring a focus on economics and political self interest. The lessening performance of the public service (eptomised within health, education, welfare, disability, immigration etc.) and an ever developing role as policeman, enforcer and benevolent autocrat of governments' will has created a void into which the churches, and other influences, have stepped. Government, in the hands of a few factional career types, has abrogated much of its right to respect, in the eyes of many, which explains why politicians are at the bottom of the trust surveys. Governments have to spend more on advertising, and spin communication, than they do on many public services just to maintain the semblance of an image of believability and credibility.

The 17% figure however is important for other reasons. These are likely the very small businesses employing casual, and part time, labour to meet seasonal needs and work loads. They are in hospitality, tourism, food, in sub - contract construction (corporate and residential), across the labour and semi skilled and project work fields. The government strategy is to create dependency of employee on employer. For this reason the government (Ministers, Kevin Andrews and Tony Abbott) became uneasy as the building industry, employers and unions, entered into long term registered agreements which fall outside the government's capture zone. Sub contractors are employed by the major building companies and their own conditions, including employment, are dictated within the operational framework of the sector by the master contractual employer. This can be a "no ticket, no start" situation where people working on site are in the union. If these sub-contractors do not comply they simply miss out on contract work. Such persuasion is illegal. A federal building commission was established by Tony Abbott to deal with perceived corruption in the industry. The Australian government is not averse to using a hybrid style of third line forcing itself for its own ends (illegal in the commercial market place but not in the political market place) dictating compliance or missing out on federal government construction contracts.

Another reason the government is focused on the 17% is that it is here that the "welfare to work programme" could have its greatest success. The unemployed, and others on welfare, are the majority within the unskilled and semi skilled and disability sectors. The focus of debate and resistance by the ACTU is not on these groups and thus the government has to shift the focus there somehow. Mainstream church leaders are well aware what the focus is and their resistance, and objections, will have to be dealt with. They are caricatured as uninformed, requiring readjustment in their views. The well educated and economically secure are not threatened by these reforms and there is a strong undertone in the welfare and charity sector that the government is largely unconcerned with individual plight versus majority benefit. A society that cares little for the minority in favour of the majority is often categorised as morally deficient with flow on effects.

The author of these articles, unless otherwise stated, is Kevin R Beck, who has experience in people management, training and education and labor relations and industrial negotiations. The author undertook a major master's thesis between 2000 - 2003, researching the performance of the public sector in relation to employment services, training policy, outcomes and attitudes. In addition the author has daily interaction with several leading human resource recruitment agencies and regularly monitors industry practices through interaction and research. This set of articles demonstrates the disparate, disjointed and, in parts, immature approach of politicians, governments, business, recruitment agencies and educators to harnessing and deploying Australia's talents. There are hundreds of thousands of Australians who want to contribute and in some form or other are denied the opportunity. Bigotry and discrimination interplay with lack of experience, education, incompetence and ignorance on the part of many players in the national landscape. Adversarial and competitive positions over ride the good sense of working together in the national interest of participating fully in a global economy and society.

The question is, why does have to be this way? The answer sadly is probably there is no leader of vision who can persuade, cajole and require. all of the self interested parties to work together.

The real tragedy in the litany of failures of the federal labor party, and Australia's democratic systems, is that a great number of Australians are not represented in the parliaments of the nation.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions' (ACTU) advertising campaign did not catch the Howard government by surprise. History demonstrates that the first choice of the prominent players is fighting, not cooperation. The ACTU used traditional methodologies not realising that a television advertisement is least likely to be watched and even less likely to be remembered. The government's strategists are smarter than that. They operate at the national, state, regional and local levels employing a far greater number of stakeholders than the unions, and labor, can bring to bear. The government also identifies, and handles, those critics it judges to be a problem. Putting the government's propensity for unethical and questionable behaviour aside this is what makes the Australian government of John Howard far more interesting, complex and politically able than Kim Beazley's labor front bench. It is an indictment on the quality of our democracy that these senior members of Australia's governments see nothing wrong with spending millions of dollars of tax payers money to promote politically partisan ideologies and proposals dressing them up as "information for citizens". Similarly the unions have no problems spending their members' funds. This is a thoroughly dishonest and immoral approach now entrenched across the nation, at every level of government, enterprise and institution, and the people are powerless to stop the practice.

It is not so much what Australian governments propose in their legislative agendas, and it is not so much their ideological beliefs that are destructive to the democratic process or are offensive in content. It is the manner in which they choose to go about putting them into action. It is the poor attention to detail, the near enough approach that often includes inadvertent breaches of laws which are casually fobbed off by senior ministers in the parliament as technicalities. It is the delegation of power, and accountability, by unethical ministers and members of the cabinet to unelected advisers. It is the deliberate exclusion of people from process and participation.

Australian, federal, state and territory governments (of any political colour), have little public record of creating innovation, and visionary, policies and ideas. Most of what they have is ideologically driven by party political machines (this is the same for Greens and Democrats as it is for Labor, Liberal and National) and much is borrowed from other countries and then presented as a repackaged and different model. There is no legislation, systems or plans designed to harness Australia's human resource talent other than a harping on skills training for employability. The control of elected members of parliament in vital debates, and their voting on bills, such as the industrial relations and employment law reforms, by the small executive of the major parties, denies the electorates, and citizens, across Australia, democratic participation in determining policies and actions. Many see that their only option is to march and

Given the nature of this exercise and proposed restructure it should be the citizens of an electorate, who by some method of determining majority opinion and desire, direct their representatives in parliament how to vote on bills and debates and not the political party, cabinet or leader in isolation. They claim broad mandates from each election. This participation by citizens in each electorate would require that the existing systems of politics, self interest, and government in Australia be changed to a true democracy and that apathy to participation by the greater number of citizens, end. It would challenge the status quo and systems of power, decision-making and influence and it is likely to be rejected as cumbersome and expensive.

The power collective have no motivation or desire to alter the way things are particularly when they have such good benefits and are not interfered with. Is there a price cap on democracy in Australia? Yes. Is the current system, at territory, state and federal levels the best we can have? No. Is the system controlled and manipulated with information filtered, manipulated and even withheld? Yes. Will the federal government win in changing the Australian industrial relations system? Probably not, in whole, because they forgot about the Constitution, and its focus on federalism, and state rights, assuming that they have unilateral control federally because they have the perceived numbers in the Senate. The 17% of support mentioned above are not influential and well versed in the political game and are of little benefit to the government. The manner in which some of the senior members of the liberal party behave insults the professionalism of, and integrity, of certain parliamentarians, who actually try, against the odds, to act in the interests of their state, citizens and electorates. Labor and Liberal parliamentary leaders, can direct their members, but it is much harder to manipulate, and direct, thinking parliamentarians.

In 1991 I met with the Secretary of the independent branch of the Australian Services Union. Independent because under the rules the national office could not dissolve or force the branch to merge into national office control. Under his vision, we planned, executed and delivered the privatisation of Loy Yang B power station. The first in the embryo national electricity market. We did this in the face of 23 electricity power unions, more concerned with their self interest than the employee. community and national interest. We did this in the face of a "do nothing attitude" of the National Office executive, where one senior member of the union now sits in federal parliament, making the same contribution to the electorate that he made to the union membership. It is not about ability in our parliaments, it is about being anointed by the machinery men that run the party.

We did these things in concert with Phillip Herrington, senior adviser to the Victorian Minister for Energy, David White. Phillip's contribution to the public interest was exceptional, and unusual, for a political adviser. He was to my mind, and many others, the real Minister for Energy. We did this in the face of a "mind in neutral" mentality of the senior members of the Labor government and the power unions. We moved on to the rest of the privatisation, under the state leadership of Jeff Kennett. Though he too was ideologically driven, making decisions without empirical evidence, we never the less moved on, delivering the goods for the membership, pay rises, careers and security. Where did the politicians, commercial advisers, law firms and consultants, who earned the mega million in fees, fit in? Nowhere really, they advised their clients to but power stations and assets at enormously inflated prices. The Kennett government was the focus of the media, and of folk law, and it was as usual, wrong and off the mark. The result of the restructure was $30 billion to the public purse and the loss of tens of thousands of jobs, apprenticeships, careers and in some cases the destruction of local communities. The objective was, as it is today, to break the control of unions in the workplace and to promote an agenda of greed within the private sector by handing over the peoples' assets. No one can actually point to any examination of the after events of privatisation to demonstrate that this was a good thing to do in the interest of the wider society. There is no lowering of the price of utilities and there is no "national market" of competition even after fifteen years of political rhetoric, just continued lies and manipulation of fact to make the story fit. There is no accountability by the few who benefited so much. This is a model of how Australian decision makers approach the harnessing of talent and skill. It is expendable to their goals and objectives. The perpetrators just move on, framed as myths in folk law, unaccountable as they always have been for their impact on other peoples' lives.

Dumbing down Australia

The Australian Labor Party has made much of education and training in its policy platforms, year after year. At the same time it has levied what are euphemistically called volunteer fees, in its public school system. Voluntary except that if parents do not pay their children are excluded from programmes. Governments of all persuasions charge heftily for education and students can take out loans. John Howard told the nation some time back that there would be no $100,000 degrees under his model. He was, as usual wrong. This is a "free system" where the user contributes mega - millions across Australia, every year without redress. The labor party in government lies.

The Australian government, of John Howard, has little interest in formal education of any deep type.

It is useful to quote a statement by the former Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations regarding the value of training and the role of employment as training. The quote refers to a previous policy of the Keating labor government to integrate training with employment policy mandating participation.

"Working Nation was based on the "training fallacy" - the notion that providing long-term job seekers with certificates of competency in basic tasks makes them attractive to employers. Training is important, but not training for training's sake. Working Nation projects often catered to the union-dominated TAFE sector as much as to the real needs of the unemployed. The Howard Government has dramatically boosted training (apprenticeship and traineeship commencements have tripled since 1995) but training linked to employment rather than training as an end in itself. The Government's approach is training through work rather than training then work. Labor's message to job seekers was that government-provided training would solve their employment problems. This Government's far more challenging message is that a demonstrated work ethic counts more than a training certificate and that an element of self-help is the key to a better life." (Personal web site of the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, the Honourable Tony Abbott, accessed June 2002).

In the 2004 election the liberal party launched a plan to create 26 technical training colleges in a venture with industry. Those colleges will come on stream, according to the
Department of Education and Training web site in 2006 - 2007. The government abolished the Australian National Training Authority, created under a previous federal Labor government, and integrated its function back into the above Department in mid 2005.

The previous Labor federal government similarly has no interest in deep, long-term education, education.

It was not until 1985 that the Australian National Training Authority (ANTA), Ministerial Council, comprising all federal, state and territory government ministers, decided to take a social marketing approach to the challenge of building a life long learning (LLL) culture in Australia and ANTA undertook, and published in 1999, a literature review as a part of its National Marketing Strategy for Skills and Life Long Learning. In that publication ANTA cited other countries' aims of instilling the desire to acquire skills that are valued to engage in life long learning, indicating this should be an aspiration for the Australian community. They cited other countries' experiences and strategies because Australia has no experience of its own regarding a public policy to promote LLL.

ANTA was advocating a customer centred approach where initially created projects draw together what Australia may know about life long learning, which inter alia, according to them is that "learning is the central dimension in the pursuit of economic resilience, individual confidence and social cohesion". Lewis Perelman, (School's Out) which says that, "learning has become the strategically central enterprise for national economic strength". This comment relates to nations other than Australia since this nation possesses no training culture of substance and has no national strategy to develop and harness talent.

I am not sure what it is about LLL that daunts Australian policy designers and it is incomprehensible that ANTA had not addressed the fundamental and vital concept of national life long learning until 1999 and then only by a literature review. This may have occurred due to the absence of a practicing teacher or professional educator on the ANTA Board which is Australia's premier advisory body on training to the national government, federal liaison entity to state authorities, to industry and the industry training boards. The extracts below is apologetic, offering excuses for the lack of initiative by Australia's governments, past and present:

"It is difficult categorically and confidently to prescribe the elements of a life long learning policy framework or, more practically, what exactly it is governments at all levels should be doing", (ANTA report 1985, p. 21). "The problem is these attributes are in various stages of being defined and tested… some aspects of the role and process of government are becoming clearer and ... requires a new policy approach", (p. 23) and in a footnote they state, "There is a lack of commitment to training and learning in many lean and downsizing corporations", (p. 32).

The attributes referred above, which were in various stages of definition and testing, at the time were:

  1. "Shared vision
  2. Consistent national frameworks
  3. Funding that empowers learners
  4. Bias towards investing in front end education (primary and secondary schooling)
  5. Business and work culture that values and contributes to learning
  6. Willingness to undertake reform
  7. Information and feedback"

ANTA proposed a marketing and public relations campaign to commence the task of engendering a desire for broader participation in education. Such glaring omissions in the development and application of sophisticated and integrated public policy have helped shape attitudes to education and training in the community and assists those argue that engaging in Vocational Education and Training (VET), in skills, does not, on balance enhance the likelihood of getting a job.

"Working Nation was based on the "training fallacy" - the notion that providing long-term job seekers with certificates of competency in basic tasks makes them attractive to employers. Training is important, but not training for training's sake. Working Nation projects often catered to the union-dominated TAFE sector as much as to the real needs of the unemployed. The Howard Government has dramatically boosted training (apprenticeship and traineeship commencements have tripled since 1995) but training linked to employment rather than training as an end in itself. The Government's approach is training through work rather than training then work. Labor's message to job seekers was that government-provided training would solve their employment problems. This Government's far more challenging message is that a demonstrated work ethic counts more than a training certificate and that an element of self-help is the key to a better life." (Personal web site of the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, the Honourable Tony Abbott, accessed June 2002).

Learning for learning's sake, or rather training for training's sake, is not supported or condoned by the Coalition government and there is a trend towards the "erosion of values distinctive to education by the application of economic, financial and organisational imperatives" (Taylor, W., 1992), together with an ever increasing predominance of managerialism within the public service (Pollitt, 1990) dictating the profession of education and the content and depth of its curricula. In the week of June 15, 2005, the Australian government abolished the Australian National Training Authority.

Compounding the problem is research that suggests that people do not complete training due to the poor quality of delivery, content and capability of providers and this is a point made by the Senate Employment, Workplace Relations, Small Business and Education References Committee in its report into the quality of VET in Australia (Aspiring to Excellence, 2000, R.19, p. xxxiv) however a survey by the Australian Council for Private Education and Training, tendered to the Senate, referred in the report (p.51), claimed that only twenty one (21) percent of respondents attributed non-completion to poor training delivery with other factors attributed such as not being suited to the work, lack of employer support, poor quality information to prospective students and employers on courses, misuse of government monies paid as incentive to employers, personality conflicts and poor attitude. Still twenty one percent is viewed as quite a high number of dissatisfied people and bad experiences can be strong shapers of attitudes.

"Australia's approach to designing curriculum is inherently flawed and represents an unsatisfactory political and intellectual compromise", (Wilson B, 2002, in Donnelly, K; " Why our schools are failing", 2004). In 2005 it is highly probable that 30% of year 3 students and a higher figure for year 5, are illiterate. NSW Premier Bob Carr praises the results of students in the Programme for International Student Assessment (2002) whilst ignoring that his Department of Education directive that the students not be marked on spelling, grammar or punctuation. If they had been many would have failed (op cit, p.9). Why are there so many remedial teaching courses in Australia and why are parents taking their children out of state government schools and enduring costly private schools? Is there a correlation between Australia and the US experience?

The following excerpt is taken from Charles' book, Dumbing Down Our Kids: Why America's Children Feel Good About Themselves but Can't Read, Write, or Add

"More alarming is the US performance against the students of other industrialised countries. By virtually every measure of achievement, American students lag far behind their counterparts in both Asia and Europe, and if the Americanisation of Australia is any example, there is a growing relevance of US studies, and experience, to Australia".

Article content and sources

There is debate about bias in Australia's curriculums and the effects of outcome based approaches and the movement to competency rather than educational standards based syllabus content. The teaching of rigorous subjects such as mathematics and science using memory and repetition as well as directed teacher learning seems to have taken a back seat to student choice learning. The changes from syllabus to outcome-based curricula are driven by bean counters, and progressive theorists, who would argue that children, adolescents and adults should create their own learning experiences by some form of discovery process. Outcomes based approaches enable bean counters to calculate cost and it greatly politicians in manipulating the data to create misleading, and even false, outcomes that make their policies look good. State and territory education departments are the bastions of detached mediocrity stifling innovation. They are some would claim, worthless cost overheads, imposts and impediments, in an under national funded system that has no standards or coherence. Teachers' and principals' unions in Australia resist the British approach to funding on academic performance. Funding in Britain is directly proportional to performance and in Britain, as in many educationally developed nations including Korea, teachers teach hard content syllabus. Add to this the lack of discipline, growing abuse and violence, by students on teachers and there is the loss of talent out of the profession. If students want to be abusive and violent then stick them in reform schools by the droves, bill the parents for their keep and education, teach them there, and see how they like that. Given the absenteeism statistics, stupidity, ignorance and illiteracy of many students, how can the federal Minister for Education, Dr. Brendan Nelson suggests, without being able to tell us how, that we should measure their teachers' performance. He has no foundation but that does not stop him from demonstrating naivety and cant along with his state and territory counterparts The Australian government is as hair brained in its approach to education, at every level, as are the states and territories. Competency education, for skills and thus employability, does not equip citizens now and of the future for dealing with the complex issues of society and economy. It creates robots that cannot think and transfer learning and experience and who cannot articulate and distill complex information. It also creates a society focused on work and not on the broader human condition. Competition in a global world requires more than just skills, but do you see any Australian politician of any party, actually demonstrating that they are aware of this? The Australian labor party simply babbles on about skills like a generic can of home brand beans, and the liberal and national parties simply make it available to everyone at the lowest possible price.

The debate about dumbing down is pervasive. It covers the privatisation of education, the outsourcing and creation of lower level award issuing institutions and a focus on work competency versus deeper education is worldwide, not only in education but also in public service reforms, and people argue it is dangerous.

Raffique Shah on education

University of Canberra Australia, on public service

Orwellian education by William Jasper

The dumbing down of Korean education by Robert Fouser

Dumb and dumber by Phillip Ford - competency education for work

School to work by Robin Akers

Australian National Training Authority focus on VET

Separating academic from skills standards in education will lower education quality and outcomes

Free trade agreements (GATS) impact education and public service dumbing it to a common denominator

The focus on work subverts education

Values in Education - South Africa

Numbing and dumbing by Linda Schrock Taylor

School to work, Texas Education Consumers Association

Brian Cusack, Thinking deeply in New Zealand

Behaviour modification for work by Alana Caruba

John Leo on dumbing down teachers

Anne Schult on dumbing down teachers

The dumbing down of America's colleges by Phyllis Schafly

The dumbing down of some Australian universities

Andrew Norton on dumbing down Australia's universities

The quality of Australia's traineeship and apprenticeship systems - NCVER

Australia: Get a quickie course over a few days, earn more than a qualified three or four year trained teacher or start your own Registered Training Organisation. It has never been so easy to get a ticket to educate! Under every state and territory in Australia, a three year diploma or degree or a degree in teaching does not mean that you are allowed to train in the workplace. You have to be assessed against the workplace competencies, but you can go and teach hundreds of children and adults in a school!

Here's a quickie to get you started as a trainer, only 36 hours!

Become an educator/trainer real quick, just a few days is all it takes

Here's another quickie to get you started as a trainer

The failure to tap and develop Australia's human potential

Are you employable? How would the policy and decision makers know?

Just as the policy approach to education, training and learning, by governments is skilled focused, making it shallow, and fragmented so too is the lack of integration between policy, industry, and the Australian talent base. There are thousands of human resource consultants and recruitment companies ranging from the very competent and sophisticated through to the small, cut price operators working on a shoe string with little quality checks and adherence to regulatory frameworks or best practice. They operate in isolation of any cooperative strategy framework developed by government and industry to ensure that all Australia's talents are identified and brought to bear. They operate outside codes of enforceable practice.

The adversarial and hotchpotch approaches to values, education, training and employment practice are on display every day. We can view, and experience, the ignorance of the people assessing others for their suitability for employment in job advertisements and in interviews. The author has studied hundreds of Australian recruitment firms and processes and has assessed firms capacities on just over 6, 000 occasions between the years 1985 and 2005. The author has an interest in doing a thesis on how the Australian recruitment industry performs. One glaring omission in their armoury of tools is their capacity, or knowledge, to measure left and right brain thinking on
employability Creativity is not measured in employment interviews. The processes of criteria for recruitment and selection are about shaping; making the individual fit the system, stifling innovation. People employ others who look and think like them. This is a standard human response. It causes some recruitment consultants considerable angst. Their clients tell them that they "want to go wide" to test the field and then in the end they go narrow. Anyone outside the box, outside the specialisation focus and narrow criteria, are deemed unsuitable, lacking in that "ideal criteria match". It apparently is impossible for a person to cross boundaries and for skill to be transferable to other sectors. One must have "x years" experience in the precise industry to be competent. The criteria match is the focus of decision-making, not the individual's ability. What if the criterion is the problem? The trend towards specialisation and narrow criteria, with demands of specific industry experience are stifling organisational, and national, development of talent pools and capability. Despite all of the evidence that this is the case employers persist with their notions and their biases.

The most annoying, and myopic, recruitment companies, are those that make applicants fit their system, allocating 150kb, to an online resume upload assuming that everyone has had a limited, unadventurous and non diverse career, with education, interests and extra curricula activities as limited as their own. Another likes an application in the form of a one page statement of skills and then there is the best of all, a summary not exceeding 50 words, which they then present to prospective employers. The advertisement run in the newspaper has more words. By comparison the leading on line agency, Seek, has a limit of 2MB per resume and 2MB for a cover letter. This is a very long letter indeed, since 1MB is about 330 pages. Why bother applying to a recruitment agency that fits all applicants into a straight jacket and pays scant attention is paid to career and experience? One wonders what the employer paying the recruitment company for their services might think of this? Obviously, under these circumstances, one might contend that the selection of the best candidate is not the priority.

The explosion in "on line" agencies would on the face of it appear to be a bonanza for job seekers, recruiters, employers and human resource specialists. Some do it brilliantly from a user perspective. However most companies and employers simply transferred their inept operations and biases to the web. They still pursue their activities in the traditional manner. Many misrepresent opportunity by implying that companies and human resource practitioners and employers are searching their databases. There is no evidence that they are and they probably are not. How can anyone tell what is fact and what is fiction when
ethics takes aback seat in the modern Australia and mission statements are hollow rhetoric?

Traditional methods are imbued by mediocrity. Requiring response to criteria, is a mediocre and lazy method designed to reduce the effort of recruiters and selection panels, and applicants to a common denominator. Proponents argue that this practice sets a fair basis for comparison. This again presumes that the criteria is well researched and founded on a valid set of methodologies. In most cases they are not, they are thought up for the occasion. There are exceptions such as the Senior Executive Service criteria for employment in the federal government. However these have been shown by example (the management of the federal immigration department, the Australian defence forces denial of natural justice and humanity)
to be idealistic, hypothetical and ethereal.

Study the criteria for jobs, many are simply boring, repetitive and even inane. People who require criteria love process and the environment in which they work is likely to be stifled and unimaginative, full of other people who love process. Criteria will ensure that the non traditional candidate will not get a look in. The assessment panel likes to allocate points to the criteria response, and for me it implies that they are incapable of deciphering a resume against their understanding of the role. Criteria can also be used in employment processes to create a barrier to outside applicants ensuring appointment of the preferred, inside, candidate. This practice is rife in the public services where the winner is already known before the race is run. This has been confirmed to be quite a large number of professional recruiters who think putting up candidates to the public service is a waste of time. Some recruitment companies are perverse and like to put the dark horse in to disturb the tranquility of the process, testing the imagination and risk orientation.

Common words and descriptions have been purloined to mean something else to a particular industry sector. Read an advertisement for Change Manager and then one finds that it is not a change management role at all. It is a role for a computer system installer. Change management is about restructuring, and changing culture, and operations in a unit, division, organisation or whole sector, with attendant performance impacts. Change involves working with animate objects and it does not equate to swapping boxes or putting something new against the wall to make the organisation look different. New software and/or new boxes and whoopee, we have change. Why is it that many people are so besotted with a machine that count 0 and 1? Business Development Manager is another word for sales and so it goes.

The following assumptions, perceptions and experiences are based on a three year deliberate, documented and monitored, interaction with hundreds of Australian recruitment firms, employment services providers and government agencies across Australia. I have kept records of responses, non responses and auto computer generated replies from companies. Every company for three years has been "overwhelmed with the high number, and calibre, of responses and selection has been a difficult task".

The first perception is that applications, and resume, are sometimes not read, and often not studied in detail. The second is that computer technology is used (keyword) by many on line companies to filter and select applications and resumes. The third perception is that many people operating in these sectors, and in human resource divisions of organisations today, have little or no historical knowledge or experience of the fields for which they are assessing and interviewing. There is no obvious approach to matching professional recruiter to candidate based on the applicant's history, knowledge or experience of the industry for which they are interviewing. For example one professional indicated to me during an interview that experience in coal mining, and thermal, electricity production in Victoria was not relevant to a job in energy in NSW, for which she was assessing applicants, because the power stations in NSW are nuclear. It is now clear that one function of the resume may be to educate those who have no knowledge or experience and how does an older more broadly diverse and experienced applicant do that in two or three pages that are then likely to be given a cursory look?

There is a selection process mentality of varying discipline and sophistication, in the Australian recruitment industry and then there are the employer directives, based on "putting people into boxes" or "labeling" them, such as engineer, lawyer, accountant , sales person, based on on a general understanding of what these classifications mean. You must fit into a box. There appears to be an assumption that being able to classify a person into a certain box equates with ability to adequately perform the employment role. It is a climate of narrow specialisation and you must fit the box. There are the added barriers that the employer representatives will have a mental picture of someone who looks and behaves like them and would prefer to employ someone who will not threaten their position by displaying superior abilities. Associations (representing engineers, accountants and so on, are vehemently opposing cross pollination of disciplines, protecting their turf, arguing that their professional members are the best at the doing the job and seeking to exclude others who are interlopers. There is also the proposition that an applicant is likely to be a better fit if they are working in, or have a direct background, in the specific sector for the job. To be fair to the recruitment agencies, many have their hands tied by myopic clients who specify narrow candidate industry experience criteria, who want to employ certain types of people with defined experience who mirror them, resisting transfer of skills between sectors and the "out of the box" candidate. This attitude is consistent with the commentary below on Australia's management style and risk adverse security blanket.

Some industry observers claim that poor performing managers have a vested interest in employing the candidates who are non threatening and less likely to challenge to show up their performance. The question arises how far recruitment agencies that are professional try to educate their clients in the possibilities and in innovation in employment practice. Similarly in house human resource practitioners may be hampered by poor management practice and policy. Human resource departments can be amongst the first to be culled when times are tough, giving an indication of how Australian business values the human side of their business. Since 60% of Australia's businesses are small. Australia's governments offer no leadership because they too are focused on focused on cheap, uninventive mediocrity. The likelihood of Australia's public services, under the Australian government's hand, of being a leading edge human resource practitioner, which they once were, is indeed slim. We only have to look at the federal Department of Immigration and Indigenous Affairs and at the Australian military justice system and the overall quality of public policy in federal state and territory governments. In October 2005 an independent enquiry in Queensland found that successive governments (labor and liberal/national coalition) had engaged in misrepresentation and fraudulent reporting of health statistics and outcomes. The state Department of Health had doctored the records for political expediency.

Australia's public and private sectors, and employment industries, have no political role models of ethical quality with which to be guided. Risk averse employers, and governments, through policy, practice and singular focus, are
dumbing down Australia and this will have a long term impact. To see a case in point and the full dimension of the Australian government's vision on human resource practice, go to the federal Department of Workplace Relations.

This Department presents an interesting enigma as to the primary objective of the public service. It enacts government policy and in many ways operates like a private sector enterprise, and business, within the Australian Public Service. The objective on some levels is to lead in the use of technology and to be an exporter of employment services models of operation around the world. It is achieving world-class status in this goal. However the question arises who does it actually serve, the government, the unemployed, the citizen or its own commercial objectives? The primary public service delivery vehicle is via contractors in the Job Network. It is a public service entity where all of the core field delivery functions are undertaken, not by public servants, but by contracted commercial enterprises, non - profit and charitable and religious organisations. It is one of the most significant federal public service departments in the nation spearheading much of the Australian government's current, and forward, agendas and social engineering experiments. It is a machine of impressive capability and performance and this places it in an interesting public policy sphere. The Australian Productivity Commission undertook a review of DEWR and published an uncomplimentary critique of its operations in 2000. DEWR's databases are massive, its data collection and analysis sophisticated and its employees are very talented. It has the ability to create the talent database that is missing in the nation and to harness and deploy Australia's latent talent. It uses a five star rating (1 to 5), which it equates to hotel grading system to rate its Job Network contractors. Those on the higher ratings earn the right to receive additional contracts. This begs the question - why is there not a standard of quality and performance across the nation and what sort of service do clients, of the one star rated agencies, receive and for what time period, before the substandard performance is addressed? Should all recruitment and employment services companies, and individuals, in Australia be rated on the same principles? If they were many hundreds, perhaps as many as 80% - 90% of the human resources professional sector might fail the test. The disenchantment with recruitment agencies and government services, by job seekers, is not limited to individuals. It is a criticism echoed in many developed nations including the world's largest economies. If we follow these practices where will it lead?

"Testimonial: Westwick-Farrow Publishing - Geoff Hird - Associate Publisher/COO: " Having had nothing but bad experiences with recruitment companies in the past, I had made it quite clear when they approached us, that it would take a lot to
change my mind."

"They lie to get you into contracts along with putting in illegal clauses like taking money from you if you break it." Article: "IT AGENCIES are not better then a car salesmen. - Flames web site

"If you have a bad attitude it seems the recruitment companies can read between the lines and apply the appropriate response. One must never have a bad attitude particularly if at a disadvantage, otherwise this article has relevance". Article: "A bad attitude comes across in cover letters, resumes, e-mails, and even networking opportunities, says Matias, president of The National Resume Writers' Association and also President of Long Island Outplacement."

How can one not get a bad attitude when major companies, such as this one below, respond in a manner that is ignorant (there is no author of this email reply to a job applicant in Australia) and gives you no right of response back? "Yours sincerely,
Deloitte Recruitment
Please do not reply to this message. Replies to this message are undeliverable".

Where is there a strategy by Australian federal, state and territory governments to come together with employers, academics and enterprise and the unemployed to develop a national and cohesive plan for utilising Australia's talents in full? There is none apparent. There are disparate bodies such as the Australian National Training Authority, the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations, the State Training Boards and the Industry Training Advisory Boards. Meanwhile 1,000,000 people who want to work have no opportunity and another 2,000,000 who would like to do more work cannot.

Most large agencies use computer technology to filter, and group, their resume databases using key words. If an applicant sends in a large document, or a document, that does not have the correct trigger, embedded key words, they will be at a disadvantage. Recruiters like short documents and it is a fact that regardless of your experience you are required quite often to present on one page. Now people are busy and the attention span has become even shorter.

A reader of my web articles contacted me and told me that I have to keep my articles to one paragraph or two. A news article in the paper must be an average of 800 words, no more than 1,500. We give short attention to some of the most important things and in this case it is the assessment of human ability. It is an easy process if you one is a known "commodity', and even better if you are a "young commodity" - accountant, lawyer, engineer, salesman but it is difficult if you are a multi-educated, multiskilled and experienced performer across multiple sectors, with prodigious output, and disciplines. It is a task for most interviewers, who have narrow experience particularly younger ones, to comprehend anything that is outside the box. One interesting feature of responses is the stock phrase, "We received a large number of applications". This is at odds with all of the published material as to a shortage of skills and experience in Australia. Another proposition to consider is that given the large number of agencies in Australia, employing and continuously advertising for staff, it is likely that many they employ are likely to lie in the `average' spectrum of skills and abilities and therefore they cannot fulfill the glossy promises, and claims, of the agency Mission and Service statements.

There is a difficult problem now. The people who are left, unemployed, are the complex cases that require a skilled practitioner and a bit of lateral thinking on the part of governments, bureaucrats, agencies and employers, to harness and apply their talents. It has not yet dawned on some that the complexity of globalism, free trade, competition and sophisticated systems requires deeper skill and experience and shallow competencies, defined in the nationally accredited curricula, will not cut it. Consider the simple proposition that the trading rooms of the world's merchant banks and financial institutions are full of young sharp traders who have never experienced a downturn, recession or regressive environment. How do they cope when it all goes awry? What happens in the franchise bakery when the computerised icons will not drive the oven? What would be the benefit to Australia if we could harness and deploy all of our human talents?

Community services reform in practice
"privatisation" of employment services in Australia

Australia has two types of national employment services agencies. The federal government funded, private network, Job Network and the private sector agencies, with the latter ranging from single entrepreneur outfits to the well known large, national and international brands. In this latter group I include the Internet service job boards. The federal agency Job Network has its roots in the original Social Security Department's Commonwealth Employment Service, and the federal labor government's Working Nation policy programme. The Liberal National Coalition government, of John Howard, dismantled the national public service system replacing it with an orchestrated, market driven competitive model, originally under the Minister, Tony Abbott.

Parts of the foundation were kept, and branded Employment National, with a commercially oriented government appointed Board answering to the Minister. This entity went broke and the government's designed Job Network model collapsed financially. Since 1855 the government has had to continually `bail out' the network financially, and subsequent Ministers have performed no better at management than Mr. Abbott and have moved on to bigger and brighter prospects, as is the case with under performing politicians. The establishment of Job Network lead to the creation of hundreds of providers from church and charities to small regional and rural organisations,. There is a common feature. They are small businesses with very limited resources and their budgets are such that they cannot employ diversely experienced and seasoned professionals. Along with the Job Network came a plethora of new private registered training entities, taking advantage of the dumbing down of employment competencies to a handful (five or six) and as limited in resources. These organisations sit outside the private and public training and further education institutes that provide quality vocational education. They are short, sharp and minimalist in rigour and depth. These agencies use workplace trainers, who either have a "train the trainer" two week qualification, qualified in 35 hours, and certificate 4, vocational qualification of a limited number of low level units. They will be paid anywhere from $35,000 to %60,000. By comparison a teacher, of three year diploma or a four year degree qualification, can earn at the highest level of the pay scale $66,000.

Job Network deals with the mass of unemployed from school leavers through to long term, to severely socially disadvantaged clients and those who have little education beyond secondary school. They are given job search training as if the resume will replace the lack of a coordinated national policy and action.

The performance hurdles set for the Job Network `clients', as the unemployed have been rebranded are, not surprisingly, much harsher than the performance criteria of the bureaucrats, and ministers, but this is nothing new as the unemployed are politically labeled with quick media sound bite to maximise aspersion and deflect the public awareness of failure of policy and ministerial performance. At one stage the department took to rigging the performance figures for Job Network, comparing them carefully and with manipulative intent, to the older Commonwealth Employment Services. They were exposed by the Australian Productivity Commission in 2002. Now the government does not publish performance figures.

In order that the `client' can be allocated to a Job Network provider, one goes to a Centerlink (the rebadged Social Security Department) to get a `client number' and a quick assessment and they are allocated to a Job Network provider or given a list in their area. In the first design the `client' could not change providers but the government found that this seemed to clash with their ideology of "choice". The Australian government simply loves the notion of `choice' the ability to decide if you want to use a service. Nice theory, but the downside that the conservatives always have hidden is, in this case, user pays when users choose.

Centrelink is the first loading ramp to Australia's `human cattle' processing system, a methodology of a market based theoretical model, rammed into practice without too much consideration of the direct and indirect consequences, for dealing with the unemployed or under utilised human talents of the nation. The use of

The Centrelink offices, whilst looking quite snappy in their design and fitout, hide a misery, they are degrading, and humiliating places both by design, atmosphere and policy. These are places where people line up, and wait, because the Australian government does not like to spend money on `human resource' services of any type or description. The people employed in Centerlink are harassed from every angle. By the sheer number of clients each officer has to deal with, and the sadness of the circumstance they see every day and internally by an endless `bunch of change managers' who troop through Centerlink on their way up the ladder of public service.

Every day, of every week of every year, Centrelink gets a new computer, or a new operational plan, a new bright idea from a person far away in the Minister's office or the Department, or if they are really lucky they get a new Minister to educate. The allocation of portfolios is not something done by the Prime Minister on merit and the human resource portfolios tend to get the `passing cavalcade' of political appointments. people who are likely to ensure that labeling and subtle humiliation is maintained, because what better way is there to get people off the unemployed statistics than to make them not want to collect benefits! If that does not work, then Centrelink will classify the `client' to a label that does not get included in the unemployment statistics making the government look good but continuing the age old practice of rigging statistics and simply lying.

Once `numbered' the client then proceeds to the `human cattle matching' station. here they are job matched, get some training on skills like resume writing, quick competencies and a range of low level and cheap support. The Australian government does not like to pay for comprehensive case management so they cast that element of the previous system into the bin. Job Network is a processing station where the client performs through the hoops, fills out the paperwork and continues to receive benefits under an ever-increasing microscope of examination. There is no other system, or plan by government on its own, or by a concentrated effort by government, private sector and community. Thus we sit back and watch them waste a massive opportunity.

For a long time older unemployed people (that is fifty years) did not qualify for any support in their job seeking and had no access to Job network. These people were, and are still, considered to be redundant by a myopic lot of recruitment practitioners and employers. I have attended numerous interviews with quite young consultants. They are patronizing and some talk in measured tones, slowly, to ensure I understand. They ask riveting questions such as - 'Tell me about one occasion where you made a decision and how did it impact the organisation in which you worked"? On another occasion I was told to speak more slowly because the consultant had to write the answer in long hand and only one example was necessary. One might consider that the resume, and a bit of research or knowledge on the part of the consultant, could provide a pointer.

After a while experienced people began to rebel and speak out and then the government realised a few social and economic truths and the doors were opened to older applicants. Retraining was and is still the mantra regardless of the applicant's background and qualifications. Very experienced people over 40 are being offered apprenticeships, and traineeships, as a way f getting into employment. The system can be insulting and offensive in so many ways..

For all the rhetoric and glossy wrapping, the message is still, that the unemployed are some how backward in technology, and skills, and older Australians are past it It is the same mantra for all three of the major political parties and the Job Network operated by the Australian government. It is the mantra inherent in the Australian government's employment legislation. It is the mantra of bias and ignorance. It is the same ingrained bias and the same approach to harnessing and deploying Australia's talents. It is a "discount economy ticket" approach, based on market theory, not human development and satisfaction theory.

The next lot of practitioners, the personnel agencies and corporations, are a hybrid of the above where many private agencies operate subsidiary enterprises as Job Network contractors and also a range of subsidiary companies to capture every spectrum of the market. It is not yet clear if the recruitment companies and practitioners have realised that older people do not like being interviewed by `inexperienced kiddies'

focus group research conducted by COTA in Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide show that unemployed mature age people are incensed at their treatment in the workforce. As employees they were in the firing line of retrenchment, and as job seekers are constantly being passed over for jobs because of their age. The focus group research dispels many myths about mature age workers.

Australia generally appears to be afflicted with an inability to identify, utilise and galvanise, the nation's full human resource potential. We therefore approach the world with a self-imposed limitation. The question is why? Some muse that underemployment, unemployment and access and opportunity, discrimination and a blinkered, narrow approach to determining peoples' skills and abilities are major impediments that governments, industry, business, employers, and community at large are not addressing. Outsourcing of the human resource recruitment function has been identified as an abrogation of good management.

Outsourcing of employment screening and other services, to the marketplace, by the federal and state governments in the case of public services and the
creation of the Job Network is reinforcing the use of external parties and contractors. Unlike the individual employer these companies have multiple clients and assignments and are driven by the need to develop their revenue base. There are thousands of recruitment companies operating in a crowded market with differing levels of capability and sophistication. These pressures result in a resume receiving 30 - 40 seconds attention and the proposition that a candidate must cram their career and background into a maximum of two pages.

An important decision that affects the life of the candidate, and the prospects of the employer, getting the right person is given trivial and curt attention. Evidence indicates that using outsourced recruitment services alienates the human resource function from an organisation and indicates that the entity and its management are focused on trying to do one of the most important
functions on the cheap.

Antipathy, by candidates, towards agencies is a growing trend and this is logical given that there is a plethora of agencies springing up lacking in resources and their own staff capacities to screen and interview. It may be argued that an organisation that cared about its employees, and their potential, would not risk such an important function to someone who has no loyalty, or inner knowledge of the workings and culture of the organisation and indeed the sector in which the organisation operates.

Read the mission statements, and rhetoric of the recruitment companies, and one can see that the claims of relationship and professionalism to the interests of the client and the job seeker are fraught with conflict of interest. They claim on the one hand to represent the employers, to know their business, interest and needs intimately despite having so many clients. They also claim to represent the best interests of the candidate. They are like a lawyer claiming to represent both parties in a negotiation.

Remarkably some critics argue that the inability of recruitment companies to know or detect competency is a bonus to an organisation's incumbent management.

The author of this web site has distributed a paper, to parliamentarians across Australia, on the use of profiling and psychometric tools to test employees and prospects and the issues for public policy facing legislators, arguing that such methodologies are flawed, fraught with risks and inconsistencies, and too often disadvantageous to applicants, with attendant legal and social consequences. I spent a whole day doing psychometric tests for a leading Australian human resource company that specialises totally in this method. They are a multinational firm. They were testing for everything except right brain attributes. The computers failed to work, the tests and presentations ran over time so two key exercises were dropped. The executives spun stories, made excuses, told the participants that something unexpected had come up and the session would be curtailed, they were exceptionally unprofessional. The only positive was that they had paid for my airline ticket and travel costs to participate.

Job advertisements almost always lack detail, are mysterious and in a crowded contested climate border on misleading. They set out skills and attributes for lower level roles that are more befitting a stellar performer. Words like "exceptional" and "lateral" appear for a job paying $35,000 to $60,000, "chance of lifetime", "this job comes along rarely", etc.. Misrepresentation is against the law in Australia and newspapers publish warning advice on their pages however job boards carry no such warning advice and the advertisement is simply transferred electronically from paper to the Internet. here is one example.

Integrated Training operates in a different environment to any other training company and has solved the skills crisis!

An advertisement for a Training Industry State Manager in Victoria, Australia, in the Melbourne Age, Saturday, 28 May, 2005: "Our training division is leading the rapid consolidation of the Australian Training market. With a national branch network and a unique strategy to address the skills shortage in Australia..... For the successful candidate, Integrated Training can provide career development opportunities and professional development unparalleled in the Australian training sector."

My first objection is that every advertisement for a job invariably describes a company (or client) as a "leader". How many leaders can there be in a market? The second observation is that there is no consolidation of the Australian training market, there is actually an expansion. The third is that the skills shortage is a perplexing issue for governments, which is always with us, and this company that placed the advertisement should immediately ring every state, federal and territory government education, and employment ministry, and let them know of their unique solution. The federal government can abandon immigration as a solution to skills shortages, something that annoys former NSW State Premier Bob Carr, who is worried that Sydney will slip off the edge of Australia if we add another person. In October 2005 the Daily Telegraph newspaper reported that "Sydney is full". The final issues I have with the advertisement are (a) skills training registration in Australia is based on specified competencies and they are not unique, they are standard and regulated for all registered industry training providers and there is no novel, new and patented inventions of presentation and content. and (b) this advertisement implies, and claims for itself, a stature up there with world multinational corporations that provide industry training to their employees in house, universities, training and further education institutes (tafe) with budgets in the multi-millions and billions of dollars, and balance sheets that are jaw dropping and that are amongst the world's best training and education providers. There is no company (private) registered training provider in Australia that is a leader equal to, or above, the Universities of Melbourne, Sydney, Monash, Macquarie and so on, or the major state owned Tafe institutes. Here is yet another set of meaningless words placed by a major global (commonly called Big 4) recruiter, for a HR practitioner, "Alignment with the culture and values of the organisation which hinge on integrity and excellence are not negotiable."

Here is another newspaper advertisement transferred to a leading Australian internet jobs board.

"My client is one of Australia's fastest growing companies and is quickly gaining a reputation for their amazing culture and career advancement opportunities.
Leaving all competition in their wake, this Telstra providing Telco company is growing very, very quickly, and as a result they are looking for a number of experienced Assistant Managers to come on board and continue to drive the company to the top of the mountain.
What you will need:
* An exceptional approach to customer service and solution type selling
* A comprehensive understanding of business financials
* A proven background in team training and development
* The ability to pump up and motivate your team to achieve budgets
* The passion and drive to further develop yourself to grow with the company

In return, you will be provided with every opportunity to earn a huge income whilst growing and having fun amongst this amazing culture. If you want to become the envy of the entire Telco world, apply now and get the ball rolling!"

Every day in Australia's print and electronic media, job advertisements are run that gush hyperbole, meaningless statements and that make claims, describe environments and operations, that are misleading and in some cases false, and yet governments, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, and the acquiescent job hunter, do nothing. The media take the money and they have a disclaimer statement on their job pages, warning advertisers not to breach the trade practices act and engage in misleading advertisements. These warnings are ignored as the heated competition of the market, pressures, age and inexperience of the people drawing up the copy, push the boundaries. Job seekers, particularly those not aware, take these advertisements as gospel, wasting their time and precious resources on people and companies that think it okay to embellish and play easy with the truth.

Applicants applying to Education Queensland for a job are required to submit three hard copies by post. There are exceptions. I was lead to ask why the Smart State required this archaic method? Here is an extract from the hard copy reply of 26 May 2005, to my electronic email, which inter alia, says they are investigating electronic lodgement. The Queensland public service has a long record of investigating and prevaricating over every matter, large, small, vital or trivial.

"Dear Mr. Beck

The Minister for Education and the Arts, Anna Bligh, MP, has referred your letter to me ...the requirement for an applicant to submit several copies of their application in hard copy is a requirement regardless whether the applicant is a current Education Queensland employee or not. Human Resource Services has trailed the electronic lodgement of applications for employment. Security and other issues are still being investigated. For this reason applications at this point must be submitted by post. Where and applicant ... resides in a location where ,ail services are irregular ...they are ... able to negotiate electronic lodgement..... There is no doubt that electronic submission of applications would provide a benefit to the Department. For this reason the Department is committed to negotiate electronic lodgement ...this will reduce the cost of lodging an application with the department.
Al Wagner
A/Assistant Director General
Shared Services"

This is a new public service, managerial title, "shared services" adopted from private enterprise. In the federal department of Education, Science and Training, three completed written references responding to the criteria must be lodged with an application. Obviously this is an easier task for internal applicants who have both the referees close at hand. The external applicant has to pay for the cost of the application, the internal applicant has major advantages, apart from incumbency in the organisation, and they also get to use the word processors, the photocopiers and the stationery, at their work place and then they can put their application in the internal mailbag. One external recruitment consultant told me that it was a waste of time for an external applicant to apply because the delegate on the panel had already chosen the successful applicant and was only going through the motions because the regulations required advertisement.

Misrepresentation in advertising is narrowly defined for legal purposes than the broader definition implied here. Candidate specifications are narrow, because employers in Australia are not risk takers, are not highly experienced in global management practices and experiences as their US and European counterparts, they have embraced specialisation and professional bodies are protecting their turf. In Britain employers take people from many disciplines to work side by side. This does not occur in Australia. There appears to be little cross pollination in Australia and a closed shop mentality to people being able to do the job stifles organisational development and innovation. Look at the criteria that is set for selection and you can see it is a lazy approach to candidate processes and is used to bring everyone to a common denominator. Most criteria preclude recognising that skills are transferable across industry sectors. It is also silent on the creativity that brings a different level of
capability to the process. None of the recruitment companies have ever discussed thinking styles and creativity and their questions indicate they are oblivious to this scientific and contemporary approach. Instead they apply "the theory of averages" and safe choices. Nominating the candidate with the relevant industry background is the safe choice for the employer and one that they will mostly likely agree with. Many recruiters tell me that employers say they want to go outside the box but they rarely if ever do.

Employers are cannibalising their competitors and other organisations ably assisted by the lesser lights of the recruitment industry and contract agencies. This has an affect in the longer term on narrowing the expertise, reducing any cross pollination and ultimately reducing the competitive ability of the nation as a whole.

Job advertisements wax lyrical seeking "exceptional traits" as if they are in the majority within the market rather than a minority. About half of any population would be expected to have a peak in a single thinking style. Thirty-five percent of people have peaks in two
thinking styles, with the most common combinations being analyst/realist, idealist/analyst, and synthesist/idealist. Two percent of the general population has a preference for three thinking styles. About 13 percent exhibit relatively flat profiles, with neither peaks nor valleys. How many recruitment practitioners are qualified to discern thinking styles and apply this knowledge to a role in an organisation? How does each style affect communication, skill, team behaviour, output and other abilities and which style is the exceptional one that fulfills the recruiter's perceptions and demands? Which style matches the selection criteria set out by the employer?

There is a preoccupation with the notion that if a person has worked for a big company then they are superior. Mention that one has worked for the "Big 4" in Australia, or for a brand name entity, a major bank or enterprise and bingo they have an advantage. Is there a recognition that these huge companies, and their employees, though lauded as the best at one point time, have been found to be incompetent and fraudulent often costing shareholders and tax payers billions.. This occurs under the noses of, and within the watch of, highly paid executives who are experts in their field equated with success who when moved on receive exorbitant payouts known as a golden parachute'

The public outrage does not appear to flow through to the recruitment agency screeners and the employers despite politicians seeming to get the gist and mouthing platitudes but doing little to address Australia's failure to harness its people talent. The free market is about choice, it is about discrimination on age and race and gender and many other discriminatory practices that are subtle. It seems that people think if you had an experience more than 3-5 years back it is inconsequential to modern day application and performance.

Perhaps in the minds of recruiters, and employers, any experience in the big companies is worth more than a credible performance in a no name entity, particularly if you are older and fit a stereotype perception of the world of work. Research indicates that large organisations may actually stifle creativity, innovation and human development. It also shows that people with little experience beyond their own work spheres make rash judgements and are less likely to be able to determine potential and performance. There is nothing more annoying than being interviewed by a person of lesser experience, and knowledge. Add to this the incumbents of governments who have never had a career beyond politics. Such people, and they are in the majority, are acting as barriers to harnessing the latent talent of the nation.

(April 2005) Psychometric Testing Requires Government legislative Controls

The growing use of psychometric testing, outside of medical and psychological application for measuring mental retardation, poses issues for legislators at state, territory and federal levels as well as for employers and managers in the private and public sectors of the economy. There are human resource and recruitment firms that specialise, in the administration of such tests for all recruitment assignments. I want to point out why I think these developments will, in future, create problems in areas of discrimination, psychological practices as health issues and employment and why there is a need to consider these matters.

Some work has been undertaken in jurisdictions across Australia in part on key issues but that there is no extension of this legislative work, on a national basis, to matters of psychometric testing for employment and performance appraisal.

If legislators are prone to allowing the development and administration of such tests, particularly in the public employment sector, then they might consider under what conditions (physical and physiological), qualifications of administrators and assessors and circumstances they are to be allowed and the public policy issues including litigation, employee relations, equal opportunity and fair practice, they are to be allowed. What are the licensing processes and mandated qualifications for administration, and assessment, in Australian jurisdictions for firms and individuals?

What are psychometric tests?

"Psychometric literally means, measuring the mind and, in one sense, any systematic attempt to assess mental characteristics could come into this category. The term however, is usually used to describe specific tests for personality, intelligence or some kind of attitude measurement".

I believe that the tests can be flawed and can have consequences within the framework of public policy outlined above and I set out compelling evidence that the growth, and consequence for legislators, goes well beyond this.

We have seen how people perform in schools under testing conditions and how some individuals do not perform well at all in exams. Are such people to be at a disadvantage in their quest for employment and career progression? In addition psychometric test performance, and results, are affected by external and internal factors - physical premises, reliability of technology, lighting and air conditioning, physiological influences such as language, cognizance, health at the time, sickness through flu, headache, worry and peer pressures and attitudes and the existence of an unknown medical condition or onset, in the subject, such as depression, multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer type conditions.

Legislators might also note that certain people are not subjected to such tests, e.g. chief executives, board directors and people of stature creating discrimination. What are the frameworks and challenges available to the subjects who are subjected to tests as part of the selection or appraisal processes?

We know, from our own personal experience that attempts to classify and measure people is fraught with danger and consequence and labeling is an insidious practice. For those unemployed being placed in a measured category - dole bludger, job snob, shirkers - is not only demeaning but can be self fulfilling. It is similarly so for such practices in psychometric testing.

"There is the danger that the labelling of an individual as possessing a particular trait or ability will tend to encourage conformity to that trait. The psychometric approach implies a nomothetic view of people: that is to say, a view that people are capable of being classified and measured. The opposing view to this would argue that humans are essentially individuals and not susceptible to classification. This is an idiographic view".

The purveyors, and promoters, will tell you, their target users, clients and subjects, that psychometric testing is but one tool in an arsenal of resources, that there is no right response to a question and that reliance on the interpretation, and results, is at best problematic, yet they will not address the above considerations. Each subject test can garner between $1,500 and $3,000 in revenue per test subject.

Beyond the issues of employment and appraisal legislators should be aware that the growth of "psychometricians is not limited to working within the testing industry however. Many psychometricians are employed in industrial and organizational settings performing job analyses, consumer surveys, developing and validating personnel selection procedures, and performing market research. Positions in private and public consulting agencies, clinical research positions, and positions in managerial and administrative roles are also open to graduates of psychometric programs. Psychometricians can even find employment as researchers in fields only tangentially related to psychology, as statisticians, expert witnesses, and of course, in academic settings as well. The field of psychometrics has made and continues to make important contributions to psychology and to our society. Psychometric principles, applications, and issues continue to permeate every aspect of psychology and impact many people's lives. The complex issues brought on by our rapidly changing society provide new challenges for psychometricians and new directions for the future of psychometrics".

We can see examples of this predicted growth arising in the British Parliament:

"Mr. Flook: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if the Marriage and Relationship Support branch of the Department will include the use of pre and post marital psychometric inventories as part of the criteria for considering bids for LCD grants. [85499], SOURCE

Disrmination in employment, psychometric
and other testing legislative issues:

No legislation or registers beyond use of discrimination legislation
, questions and answers for the general public

In the European Union:

"Assessment of a person
with a known medical condition for employment" and the legislative issues

In Victoria Australia:

Victorian Law Reform Commission,
psychometric and other testing of workers,
privacy, legislation and other issues

In South Africa:

Extent of pre-employment testing

In the United States (Harvard University)

Workforce Development (e.g. employment preparation and supporting families transitioning from welfare to work) and Tests/Assessments: Data sources include standardized test scores, psychometric tests, and other assessments of the program and its participants.

These data sets are collected
with the purposes of the evaluation in mind.

The resources quoted are not exhaustive and are given to provide you with informative material to assist your response to this evolving public policy issue.

case study on the effects of privatisation

How management practice exposes Australia

Free trade agreements between Australia, and international countries, are a double sided blade

The defects in Australian managerial style and decisions are masked by a performing economy and a lack of real competition with the exception of certain sectors such as education, agriculture and resources which are subject to the full glare of world competition. There are pockets of innovation and maturity and the following scenarios, and bald statements, do not apply to every Australian enterprise, and every individual. Small to medium enterprise, which make up the greater extent of the national production in terms of jobs and output have not been subjected to world market experience except in competing with imports. They are targets for takeover simply due to the fact that they are too often unaware.

The capital market for investment in Australia is very small and whilst resource companies it seems can raise endless amounts of money, and support, from gullible governments, investors and banks, other small to medium enterprise cannot. To fund any major project of consequence requires consortia of banks, as much as 23 to fund a $1 billion dollar energy project. The reason is risk aversion. Australian banks like to invest in property, housing and ATM machines earning their fees on interest and charges on safe territory. Every now and then they get a shock, such as when the National Australia Bank dropped several hundred million on irregular trades on the stock and financial markets and their management was exposed as both inept and unaware. Naturally the employees, across the bank, must take the fall, with job losses and a few token heads at management level taking the multimillion dollar golden parachute and move on. Similarly Australian insurance companies HIH and FIA demonstrate the assumptions set out below.

In my view, and experience, it is quite easy to out flank many senior Australian boards, executives, managers, politicians, bureaucrats and governments. This was proven in the case of Australian Magnesium Corporation and CSIRO, where the federal and Queensland state governments, and stock investors, took a billion dollar plus bath and the government's light metals agenda was shown to be not only pie in the sky but created without any deep research. It s similarly shown in the Tasmanian government's energy policy, totally predicated on bringing natural gas to the island and the building of a dual electricity supply cable (Basslink) between Tasmania and Victoria, According to the lyrical spin of the Tasmanian government, the island will make a mozza out of electricity trading and industry will flock to the island to because the natural gas is there. Unfortunately the state government refused time and time again to believe that the economics were wrong and their assumptions invalid. There is no natural gas, no cable and the cost is going through the roof. If built Basslink will require extensive public funding subsidisation.

Why? The answer is somewhat simple. Gullibility and a failure to do the hard work. I find it quite extraordinary to meet with policy advisers and others who are framing advice and influencing decisions, and learn that they have no idea of the world and the participants beyond their immediate horizon. It is as if they get their information only from people of known status and reputation, or the known high profile companies and executives, and then the decision is shaped, built and deployed, using very narrow and questionable inputs. Status, job title and role are the determinants of who is believed, and who is influential, in Australia and no matter how many examples there are of failure, the title holders maintain their dominance. When they are wrong every other small to medium enterprise in that sector is hurt as governments and investors knee jerk in droves.

Role models of quality leadership, motivation and leading edge practices are few and far between and the characteristics that define Australian enterprise and government are "average". There are pockets of excellence but they are not the most prominent title and role holders. The attitude to enterprise, and government, management and thinking in Australia is a mandate one based on hierarchy and control. It is an ethos of "boss and worker". Australia's public service has become government service where Minister and Premiers see themselves as CEOs. From this comes the pervasive implementation of private enterprise practice into government, which is totally unsuited to the notion of state and citizen. The population is managed at every level. The Australian government's workplace reforms and human resource management models reflect and enshrine the principle of "boss and worker". It is an archaic and destructive mode of thinking and public policy framing and its impact is nation wide. The Australian government's policies inadvertently dumb down the nation. People vote for politicians who are reflect their views and beliefs. Average puts average into power roles and then bleats at the result.

Many organisations, and individuals, do not, as standard practice, not think deeply about their work based decisions and nor are they inclined towards deep research. The reason individuals may not see the need to research might be attributable to a low regard for life long learning, a lack of experience in the process and methodology of research (the net is their primary source), a misconception of strategy, confusing it with mission, objectives and goals definition. There is a stereotyped view of the employment role and the place of people in the processes of decision making. Experience indicates that many organisations, governments and agencies, are not good at converting their knowledge, and findings, to accurate analysis, strategies, predictions and outcomes. Why? One reason might be a resistance to changing their assessments which have been informed by reputable sources. Another might be ego, a self belief in their abilities and a willingness to tough it out, because the "boss" has to be seen to be right or the very foundation of corporate, management and political structure and operation is put at risk. Another reason is that they may have no idea who can exercise influence and impact their world.

The people who make policy and decisions and the analysts and commentators who examine those decisions and expound their views, and ultimately the end recipients, the investors, the employees and the public, are trusting for they have only these sources. They are unprepared for anyone, or anything, coming unexpectedly out of "left field" and putting a spanner in the works. They assume that they have identified all the known players in their field and the risks. If employers believe that only people with experience in their sector should be employed then why would they not also believe that anyone not in their sector is irrelevant, uninformed and unable to contribute to, or damage and fraught their plans?

Intelligence gathering, as a tool, and deep research, tends to be limited to trying to determine consumer and voter behaviour. Australian management, and employees, will approach their task methodically according to their systems, procedures, methods and directions. Employees, shaped by the control mechanisms described above, and insecurity brought about by change and globalism, rationalism and the domination of economic and managerial theory, and the "supremacy of the boss" are unlikely to question or oppose to any extent that puts them at risk. These systems are self limiting and everyone within will operate accordingly. Australian decision makers, politicians, public servants, employees, managers and commentators and the media, (with the exception of some obvious multinational enterprises e.g Qantas and BHP Billiton) are risk averse and will not spend money, and time, on long term research, development, intelligence gathering and education.

The current Australian model of education and training, as set out by government and opposition politics, is a set of narrowly defined competencies applied for "employability". These competencies do not teach people to enquire, think, question and analyse. Only a small number of the Australian population has tertiary education with a limited number possessing university master and doctorate qualifications. Higher education is denigrated, and diminished, in Australia and is replaced by "skills". Australia is being
dumbed down.

The Australian management and decision style is probably more practically oriented, and application focused, rather than a mix of lateral thinking examining and exploring contradiction. Many employers place little value on
academic qualification, study and training.
Technology is used for precise work applications and the Internet technology is deployed with limited scope. Many are yet to realise that the Internet enables anyone, anywhere to enter the game, to influence agendas, clients, customers, voters and any one else. It is a telecommunications marvel well beyond the simple Google search, downloading of movies and music and display of a nice web page with "click to buy" buttons. I read a recent advertisement for a strategy and policy researcher with the primary requirement being the ability to do "searches on the Internet". There are people, beyond the horizon of business and government and its constituency, who are far and away ahead of the current view and understanding of the potential of this technology to influence and impact operations and activities.

The exceptions to limited technology use are the Australian resources and biomedical and science sectors, who develop technology applications for their own use and then export them to the world as best practice software in its field. There are pockets of R&D that are exceptional but they are more often scientifically inclined. The perception of R&D is narrow and the mechanisms used by the Australian government to assess its value are narrowly commercial, sector defined and myopic. There is no R&D funding of any substance by state and territory governments beyond a few "glamour of the day" projects funded because they boost the political image, and might happen, as a secondary consideration to also benefit the nation. Australian companies, with the exception of those that have t such as pharmaceuticals, rarely invest large sums in intangibles, like education and R&D, rather they tend to invest in bricks and mortar, machinery and non human assets. They do not invest in R&D about things like human resources and management practice beyond buying a computer systems to do the job. They may from time to time employ a consultant.

Australia, as a nation, has no plan, strategy or mechanism to identify, nurture and harness human talent. There is no cooperative model, system. committee or institution, that looks at the spectrum of people and says how will we utilise all of this talent? It is left to the segments and the vagaries of the employment market.

The decision makers protect the status quo and maintain their control and are focused on their bailiwick. It is a clubby country of mates, male dominated and suspicious of anything outside the norm and the box. The greater number of directorships on the boards of Australia's medium to large enterprises, and organisations, are held by a small number of people whose experience cannot match the United States constituency . There is limited succession planning. Much human ability is wasted and there are many talented people capable of besting the incumbents when given the chance. They are available for work and careers but they are not let in or are regarded as unsuitable because their experience and backgrounds do not fit within the narrowly defined boxes.

Governments and enterprise, public agencies and institutions, have, through policy and attrition, rid themselves of the talent of the older workers, knowledge and experience. Now they find that the nation suddenly has limited expertise and cannot grow, that there are skill shortages. What a load of bollocks. The employers will not cross pollinate and would rather cannibalise like industries. Politicians putting forward solutions rabbit on about retraining and increasing immigration.

The malaise that exposes the nation is broader, deeper and more pervasive. The decision model is restricted, archaic and focused on cost, the policies lack vision and are rehashed time and time again. Much knowledge, and experience, has been lost overseas or has been retired. Older people are viewed as redundant by assessors of talent, who themselves have limited experience and no historical memory of knowledge of what were once the premier enterprises and the extent and dimension of an applicant's personal contribution.

In the mid to late nineties Australia's public employment agencies (Commonwealth Employment Service, federal Department of Employment, Education and Youth Affairs and then the Job Network, extolled hospitality, tourism and services as the new horizon. They shunted unemployed engineers, managers, technicians and a myriad of skilled individuals, along with immigrant professionals, desperate for work into training courses and jobs as waiters and kitchen hands, retail shop assistants and other lower skilled, lower paid and usually casual roles. The federal government has lead the charge downhill and the state and territory departments rattled along with the vision of Australia, the restaurant and services capital of the world. This stupidity not only denigrated the people with talent, forced to retrain, but it set Australia down the path where it finds itself today. According to the Australian experts, in 1985, the traditional sectors were dead but not yet buried and the future is services and knowledge underpinned by the Internet, the mobile phone and an Ipod. What drivel. The politicians imbued their policies with slogans like "the call centre capital of Australia" and the "smart state". Yet the governments, and employers, learn no lessons and their thinking is still bogged down in "skills for employability" and they await the next big thing.

Australian employers, and decision makers, are focused on the short term, on shareholder unreasonable expectations, voter behaviour, pandering to interest groups and the pursuit of profits and political gain today, not tomorrow. The challenge of creating a national system to harness talent and deploy it is problematic and too hard for them. It would require large expenditure by governments because Australian enterprise is not going to band together and collectively invest. Governments will not spend because that would mean that the magical surplus would be very hard to fudge. It is easy to cut costs, play with taxes and fiddle Australia's public accounts.

Governments and enterprise will continue to operate on limited investment, and solutions, which are okay for the good times but sadly lacking when the unexpected downturn occurs. Australian employers are discriminatory, in terms of risk, race, age and experience, thus they are containable in their own straight jackets of myopia and bigotry. They are unlikely to look outside the box and prefer to employ people with specific industry experience and this is their Achilles heel. They do cross pollinate and develop their internal culture and knowledge base They will employ people who look, behave and think like them, people backgrounded in their industry and members of the exact discipline they think they need. They go for safe options.

International organisations cross pollinate and develop through multidisciplinary staff hire. In Australia, you are unlikely to find biologists, teachers and engineers working in trading rooms, financial institutions, consumer services and retail, and in traditional roles. Another developing problem is Australian organisations are now populated with a large number of young, and inexperienced, managers and employees, of limited education, experience and scope, who have never lived and worked through a recession or a crisis. For them the market has always been on the rise and the profits and cash flow have hidden the problems. When problems hit they are left floundering, large, small and medium enterprise alike.

Large numbers of Australians are immature, and reactive, as evidenced by the Schapelle Corby issue. They take this immaturity into the workplace and it creates a culture that defines the outcome. International enterprise, governments and professionals will have moved on to the next theory, or practice, and Australians will still be five or more years behind in adaptation and application of the old one. Sigma Six, quality circles, emotional intelligence and a cat in hat, we love theories and structures, reviews and enquiries, because that makes the people in charge look as if they are busy and on top of things. How many times have you heard managers, and politicians, say that they have heard the message and learnt from experience and that they have a whole new set of ideas, as if they are reborn and grew a new brain?

Usually the front line employees are the lowest paid and perhaps the lesser skilled. They may have no idea to whom they are talking, who is calling and why. Australian Ministers, Premiers and Prime Ministers, Chairmen, CEOs are very busy, and important people, not to be bothered with ordinary everyday customers and other unknown types. They rarely do their own research, beyond reading professional publications of interest, BRW, the Financial Review or the glossy magazines in airline lounges and periodicals. They rarely see or read the mail, email and communications, unless it is from a cleared or known source or someone they believe the writer is of stature. The logic, applied by the employee, is that they are to be protected from annoying and bothersome outside distractions.

I have noted a number of exceptions and they are all have a common characteristic. The CEOs are working internationally, they either read the mail, they have talented secretaries and executive assistants, and they appear to be unfazed that the writer is an unknown person of no particular reputation or status and that the correspondence is unsolicited and even contrary. In 1985 I wrote to the outgoing CEO of Ansett and opined that the change management model, and restructuring being undertaken by the "Big 5" expert consultancy, outlined in the media, was flawed. I set out a ten page justification for this claim. The CEO arranged for me to meet with the Director of Human Resources and a consultant, twice. They listened and thanked me but begged to differ. Ansett they informed me was solid and their plans would be successful. The CEO moved on to an international role. I wrote to the next CEO and did not receive a reply. Ansett, as we all know, went down the gurgler.

In 2001 I wrote to the Chairman of Siemens in Erlungen Germany expounding theories on many things, a meeting was arranged quite swiftly with a Board member and management. Similarly the Managing Director of Daimler Chrysler arranged a meeting between senior managers, and myself and my colleagues, in Stuttgart. I wrote to the CEO of Billiton in London and was granted a meeting with a member of the Board. I have similarly written unsolicited, to CEOs in corporations such as General Motors, Ford and other businesses in the USA and Canada and been invited to meet with them. Sent off letters to international companies, and government agencies, in London, Zurich, Rome and Milan, Florence, Washington, Honolulu, Los Angeles and New York, Montreal, Bangkok, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, and many more and on every occasion have received a response and a meeting date. My costs have been met on every occasion.

Every letter written to an Australian company CEO, Chairman or Director has been ignored, or politely acknowledged and fobbed off, with the exception of the Ansett case cited above No meetings have been offered. Responses, to extensively researched and time consuming communications, sent to Ministers and Premiers, on investment decisions and other matters of public policy, elicit a single line or at best a few paragraphs of cant that is already in the public arena. One Ministry likes to send their brochure attached assuming that this constitutes a considered response. They invite you in if you represent a powerful interest group or are someone of status. There is always the exception. One federal Minister invites me for coffee, and a chat, every few months and every few years likes to pop up, unexpectedly, for lunch in the pub.

Meet with an Australian politician or adviser to a Minister, or put a proposition to a public servant, and it is indeed a challenge. The first twenty minutes is involved in explaining how you fit into the picture and then listening to how they fit in, there is an education session required during which their eyes glaze. They are polite and you leave. They do not appear to be inquisitive people, wanting to learn more, as are the cases cited above. This is distinctly different to my experience in dealing with US Congressman and bureaucrats, who are polite in the extreme and who suck up information.

The problem in Australia might be that the people with the talent to pick out the unusual in a communication are not those in the first line of entry role reading the document. They are filters. They direct and channel, place and file, throw in the bin and forget. The people at the desks, good at the defined roles they hold, are not the most talented, and aware, of the total environment and threats to the enterprise or organisation in which they are employed. They usually are not the people who should be reading, deciphering and interpreting the communications, and information, coming in. The world's best international professional, in their respective discipline, can send in an unsolicited application for employment, and be told by the HR department that there are no vacancies.

Then, if read and referred the communications are not tracked, and organised through key word or system, in order to discern patterns and provide additional material to the "intelligence gatherers" and to place hem with similar material. Why is that business, political parties and governments do not have an "intelligence agency" within? Probably because that would be too costly. Best to lose millions, and billions, on being unaware than to spend $100,000 on good talent at the front end. There are similarly no systems to track and analyse the relationship between any communication and event unless it is glaringly obvious and pops out in a Senate enquiry. Memories are short, awareness blinkered and any evaluation might expose things best forgotten. It is similarly so in many corporations. The intelligence gathering is limited in scope and its assessment deemed secondary to the primary task of carrying out the current plan approved by the board or the owner. Imagine readjusting the approved plan and resubmitting on the grounds of mail, communications and speculative research and unsolicited receipts. The managers would look like they did not know what they were doing. Board members are too busy to be bothered with operational matters and communication to board members, employees and others must be filtered and limited. The corporate and political models are so similar in operation in Australia. However write to a person who lives with risk, and investor, and tell them they are going to drop a bundle and they take the communication seriously.

All one has to do is exploit these weaknesses, this lack of knowledge and lack of up to date and ongoing deep research, practice and strategy based on old and trusted methods. Confront the decision makers outside their comfort zones, subject them to the blow torch of sophisticated strategies, competition, new theories and practices, and they are all at sea. The free trade agreement will test them all and may cause some heartache and damage to the nation, more than expected.

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