The Future of Work: Keith Hancock Lecture at ANU

I’ll be giving a public lecture on The Future of Work at ANU on 6 March. It’s the Keith Hancock* lecture, sponsored by the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, in honour of one our great labour economists. Details are here . An outline

The outcomes of technological change are affected by the interaction of changes in the regulation of labour markets and the stance of public policy. For the last 40 years, changes in labour market regulation have been almost uniformly anti-union and anti-worker, while public policy has been premised on the desirability of reducing wages. Until and unless the stance of public policy changes, technological change will be experienced by workers as harmful disruption. Used in a socially desirable way, however, technological change offers the potential for a radical improvement in work-life balance.

I’ll be giving the same talk at UQ in April (details TBA).


  • Just to confuse things, the Australian Academy of the Humanities sponsors the Sir Keith Hancock Lecture in honour of one of our most famous historians.


3 thoughts on “The Future of Work: Keith Hancock Lecture at ANU

  1. Every since the Wage-Price spiral shock in the mid to late 1980s, Labour Policy has become a one sided policy arm. There was mergers of unions, wage indexation, enterprise bargaining and even deregistration of union militants. And that was under a ALP government. The Liberals thought this a good trend to boost so they brought in Workchoices. It turned out to be a bridge too far for a business orientated party, but workers still got the message. Under the present Coalition government temporary work visas are used to flood the labour market. Like all its economic policy outcomes, the Coalition goes for supply side options. This has led to wage growth stagnation! Now the wage-price spiral is a downwards influencer. As much as all this is a very simple outline, it does in some way support what Professor Quiggin has outlined. As a Keynesian economists, who studied Labour Economics at the UNSW, I know that national labour markets have a demand side as well as a supply side. Apart from the kinked demand curve, the labour market is affected by the natural law of demand. To ignore demand factors is to miss opportunities for microeconomic reform in the labour market.

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