The 11th Annual Ron McCallum Debate

Thursday, 18 November 2021, 6-8pm

Registrations are open for this year’s AIER Ron McCallum Debate on Are we Still the Lucky Country? The Future of Workplace Relations in Australia, chaired by Justice Iain Ross AO, President of the Fair Work Commission. The annual AIER Ron McCallum Debate is the pre-eminent public industrial relations debate in Australia. Once a year it brings the leaders of unions, industry and government/ independents together to debate the pressing issues facing the nation. This year’s lineup is as follows:

Key note speakers:

Greg Vines, Deputy Director-General, International Labour Organization

Senator the Hon. Michaelia Cash, Minister for Industrial Relations and Attorney General (video address)

Hon, Tony Burke, Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations

Emeritus Professor Ron McCallum AO


Michele O’Neil, President, Australian Council of Trade Unions

Andrew McKellar, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Michael Kaine, National Secretary, Transport Worker’s Union

Innes Willox, Chief Executive, Australian Industry Group

Emeritus Professor David Peetz, Griffith University

Emma Walsh, Founder, Family Friendly Workplaces |CEO, Parents At Work

Sanushka Mudaliar, AIER Executive

Debate topic

There is a common perception in Australia that ours is “the lucky country”, a land with broadly shared prosperity that has avoided many of the problems faced by other nations. However, when Donald Horne coined that phrase to describe Australia, he meant it ironically as a rebuke and a wakeup call – as an indictment of our society. Has Australia’s luck finally run out? Are we complacent in the face of urgent and significant issues? If we are lucky, lucky for whom? What role has the workplace relations system played in Australia’s luck and shared prosperity? Is it up to the task in its current form? Are the IR stakeholders fully equipped to fulfill their role in facing Australia’s challenges? Or what workplace relations reforms would help Australia make its own luck and to face both the pressing challenges of today and those on the horizon?


The Debate will be held online and is free to attend but registration is required as places are limited.