Workshop and Symposia


  • School of Business Members Meeting
    28th Mar 2014 Room 214/215, Economics and Business Building (H69)

    The Agenda for this meeting includes forthcoming talks, the Burren St. Archives, developing courses in business and labour history, research projects and forthcoming conferences.

    If you would like to become a member of the Group please contact Greg Patmore at

    Location: Room 214/215 in Building H69

  • Revisiting the devils decade: Australian Prime Ministers and the Great Depression
    28th Mar 2014 Room 214/215, Economics and Business Building (H69)

    Lis Kirkby, Work and Organisational Studies, School of Business, The University of Sydney, will speak on "Revisiting the devils decade: Australian Prime Ministers and the Great Depression."

    A full abstract and the biographical details of the speaker are below.

    If you are interested in attending please contact Andre Pinto at by noon on Wednesday 26 March as refreshments will be served.


    This paper focuses on the approach that three Australian Prime Ministers took towards managing Australia during the Great Depression and the forces that influenced them - Stanley Bruce, James Scullin and Joseph Lyons. The paper highlights the conflicting ambitions, aims and policies that made Australian politics in the 1930s, the 'devil's decade'.


    The Hon Dr Elisabeth (Lis) Kirkby OAM. BA(Hons) PhD was born in Lancashire (UK) in 1921 and went to school in Nottingham during the 1930s.

    She served in the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) during World War Two. After her demobilisation in 1945, she joined the Birmingham Repertory Company under William Armstrong and later the Liverpool Repertory Company under John Fernald.

    After World War Two, Lis appeared in the first television play to be broadcast by the British Broadcasting Corporation and in 1951 was posted to the Schools Division of Radio Singapore. She lived in Kuala Lumpur during the British Military Administration (1953-1965) where she was employed by Radio Malaya and was the last British expatriate officer to be employed by Radio Malaysia.

    Arriving in Sydney in 1965 Lis made her first broadcast for the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) that same year and between 1965 and 1977, was an 'on air presenter'. During this time she wrote and narrated radio features on many social issues and produced 'Learn Indonesian' from 1980-1981.

    In 1977 Lis joined the Australian Democrats and was elected to the New South Wales Legislative Council in 1981. She was the Parliamentary Leader of the NSW Australian Democrats and when she retired in 1998 was the longest serving Australian Democrat Member of Parliament. As an MLC, Lis was a member of the Standing Committee on Social Issues which investigated health issues, juvenile justice, employer - worker relationships. She also served on Committees examining the Police Integrity Commission and the Independent Commission against Corruption.

    Lis was a founding member of the Women's Electoral Lobby (1972), a member of the Greater Murray Area Health Service and served as a Councillor on the Temora Shire Council (1999-2003).

    After leaving Parliament, Lis was appointed to the New South Wales Judicial Commission (1999-2001) and the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (2001-2004). She is still a member of the New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties and the Australian Council of the International Commission of Jurists.

    In 2009 Lis she graduated from Charles Sturt University with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Class 1 and after studying at the University of Sydney, successfully submitted her PhD thesis 'WILL WE EVER LEARN FROM HISTORY, the Impact of Economic Orthodoxy on Unemployment during the Great Depression in Australia'. Her PhD was awarded in 2014.

    In 2013, the International Association of Women in Radio and Television (an NGO founded in 1951) honoured Lis with a Lifetime Achievement Award to honour her long-standing membership (1958-current) and her work as President (1976-1980).

    Lis was awarded an OAM in 2012 for her service to the Parliament of New South Wales, the community of Temora and the performing arts.

  • The struggle for health and safety: Seafarers in Britain and Australia 1790-1900
    29th Aug 2014 Room 298, H04 - Merewether Building

    The BLHG will be holding its next talk on Friday 29 August 2014 in Merewether Seminar Room 298 from 12 noon to 1pm in the Merewether Building (HO4). Professor Michael Quinlan from the Australian School of Business, the University of New South Wales speak on "The struggle for health and safety: Seafarers in Britain and Australia 1790-1900."

    If you are interested in attending please contact Andre Pinto at by noon on Wednesday 27 August as refreshments will be served.


    For well over a century prior to 1900 a struggle had been waged to improve health and safety amongst merchant seafarers. Broadly speaking this struggle took three forms. First and best recorded there were a series of pushes to improve the laws protecting the health and safety of ships and seafarers - a struggle for which Samuel Plimsoll has become synonymous though his involvement in no way captures the entirety of the struggle. Second, from the 1870s emerging unions of seafarers sought to improve health and safety on ships including agitating for improved laws and both collective and individual actions to protect members (such as paying their court costs). Third and least known, long before the emergence of and consolidation of unions, seafarers had take a considerable degree of informal industrial action (including strikes and mass desertion) over health and safety on their ship. This action continued even after unions became established. There were over 1800 instances of collective action by seafarers in Australian waters alone between 1790 and 1900 and health and safety was by far the single biggest issue/cause of these actions. Further, the actions covered a wide array of health and safety issues (from unseaworthy ships and incompetent officers to poor food and unsanitary conditions) including pursuing some issues long before they became a source of regulatory/policy concern. Drawing on a range of sources (including parliamentary inquiries, medical literature and contemporary newspapers) this paper provides an account of all three types of struggle. It also emphasises that the precarious nature of seafarer's employment is critical to understanding the health and safety of seafarers - just as it is today.


    Michael Quinlan is professor of Industrial Relations in the School of Management and Director, Industrial Relations Research Centre at the University of New South Wales. He has published extensively on occupational health and safety (OHS), especially the effects of precarious work arrangements. Another study (with colleagues at the University of Sydney) examines the impact of workplace death on families. He has also written on the history of worker mobilisation and labour regulation in Australia and is currently involved in a project on collective action by convict workers with Dr Hamish Maxwell-Stewart (University of Tasmania). His most recent book is Ten Pathways to Death and Disaster: Learning from fatal incidents in mines and other high hazard workplaces (Federation Press, Sydney, 2014).

  • 'Perspectives in History' - Sixth Annual Conference of AAHANZBS
    3rd Nov 2014 The University of Sydney, Australia

    The BLHG will be hosting the 6th Annual Conference of the Association of Academic Historians in Australian and New Zealand Business Schools on 3-4 November 2014 at the University of Sydney. The highlights include a plenary address from Emeritus Professor Graeme Dean, a postgraduate workshop featuring Liz Kirkby, an editors session featuring Cheryl McWatters (Accounting History Review) and John Shields (Labour History) and research from colleagues in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, India and the UK.


    Eastern Avenue Seminar Room 310,
    The University of Sydney


    Conference Program

    Monday 3 November

    9.00am - 9.30am


    Session 1 - Welcome and Plenary Address

    9.30am - 9.45am

    Greg Patmore, President, AAHANZBS


    9.45am - 10.30am

    Graeme Dean (University of Sydney)

    Plenary Address

    Historical analyses: Case studies in researching and teaching accounting within a "business school" at Sydney

    10.30am - 11.00am

    Morning Tea

    Session 2 - Business and War

    11.00am - 11.30am

    Johanna van Mosseveld (University of New England)

    Design and Production of the Australian Army Combat Uniform - A Schumpeterian Version of Defence Driven Technological Innovation

    11.30am - 12.00 noon

    Cheryl McWatters (University of Ottawa)

    Enemy mine: merchant networks, neutrality and wartime

    12.00pm - 1.00pm


    Session 3 - Work and Working Life

    1.00pm - 1.30pm

    Greg Patmore (The University of Sydney)

    UK Whitley Works Committees in the Inter-War Period

    1.30pm - 2.00pm

    Luca Marin (Swinburne University of Technology)

    The Italian Federation of Migrant Workers and their Families (FILEF) in Australia from the 1970s to the present.

    2.00pm - 2.30pm

    Grant Michelson (Edith Cowan University) and Shaun Ryan (Deakin University)

    (Still) Working: Narratives Of Employment In Australia

    2.30pm - 3.00pm

    Afternoon Tea

    Session 4 - Education and Literature

    3.00pm - 3.30pm

    Harry Knowles (The University of Sydney)

    Francis Place: the clash of ideas in the Education of London Working People 1807 - 1832

    3.30pm - 4.00 pm

    Venugopal Reddy (Pondicherry University)

    "When India can do her own engineering work and carry on her own industries…"?: technical education in colonial Madras, 1928-1947

    4.00pm - 4.30 pm

    Sandra van der Laan (University of Sydney), Lee Moerman (University of Wollongong), David Campbell (University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne)

    Chronicles, chaos and comedies: A history by Samuel Turner III

    Session 5 - Annual General Meeting

    4.30pm - 5.00pm

    Annual General Meeting

    6.00pm - 9.00pm

    Dinner at Rubyos, 18-20 King St. Newtown

    Tuesday 4 November

    8.45am - 9.00am


    Session 1 - Postgraduate Research Forum

    9.00am - 10.00am

    Postgraduate Research Workshop and presentation by Lis Kirkby (The University of Sydney)

    10.00am - 10.30am

    Morning Tea

    Session 2 - Labour and Industrial Relations History

    10.00am - 10.30am

    Lis Kirkby (The University of Sydney)

    Reflections on the transportation of the Tolpuddle Martyrs to Australia in 1834

    10.30am - 11.00am

    Mark Hearn (Macquarie University)

    A 'grand delusion'? The Transport Workers' Union New South Wales Branch response to the Prices and Incomes Accord and enterprise bargaining, 1988-1995

    11.30am - 12.00 noon

    Bernard Mees and Cathy Brigden (RMIT)

    Before industry super: trade union campaigning and superannuation

    12.00 noon - 12.30pm

    Erling Rasmussen (AUT)

    Past and Present: Danish industrial foundations and their employment relations impact

    12.30pm - 1.30pm


    Session 3 - Editors Forum

    1.30pm - 2.30pm

    Why History Matters? - An Editors Perspective

    John Shields (Labour History, The University of Sydney)
    Cheryl McWatters (Accounting History Review, University of Ottawa)

    2.30pm - 3.00pm

    Afternoon Tea / Book Launch

    Grant Michelson (Edith Cowan University) and Shaun Ryan (Deakin University) - Book launch of Just Work (Palgrave Macmillan) by John Shields (University of Sydney)

    Session 4 - General Session

    3.00pm - 3.30pm

    Denis Nettle (Victoria University)

    What Killed the Australian Car Industry? : insights from a history of Repco, 1951-1987.

    3.30pm - 4.00pm

    Florian Ploeckl (University of Adelaide)

    Uniform Service? The Regional Efficiency of a Public Monopolist and the case of the Reichspost of the German Empire

    4.00pm - 4.30pm

    Gabriel D Donleavy (University of Western Sydney)

    Mid Century English Bankruptcy Patterns

    4.30pm - 5.00pm

    Bo Cheng, Yan and Susan Newberry (The University of Sydney)

    Paradoxes and tensions in New Public Management Reforms: the case of New Zealand's Earthquake Commission