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Event_

How the Waterfront dispute changed industrial relations in Australia

Power, politics, the press and how they have affected today's labour market
Join labour expert Professor Shae McCrystal, and Walkley Award-winning journalists Pamela Williams and Quentin Dempster, for a conversation about the nature of work in Australia.

Event details
Date and time:
 Monday 28 October, 6 – 7.30pm
Venue: Charles Perkins Centre Auditorium
The University of Sydney (Camperdown/Darlington Campus)
Entry: free and open to all with online registrations essential

John Howard, described the 1998 Waterfront Dispute as 'the most bitterly fought domestic issue of my whole time as prime minister'. The dispute was a major industrial battle that saw logistics company Patrick Corporation restructure its operations to dismiss its heavily unionised workforce.

The immediate impact improved productivity on the wharves; longer term, it was the battle that forged a generation of trade unionists. Today, Australia’s industrial landscape looks more dispersed. The economic outlook is increasingly precarious and gig economy is thriving. What then is place and power for unions today?

Join us for this special Sydney Ideas conversation with a Walkley-winning investigative journalist and, an industrial law expert, and current newspaper editor  as we explore the intersection of politics and media, and what the landscape looks like for shifting industrial relations.

Pamela Williams won the 1998 Gold Walkley for her investigation into the federal government’s strategy to break the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) amid the Waterfront Dispute. She highlighted the financial, industrial and political connections surrounding the battle and revealed documents showing the government’s key role in attempts to reform the waterfront by tackling union power.

In this event, Pamela will unpack the nexus between unions and politics with Professor Shae McCrystal, Deputy Head of School and Deputy Dean of University of Sydney Law School and an expert on labour, industrial and workplace laws. Walkley Award-winning journalist and author Quentin Dempster will moderate the conversation.

Walkley Foundation logo

This event is co-presented with The Walkley Foundation. You may also be interested in our other other event collaboration, Public interest and toxic chemicals on September 19. 

Event information

This event is free and open to all but online registration is essential.

Simply click the 'Register now' button or follow this link.

Entry to ticket holders will be prioritised and given on a first-in, best-dressed basis until the room reaches capacity. If an event is full, this may result in standing room or delayed admittance until an appropriate time.

We recommend early arrival to allow time for finding the venue and securing a seat to the event. Doors open 15 minutes before the advertised start time. 

If you could not register but would like to attend, you are welcome to join a stand-by queue on the night as seats may become available due to late cancellations. Please note, this is not guaranteed so you come at risk of non-admittance.

This venue provides infrared hearing system. You can take the lift down to Level B1 to reach the Auditorium Foyer. There are wheelchair spaces available for seating.

Access requirements

If you have other access requirements or want more information, get in touch with us on 9351 2943 or email sydney.ideas@sydney.edu.au with 'Access | Oct 28 – unions' in the subject line at the earliest opportunity to allow us time to organise for any additional services in time for the event.

Charles Perkins Centre Auditorium is on Level 1 of the building opposite Charles Perkins Centre Hub on John Hopkins Drive (next to Royal Prince Alfred Hospital), off Missenden Road.

You can also enter via the Ross Street entrance: the venue is next to the ovals.

Public transport

The closest bus stop is the University of Sydney Ross Street Gate, Parramatta Road (Opposite Glebe Officeworks). It is a five-minute walk to the venue. Use the University Campus Map tool to locate the bus stop. You can take the bus from Central Station (routes 412, 413, 436, 438, 440, 461, 480).

The venue is roughly a 30 minute walk from Redfern station.

There is some on-street parking around Forest Lodge and Glebe.

There is also paid parking available at Western Avenue Carpark. Head to the University's Parking page for more information about fees and opening hours.

Use the University Campus Maps tool to find out more details about parking and access areas: search for the 'Charles Perkins Centre'. 

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