Ian Harper

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Professor Ian Harper is the head of the Australian Fair Pay Commission, a new body being established by the Howard government as part of its proposed Industrial Relations reforms.

Ian Harper is a prominent economist and director of the Melbourne Business School. He is also a member of the Centre for Independent Studies' council of academic advisors and introduced their recent lecture by the Australian Christian Lobby's Jim Wallace.

Harper is a lay preacher and is aligned with the conservative wing of the Anglican Church. In a speech to the Australian Christian Lobby in October 2005, he said that he would use his new post to do "God's will", and would ask his "church connections" to help put him in touch with low-paid workers who might be affected by decisions made in his new position (unlike the Industrial Relations Commission, which the Fair Pay Commission is intended to replace, the new body's decisions are final and will not be made through a process of arbitration).

Harper is quoted as saying that "I don't meet many low-paid people in my line of work, so I've got to find ways of getting to that constituency". [1]

According to the ABC's AM Program, "...the Fair Pay Commission boss has previously condemned the concept, established in the famous Harvester Judgement of 1907, of a "fair and reasonable" wage. Ian Harper has also expressed approval for the wage rates paid in the sweatshops of lower Manhattan some time ago, arguing that low-skilled workers should be paid in line with their low productivity." [2]

He has also previously argued against the forgiveness of debts owed by poor countries [3]

Company Director Controversy

On December 21 2005 it was revealed on ABC Radio's AM program that Ian Harper was a director of the now-defunct company "Australian Derivatives Exchange Limited" (ADX), when it allegedly traded while insolvent: "The company owed workers more than $700,000 when it was placed in administration and the administrators found there was an arguable case that the directors had breached company law." [4]

ADX withheld superannuation benefits from employees for a period of years before finally paying them [5]

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