Module A: Government and its effect on business
In this module we examine the political context in which business operates. Since politics has such an important influence on business, a sound understanding of government business relations requires familiarity with the major political institutions, processes and actors. We will explore how political systems are characterised by specific structures that determine how power is allocated amongst the various levels of government. The way a political system is structured is important because it impacts on business in terms of infrastructure and regulations. Furthermore, we will gain an insight into political institutions such as parliament and cabinet, as well as political actors like parties, interest groups and individual politicians; they all play an important role in shaping the political and subsequently the business environment.
Module B: Government and business interactions
In this module we will examine the impact of globalisation on the interaction between business and government in various contexts, starting with Australia and then examining America, China, Japan and Europe. In each case we will focus on a different aspect of government business relations, and make a comparative exploration of the responses of particular countries to the challenges of dealing with the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) against the background of globalization. The challenge has been to provide a pragmatic pathway out of the crisis without contributing to the public disenchantment that has accompanied the economic decline. The economic changes associated with the financial and economic downturn have had significant impacts on governments and business around the globe.
Module C: Government Business Relations and sustainable governance
As government and business are the key actors driving development activities, responsibility for sustainability should now underpin their relationship. This module examines the notion of ‘sustainable governance’. Incorporating the insights of sustainable development, and the broader responsibilities assigned to the corporate sector, sustainable governance seeks to establish an effective partnership between these different political, economic and social elements for the purpose of protecting society and the environment. We identify the challenges of sustainability in the financial, corporate, environmental and industry sectors, and discuss the kinds of governance approaches best able to respond to these challenges. The issue of sustainability highlights business responsibility to their shareholders, government responsibility to their citizens and, in both cases, to the broader society and environment in which they operate.
Texts and Supporting Materials
Prescribed Texts (two):
van Acker, E., Eccleston, R, Hollander, R., and Williams, P. 2013 Politics for Business Students: A Comparative Introduction. Frenchs Forest: Pearson Education. This book will provide the required readings for the first part of the course.
van Acker, E. and Curran, G. (eds) 2013. Government and Business in Volatile Times. Frenchs Forest: Pearson Education. This book will provide the required readings for the second part of the course.
These texts will be available as a package from the bookshop on each campus, though second-hand copies may be available from last year’s students. The reading for each topic should be completed before the relevant tutorial.
Beyond the prescribed texts described above the following provide an excellent introduction to politics. Please note that some of these books will be available at the ‘closed reserve’ section in the library. Please check the online catalogue.
- Carroll, P. and Eccleston, R. (eds) 2008. Regulating International Business. Frenchs Forest: Pearson Education.
- Heywood, Andrew. 2007. Politics, 3rd edition. Basingstoke: Palgrave.
- Woodward, D., Parkin, A., and Summers, J. (eds) 2010. Government, Politics, Power and Policy in Australia, 9th edition. Frenchs Forest: Pearson Education.
- Singleton, G. et al 2010. Australian Political Institutions, 9th edition. Frenchs Forest: Pearson Education.
- Ward, I. and Stewart, R.G. 2010. Politics One, 4th edition. South Yarra: Palgrave Macmillan, chapter 1.
If you are in your first year at university, you may be interested in the following ‘how to’ guide which offers useful study hints.
- Marshall, L. and Rowland, F. 2006. A Guide to Learning Independently, Frenchs Forest, NSW: Pearson Education
- BUSINESS SUBMISSION OR ESSAY 1500 words 40%
Submission: Assignment submission will be online. Further details will be available closer to submission date.
Minimum of 8 references required for both business submission and essay.
- WORKSHOPS (ASSESSMENT 1 and ASSESSMENT 2 online) 20%
There are two components to this assessment task:
- 10% is based on attendance AND ability to cooperate in class discussion with evidence of satisfactory completion of the required reading, and any other activities as requested by your tutor.
- The other 10% is based on TWO reading reports (400-500 word length) which will be collected by your tutor in your week 5workshop and in your week 12 workshop Each report is worth 5%. The first report needs to be based on a required reading from lectures 1-4. The second report needs to be based on a required reading from lectures 5-11. These readings are outlined in the Workshop and Reading Guide section of the Course Guide.
Assessment – General Information
You must use the Harvard referencing system to acknowledge sources referred to in your business submission or essay. The Harvard system is similar to the APA system except that you are required to provide page numbers both for direct quotes and when you paraphrase the ideas of other authors. A more detailed description of the Harvard referencing system can be found at L@G in the assessment folder. If you are unsure about referencing see your tutor.
If you are unsure if you have referenced your work properly you should submit a draft to SafeAssign. SafeAssign enables students to submit electronic versions of their assignments via the internet, and generate a text-matching report. This service is designed to aid in educating students about plagiarism and the importance of proper attribution of any borrowed content. It is recommended that all students utilise this service prior to submitting assignments. A student user guide is available at the following site:
You should note that where an essay is incorrectly or insufficiently referenced according to standard styles, it will be penalised or returned without marking.
- BUSINESS SUBMISSION 40%
Note you must choose the Business Submission assignment OR the essay assignment.
You are required to prepare a 1500 word business submission on behalf of an interest group, firm or business association on a hypothetical government inquiry. The objective of the submission is to clearly outline the interests and concerns held by business in relation to the policy issue central to the inquiry scenario. This process will also involve reviewing and expanding the existing policy position held by the firm or organization you are representing. The central objective of the submission is to make a case as to why government should follow the advice contained in the submission. The key is to research and develop a clear argument in relation to the policy issue and to present it in a persuasive manner.
You are a political lobbyist and have been contracted by a leading firm, business association or non-business stakeholder to prepare a submission promoting the interests of one of your clients in relation to a government review or proposed review of one of the policy issues listed below. To assist you with this exercise, names of potential clients have been suggested. You may prepare a submission on behalf of another relevant party of your choosing; however you must check the suitability of your choice with your tutor before proceeding.
While there is no one single ‘best’ way to structure a business submission, we recommend that your submission should have a brief introductory section which covers the following issues:
- Name and background of your client
- The issue(s) you are addressing
- The historical background of the issue
The main section of the submission (the body) needs to clearly identify both the main issues your client wishes to raise in relation to the Government’s proposal and present evidence and persuasive arguments in support of the policy approach your client recommends. It should also include possible counter-arguments and your rebuttal to these. The use of subheadings is encouraged.
A minimum of 8 references is required, which should include some academic sources. All material drawn from these references must be appropriately cited. Use SafeAssign (see Assessment: General Information above) if unsure.
CHOOSE ONE OF THE FOLLOWING POLICY ISSUES:
- Cutting Penalty Rates for weekend and out-of-hours work
Penalty rates were introduced when Monday to Friday 9 to 5, or a 40 hour week, were the workplace norm. Traditionally, arguments in favour of penalty rates centred around a norm where males (mostly) worked full time. Weekends were the only time families had together for socialising, recreation and worship. If required to work on weekends, workers were paid penalty rates in compensation for lost family time and forgoing these weekend activities. Under the penalty rates system employees are paid a higher rate when working during public holidays, weekends, overtime, late night shifts or early morning shifts.
Industry maintains societal changes over the past thirty years mean these arguments are no longer sustainable. Today economies operate on a 24 hour/365 days cycle as society demands more flexibility in the form of extended hours, particularly in industries such as the retail, hospitality and food and beverage industries.
While industries have responded to these demands, working conditions, specifically the payment of penalty rates, have not significantly changed – a situation industry claims is unsustainable as wages costs increase. Business peak body, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry said: “If we are going to turn around increasing unemployment in this country we must honestly look at all the workplace reform options – including greater flexibility when it comes to working what have been traditionally called unsociable hours …” (ACCI Media Release 22 January 2015).
However it is also these industries that have high concentration of casual, youth and part time employment. Workers in these categories are traditionally low paid and often reliant upon penalty loadings, which can be as high as 275% increase for work on a public holiday.
In a recent landmark agreement, Business South Australia (employer group) and the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association (trade union) agreed to scrap penalty rates for Saturday work and halve Sunday penalty rates in that State http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-03-24/template-enterprise-agreement-retail-sector-south-australia/6342712 Business groups are now calling for similar changes to be implemented across Australia, while other trade unions, such as the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union vigorously oppose change to penalty rates. The Health Services Union, for example, maintain workers in rural areas will be particularly disadvantaged by the loss of penalty rates. See McKell Institute Report http://takethetime.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/McKell_Penalty_Rates_WEB.pdf
The issue of penalty rates became the key focus of a Productivity Commission review and application for changes in penalty rates has now been introduced to the Fair Work Commission for decision. In particular, there is argument that Sunday and public holiday penalty rates should be lowered to the same as Saturday rates.
You are invited to prepare a submission to the Federal Government on behalf of one of the following stakeholders:
Tourism Accommodation Australia:
Australian Council of Trade Unions:
Health Services Union:
Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Union:
Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union:
- Closure of Greyhound Racing in Queensland:
The Premier of New South Wales Mike Baird created a storm when he announced greyhound racing will be banned in that state from 1st July 2017. This decision caught the industry and the wider public by surprise. This industry has, over a number of years, attracted attention for poor practices mostly related to animal cruelty. Operated as a States issue, over time, governments in several States have made policy changes, mostly on an incremental basis, and with varying degrees of success in cleaning up the industry.
A 4 Corners program and its confronting content brought the issue to public attention in 2015. A public campaign to shut down the industry ensued, with several States, including Queensland claiming further policy changes in order to prevent such cruelties continuing. Mike Baird, as premier of New South Wales, went further and ordered an Inquiry into the industry, conducted by High Court Justice Michael McHugh. Justice McHugh’s Report was the catalyst for the NSW government decision to shut down the industry. See below for links to both the 4 Corners program and the Commission of Inquiry into Greyhound Racing.
A complete shut-down of an industry is a rarity and is not usually ordered until after much policy debate and public consultation. The decision by Baird, while viewed by some as a good policy outcome, has garnered much criticism for its perceived haste and lack of consultation. As a response to the decision of the NSW government, the ACT government has followed suit and announced the end of greyhound racing in that Territory. Not surprisingly the Queensland government is facing mounting pressure to close down the industry in Queensland. You have been approached by one of the following organisations to prepare a submission advising the government as to whether the NSW approach takes sufficient account of stakeholder interests. You may represent one of the following clients:
Australian Racing Greyhound:
Greyhound Owners, Trainers and Breeders of Victoria:
Council of Small Business Australia:
- Chinese Foreign Investment and Ownership
The Australian economy has always been highly dependent on foreign direct investment (FDI) but the issue has also often aroused political passions. Recent contentious cases surrounding Chinese investment in Australian property have aroused anxiety in some quarters. For example, in April 2016 it was reported that Chinese investment in real estate had doubled, with the Foreign Investment Review Board annual report showing China as by far the biggest foreign buyer of property, spending $24.3 billion in 2014-15, contributing to the dramatic rise in home prices in capital cities (http://www.domain.com.au/news/chinese-investments-in-australian-property-doubles-as-firb-real-estate-approvals-overall-jump-75-per-cent-20160408-go2czj/).
At the same time Peter Jennings, head of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute and advisor to government, warned that politicians should not be dazzled by Chinese money when selling critical infrastructure such as ports and electricity networks because of the close association of Chinese business and government: “Chinese companies … do not, when they go overseas, disclose the role of the party in terms of a company’s decision making, and do not describe … how that can link back to the Chinese intelligence establishment.” (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-04-13/security-expert-issues-warning-on-chinese-investment/7323352)
The federal government has usually been enthusiastic about inviting foreign investment in Australia, with only minimal restrictions left on certain sectors of the economy such as real estate and the media. However, the Government has come under criticism for not doing enough to ensure that such investment is beneficial, particularly with regard to China.
In response the federal government has announced an inquiry into the regulation of foreign investment. You have been approached by one of the following organisations to prepare a submission advising the government as to whether its current approach takes sufficient account of the benefits to the local economy or to the national interest more broadly defined, and whether tighter restrictions on foreign investment are needed. Ensure your research and submission considers the impact on both business and the community of any change in the government’s approach. You may represent one of the following clients:
- Australian Strategic Policy Institute
- Business Council of Australia
- Australian Business Forum
- Australia China Business Council
- Australian Farm Institute
- Association of Mining and Exploration Companies
[You might find chapter 4 in the textbook useful for this issue: Xu Yi-chong 2013, ‘How Foreign Investment Oils the World’s Economy,’ in Government and Business in Volatile Times. You might also consult this report, Demystifying China (http://demystifyingchina.com.au/reports/demystifying-chinese-investment-in-australia-april-2016.pdf)
- ESSAY 40%
The Essay is an ALTERNATIVE to the business submission. DO NOT do both.
Choose one of the following essay questions. Answers can use examples from any country to illustrate a concept or argument, provided the examples are relevant.
- Globalisation has recently become a significant political issue because of the perceived unfairness of economic outcomes, including loss of jobs for working class people in developed countries and sweatshop conditions of cheap labour in developing countries. Using an assessment of the winners and losers involved, discuss whether globalisation is a positive outcome for society.
- ‘In its relations with government, big business usually gets its own way either through the influence of highly paid lobbyists or through the capacity to circumvent regulations.’ Evaluate this claim.
- Donald Trump based his US presidential bid on the claim that he was a businessman who understood the nature of business and how to resolve difficult issues by negotiating successful deals. Would you agree that governments would benefit by having more business-people in power rather than professional politicians?
In the structure of the essay, it is very important that you have a clear introduction that sets out what argument you are making and how you intend to make and support it. The body will consist of points in support of your position. The conclusion restates the arguments and offers some observations based on your research.
A minimum of 8 references is required, which should include academic sources. All material drawn from these references must be appropriately cited. Use SafeAssign (see Assessment: General Information above) if unsure.
ESSAYS AND SUBMISSIONS: PRESENTATION & REQUIREMENTS
Written assignments must conform to the standards specified below:
* Completed assignment cover sheet (from the library).
* A title page with your name, student number, title of essay/submission and word length must be included.
* The font size must be read comfortably.
* The following examples should be used as a guide: Arial – 10 point and Times Roman – 12 point.
* Line spacing is either double or 1½.
* Both margins (left and right) are at least 3 cm.
* Pages are numbered.
* References cited in the text conform to the Harvard reference style. If a reference is taken from a particular page, or pages, within the article or book, then the page number(s) must be included. The format should include the author, date of publication, and page number.
* When words are taken directly from other sources (books, articles and web sites) and reproduced in an essay/submission quotation marks must be used.
* A reference list is attached and the entries are in alphabetical order by author.
* The assignment has been proof read.
- GUIDED DISCUSSION WITH PEERS 20%
Workshops are a valuable part of the learning experience. They are not mini-lectures but rather they provide a forum for you to explore issues and aspects that interest you, to test ideas and develop arguments, and to ask questions. The success of a workshop depends on its members, their preparation, and a willingness to play an active role. The workshop questions (outlined below) provide a starting point for discussion and the emphasis will be on exploring current examples and contemporary issues.
The two components of the workshop:
(a) 10% of your workshop mark is based on attendance AND participation in class discussion with evidence of satisfactory completion of the required reading, and any other activities as requested by your tutor. An important note regarding the 10% allocated for attendance and participation: it is not sufficient to just attend the workshop; half of the mark is determined by your level of participation and engagement in workshop activities and discussions, as well as evidence that the required reading has been done.
(b) The other 10% is based on TWO reading reports which will be collected by your tutor in your week 5 workshop and in your week 12 workshop. Each report is worth 5%. Please use the template provided at L@G for each report, which gives you the necessary guidelines.