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Kingsley Laffer Memorial Lecture

Learn more about our annual lecture
Kingsley Laffer was the founding father of industrial relations at the University of Sydney and a pioneer of teaching and research in Australian industrial relations.
Russell Lansbury

2021 Lecture

Transforming our Future: A New Social Contract at Work

Emeritus Professor Russell Lansbury

  • Wednesday 19 May 2020, 1.00 - 2.00pm

View the lecture recording

The COVID crisis impels us to think about the future of work and employment relations in many dimensions. Drawing on his recently published memoir Crossing Boundaries: Work and Industrial Relations in Perspective, Russell Lansbury reflects on changes over the past 50 years. He proposes a new social contract at work based on three pillars:
Full employment: Creating and sustaining an active labour market policy which provides assistance for those displaced from jobs in order to gain meaningful work.
Revitalising post-secondary education: Providing an easier transition between vocational and tertiary education to ensure that students can exercise greater choice and flexibility
Workplace reform: In order to achieve fairness and equity at work, there needs to be greater social partnership between workers and their unions, employers and government.
A new social contract at work is needed in order to give hope to younger Australians for the future while providing social and economic security to older members of society.

Russell Lansbury is Emeritus Professor of Work and Organisational Studies at the University of Sydney. He was the Foundation Director of the Australian Centre of Industrial Relations, an Australian Research Council Key Research Centre, and was Associate Dean in the University of Sydney Business School. He holds an MA from the University of Melbourne and a PhD from the London School of Economics. He has been a Senior Fulbright Scholar at Harvard and MIT, a visiting researcher at the Swedish Institute for Working Life (Arbetslivsinstitutet) and has undertaken assignments for the ILO and OECD. He has been awarded honorary doctorates by Lulea Technical University in Sweden and Macquarie University in Australia. His research has focused on international and comparative employment relations. He has been President of the International Labour and Employment Relations Association (ILERA). He is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia and has an Order of Australia (AO) for contributions to industrial relations and higher education.

Past lectures

The inaugural Kingsley Laffer Memorial Lecture was given in 1993 by the Hon Bob Hawke. Laffer Lecturers have also included:

  • 2019: David Weil
  • 2018: Tanya Plibersek
  • 2017: Chris Howell
  • 2016: Tim Soutphommasane
  • 2015: Jennifer Westacott
  • 2014: Peter Wilson
  • 2013: Iain Ross
  • 2012: Helen Conway
  • 2011: Thomas A. Kochan
  • 2010: Sue Bussell
  • 2009: Russell Lansbury
  • 2008: Tim Costello
  • 2007: Julia Gillard
  • 2006: Kim Beazley
  • 2005: Ron McCallum
  • 2004: Heather Ridout
  • 2003: Russell Lansbury
  • 2002: Michael Kirby
  • 2001: Sharan Burrow
  • 2000: Brian Pickett
  • 1999: Quentin Bryce
  • 1998: Bill Fisher
  • 1997: Jeff Shaw
  • 1996: Jennie George
  • 1995: Deirdre O'Connor
  • 1994: Bert Evans
  • 1993: Bob Hawke

About Kingsley Laffer

At the time of his retirement from the University of Sydney in 1976, Kingsley Laffer was Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Industrial Relations within the Faculty of Economics. Kingsley was the founding editor of the Journal of Industrial Relations for 18 years. He also helped establish the Industrial Relations Society of NSW, which later became a national organisation.

Born in Western Australia on 28 February 1911, Kingsley Laffer became an external student of Economics at the University of Western Australia while working in the country. He was the first external student to be awarded the Hackett Bursary. After graduating with first class honours, he taught briefly at the University of Melbourne and then joined the University of Sydney in 1944. He was a member of the academic staff at Sydney for more than three decades. After his retirement, Kingsley became the first Fellow of the Nepean College of Advanced Education (now part of the University of Western Sydney) where he helped develop academic programs in industrial relations.