Defend Sue Morphet!

Sue Morphet is a highly-successful businesswoman. Currently, she is CEO of Pacific Brands — an extremely demanding role. Despite this, Sue also plays an important role in the worlds of fashion and feminism, being on the Board of Directors of the L’Oréal Melbourne Fashion Festival, and helping to nurture the fruits of the women’s movement in her capacity as a member of Chief Executive Women.

Given these and myriad other responsibilities, Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan’s recent comments on executive salaries are both unfair and untenable. According to Swan — himself on a rather generous salary — “I think Australians want to see a fair system for all and I think they are rightly sickened when they see some executives walk away with large payments and many workers walk away with virtually nothing” (Swan slams ‘sickening’ executive salaries, The Age, February 27, 2009).

His comments came two days after Pacific Brands announced it was axing 1800 jobs, even though the company’s executive received pay rises.

Pacific Brands chief executive Sue Morphet was paid $1.86 million last year, her first year in the job, compared to $685,775 in 2007 when she was the company’s group general manager of underwear and hosiery.

Her predecessor as chief executive, Peter Moore, received a $3.4 million retirement payment that took his total package for 2008 to $5.8 million.

Overall, the 13 executives of 2008 received $15.4 million between them, including Mr Moore’s payout.

In 2007, 10 executives received a total of $7 million.

And so they should.

Whether the outsourcing decision was right or wrong, we’ll probably never know, but it’s safe to assume the CEO and her board agonised about scrapping so much local manufacturing and making 1800 people redundant. Certainly, multi-millionaire model Sarah Murdoch — while enjoying champagne and lobster canapes on the Queen Mary 2 in Sydney Harbour yesterday — expressed very similar sentiments.

In any case, capitalism is a risky business, and steering enterprises on a safe course through the stormy waters of the free market is seldom easy. Those who do manage to accomplish this task obviously deserve to be rewarded, and well.

Finally, it’s untrue to imply that the business class is inconsiderate or uncaring. In fact, 2009 L’Oréal Melbourne Fashion Festival Director Karen Webster’s thoughts on this year’s Festival are a clarion call: “Times are tough, there is a sense of anxiety and fear that pervades business including fashion retail. When times get tough — the tough get creative. In times of adversity it is only more important to rise above the clutter of mediocrity. So, for 2009 L’Oréal Melbourne Fashion Festival bans the bland!”

Sacked workers would do well to take note of Karen’s call, stop their complaints, demonstrate some grit, and get creative.

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2024 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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8 Responses to Defend Sue Morphet!

  1. Jamie R says:

    In any case, capitalism is a risky business

    Manufacturing is disappearing from this country because we don’t have a just system financially. We’ll never have capitalism as long as we have central banks. As Jon Stewart of the Daily Show once asked Alan Greenspan:

    Jon Stewart: Many people are free-market capitalists, and they always talk about free-market capitalism, and that is our economic theory. So why do we have a Fed? Is the free market – wouldn’t the market take care of interest rates and all that? Why do we have someone adjusting the rates if we are a free-market society?

    Alan Greenspan: (blah blah blahs on, then this nugget) You need somebody to determine – or some mechanism – how much money is out there.

    Stewart: So we’re not a free market then.

    Greenspan: No. No.

    Stewart: There’s a visible – there’s a benevolent hand that touches us.

    Greenspan: Absolutely. You’re quite correct. To the extent that there is a central bank governing the amount of money in the system, that is not a free market. Most people call it regulation.

    So we get our answer! Alan Greenspan has always known the answer, and then he just put himself in the hotseat, the entire current global financial crisis can be blamed on poor management of this ‘regulation’. And who was it in charge for almost the last 20 years?

    China pegs its currency to the US Dollar, so as the US Dollar drops they ‘keep the balance’ which continues to give them more advantages in low-cost manufacturing. The fact that the Chinese economy is perceived as a booming one should be making their currency rise. Europeans don’t like this, as many others don’t either (like us). And it ALL comes back to central banks controlling the supply of money unjustly.

  2. Paul Justo says:

    $1.86 million!

    Luckily the proletarian masses are too busy with ‘Greatest Loser’ whilst paying inflated prices for McDonald’s.,23599,25108515-421,00.html?from=public_rss

    “Arise ye starvlings…” – me bollix!

  3. professor rat says:

    Government assisted private schools who have been preaching excellence for years now will surely agree with your post @ndy…unless they are part of the 30% of the HSC students qualifying for special treatment at exam time…those poor kids are sick.

    As Paul Keating once said, the best view of Australia is from a flight to France.

  4. Jamie R says:

    As Paul Keating once said, the best view of Australia is from a flight to France.

    Sounds like Alexander Downer. Maybe he was projecting about the bastard-child of the aristocracy.

  5. @ndy says:

    “…While the Australian Council of Trade Unions supported Pacific Brands by saying it was planning to sack workers before the global financial crisis hit, president Sharon Burrow scathed [?!?] the increases of directors’ pay packets, with figures showing total salaries for 13 directors more than doubled last year even when they knew of the plans to sack workers…”

    Q. Which Parliamentary seat has been preserved for Shazza?

    Greg Combet – ACTU Secretary 2000-2007
    Parliamentary Secretary for Defence Procurement
    Federal Member for Charlton

    Bill Kelty
    ACTU Secretary 1983-2000

    Jennie George – ACTU President 1996-2000
    Federal Member for Throsby

    Martin Ferguson – ACTU President 1990-1996
    Federal Member for Batman
    Minister for Resources and Energy
    Minister for Tourism

    Simon Crean – ACTU President 1985-1990
    Federal Member for Hotham
    Minister for Trade

    Bob Hawke – ACTU President 1969-1980
    Federal Member for Wills 1980-1992

  6. ForAnarchy&Liberty says:

    I agree with you wholeheatedly.

    The Stalinist Rudd Government should get out of the way and let free markets reward excellence and achievement, delivering prosperity and liberty for all.

  7. @ndy says:


  8. @ndy says:

    The Age, Wednesday January 28, 2009:

    “A San Francisco creative agency has the fix for Americans stressed by the financial crisis: Squeeze-the-Banker dolls. The dolls come in likenesses of Wall Street names Alan Greenspan, Ben Bernanke and Henry Paulson and are billed as “cheaper than a psychologist or Prozac”.”

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