Specialisation: industrial relations, wages, employer associations, industrial arbitration, trade unions
Date of Passing: 22/12/2013
Professor David Plowman AM FASSA passed away on 22nd December 2013 after a short illness. David had a lengthy and distinguished career as an academic teacher, researcher and leader within universities and was known to almost everyone in the industrial relations community of students, academics and practitioners.
David completed an Honours degree in Economics from The University of Western Australia (UWA) and a Graduate Diploma in Teaching from the University of South Australia. He later won a scholarship to Melbourne University where he completed his Master of Arts degree in Industrial Relations. He completed his doctorate on the role of employer associations in Australian wage determination through The Flinders University of South Australia under the supervision of Professor Keith Hancock AO FASSA.
David was the author and co-author of more than 130 journal articles and over 20 books, including a widely used introductory general textbook on Australian industrial relations. David was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia in 1994. His lasting commitment to industrial relations was recognised in 2013 when he was presented with the Vic Taylor Distinguished Long Term Contribution Award by the Association of Industrial Relations Academics for Australia and New Zealand (AIRAANZ).
Apart from his notable research contributions, David also played a vital leadership role in universities. At the University of New South Wales he headed the School of Industrial Relations and Organisational Behaviour. In 1993 when he returned to Perth, he became the Foundation Director of the Graduate School of Management at the University of Western Australia. Within the UWA Business School he subsequently was a very active member of the School’s Management team and was responsible for a number of initiatives as the Director of Postgraduate Programs. Within the wider university, David was elected Chair of the Academic Board, and chaired numerous committees. He was awarded the prestigious Chancellor’s Medal in recognition of his outstanding contribution to UWA.
David was born in Malta during World War II and he and his brother Jim were placed in an orphanage at a very young age. In 1953, at the age of 10, David and Jim arrived at Tardun Farm School east of Mullewa in Western Australia, as part of the child migrant scheme. Without parents or family, the life of schoolwork and farming chores was tough although at. His Tardun classmates, some also from Malta, became family to him and remained very close throughout his life. In 20012, David became Chair of the Child Migrants of Malta and he was awarded an Order of Australia in 2012 in recognition of these and other services to the community. David continued to work very closely with former child migrants, assisting them to reunite with their families.
David was a very generous colleague –to individual staff, students and the university. Many sought his advice and his door was always open regardless of his own work pressures. He was particularly interested in the work of Honours and doctoral students and also very encouraging of junior staff. Many of his junior colleagues and students went on to achieve successful careers at universities across Australia.
David was passionately committed to the betterment of universities and worked tirelessly to achieve that not for his own career goals but because he wanted them to be excellent places for students to learn and for colleagues to work.
David was a gentleman with clarity of mind, although rather determined in his views and did not hesitate to engage with those with whom he disagreed. He maintained a sharp wit which didn’t altogether desert him in his final months. Above all was willing to give of himself to individuals and the betterment of society. David leaves much for us to remember him by.
Patricia Todd, The University of Western Australia, and
Russell Lansbury, University of Sydney
D Plowman and J Sodhi (2001), Economic Change and Industrial Relations: India and Australia. Perth: Scholastic Press
D Plowman, S Deery, J Wash and M Browne (2001), Industrial Relations: A Contemporary Analysis. Sydney: McGraw Hill
D Plowman (2003), Enduring Struggle: St Mary's Tardun Farm School. Perth: Scholastic Press Australia
D Plowman (2004), Employers' Associations and Compulsory Arbitration, in The New Province for law and Order pp 241 - 274. J Isaac and S Macintyre (eds). Melbourne: Cambridge University Press
D Plowman and G Chalkin (2004), The Origins of Compulsory Arbitration in Western Australia, in The Journal of Industrial Relations, 46(1): 53 - 83