Monday, 25 March 2019 Sydney

Invest In Australia News::

  • Energy bonus cheques

    I welcome Westpac’s apology regarding the special energy bonus.

    I am extremely disappointed that despite repeated assurances, not all cheques were despatched by Westpac’s mail distribution provider in the timeframe we were advised they had been.

    I was first made aware of a potential issue at Westpac's end on Tuesday afternoon, and we have spent the past 24 hours talking to Westpac and getting to the bottom of the problem.

    I share the frustration of many Tasmanians who have not yet received their cheques, and have expressed these frustrations directly to senior Westpac management.

  • Further upgrade to South Coast Track

    The South Coast Track is one of Tasmania’s great bushwalks, and the completion of recent upgrades has significantly improved the user experience along the track before the start of the peak walking season.

    The upgrades have resulted in a new track alignment that includes a footbridge to replace an 800 metre section of the track, resulting in a better experience for walkers and better protecting the dunes from Milford Creek to the Prion Bay exit on Wierah Hill.

    We have a goal for tourists to stay longer and spend more in our regional areas, and upgrades like this will ensure a high-class visitor experience in our stunning natural areas.

  • Banks should not make moral judgements on businesses

    The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman says banks are discriminating against the legitimate adult industry by withdrawing or failing to provide financial services.

    Ombudsman Kate Carnell has written to the Australian Bankers Association, expressing her concern.

    “It’s a bit rich for the banks to decide which industries are moral and which aren’t,” Ms Carnell said.

  • Small business export potential rises

    Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell, predicts 2018 will be a year of strong growth for small business exporters.

    Ms Carnell said Australia’s International Business Survey 2017 showed there’s greater confidence among businesses that are already exporting.

    In agriculture and wholesaling, two thirds of businesses believe the outlook is better than the previous two years.

  • Notable achievements in 2017 for small businesses

    The small business sector enjoyed some notable achievements in 2017 but challenges loom on several policy fronts, according to Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell.

    Ms Carnell said her inquiries this year into small business loans and payment times had yielded significant benefits for small businesses.

    “A highlight was the Federal Government announcing it will introduce 15-business-day payment terms for small business suppliers,” she said.

    “There has also been improved payment performance from many big businesses following my inquiry and the adoption of a voluntary code.

  • Multi-Million Dollar Reform Package To Secure Sustainable Fishing Future

    Thursday 28 December 2017

    In the biggest fisheries shake-up in decades, the State Government will spend $20 million to buy back up to a third of South Australia's Marine Scalefish fishing licenses.

    This will help to ensure snapper, whiting and garfish stocks are available for future generations of South Australians to catch and enjoy.

    The multi-million structural reform package will provide better access for recreational fishers, economic viability for commercial fishers and greater sustainability for the fishery overall.

  • New banking code – the umpire’s decision isn’t final

    The revised Banking Code of Practice has some positive initiatives for small business but there are unresolved issues with power imbalance and dispute resolution.

    That’s the view of Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell, who was consulted on a draft version of the code which was provided to ASIC this week for approval.

    Ms Carnell said she was concerned the code could not be enforced by a proposed Banking Code Compliance Committee.

  • Census shares insights into Australia’s ageing population

    Australians are living longer, but also working later into their lives according to the latest data from the 2016 Census of Population and Housing.

    The proportion of older people in Australia’s labour force has increased over the past 10 years, with the 2016 Census revealing about 14 per cent of people aged 65 years and over were part of our labour force in 2016, up from 9.4 per cent in 2006. In 2016, around one in every five people aged 65 to 74 years (21 per cent) was in the labour force.

    The Census has also revealed that the number of older people is increasing. 

  • Fewer people participating in work-related training

    Participation in work-related training has decreased from 27 per cent in 2013 to 22 per cent in 2016-17 for working age Australians, according to survey data released today from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). Approximately 3.8 million people across the country participated in work-related training in the 12 months prior to the survey.

    ABS expert Stephen Collett said: “The survey results show a decrease in work-related training over about three years. Men’s participation dropped from 27 per cent to 22 per cent, while women’s participation dropped from 27 per cent to 21 per cent.”

  • Two new exciting proposals to boost tourism

    The Hodgman Liberal Government is continuing to unlock new opportunities for sensitive and appropriate tourism developments in our stunning natural areas.

    I am pleased to announce two new projects from award-winning local tourism operator Ian Johnstone have progressed to lease and licence negotiations under our Tourism Opportunities in National Parks, Reserves and Crown Land process.

    A new iconic walking experience in the Southwest National Park has been proposed that will see small groups of visitors fly to Melaleuca and walk the South Coast Track over seven days.

  • Belkin undertakes to honour lifetime warranties

    The ACCC has accepted a court-enforceable undertaking from consumer electronics manufacturer Belkin to honour claims under its lifetime warranty policies for the lifetime of the original purchaser.

    During 2016 and 2017, Belkin supplied certain products with a “lifetime warranty” or “limited lifetime warranty”. However, Belkin applied a policy of only repairing or replacing products under these warranties within the five years from the date of purchase. A disclaimer was not printed on product packaging but was referred to on Belkin’s website.

    Products affected by these “lifetime warranty” claims included wireless routers, switches and cables.

  • Qantas to fly Melbourne to San Francisco

    Qantas will begin four direct flights a week between Melbourne and San Francisco from late next year.

    The new services will add close to 50,000 seats each way every year.

    The announcement means Victoria will soon have two direct services to California, with no other airline currently operating this route. There is currently a direct service between Los Angeles and Melbourne.

    America is Victoria’s fourth largest international visitor market with 223,000 visitors spending A$337 million in the year to September 2017.

  • ACCC seeking feedback on NBN wholesale service standards

    The ACCC has today released a discussion paper for its inquiry into NBN wholesale service standards. These standards are a key part of the commercial arrangements between NBN Co and internet service providers (ISPs) that affect NBN customer experiences.

    The discussion paper seeks views on the service levels that NBN Co commits to in its wholesale contracts around connections, fixing faults and appointments. It also explores issues relating to service providers’ access to rebates or compensation when NBN Co fails to meet its wholesale service commitments.

    The ACCC inquiry will consider whether regulation is necessary to improve customer experiences.

  • BHP and Esso to separately market Gippsland Basin gas

    BHP Billiton Petroleum (Bass Strait) Pty Ltd (BHP) and Esso Australia Resources Pty Ltd (Esso) have provided court enforceable undertakings to separately market their share of gas produced under the Gippsland Basin Joint Venture (GBJV) from 1 January 2019. 

    The ACCC investigated the effect of joint marketing arrangements between BHP and Esso during the period from late 2013 to 2015, after concerns arose about those arrangements during the ACCC’s 2015 East Coast Gas Inquiry.

  • Barossa Valley Cheese Company Expands With Regional Development Fund Grant

    Three years ago, people were lining up outside Victoria McClurg’s cheese-tasting venue at Angaston because they couldn’t fit into the premises.

    Others looked at the crowd at the Barossa Valley Cheese Company and returned later. Ms McClurg doesn't know how many drove away in frustration and perhaps never came back.

  • Optus in court for allegedly misleading 20,000 customers about moving to the NBN

    The ACCC has instituted proceedings in the Federal Court against Optus Internet Pty Ltd (Optus), alleging it misled customers about the need to move quickly from its existing HFC network to the National Broadband Network (NBN).

    The ACCC alleges that between October 2015 and March 2017, Optus made false and misleading representations by writing to its customers to advise it would disconnect their HFC service within a specified time period as the NBN was coming to their area.

    However, the timeframes were earlier than Optus was contractually allowed to cancel the customers’ services.

  • WA building company amends unfair contracts

    Perth based building company, 101 Residential Pty Ltd, has amended its standard home building contract following ACCC concerns that it contained unfair terms and made false or misleading representations.

    Between October 2014 and August 2017, 101 Residential’s building contract contained non-disparagement clauses that allowed it to prohibit customers from publishing any unapproved information about the company, including online reviews.

    The non-disparagement clauses also allowed 101 Residential to remove any published information, suspend work on the customer’s construction site and ultimately terminate a customer’s building contract.

  • Catchdeal, Techrific and BecexTech to offer refunds

    Online electronics retailers, BXT International Ltd (BecexTech) and TCF Global Ltd (which operates Techrific and CatchDeal) have admitted to contravening the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) and provided court-enforceable undertakings to the ACCC.

    Until September 2017, BecexTech, Techrific and CatchDeal advertised electronic goods such as mobile phones and tablet computers as 'new', when they were in fact refurbished.

    Over the last year, the ACCC received 96 complaints about BecexTech, 34 complaints about Techrific and 60 complaints about CatchDeal.

  • ACCC cross-appeals from Unique College judgment

    The ACCC and the Commonwealth (on behalf of the Department of Education and Training) have filed a cross-appeal in the ongoing Federal Court litigation against Unique International College Pty Ltd (Unique).

    In June 2017, the Court found Unique had engaged in systemic unconscionable conduct in New South Wales. The Court found that Unique targeted disadvantaged consumers by offering gifts of laptops, providing financial incentives to its sales representatives and holding sign-up meetings to enrol students.

  • ATO settlements fair in the eyes of the ANAO

    The ATO is effective, comprehensive and fair in using settlements to resolve taxpayer disputes, according to an Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) report released today.

    Deputy Commissioner Debbie Hastings said the ANAO’s review of the ATO’s use of settlements highlights the improvements made in recent years to resolving taxation, superannuation and debt disputes with taxpayers.

    “The ATO does not settle disputes at any cost. The sensible use of settlements is part of our increasing commitment to earlier and more effective dispute resolution, with a focus on ensuring future compliance of the taxpayer,” she said.

  • Melbourne, the preferred location for corporate HQs

    Melbourne has surpassed other Australian capital cities as a corporate location due mostly to declining activity in the resources sector.

    Perth, a corporate centre for mining and energy, lost almost 100 ASX-listed firms to 652 in 2016. Melbourne was the only city to gain between 2013 and 2016.

    That is the period studied by University of Queensland geographer Thomas Sigler, who analysed the distribution of ASX-listed company headquarters in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.

  • Optus to compensate customers for slow NBN speeds

    Optus will offer remedies to more than 8,700 of its customers who were misled about maximum speeds they could achieve on certain Optus NBN plans.

    Between 1 September 2015 and 30 June 2017, Optus offered NBN services to consumers advertising a range of speed plans. This included a “Boost Max” which advertised maximum download speeds of up to 100 megabits per second (Mbps) and maximum upload speeds of up to 40 Mbps (100/40 Mbps).

    Technical limitations on the customers’ fibre to the node (FTTN) or fibre to the building (FTTB) NBN connections, however, meant they could not get the speeds that were advertised.

  • Corporate tax transparency report for 2015–16

    The ATO has today published the corporate tax transparency report for 2015–16 which includes some tax information of more than 2,000 large companies operating in Australia.

    The report includes:

  • Takata airbag warning ahead of holidays

    The ACCC is urging drivers of vehicles with defective Takata airbags installed to check(link is external) if their car is affected by the biggest global vehicle recall in history before driving long distances this summer.