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Expressions of Interest now open for Lord Mayor’s 2018 Business Mission to China

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THE City of Melbourne is encouraging Melbourne companies, entrepreneurs, business owners and start-ups to take part in the 2018 Lord Mayor’s Business Mission to China and Japan.

Expressions of interest are now open to the biennial Business Mission which showcases the best Melbourne has to offer in the fields of innovation, health and life sciences, urban sustainability and general aviation.

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle AC will lead the mission to Osaka, Japan and Tianjin, Beijing, Wuxi and Suzhou, China from March 21-30 next year and said it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“This Business Mission will expose Melbourne companies to potential global investors and business partners by providing a foot in the door to the Asian market,” the Lord Mayor said.

“It’s not only about showcasing and building relationships with China and Japan, but more importantly about getting contracts signed and trade happening with Melbourne based companies.

“In recent years, the relationships and opportunities forged by Business Missions have delivered millions of dollars in trade and investment for Melbourne across a range of fields including biotech, urban design and planning, and education.”

Leffler Simes Architects Director Stephen Evans said his company is now doing business with one of the world’s biggest furniture stores in China after taking part in the Lord Mayor’s Business Mission in 2016.

“The Lord Mayor’s Business Mission helped us expand on our business relationships with IKEA here in Australia. We are currently designing two new stores for IKEA as part of their expansion into China,” Stephen said. “That’s allowed us to hire additional staff here in Melbourne and establish a new office in Shanghai.

“The City of Melbourne’s Business Mission team helped us by setting up meetings with numerous Chinese building developers and design institutes and as a result we’ve now signed two Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) to enable us to co-operate and explore working together.

“Overall, it was a very positive and productive experience for us.”

Businesses, like Leffler Simes, that took part in the 2016 Lord Mayor’s Business Mission were involved in more than 300 tailored business meetings and eight MoUs were signed as a result of the mission.

Applications for the 2018 Lord Mayor’s Business Mission close at 4pm Thursday, 30 November 2017.

When applying to take part, businesses will need to explain what they’d like to achieve by traveling to Japan or China with the City of Melbourne, what their competitive advantage is and include a short profile on their business.

For further enquiries phone 03 9658 9366 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Cash, crime and tax avoidance in retail

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A PARLIAMENTARY committee will discuss at a public hearing tomorrow the connections between tax avoidance, cash activity and crime in the importation and retail of illicit tobacco products.

The hearing is part of the House Committee on Tax and Revenue’s inquiry into Taxpayer Engagement with the Tax System.

At the hearing, Mr Rohan Pike, Illicit Trade Adviser to the Australian Retailers Association, and Mr Jos De Bruin, CEO of the Master Grocers of Australia, will discuss the impact of the illicit tobacco trade on retailers, particularly those small vendors who find themselves in competition with sellers of the cut price illicit product.

Chair of the Committee Mr Kevin Hogan MP said that the Australian Taxation Office is currently working to produce a ‘credible tax gap estimate’ resulting from unpaid tobacco import duties. While the size of the illicit trade is debated, the Australian Border Force’s Tobacco Strike Team has had estimates that the annual revenue loss could be very significant—around $4 billion, or 28 percent of the total tobacco market.

Mr Hogan said that while the Committee is not intending to review Government regulation of the tobacco trade, it is interested in the impact of illicit sales on retailers and how the funds from the trade can feed into cash activity, tax avoidance and its associations with organised crime. 

“The connection between the cash economy and criminal activity is an ongoing challenge for the Australian Tax Office and a concern to the Committee. The removal of certain note denominations and increased enforcement action are potential responses to the problem,” Mr Hogan said.

“The Committee will also want to hear how small business operators end up in the cash economy, and whether tax reforms or improved services could help them better manage cash flow issues and avoid tax debts.”

Public hearing details: 

4.15 pm to 5.30 pm, Wednesday 25 October 2017
Committee Room 1R2, Parliament House, Canberra 

The proceedings will be broadcast live at aph.gov.au/live 

Interested members of the public may wish to track the committee via the website. Click on the blue ‘Track Committee’ button in the bottom right hand corner and use the forms to login to My Parliament or to register for a My Parliament account.

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Simple governance to address city planning complexity

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AUSTRALIAN cities need Metropolitan Planning Authorities to drive strategic land use planning and the development of transformative transport infrastructure, according to the Bus Industry Confederation.

The Confederation will advocate for the introduction of Metropolitan Planning Authorities when it appears before the Committee on Infrastructure, Transport and Cities at a public hearing for an inquiry into the development of cities in Canberra tomorrow.

Committee Chair, John Alexander OAM MP, said the Committee has been grappling with how best to align Australia’s three levels of government to drive the development of more productive, environmentally and socially sustainable cities.

“Australian cities are becoming more and more complex. Many of the concerns we have about our cities, such as traffic congestion, social exclusion and high carbon emissions cannot be effectively addressed without an integrated, system-wide response,” Mr Alexander said.

“We need to identify the best way of aligning federal, state and local governments, and the different public service entities at each level of government, to pursue shared objectives for our cities.”

The Bus Industry Confederation suggested that the difficulties Australian cities have in establishing and pursuing integrated, strategic cities policy is partly a function of the nation’s adversarial political environment. 

“The international examples … suggest that high levels of community engagement in setting a vision and goals for a city and in determining long term strategic development directions provide buy-in to support long term bipartisan approaches,” the Confederation said.

“They also suggest that local government can play a useful role in achieving community buy-in, if it can think regionally (beyond its own patch).”

“Establishment of Metropolitan Planning Authorities for each of our capital cities … where board membership is split equally between representatives of state government and local government, should be supportive of better planning and deliver better outcomes.”

 

Public hearing details: 

 5.00 pm – 6.30 pm, Tuesday 24 October 2017
Committee Room 1R3, Parliament House, Canberra

5.00 pm: Bus Industry Confederation
6.30 pm: Close
 

The proceedings will be broadcast live at aph.gov.au/live.

Further information on the inquiry, including the full terms of reference, is available on the Committee website.

Interested members of the public may wish to track the committee via the website

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Retailers at the vanguard in tackling modern slavery

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THE Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has today released its submission to the Attorney General’s Departmental Review on the Modern Slavery in Supply Chains Reporting Requirement. 

This follows the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Inquiry into establishing a Modern Slavery Act in Australia.

According to the 2016 Global Slavery Index, modern slavery is estimated to affect 45.8 million people across the world.  The complex and interconnected nature of many supply chains can cause major headaches for retailers when trying to eliminate unethical practices.

The Inquiry is investigating whether to introduce a mandatory reporting requirement for businesses and organisations with turnover exceeding $100 million annually.  Businesses would be required to investigate their supply chains and report on their efforts to stamp out instances of modern slavery.

ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman said the ARA had been undertaking comprehensive consultations with major retailers on how best to make both existing and new reporting guidelines meet community expectations.

Mr Zimmerman said many retailers already employed Ethical Sourcing Guidelines and were passionate about eliminating modern slavery from their supply chains.

“A collective approach will make a bigger impact, making it far easier for individual organisations to address instances of modern slavery in their supply chains,” Mr Zimmerman said.

However, Mr Zimmerman cautioned against imposing strict reporting requirements and said that any new regulations should be light-touch and flexible to encourage best practice across the industry.

“We believe a competitive, market-based approach to investigating and stopping modern slavery will produce better results, encouraging a ‘race-to-the-top’ mentality amongst retailers,” Mr Zimmerman said.

“We would also like to see further clarity for retailers and other organisations, including for concession retailers and resellers, as well as the financial impact of the extensive auditing which will be required to satisfy the reporting obligations.”

The ARA has been passionately working on modern slavery in recent months, hosting a series of roundtable discussions with retailers, universities and key stakeholders, alongside working with the Inquiry.

Mr Zimmerman called on the Inquiry to provide support and guidance to help retailers better-understand where modern slavery occurs in their supply chains and how best to address it.

To view the ARA’s submission on Modern Slavery in Supply Chains, click here.

About the Australian Retailers Association:

Founded in 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is the retail industry’s peak representative body representing Australia’s $310 billion sector, which employs more than 1.2 million people. The ARA works to ensure retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating and saving money for its 7,500 independent and national retail members throughout Australia. For more information, visit www.retail.org.au or call 1300 368 041.

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ARA supportive of Aust-NZ dual network routing changes

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THE Australian Retailers Association (ARA) are pleased to hear the ANZ Bank have agreed to route transactions on Dual Network Cards via the eftpos network, preserving consumer and merchant choice across all payment channels, and reducing transaction costs to retailers.

ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman said, currently Point of Sale (POS) terminals only read the first contactless application on the chip, and automatically route the transaction according to this priority, which may be at a higher cost for merchants.

“These contactless transactions on Dual Network Cards currently take this choice away from consumers and merchants, making it more difficult to manage the costs associated with different payment products and networks,” Mr Zimmerman said.

“The ability to route transactions via the eftpos network instead of the current Visa and Mastercard schemes will save merchants significant costs.”

The ARA have estimated the additional costs to the economy when Dual Network Card transactions are routed via the current system is in excess of $290 million.

“We would encourage other banks and financial institutions to allow merchants to route their transactions via the preferred network,” Mr Zimmerman said.

“Without open consumer payments and competitive domestic payment networks, merchant fees and consumer costs may rise.”

The ARA continue to meet with financial institutions and the Government to lower costs for both the merchant and consumer through advocating for the acceptance of any payment system at a low-cost.

“For consumers, it’s important to know what system your tap payment goes through, and for merchants it’s crucial to have a choice in routing,” Mr Zimmerman said.

About the Australian Retailers Association:

Founded in 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is the retail industry’s peak representative body representing Australia’s $310 billion sector, which employs more than 1.2 million people. The ARA works to ensure retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating and saving money for its 7,500 independent and national retail members throughout Australia. For more information, visit www.retail.org.au or call 1300 368 041.

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