Saving the Australian economy 'a matter of productivity' warn accountants

UNLESS AUSTRALIA arrests its flagging productivity, the economy will continue to decline, putting our standard of living at risk for generations to come, according to the Institute of Public Accountants (IPA), which is staging a special forum to tackle the issue.

“Productivity growth has continued to decline over the past 15 years,” IPA chief executive officer, Andrew Conway said.

“While we have had some successes through our Australian Small Business White Paper, the nation must make a much more concerted effort to boost SME productivity. 

“We will hold a special forum through the IPA Deakin SME Research Centre to focus on addressing this dire economic predicament," Mr Cponway said.

“In doing so we will be calling on Australian and international expertise, particularly from the US, to explore the creation of a sustainable ecosystem for SMEs.  This will be based on the five integral pillars of: financial capital; innovation; regulation; trade and internationalisation; and human capital.

“While some say that small business is the engine room of the economy, we believe that is an understatement; we believe that small business is the whole factory, plant and equipment.  Unless we stoke the fire beneath it, our future generations will suffer the consequences,” Mr Conway said..

The Small Business: Big Vision event will take place on September 4 and 5.  Keynote speakers include Minister for Housing and Assistant Treasurer, Michael Sukkar,  and the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell, .

International speakers include Eugene Cornelius Jnr, senior adviser to the USA’s Office of International Trade at the Small Business Administration; and Dr Winslow Sargeant, managing director of S&T and former Chief Counsel for Advocacy appointed by and reporting direct to US President Barack Obama, who is now the senior vice president of the International Council for Small Business.


QRC welcomes collaborative approach to gas supply

THE Queensland Resources Council (QRC) has welcomed the Palaszczuk Government’s decision to award 18 square kilometres of land for gas production to APLNG-Armour Energy.

QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said the granting of the licence with a domestic-only condition was an example of the state’s leading regulatory framework. 

“Gas sourced from the highly prospective land southwest of Chinchilla is destined for manufacturing businesses who need certainty around energy if they are to expand and employ more people,” Mr Macfarlane said. 

“Not only will this decision fuel Australia’s manufacturing industry but it’s another example of Queensland’s success in best-practice regulation in action – fast, effective and focussed on outcomes.

“The Queensland Government has been very proactive in its support of the gas industry and I applaud all parties for partnering together to deliver an Australian first to put downward pressure on energy for the domestic manufacturing market."

Queensland already supplies around 25 percent of the domestic east coast gas demand.

The Queensland resources sector now provides one in every five dollars in the Queensland economy, sustains one in eight Queensland jobs, and supports more than 14,200 businesses across the State –– all from 0.1 percent of Queensland’s land mass.


Qld mining lease approvals confirm long-term role for coal: QRC

THE Queensland Government’s approval of mining leases to extend the life of the Cameby Downs Mine in the Surat Basin secures jobs, exports and royalties for the state and confirms the long-term role for coal, the Queensland Resources Council said.

QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said the mining leases were for continuation of operations at the open cut thermal coal mine operation, extending the mine life to 75 years and increasing the extraction approval to 3.5 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) of run-of-mine (ROM) coal, up from 2.8 mtpa, on the western Darling Downs. 

Cameby Downs employs 140 staff, he said.

Mr Macfarlane said the resources sector already contributed to the Western Downs Regional Council area, accounting for $374 million or 10 percent of the area’s gross regional product and 2006 full-time equivalent or 12 percent of the local workforce.

“The mine will operate under strict environmental approvals, detailed in its environmental authority, and will implement progressive rehabilitation,” Mr Macfarlane said.

Cameby Downs is near the Kogan Creek mine, which is owned by the Queensland Government as the owner of CS Energy and operator of Kogan Creek power station. 

“Whether it is the government-owned Kogan Creek mine, Cameby Downs, other existing mines in the Surat and Bowen basins or those proposed in the Galilee Basin, Queensland depends upon them. Coal currently delivers $43.4 billion or 13 percent of the state’s gross regional product and more than 215,000 or 9 percent of full-time equivalent jobs in Queensland,” Mr Macfarlane said.

Link to QRC’s 2017-18 report on the economic contribution of the resources sector to the Western Downs local government area

Link to QRC’s 2017-18 report on the economic contribution of coal to Queensland


SEGRA Conference countdown to boost regional Australia begins at Barooga, NSW

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER Michael McCormack MP has launched the countdown to the Sustainable Economic Growth for Regional Australia (SEGRA) Conference, to be staged on August 20-22 at Barooga, NSW.

SEGRA has been speaking out for regional Australia for 23 years. It is a critical forum where regional development practitioners, industry, researchers and government bring together their combined knowledge and ideas on regional futures from across Australia. 

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Michael McCormack told the attendees at the launch, “The regions of Australia have never been in a better position to take advantage of an Australian population that is looking away from our capital cities, looking to the regions for a better all-round life.” 

SEGRA conference convenor Kate Charters said the conferences had been stimulating interest in regional Australia and the unique challenges communities face - especially economically - since day one.

“SEGRA is Australia’s most credible independent voice on issues affecting regional Australia," Ms Charters said.

“It is a wonderful opportunity for Barooga and surrounds to showcase the region's diverse beauty and its business initiatives to a national audience but also for people from the region to access the national and international speakers on regional economic development.

"SEGRA is not ‘just another conference," Ms Charters said. "It is renowned for its willingness to take up real challenges and propose actions that understand the true character of economic development in regional Australia.

“This is why SEGRA is branded 'the think tank with tangible outcomes'. We look forward to supporting Barooga this year and sharing the region’s best tourism offerings with more than 250 delegates from around the country.”

Mayor of Moira Shire Councill, Cr Libro Mustica said, "Bringing close to 200 delegates representing all levels of government, regional development organisations and research institutes to the region it is an outstanding opportunity to showcase the regions businesses and tourist attractions as well as economic stimulus to accommodation providers, eateries, retail businesses and tourist attractions." 

Berrigan Shire Council.Mayor, Cr Matthew Hannan said, "Our beautiful environment and strong economy were key elements in winning the hosting rights as was our ability to work collaboratively in driving new initiatives."

NSW Minister for Tourism Stuart Ayres said the NSW Government was committed to investing in the regional conferencing industry and was proud to support SEGRA 2019.

”We know how important the business events sector is to turbocharging the regional economy, with conferences and meetings bringing additional business to local restaurants, cafés, venues, attractions, and accommodation providers,” Mr Ayres said.

“In fact, overnight business visitors spend, on average, $237 per night in NSW – nearly double those of overnight leisure visitors. They are also more likely to return for a future holiday with family or friends, so this is a fantastic win for Barooga in more ways than one.”

SEGRA 2019 is supported by the NSW Government, Victorian Government, Destination NSW, Australian Government, Berrigan Shire, Moira Shire, Cobram Barooga Business and Tourism, Cobram Barooga Golf Club, RDA Murray and RDA Hume.

"SEGRA would like to thank the NSW Government via its tourism and major events agency Destination NSW, Berrigan and Moira Shires, RDAs Murray and Hume, Barooga Sporties, Cobram Barooga Business and Tourism for their support of the conference," Ms Charters said.

SEGRA will be held at Barooga on August 20-22 and its theme this year is Rivers of Opportunity: Activating Your Potential.


CSIRO dams work provides road map to 15,000 jobs – many in Indigenous communities

NEW DAMS can create almost 15,000 regional jobs and $4.85 billion in production in northern Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia, based on the work of Austalia’s science agency, CSIRO.

​The Northern Australia Water Resource Assessment, completed by the CSIRO, found 7250 jobs could be created in the Mitchell catchment in Queensland, 2845 jobs in the Darwin catchment in the NT, and 4700 jobs in the Fitzroy catchment in WA.

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, David Littleproud said he was keen to see this type of infrastructure development create the opportunity for indigenous jobs in agriculture. 

​“This is really exciting news for agriculture and potentially for our indigenous communities in these areas,” Mr Littleproud said.

“This could create permanent jobs and a secure economic future in Indigenous communities in northern Australia. Our Indigenous people have a deep understanding of the land and the water and this fits well with sustainable agriculture.”

The CSIRO report confirmed that in the Mitchell region, about 7250 jobs could be created and $1.5 billion a year could be added to the region through four dams releasing 2800 gigalitres a year in 85 percent of years. This could support 140,000 hectares of year-round irrigation, growing two crops a year.

In the Fitzroy catchment, it would be possible to create 4700 jobs through $750 million of farm production created by pumping 1700gl from the Fitzroy and Margaret Rivers to grow 1600,000 ha of once-a-year crop – CSIRO names cotton as an option – although the reality was likely to be less than that given cultural, environmental and legislative factors.

In the Darwin catchment, CSIRO reported about 2500 jobs and $2.3 billion for the region could be created through two potential instream surface water storages at Mount Bennett on the Finniss River (343gl capacity) and the upper Adelaide River (298gl).

These dams could release 436gl at the dam wall in 85 percent of years, growing 40,000ha of mangoes or 60,000ha of trickle-irrigation vegetables. Another 345 jobs and $320 million could come from using 35gl of groundwater to grow an extra 7800 ha of trickle irrigation vegetable production.

“Dams and other water projects can bring thousands of jobs to areas where employment is hard to find. Dams grow food, jobs, exports and wealth,” Mr Littleproud said.

“Projects like these can add $4.85 billion to Australia’s farm production and help get us to the NFF’s (National Farmers Federation) ambitious goal of $100 billion of gross farm production by 2030,” he said.

“In the modern age, we can do this in an environmentally and socially responsible way.

“In my home state of Queensland, some 7250 jobs could be created in the Mitchell catchment. It would transform the region. The Pinnacles dam site on the Mitchell and the Rookwood dam site on the Walsh could provide 65 percent of the water CSIRO says could be harvested from the Mitchell catchment.

“The Pinnacles site alone could grow 70,000 ha of spray-irrigated sugarcane and mungbeans.

“Adding 2500 jobs would be huge for the Darwin region. Darwin is ideally placed to export fresh produce to Asia and with dams, could take full advantage of this,” Mr Littleproud said.

“Adding 4700 jobs to the Fitzroy catchment in northern WA would kick-start wealth and jobs. With vision we can do something great here.

“The Coalition has shown vision by commissioning CSIRO to do this work and now we have a road map to food, jobs, exports and wealth for these regions.”


Melbourne’s late night economy gets tastier

MELBOURNE’s Night Time Economy continues to grow, with food sales in Australia’s cultural capital increasing by 12 percent in 2016-17 while drink sales were down six percent.

City of Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp revealed the latest figures from Local Government Safe Communities’ Network research recently, tallied from Measuring the Australian Night Time Economy Report 2016-17.

“Melbourne doesn’t shut up shop when the sun goes down. The value of our Night Time Economy has increased by $197 million in turnover to $3.2 billion,” Cr Capp said. 

“Over the last 30 years we’ve transformed Melbourne into a dynamic 24-hour city. We brought residents back into a city and our partnerships with the State Government on major events such as White Night have put Melbourne on the map as a truly global city.

“It’s particularly pleasing that drink sales are down given that we now have up to a million people visiting the city each day.”

The data mirrors the recent findings of the Australian Bureau of Statistics, which showed that Australians were drinking less alcohol than at any time in past 50 years.

The report shows Melbourne’s total Night Time Economy grew by seven percent from 2016-2017, with jobs growth of 7.4 percent to more than 30,000 employees. Food establishments accounted for 71 percent of employment and 65 percent of turnover.

Chair of the City of Melbourne’s Small Business, Retail and Hospitality portfolio, Cr Susan Riley said the council had been working hard to activate the city at night.

“We’re continuing to work with Victoria Police and licensees to ensure people feel safe in the city throughout the evening and into the night,” Cr Riley said.

“The availability of 24-hour public transport on weekends and more family-friendly entertainment means there are more reasons than ever to enjoy the city at night.”

There are 2,360 cafes or restaurants in the City of Melbourne, with almost 200,000 seats.


EXTRA >>Read the full report here.

Environmental approvals for Parkes to Narromine Inland Rail

THE Australian and New South Wales Governments have given the green light for construction of the Parkes to Narromine section of Inland Rail.

Deputy Prime Minister, Nationals’ Leader and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Michael McCormack said Inland Rail would bring jobs and opportunities, improve connectivity and increase freight productivity for businesses and consumers in regional Australia.

“Today is another vital step in making our Inland Rail vision a reality and I am excited for the first section of Inland Rail construction to commence, with $9.3 billion in Federal Government investment,” Mr McCormack said. 

“Communities across regional Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland will see the benefit of better access to markets at home and overseas, as well as ensuring Australia meets the challenge of our freight task which is set to double.”

Minister for Finance and the Public Service Mathias Cormann said Inland Rail would be a corridor of commerce for communities along the Eastern Seaboard.

“Through this investment, the Australian Government is delivering on its commitment to increase freight productivity, ease road congestion and streamline supply chains for businesses and consumers,” Senator Cormann said.

Minister for the Environment Melissa Price said final approval for the works under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act was provided by the Department of the Environment and Energy this week.

“The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) can start its upgrade to the 106km of track between these two important regional service centres. This will bring jobs and economic opportunity to the region,” Ms Price said.

NSW Minister for Planning and Housing, Anthony Roberts said approval for the works under the NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment Act was provided by the New South Wales Department of Planning and Environment previously.

“I’m pleased to see both governments give the green light for the first Inland Rail project to begin,” Mr Roberts said. “Our freight network supports economic growth in New South Wales, however the existing freight rail line is constrained as it travels through the congested Sydney network, bypassing some of the state’s most productive agricultural regions.”

The ARTC has been appointed by the Australian Government to deliver Inland Rail in partnership with the private sector.

Federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton said he was pleased to see regional Australians are ready for Inland Rail.

“Inland Rail was what made me get off the tractor and put my hand up for Parliament—this is going to be a transformational investment in communities throughout Western NSW,” Mr Coulton said.

“Whether it’s seeing firsthand the opportunities for greater market access as Australia’s Assistant Trade Minister or understanding the passion local farmers and small businesses have for new jobs and  opportunities in Western NSW, this is an exciting project.”

NSW Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey welcomed the next step toward making the Parkes to Narromine section a reality.

“The capacity to move freight efficiently and reliably is the single most important factor in ensuring the continued health of our domestic economy, and in growing and maintaining economic competitiveness,” Mrs Pavey said.


More information about the Inland Rail project is available at and


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