A more active Australian corporate bond market could enhance investment and venture capital

THE House of Representatives Standing Committee on Tax and Revenue has today (Monday) presented its report titled The Development of the Australian Corporate Bond Market: A Way Forward.

Corporate bonds are a type of debt security, issued by entities to finance their business operations. In its report, the committee makes 12 recommendations to support the development of a more active corporate bond market in Australia.  

The committee’s recommendations aim to remove barriers to the issuing of corporate bonds as well as raise awareness about the benefits of corporate bonds, both for investors and issuers. Specifically, the committee’s recommendations include ensuring that investors have access to timely and useful information about corporate bonds, lowering the minimum investment parcel to $1,000 for corporate bonds, to improve accessibility to more investors, reviewing the licensing regime for credit rating agencies to minimise access barriers, and streamlining disclosure requirements for the issuing of simple corporate bonds. 

The committee’s recommendations also include proposed amendments to the relevant regulations to allow for the early redemption of simple corporate bonds, as well as a review of Chapter 2L of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) with the aim of increasing the availability of trustees for the retail bond market.

Further, the committee recommends a review of the regulatory reforms implemented in New Zealand’s corporate bond market to further develop and make more liquid Australia’s corporate bond market.

Committee chair, Jason Falinski MP, advocated for regulatory changes in this space.

"It is the hope of this committee that the government will commence implementing recommendations as soon as possible as each recommendation will result in unleashing the considerable power of the corporate bond market in Australia," Mr Falinski said.

A full copy of the committee’s report can be found on the inquiry’s website.

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Referendums inquiry to hear from Electoral Commission

ON TUESDAY the House Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs will hold the third public hearing for its inquiry into constitutional reform and referendums.

The Committee will speak with the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) to learn about its role in public education about referendums and the operational aspects of referendum delivery.

Chair of the committee, Andrew Wallace MP said it was necessary to inquire into the mechanics of referendums and whether the current legislation and processes were fit for purpose.

"The committee has heard from other government agencies about the policy environment for constitutional reform. The AEC will be able to provide information on the delivery and mechanics of a referendum and how it engages and educates the public about these processes," Mr Wallace said.

Further information about the inquiry, including the terms of reference and a program for the committee’s hearing, is available on the inquiry webpage at: www.aph.gov.au/constitutionalreform.

Public hearing details

Date: Tuesday, 26 October 2021
Time: 4.30pm to 5.30pm (AEDT)

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, committee proceedings held in Parliament House are not currently open to the public. The hearing will be broadcast live at aph.gov.au/live.

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It’s a long runway to recovery for Australia’s travel agents

WHILE THE NEWS fully vaccinated Australians can soon travel internationally without having to quarantine is very welcome, it’s unfortunately a long runway to recovery for Australia’s travel agents and businesses.

Australia’s travel agents and businesses have been in hard lockdown for more than 600 days. This hard lockdown will continue until international travel returns to normal levels with pre-COVID flight volumes, seat capacity and the removal of the current requirement that non-Australians even if fully vaccinated must hotel quarantine
 
Life for Australia’s travel agents only returns to normal after international travel is back in full swing. This is because travel agents only receive the bulk of payments generated from bookings AFTER travel takes place. 
 
Until international travel normalises which the Prime Minister has said won’t happen before March 2022, travel agents and businesses need ongoing support.

“With Singapore coming on line soon, and multiple destinations opening up for Australians, we are all looking forward to getting those passports out and getting travelling again," AFTA CEO Dean Long said.

“Travel expertise to navigate the complexities of COVID-travel is needed now more than ever and as events and tourism begin to ramp up again, travel agents will be essential. Our members are easy to find and everywhere from on-line to on the high street and proud to be using our travel expertise to support Australians through COVID travel and beyond.

“However, Australia’s travel agents and businesses have been in hard lockdown for more than 600 days and until airlines and cruise capacity return to normal levels, which won’t be before the second quarter of 2022, we need support," Mr Long said.
 
“The 30,000 Australians who work in Australia’s travel sector and the 3,000 agencies and businesses who employ them urgently need ongoing Government help so we can keep providing the expert support travellers need as tourism gets back on track and recovers.”

Prior to COVID, the industry has experienced year on year growth of 11 percent and maintained growth of 7.25 percent over the past five years. In 2018-19, Australians spent more than $46 billion on international travel, representing the largest import sector of the Australian economy.

About 70% of this international travel was booked through Australian travel agents. Each year travel agents collect taxes worth $1 billion and contribute $28 Billion nationally to the economy.

 

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Industry welcomes Qantas expansion of services

 THE RECENT announcement that Qantas will speed up its timetable for the resumption of flights to a number of markets over the next three months is a further positive sign for Australia’s tourism industry, according to the Australian Toruism Export Council (ATEC).

“This is another strong sign that Australia is on the path to reopening, giving hope to thousands of tourism businesses who have been left without an income since March 2020,” ATEC managing director Peter Shelley said.

Flights from Sydney to Singapore, Bangkok, Phuket, Johannesburg and Fiji will resume ahead of schedule from as early as November 23 for Singapore, and throughout December and January for the other destinations.  Also very encouraging was the announcement from the Prime Minister that there could also be a quarantine-free Singapore travel bubble opening up very soon, Mr Shelley said.

“While this move is about getting Australians back home and families back together, it will also help the industry to open up and fine tune services for the resumption of full-scale travel," he said.

“We congratulate Qantas on their leadership and the Australian community on their uptake in vaccinations which has helped to get us to this point earlier than expected and look forward to announcements by the Federal Government on the date we can welcome back international travellers."

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Tourism needs clear date for international reopening 

AUSTRALIA's export tourism industry is urgently awaiting the announcement of a date for the reopening of our international border, bringing the return of international visitors and the restart of business after 18 months of no revenue.

With last week’s announcement that NSW will no longer require quarantine for overseas arrivals from next month, it's encouraging that the full opening of international borders is imminent but the industry urgently needs a date to work towards, according to the Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC).

“Since the announcement by the NSW Government last Friday, our members have been fielding inquiries from intending travellers looking to book an Australian holiday or visit their family but they still can't make these bookings with any certainty,” ATEC managing director Peter Shelley said.

“We simply can't afford to continue to keep our borders closed to high spending international travellers and miss critical ‘booking windows’ as these people simply will choose to holiday in other competing destinations, putting Australia at the bottom of their bucket list.

“Right now we are heading into the northern hemisphere's annual booking season when the US, Europe and the UK are facing a long winter and typically plan their travel to warmer climates like Australia. If we miss this booking window it will not surface again for another 12 months."

Mr Shelley said ATEC was calling on the Federal Government to provide a date and a framework for reopening that tourism businesses across the country could use to plan to rebuild valuable distribution partnerships, lock in bookings for 2022 and help breathe life back into our $45 billion industry sector which was crippled by the pandemic.

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“Our industry has been waiting a long time for the opportunity to recover and we have a hard road ahead of us to reconnect with our international markets. 

“We need to begin to regain our place as a ‘must visit’ destination and a date for the reopening of our international border is therefore both urgent and critical. 

“Now is the time to provide clarity about Australia’s reopening to the world, and offer certainty to our industry, providing a much-needed opportunity for our financially fragile and work-depleted industry to commence the long road to rebuilding what was once Australians second largest export industry.” 

Public meeting on future of public integrity agencies

As the SA Government guts its anti-corruption commission, and a NSW Premier falls, what are the lessons for integrity bodies in Australia?

This question will be explored at the second of a new Flinders University ‘Crime in the City’ lecture series, by a panel including the former Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) commissioner the Hon Bruce Lander QC at public lecture on Tuesday (26 October, 4.30pm-6.30pm, at 182 Victoria Square, Adelaide.)

“The role of anti-corruption commissions across Australia is forefront in the news,” says Professor Andrew Goldsmith, director of the Centre for Crime Policy and Research at Flinders University which is hosting the debate with Transparency International Australia.

“The public needs to be reassured that the agencies we set up to uphold public integrity have the right focus and capacity to undertake their role competently and impartially. The current picture in Australia is not entirely reassuring,” Professor Goldsmith says.

While former NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian resigned in order to front the NSW ICAC, Labor MP Luke Donnellan has resigned ahead of the inquiry by the Victorian Independent Broad-Based Anti-Corruption Commission (IBAC). The NSW ICAC is celebrated for exposing corruption across politics, including the now-convicted former Labor ministers Eddie Obeid and Ian Macdonald

At a federal level, the Independent Senator Heather Haines is increasing pressure on the government with her Australian Federal Integrity Commission Bill.   

“While there’s been a profusion of anti-corruption agencies set up in the states and territories in the past 30 years, we have nothing yet at the federal level despite years of discussion and proposals,” Professor Goldsmith says.

“And at the state level, we are seeing some significant changes in jurisdiction and powers of our integrity agencies, some of which suggest a rolling back of capacity.

“The recent changes to the SA ICAC system have drawn considerable criticism, not least of which being is the haste with which the changes passed through Parliament.

“Members of the public are entitled to understand why this has happened, and whether or not the revised arrangements are fit for purpose,” he says.

Recent changes to the SA ICAC system have drawn considerable criticism, “not least of which being is the haste with which the changes passed through Parliament”, he says.

Chaired by SA Commissioner for Public Sector Employment Ms Erma Ranieri, other panellists for the Flinders University University ‘Crime in the City’ lecture will be Griffith University Professor A J Brown, also a member of Transparency International Australia, and SA Ombudsman Mr Wayne Lines.

 

The Flinders University Centre for Crime Policy and Research has launched the Crime in the City lecture series to bring experts and members of the public together to examine issues of current policy concern in the fields of crime, security and public safety.

 

Watch the first discussion, ‘Ransomware: The New Transnational Crime Threat’ online https://youtu.be/QDnyULWObpU

  

The ‘Tackling Corruption and the Future of Public Integrity Institutions’ lecture is open to the public – Level 2, Flinders University building, 182 Victoria Square, Adelaide – or online via livestream. Please register via Eventbrite

via Eventbrite

  

Survey deadline extended for women business owners to be heard

THE Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Bruce Billson, has extended the deadline for a survey of women who own and lead businesses.

“There has been a tremendous response so far - it is clear there is an appetite to engage, and we want to give more women business owners and leaders the chance to be heard,” Mr Billson said.

The survey launched earlier this month and is aimed at identifying any unique challenges and opportunities faced by women who own and lead businesses. It will now remain open until October 29. 

“A lot of business entrepreneurs that are women are those who have solved a problem in their life, shared that with their friends who thought, ‘Yes, you can do the same thing for me,’ and then that turns into, you know, a side hustle and then on to a business,” Mr Billson said in an interview on Bathurst radio.

“And, frankly, with COVID, there’s been more problems to solve than ordinarily has been the case and we think if we can energise women’s entrepreneurship that will be fantastic in terms of women’s economic empowerment but really fab for the economy and livelihoods more generally.

“The survey’s trying to say to women business leaders and entrepreneurs, what kind of roadblock’s have you run into? Have there been needless headwinds that have stood between you and your business ambition?”

The confidential survey can be accessed by visiting the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman website at www.asbfeo.gov.au or directly at: WOWL survey

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St Vincent's Hospital honoured at 2021 NSW Business Awards for Sydney

ST VINCENT'S HOSPITAL Sydney has received two awards for its contribution to the community and diversity at the 2021 Business NSW Business Awards.

The hospital was one of 12 recipients to be honoured in the NSW Business Awards’ Sydney City regional division and will now be in contention for a State Business Award in November. The Awards are held in partnership with the City of Sydney and recognise growth, entrepreneurship and business success.

The hospital’s COVID-19 response took out the award for the most outstanding community or cultural organisation while its innovative program promoting better health outcomes for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities won the top prize for excellence in diversity and inclusion.

Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore hailed St Vincent’s contributions during the unprecedented Sydney lockdown and vaccination roll out as phenomenal.

“The hospital’s tireless operations at the frontline of the Covid pandemic, as well as the roll out of vaccinations for so many in our community, has been nothing short of life changing,” Cr Moore said.

“But what is truly wonderful is seeing how the hospital, even under the duress of the pandemic, still forged ahead with their programs to embrace diversity and inclusion.”

St Vincent’s Stay'n In, Stay'n Deadly flexi clinic was founded to promote a safe and welcoming space for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients as well as reducing waiting times and cutting the percentage of incomplete treatment.

“After staring down the challenges of 2021, it’s wonderful to be able to celebrate and reward those who have done it so tough and made such an important contribution to our city,” Cr Moore said.

St Vincent’s CEO, associate professor Anthony Schembri said the awards were particularly special this year.

“At the heart of everything we do at St Vincent’s is our longstanding mission to serve our community – particularly the poor and vulnerable," Prof. Schembri said.

"These two awards represent important validation that we continue to remain true to this mission, particularly in the face of some of our greatest health challenges. 

“It’s particularly wonderful to receive these awards from the City of Sydney and NSW Business, a like-minded organisation that is partnering with us in many of our endeavours to support the community’s most vulnerable. I also want to salute our dedicated and capable staff who are so unflinching in the determination to roll up their sleeves and serve our mission so authentically,” Prof. Schembri said.

Business NSW chief executive officer Daniel Hunter said the awards recognise business success and resilience from sectors across the state.

“In 2021, every industry, from health care to hospitality, retail to recruitment, was forced to pivot and innovate in order to deal with fallout from the pandemic. These awards showcase the businesses that shone brightest in very dark times,” Mr Hunter said.

“It’s important too that we also recognise the local chambers that provided leadership and vision throughout these unchartered waters, which is why we’re delighted to be able honour the outstanding commitment from the Darlinghurst Business Partnership.”

2021 NSW Business Awards Sydney City division winners:

Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion: St Vincent's Hospital Stay’n Deadly & Stay’n In Project.

Excellence in Export: HIVERY - Exporting AI retail to the world.

Outstanding Business Leader: Neil Sharma, Eye and Retina Specialists.

Outstanding Community or Cultural Organisation: St Vincent's Hospital COVID-19 Response.

Outstanding Employee: Vicky Lee, Ovira.

Outstanding Local Chamber: Darlinghurst Business Partnership.

Outstanding Start Up: Share with Oscar.

Outstanding Young Business Leader: Jill Berry, Adatree

Sydney City Excellence in Business: MacAlpine.

Sydney City Excellence in Micro Business: Lion and Cub Photography.

Sydney City Excellence in Innovation: Eye and Retina Specialists, Slit Lamp Shield.

Sydney City Excellence in Small Business: 2Stay Accommodation Group.

Sydney City Excellence in Sustainability: Koskela.

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Science Minister Melissa Price and Labor’s Ed Husic reveal vision for cooperative research, science, tech and innovation

NEWLY sworn-in Federal Government Science Minister Melissa Price will give her first major speech at the Collaborate Innovate 2021 conference today (October 19, 1.20 to 1.30pm).

Ms Price will outline the government’s vision for Cooperative Research Centres, and how industry-led research can spawn new innovations and commercialised technologies for Australia.

Shadow Minister for Industry and Innovation Ed Husic will speak on Wednesday (Oct 20, 9:30-10am).

Conference Speakers include:

  • Professor Bronwyn Fox, Chief Scientist CSIRO
  • Jeff Connolly, CEO Siemens Australia
  • Victoria Treadell, British High Commissioner
  • Edwin Chow, Assistant CEO Enterprise Singapore
  • Professor Mariana Mazzucato, professor in the Economics of Innovation and Public Value at University College London (UCL)
  • Dr Katherine Woodthorpe AO (2021 Ralph Slatyer Address)
  • Dr Cathy Foley, Chief Scientist of Australia
  • Professor Caroline McMillan, Chief Scientist of South Australia
  • Professor Hugh Possingham, Queensland Chief Scientist

https://collaborateinnovate.com.au/program/

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NTEU urges Federal Government to implement job security recommendations

THE NTEU is urging the Federal Government to implement recommendations by the Select Committee on Job Security to secure the recovery of the higher education sector and improve conditions for staff and students.

The Second interim report: insecurity in publicly-funded jobs makes a number of welcome recommendations including:

  • The Australian Government urgently develops a new National Higher Education Funding Strategy for the period 2021-2025;
  • The Australian Government provides temporary additional funding to universities to restore jobs and rectify the damage inflicted upon the sector as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and funding cuts, until the new Higher Education Strategy has been developed and implemented;
  • The Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment works closely with universities, workers, experts, the NTEU, and relevant sector bodies, to design a system of casual and fixed-term conversion that would be appropriate for the higher education sector;
  • The Australian Government requires all universities to provide a more detailed report of their staffing composition to the Department of Education;
  • In light of the widespread wage theft in The Australian Government-funded higher education sector, that the government legislates improved rights of entry for all registered trade unions.

NTEU national president Alison Barnes said the recommendations must be adopted as a matter of urgency.

“The Federal Government can no longer ignore the widespread destruction inflicted on tertiary education by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Dr Barnes said.

“We have seen 40,000 jobs lost across the country, with an estimated 35,000 of those at public universities. If the Federal Government cares about higher education, it must develop a new National Higher Education Funding Strategy and provide urgent additional funding until this is in place.

“As the report outlines, this must recognise and address the real cost of delivering high quality tertiary education including administration, marking and ensuring staff and student wellbeing, as well as the role of research as a core university function.

“Further, designing a system of casual and fixed-term conversion appropriate for the higher education sector will be key to addressing the proliferation of insecure employment," Dr Barnes said.

“The Federal Government’s casual conversion laws have proven to be completely ineffective in dealing with insecure employment in universities. The laws have simply provided employers with an excuse to avoid serious and genuine efforts to address the growing casualisation of their workforces.

“As has been proven this year, widespread casualisation of tertiary education creates the conditions for wage theft and implements huge barriers to them reporting this exploitation. Wage theft has deep human consequences, robbing modestly paid casual workers of the income to pay bills, plan for their future or take leave," she said.

“Universities have allowed wage theft to become integrated into their business models and attempted to avoid scrutiny through a total lack of transparency.

“Forcing universities to detail their use of insecure employment is vital to ending this. The second interim report’s recommendations must be implemented by the Federal Government as a priority.

“The success and wellbeing of academics, staff and students depends on it.

“We thank the committee for its thorough work on this important inquiry, and in particular recognise the support of Senators Tony Sheldon and Mehreen Faruqi in their advocacy for higher education workers.

“We also congratulate the casual NTEU members who gave important evidence to the Inquiry by detailing their experience.”

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Offshore potential for Australian aquaculture

POTENTIAL for expanding the aquaculture industry in Australia has been a frequent theme among contributors to a federal parliamentary committee inquiry.

The House Agriculture and Water Resources Committee will hear evidence from the Blue Economy Cooperative Research Centrethis week as part of its current inquiry into Australia’s aquaculture sector.  

The Blue Economy Cooperative Research Centre, based in Tasmania, brings together industry, government and research partners with expertise in aquaculture, marine renewable energy and maritime engineering. It delivers targeted training and research to support innovation in commercially-viable and sustainable offshore developments.

Committee Chair, Rick Wilson MP, noted that the topic of offshore aquaculture production and its potential for expanding the aquaculture industry in Australia has been a frequent theme among submitters and witnesses to this inquiry.

"This hearing is an opportunity for the committee to learn more about the significant research and development currently being undertaken by the Blue Economy Cooperative Research Centre to support new and innovative approaches to aquaculture production in Australian waters," Mr Wilson said.

For further information, please visit the inquiry website.

Public hearing details

Date: Thursday, 21 October 2021
Time: 10.15am to 10:55am AEST

A live audio stream of the hearing will be accessible at: www.aph.gov.au/live

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