WITH the 2018 eftpos Australian Retailers Association (ARA) Australian Retail Awards just around the corner, the ARA has announced the finalists of this year’s prestigious Awards breakfast.  

This year’s Awards themed, The Retail Realm: Thinking outside the shop, encompasses every element of the retail sphere, including customer experience, technology, payments, sustainability, supply chain, growth, employee development and corporate social responsibility.

With 13 awards up for grabs, the ARA has revitalised the awards process, working with a panel of expert judges and industry leaders to determine what constitutes the ‘best in retail’ across three categories in the Retail Realm.

Reimagining the Awards evaluation process, the ARA’s panel of esteemed judges conducted the first awards analysis, reviewing all nominations over a two-week period and scoring each submission out of five. Each retailer was then ranked alongside their award category counterparts, with the highest-ranking retailers making the finals.

The two most sought-after retail awards, the 2018 National Retailer of the Year Award and the Excellence in Customer Experience Award, will undertake further analysis by The Realise Group, a customer experience measurement agency, to determine the winner amongst the top three finalists.

Russell Zimmerman, ARA executive director, said this revised methodology, coupled with mystery shopping initiatives and field agency surveys, ensures the highest-standard of credibility and integrity in presenting these prestigious awards.

“The Australian retail industry continues to evolve, and with new technologies entering the retail realm and changing customer expectations, we need to recognise the proactive retailers pushing the industry forward,” Mr Zimmerman said.

“As online and global markets continue to challenge the retail industry, the variety of small, medium and large retailers making it to the finals showcases the diverse and extraordinary talent we have in Australian retail,” Mr Zimmerman said.

While a record number of entries were received by the ARA this year, the 2018 eftpos ARA Australian Retail Awards finalists shone the brightest in the Retail Realm.

The 2018 eftpos ARA Australian Retail Awards breakfast will be held Thursday October 18 at the Myer Mural Hall in Melbourne. To secure your seat for the 2018 eftpos ARA Australian Retail Awards head to The Retail Realm to purchase tickets.

About the eftpos ARA Australian Retail Awards:

First held in the 1970s, the eftpos ARA Australian Retail Awards are the nation’s longest running and most prestigious retail event, recognising and rewarding outstanding retail businesses, innovations, and individuals across all sectors of retail. Relaunched in 2008, the annual 2018 eftpos ARA Australian Retail Awards breakfast will commence on Thursday 18 October at the Myer Mural Hall in Melbourne. To secure your seat for the 2018 eftpos ARA Australian Retail Awards buy tickets here.

About the Australian Retailers Association:

Founded in 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is Australia’s largest retail association, representing the country’s $310 billion sector, which employs more than 1.2 million people. As Australia’s leading retail peak industry body, the ARA is a strong pro-active advocate for Australian retail and 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.

Finalists:

 

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INCREASING Newstart is an immediate reform that could begin to significantly reduce poverty and disadvantage in Australia and CEDA research shows it is in line with community expectations, according to CEDA chief executive, Melinda Cilento.

In support of the ACOSS Raise the Rate campaign and new economic analysis out today from Deloitte Access Economics in support of this campaign, Ms Cilento said CEDA’s June Community Pulse report and nation-wide poll showed 79 per cent believe the gap between the richest and poorest is unacceptable.

“Ensuring the benefits from Australia’s record run of economic growth are extended across the community is vital to Australia’s future prosperity,” she said.

“After 27 years of uninterrupted economic growth, a record among developed economies, around one in 10 Australians are still living in poverty, that is unacceptable.

“CEDA has supported increasing Newstart since 2015 and again called for an increase to payments following our April 2018 report, How unequal? Insights on inequality.

“Our community has an expectation that the benefits of growth should be fairly distributed and that we have appropriate safety nets. Action by the Federal Parliament on Newstart is overdue.

“Punitive social safety nets make it harder for people to get back into work, which is a poor outcome for the person concerned, for the economy and for our society.

“At just $278 a week, or around $40 per day, Newstart has not increased in real terms for over 24 years with recipients struggling to cover the basics like rent, utilities, health and transport costs.  

“While the gap between the Pension and Newstart payments was relatively narrow in the 90s, the gap widened through the 2000s and Newstart today is only 61 percent of the Pension, or approximately $175 less per week.

“Inadequate Newstart payments entrench poverty and the cycle of disadvantage.

“It is evident that the current Newstart payments do not provide a reasonable standard of living.

“Increasing the payment would dramatically change the lives of more than 750,000 Australians – more than the combined populations of Canberra and Hobart.

“Raising the Newstart payment would ensure the payment scheme delivers on its purpose, rather than being an entry point into disadvantage.”

www.ceda.com.au

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THE Japanese Government today (September 14)  failed in their push to end the global moratorium on whaling at the 67th meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in Brazil. 

Japan lost the vote on their 'Way Forward' proposal that would have led to new commercial whaling quotas being established by 2020; 27 countries voted in favour of Japan's proposal and 41 against.

The proposal needed a three-quarters majority to succeed, but did not even achieve a simple majority. Australia voted against the proposal.

“This is a win for the whales. Japan’s outrageous attempt to bring back commercial whaling has been condemned to history. This is Japan’s latest failure to resuscitate a dying industry,” said Tooni Mahto, campaigns manager with the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS).

“The IWC’s rejection of Japan’s proposal sends a clear message to the Government of Japan that commercial whaling must be a thing of the past. Today the world has voted for the protection of the world’s majestic whales.

“Whaling has lost its social license on a global scale. Whaling is a cruel, outdated and unnecessary industry, and today's vote affirms the world's commitment to the protection of these gentle giants.

“Whales face a greater number of threats today that at any stage in their past. Climate change, entanglement in fishing nets, plastic pollution, underwater noise and ship strikes threaten our ocean giants. Our whales need help, not harpoons.

“Australia stood tall for the whales at this IWC meeting. The Australian Government led the charge to save the ban on whaling, and also increased pressure on Japan to cease its controversial ‘scientific whaling’ programs,” Mr Mahto said.

Under the Government of Japan’s 'Way Forward' proposal to change the rules of the IWC, Japan was also pushing to change the IWC’s voting rules so that decisions like the setting of whaling quotas could be made by a simple majority, rather than the current three quarters majority. That proposal failed too.

Australia has been a global leader in whale conservation since the Fraser Government banned whaling in 1979. Australia took and won the landmark International Court of Justice legal case against Japan in 2014.

AMCS is attending the meeting. The 89 nation IWC meets every two years.

The full Commission meeting is taking place in Florianopolis, Brazil from September 10-14, ending today.

www.amcs.org.au

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THE Queensland Resources Council (QRC) has welcomed the proposed merger of local Metallica Minerals and Canadian company Melior Resources as further proof of growing confidence in the State’s resources industry. 

Under the proposal, Melior will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Metallica, which will remain listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX). 

QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said he welcomed the recognition, in the merger announcement, on a pipeline of longer term development and exploration assets, all located in Queensland. 

These assets include: Goondicum Ilmenite and Phosphate rock mine; Cape York Heavy Mineral Sands and Bauxite Project JV; Cape Flattery Silica Sands Project; and the Esmeralda Graphite Project.

“At a time when the resources sector is creating a new job every hour and a $1 billion in exports every week, the proposed Metallica-Melior is further good news for a sector doing great things in Queensland,” Mr Macfarlane said. 

Simon Slesarewich, who will retain the managing director’s role, is a QRC board member. 

www.qrc.org.au

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PRO-WHALING nations including Japan, Iceland and Norway have blocked plans to create a whale sanctuary spanning the South Atlantic Ocean.

The Sanctuary failed in a vote at today’s International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting in Brazil when whaling nations Japan, Iceland and Norway and other pro-whaling countries voted against the proposal.

The South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary failed to achieve the three-quarters majority needed to be established. 39 countries voted for the sanctuary, 25 against, with three abstentions. The Australia Government voted to support the establishment of the South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary.

“The world’s whales need sanctuary. Whales have never faced such a range of threats. Climate change, entanglement in fishing nets, plastic pollution, underwater noise and ship strikes threaten our ocean giants” said Tooni Mahto, campaigns manager with the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS).

“There is an urgent need for us to better protect our whales and dolphins now, before it's too late.

“This sanctuary would have given our magnificent whales vital protection, and supported the growth of sustainable whale watching tourism to benefit local communities.

“Once again whaling nations have stood in the way of progress at the IWC.

“Pro-whaling nations have repeatedly blocked much-needed conservation measures like whale sanctuaries at recent IWC meetings, while pushing for a return to commercial whaling.

“Rather than supporting sanctuary for the whales, Japan wants to drag us back to the bad old days of global whaling.

“It is outrageous that Japan is urging the IWC to lift the ban on commercial whaling, and arguing for new commercial whaling quotas to be opened by 2020.

The IWC is due to debate the Government of Japan’s controversial “Way Forward” proposal that would lead to the resumption of commercial whaling tomorrow (Wednesday September 12, Brazil time).

Whale populations in the South Atlantic Ocean have been heavily impacted by commercial whaling and are yet to fully recover, AMCS said.

The ‘South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary’ proposal was put forward by the governments of Brazil, Argentina, Gabon, South Africa and Uruguay. Brazil committed to bring the proposal for a South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary back to next IWC meeting for approval.

AMCS is attending the meeting. The 89 nation IWC meets every two years.

The full Commission meeting is taking place in Florianopolis, Brazil September 10-14.

www.amcs.org.au

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QUEENSLAND’s leading women in resources will be in Canberra this week (Thursday) vying for top honours in the Women in Resources National Awards. 

They were the winners of the Queensland Resources Council (QRC) Women in Mining and Resources Queensland (WIMARQ) state awards presented in Brisbane in March and will join finalists from all other states and territories at the presentation event at Parliament House in the nation’s capital.

The awards will be presented by Kelly O’Dwyer, Minister for Jobs, Industrial Relations and Women and the Chair of the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) Board of Directors Dr Vanessa Guthrie.

More than 20 federal parliamentarians will attend the awards breakfast in the Mural Hall, including Karen Andrews MP, Minister for Industry, Science and Technology.

“It’s testament to the importance of gender diversity in resources that so many federal parliamentarians are attending this event,” said QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane.

“I am proud of all our Queensland finalists who are great examples of people and companies who have championed the cause of improving diversity in our resources sector.

“Here in Queensland our sector is creating a job every hour and it needs all hands to the pump to ensure we have the skilled workforce to match demand.

“That means we can’t afford to be missing out on the talents of half our population.

“Currently, women make up 15 percent of our workforce and I’m confident that through the efforts of our finalists, and our sector in general, we will reach our goal of at least 20 percent women in ‘non-traditional’ roles by 2020.

“Once we’ve reached that number, with the innovation and technology around today there’s no reason why we can’t aim for gender parity in our sector.

“I wish all our Queensland finalists well, but whatever the result, all remain winners and will continue to be our best ambassadors for our sector in Queensland.”

WIMARQ chair Maria Joyce said the awards not only recognised achievement, but also the finalists' dedication to creating workplaces that better reflected society.

“It’s been well documented that better gender balance leads to more innovation, improved safety and profitability for companies so it’s a no-brainer that we should be attracting and retaining more women in our sector,” she said.

“It’s notable that when these awards began in Queensland in 2006 the proportion of women was just six percent, and now it’s 15.

“Our finalists, and those who came before them have shown exceptional leadership in our sector’s efforts to increase gender diversity, and I wish them well.”

Queensland’s finalists:

  • Jo -Anne Dudley senior manager Strategic Mine and Resources Planning Rio Tinto (Exceptional Woman in Queensland Resources)
  • Holstein Wong Supply Analysis BHP (Exceptional Young Woman in Queensland Resources)
  • Dannielle Weston Diesel Fitter Hastings Deering (Exceptional Queensland Trade/Technician/Operator)
  • Rachel Durdin General Manager, Project Shaping Rio Tinto Brisbane (Gender Diversity Champion in Queensland Resources)
  • Rio Tinto Weipa (Excellence in Diversity Programs and Performance)

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THE House Committee on Tax and Revenue has today presented its report on taxpayer engagement with the tax system.

Presenting the report in the House of Representatives today, committee chair Jason Falinski MP said the committee’s 13 recommendations were aimed at making tax obligations in Australia easier to administer and easier for taxpayers to comply with.

“This inquiry involved a comprehensive assessment of the state of play of tax administration in Australia and in comparable nations overseas,” Mr Falinski said.

“The committee found that while the ATO’s ‘Reinvention’ as a modern tax administration service is well underway, our complex tax system is throwing up some hurdles to full automation — as advanced in Sweden, the United Kingdom and closer to home New Zealand, where most taxpayers need only approve a prefilled form.”

Reflecting back to the 2010 Review of Australia’s Future Taxation System, the first recommendation calls for a complete review of the tax system by 2022, to achieve a system that responds to the rapidly evolving digital environment, and is both easier to enforce and understand.

To address more immediate needs, recommendations are also made to close up loopholes associated with high risk industries and the growth of the gig or sharing economy. These include, to:

  • consider the introduction of an ABN withholding tax system at source, with potential for grading according to industry sector, akin to the system in New Zealand; and
  • standardise our workplace expenses deductions scheme, as done in other comparable nations, to reduce the potential for error and misrepresentation.

The committee has also called for greater responsiveness from the ATO to the needs of taxpayers and other stakeholders. This includes continued access to paper forms and information for those not technically enabled, implementing a service level agreement with all stakeholders affected by the agency’s changing practices, and the clear articulation of the rights and obligations of both the ATO and taxpayers in a single cohesive and easily understood tax engagement framework.

Another recommendation is for more rigorous monitoring of outcomes of behavioural economics methods and tools to ensure taxpayer funds are well invested.

“Accountability is the key to confidence,” Mr Falinski said.

“The recommendations made by the committee in this report, if implemented, will provide greater certainty for business planning, increase taxpayer confidence in the ATOs’ probity and efficiency, and reduce the potential for cash activity and tax avoidance.”

The inquiry was referred to the committee in December 2017. Copies of the report and information about the inquiry are available on the Committee’s website.  

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NATIONAL CONGRESS is highly concerned by a $6 million funding cut to Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation announced in the South Australian budget last week.

"We are now asking the South Australian government how they intend to alleviate the already existing disadvantage and suffering of vulnerable families and communities?" National Congress co-chair Rod Little said.

"We are alarmed that these funds will be redirected at the expense of South Australian Aboriginal people’s welfare and will only break down the hard work of building relationships and reconciliation that has given many peoples hope for a better future.

"In last week’s budget, the South Australian Government announced the discontinuation of grant funding paid to SA Native Title Services, who engage in native title negotiations with the state."

The Government will also halve of the number of staff working in the Department of the Premier and Cabinet’s Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation division, cut more than $6 million of funding. This includes abolishing the Office of the Treaty Commissioner after the Marshall government decided to abandon state treaty process.

The Aboriginal Regional Authority Policy, developed by Labor in 2004, will also “no longer be performed in 2018-2019".

The government attempted to divert attention away from wide-sweeping cuts by drawing attention to its “alternative approach to Aboriginal affairs” to be developed in consultation with Aboriginal people across the state, according to Mr Little.

"However, it is clear that this budget deprioritises the needs and interests of Aboriginal peoples.

“National Congress is dismayed at the sweeping cuts to Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation in the South Australian budget.” Mr Little said.

“Treaty negotiations are clearly on the Federal Government’s agenda with the current Senate Inquiry and the Referendum Council’s report.

“It is highly disappointing that the South Australian government has abolished the Office of the Treaty Commissioner, when we are seeing such great progress towards self-determination, representation and treaties in other states including Victoria and the Northern Territory.”

Co-chair Jackie Huggins said, “The South Australian budget reveals an alarming trend: whenever there are budget cuts, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples feel it.

“We are not political playthings. These budget cuts will impact Victorian Aboriginal people’s lives and wellbeing. How can we expect social outcomes to improve when governments keep slashing funding to the programs which are supporting First Peoples? We can’t.”

www.nationalcongress.com.au

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INDUSTRY super funds have announced a new initiative to take the legwork out of consolidating multiple accounts to save eligible members an average $260 a year in fees and insurance premiums.

So far, 18 industry super funds covering over half the workforce are cooperating in a collective cross-fund matching initiative that will be free of charge to members if a successful match is found.

In its first full scale deployment, the matching initiative seeks to automatically consolidate 500,000 low balance inactive accounts.

Successfully consolidating all these accounts could collectively save members an estimated $100 million a year in duplicate fees and insurance premiums.

Industry Super Australia chief executive, Bernie Dean, said industry super funds had been designing and testing the sophisticated cross-matching scheme for over a year.

“The initiative follows a successful 2017 pilot led by Industry Funds Services and nine industry funds which consolidated 50,000 accounts,” said Mr Dean.

“It has been developed to cut through restrictive rules which limit the ability of funds to reunite members’ lost and inactive savings without first obtaining express consent.

“Once a match is found members will still be able to opt out, but a survey following the pilot found members who had accounts consolidated were very happy funds proactively chased their savings.

“This is the right thing to do for members – they expect the system to sort out multiple accounts for them," Mr Dean said.

“Industry super funds have been consolidating multiple accounts for many years but it has relied on members kicking it off. This new initiative will cut through the red tape,” he said.

“Consolidating the accounts will reduce duplicate charges and help members build their super savings faster,” Mr Dean said.

According to Productivity Commission estimates, eliminating multiple accounts could save a member $51,000 over his or her entire working life. 

Industry Super Funds’ cross-matching initiative:

  • · Eligible inactive accounts with balances under $6,000 will enter a collective pool to be matched to the active account held by participating funds.
  • · There will be no charge to members associated with the matching of a superannuation account and no exit fees for duplicate accounts closed as accounts are consolidated.
  • · Industry Super-owned AUSfund – an Eligible Rollover Fund – will be used to match and consolidate members’ inactive accounts to an active account held in a participating industry super fund.
  • · Any inactive accounts sent to AUSFund but not consolidated in the initial wave of matching will attract investment returns net of a low annual administration fee of $11.50 and 0.53 percent indirect costs until consolidated in subsequent matching waves.
  • · Where required, funds will inform members of their fund’s participation in the cross fund matching exercise through disclosures, including the annual member statements.

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SINGLE TOUCH Payroll (STP) reporting is off to a successful start, according to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), with around 40,000 employers already sending tax and super information from their payroll software each time they pay their employees.

The STP transition year for employers with 20 or more employees started on July 1, delivering on the commitment to streamline reporting obligations and make sure employers pay the right amount of super for their employees.

ATO assistant commissioner John Shepherd acknowledged the significant efforts undertaken by employers to change the way they report to the ATO and commended those involved in the design of STP.

“Software providers and tax professionals have done a great job getting their clients’ systems and processes ready for STP reporting. Their collaboration with the ATO in designing and ensuring the readiness of STP has made this first step in the implementation of STP a success,” Mr Shepherd said.

"Once an employer starts reporting through STP, they will no longer have to give their employees a payment summary (what many still call a Group Certificate). Employees will be able to access an income statement for each employer in ATO online services, accessed through myGov. STP data will be pre-filled into their tax return at the end of the financial year and made available to their registered tax agents.

“Over 2.5 million employees can already see their tax and super information being updated after every pay in myGov. This gives them a better picture of their super entitlements and more control over their retirement savings.

“As with any major transition we recognise that some payroll software providers may require additional time to transition their employer clients to STP-enabled software,” Mr Shepherd said.

Penalties generally won’t apply in this transition year as the ATO continues to focus on providing tailored support to employers as they commence their STP reporting.

Employers who need additional time can also apply using the ATO’s online form or by asking their tax or BAS agent to make an application on their behalf.

Around 73,000 employers with 20 or more employees are expected to transition to STP reporting this financial year. Around 15,000 small employers with 19 or fewer employees have also voluntarily started their STP reporting.

www.ato.gov.au

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THE Queensland Resources Council has welcomed the Palaszczuk Government’s release of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the new coking coal mine, Olive Downs, in central Queensland.

QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said Pembroke’s $1 billion Olive Downs project, near Moranbah, would further strengthen the resources sector’s contribution to the Queensland economy.

“Currently the resources sector in Queensland is creating a new job and investing $1 million every hour while exporting $1 billion every week and delivering almost $100 million to the Palaszczuk Government every week,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“Olive Downs is a milestone project for Queensland which will create 500 jobs in the construction phase, 1000 once operational, produce 15 million tonnes of coal every year and will be one of the largest open cut coking coal mines in the world.”

Mr Macfarlane thanked State Development Minister Cameron Dick and Isaac region Mayor Anne Barker for their support of the resources sector.

“This is a clear and practical example of all levels of government working together to provide big city economic opportunities in regional towns of Moranbah, Dysart, Nebo, Middlemount. Jobs in the resources sector are high-tech and well-paid jobs with the highest average weekly full-time adult earnings of any industry at $2659 – or over $138,000 per annum,” he said.

“This is more good news for Queensland’s coal industry and highlights the strong fundamentals of Queensland’s coking coal from the Bowen Basin. It’s high-quality coal, close to ports and is produced at a lower cost to other markets including the US.”

The Queensland resources sector now provides one in every six dollars in the Queensland economy, sustains one in eight Queensland jobs, and supports more than 16,400 businesses across the State – with almost 7000 businesses in the Greater Brisbane region – all from 0.1 per cent of Queensland’s land mass, according to the QRC.

www.qrc.org.au

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PO Box 2144
MANSFIELD QLD 4122