THE Queensland Resources Council (QRC) believes the Palaszczuk Government’s historic trade mission to China will further strengthen the trading partnership through key resource commodities of coal, LNG and metals to create jobs, stimulate investment and boost regional Queensland.

QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane has been invited by the Premier to join the mission this week, which will coincide with the 30th anniversary of the signing of a Sister State relationship between Queensland and the Municipality of Shanghai.  The trade mission will be led by Deputy Premier and Treasurer Jackie Trad.

“Over the last 30 years, Queenslanders have benefited greatly from the partnership we have developed with the People’s Republic of China," Mr Macfarlane said.

"The growth in trade has been extraordinary, creating more jobs, attracting more investment and, in the case of resource commodities like coal and LNG, it has generated more royalties for the Queensland Government,” he said.

“Thirty years ago, Queensland exported only $147 million worth of exports to China.  As an export market, China ranked 15th. It accounted for less than 2 percent of Queensland’s exports. Today China is clearly Queensland’s most important export market.  Queensland's exports to China were worth $28.6 billion or almost a third of Queensland’s total exports.

“That extraordinary growth has been pronounced over the last five years thanks to the contribution of the resources sector. Queensland’s exports have almost tripled from $11.2 billion in 2014-15 to more than $28.6 billion last financial year.”

China is Queensland’s largest coal customer, it purchased 50.8 million tonnes of coal in 2018 or almost a quarter (23%) of all Queensland’s coal exports in 2018.China is also the state's largest LNG customer, it purchased 14.2 million tonnes in 2018 or more than two-thirds (68%) of Queensland’s entire LNG production.

Mr Macfarlane said it was an honour for the QRC to be represented on the trade mission.

“The Premier’s invitation recognised the importance of the resources sector to the Queensland economy, not only as the source of 80 percent of the State’s export earnings but an employer of 316,000 Queenslanders and injecting more than $62 billion into the State’s economy,” he said.

www.qrc.org.au

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THE Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell has welcomed the Federal Government’s proposal to extend the amnesty to tackle non-payment of workers’ superannuation.

“The government has reintroduced legislation to extend a one-off amnesty that effectively encourages employers to catch-up on paying superannuation entitlements to staff, without being slugged with the harsh penalties that usually apply,” Ms Carnell said.

“We support the Bill as it would provide small business with a window of time to get up to date with outstanding payments to current and past employees.

“Most small businesses do the right thing in this area, with 95 percent already complying.

“The Australian Taxation Office has access to company data through Single Touch Payroll, so it’s easy for them to find out if a small business has late or unpaid superannuation payments," Ms Carnell said.

“So now is the time for small businesses to speak to their trusted advisers and get their affairs in order.

“All Australian workers should be paid the entitlements they’re owed. The amnesty, if passed, would give small businesses a short amount of time to ensure they are compliant.

“If this Bill gets through, small businesses should act quickly to take advantage of the amnesty or face significantly higher penalties if found to be non-compliant.”

www.asbfeo.gov.au

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A FEDERAL Circuit Court decision delivered today demonstrates why there is an urgent need for the Parliament to pass proposed Ensuring Integrity laws to ensure that building unions and their officials play by the rules, claimed Master Builders Australia.

The decision found that a small business sub-contractor had been deliberately denied work because they did not have a union endorsed pattern Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA). A larger construction company was pressured to deny this opportunity because they were threatened by the Construction Forestry Maritime Mining And Energy Union (CFMMEU) for not engaging its preferred subcontractors who did operate under a union pattern EBA. 

The court found that: “The [CFMMEU] contacted me at around 5:00 yesterday. They threatened action on the site if we signed you up." 

And that this resulted in the construction company: "…deliberately chose to contravene the Fair Work Act. The evidence clearly establishes that faced with two commercially unpalatable alternatives, they chose the one which led Forest Meiers to knowingly contravene the Fair Work Act, rather than to take a stance against the CFMEU." 

And that this conduct: "….has the potential to perpetuate a culture of submission in the building and construction industry where economic duress is able to be applied to subcontractors to force them to become covered by an enterprise agreement that also covers a union." 

Master Builders Australia CEO Denita Wawn said, "This case shows why the Parliament needs to urgently pass the Ensuring Integrity laws, so that building unions and their officials can be properly held to account for their ongoing culture of bullying, threats and thuggery.

"This case is yet another in a long line of decisions in which building unions threaten one company so they can control who gets work and who doesn’t,” Ms Wawn said. 

"It's a way to signal to subcontractors, who are mainly small and family businesses, that they have one choice: they must do what the union says – or - have their business, livelihoods and those of their workers threatened or jeopardised.

"That a company thinks the prospect of facing Government Regulator investigations, Federal Court proceedings and exposure to significant fines and penalties – is better than facing the wrath of building unions who think they are above the law – says it all,” Ms Wawn said.

www.masterbuilders.com.au

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APPLICATIONS for the Queensland Resources Council’s 2020 Coal Minesite Rehabilitation Trust Fund Postgraduate Scholarships (Minesite Rehabilitation Scholarships) are open.

QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said there were two scholarships available to pursue postgraduate studies in world-class environmental management.

“These scholarships can open up new pathways for people in their studies across a plethora of environmental fields and I encourage people who are interested to recognise their talents and potential and to look ahead to further career development,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“Our members understand the critical importance of adhering to world-class environmental standards with a strong focus on the rehabilitation of land post mining. These scholarships, which are funded by industry, typify that commitment and the resources industry’s close and productive partnerships with the Queensland Government and educational institutions.”

Mr Macfarlane said applicants were required to submit a brief proposal (no more than 10 pages) aligned to one or more of the 2020 Research Priorities (below). He said it was mandatory that all proposals be accompanied by a completed cover sheet.

• Native ecosystem rehabilitation esp. listed communities and success criteria;

• Rehabilitation of agricultural land esp. subsidence impacts;

• Measurement of rehabilitation success esp. new and emerging technologies;

• Landform design, drainage and stability;

• Water management impacts – surface and groundwater quantity and quality;

• Mine closure and transition esp. working with communities to identify rehabilitation outcomes, meeting regional planning expectations, and evaluation of residual risk.

Applications close Friday the December 6, 2019.

Click here for applications for 2020 scholarships and examples of projects.

www.qrc.org.au

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THE Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell is concerned by reports that engineering group UGL plans to change its bill payment timeframe.

According to a report in today’s Australian Financial Review, UGL, which is owned by Australia’s largest construction company CIMIC, has told its suppliers and sub-contractors that from October 15 they will be paid 65 days after the month in which their invoices are issued.

Austender reveals UGL has been awarded more than 20 Commonwealth government contracts in 2019 alone," Ms Carnell said.

“Prime Minister Scott Morrison has delivered on his promise ensuring government pays SMEs within 20 days and sent the message loud and clear to big business that anyone who wants to work with the Commonwealth government needs to agree to the same terms.

“Obviously we are concerned by this report in the AFR and we would encourage the government to stop doing business with any company that fails to pay their suppliers and sub-contractors within 20 days.

“Xero released data this week revealing that about half of all invoices issued by small business to big business are being paid late, totalling $115 billion a year," she said.

“We know that just one late payment makes a difference to small business’ bottom line and our Payment Times and Practices Inquiry found that some small businesses have up to 20 companies extending their payment times or just paying late, which is clearly unacceptable.

“In fact, late and extended payments have been identified as one of the most significant handbrakes on small business productivity and a burden on the economy."

www.asbfeo.gov.au

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REGIONAL Australia will be the focus of a new select committee launched today.

The Select Committee on Regional Australia will look at the contribution regional Australia makes to the nation’s identity, economy and environment. The effectiveness of existing programs to develop and promote regional centres, cities, towns and districts will also be examined.

Committee Chair, Tony Pasin MP, is looking forward to hearing the success stories from regional Australia.

"Regional Australia is more than just our food bowl," Mr Pasin said.

"Our regions provide enormous opportunities for investment, contribute significantly to our economy and national identity, and provide a quality of life beyond the congestion of our major cities.

"The committee is keen to examine how regional Australia can grow and prosper in a way that benefits everyone."

The committee is accepting submissions to the inquiry until mid-November. These can be made via the committee webpage at www.aph.gov.au/RegionalAustralia.

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CHARTERED Accountants ANZ and CPA Australia strongly believe that accountants should be able provide services that benefit their clients and support the public interest.

But reintroducing a mechanism that, due its extreme limitations, is no longer relevant in this current, increasingly complex financial advice environment is unlikely to achieve this objective.

“There is widespread agreement amongst members that the current regulatory and licensing regime for strategic advice needs work,” said Simon Grant, group executive, advocacy and international.

“So rather than putting a band-aid over a very deep wound, we need to look at the issue holistically and find a solution for strategic advice that is fit-for-purpose, permanent and serves Australian mums and dads," Mr Grant said.

“Both professional bodies are undertaking extensive consultation to find a solution, ranging from a public practice member survey to nation-wide workshops to gather feedback."

Paul Drum, CPA Australia external affairs general manager said, “The objective of the Future of Financial Advice reforms was to ensure advice is in the best interests of clients and advice should not be put out of reach of those who would benefit from it, and this has arguably not been achieved, 

“CA ANZ and CPA Australia are calling for a wholesale review of the current financial advice frameworks to address regulatory complexity.

“This complexity has been caused by years of layered regulatory reforms, without appropriate consideration to ensure these reforms are meeting their policy intent," Mr Drum said.

“The wholesale review must identify policy changes needed to ensure that consumers can access quality affordable advice from their choice of trusted adviser.”

The joint bodies submitted on behalf of members and in the public interest that:

  • Tax is a key consideration for the majority of financial planning strategies, it is material to the advice and recommendations and not incidental.
  • The accountants’ exemption only permitted the recommendation to either establish or wind up an interest in an SMSF. It was so limited that it did not even allow a recommendation to not establish an SMSF. Restoring such a limited exemption is not going to address the need to enable affordable, accessible and quality advice by trusted advisers.

www.charteredaccountantsanz.com

www.cpaaustralia.com.au

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THE House of Representatives Standing Committee on Industry, Innovation, Science and Resources will hold a public roundtable into the nuclear industry in Australia on September 20.

Chair of the Committee, Barnaby Joyce MP, said he would like to get an overview of the whole nuclear industry.

"The Committee is receiving briefings on a broad range of issues and due to the high level of public interest in nuclear power decided to make this briefing open to the public," Mr Joyce said.

"We want to hear from a broad range of voices about nuclear power and see what part it has to play in Australia’s energy future. There is a broadening view that zero emissions baseload power can be delivered by nuclear energy."

The hearing will take the form of a roundtable and will hear from a variety of government departments and non-government organisations. These include the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, the Australian Workers Union and the Australian Nuclear Association.

Members of the Committee will then travel to the Lucas Heights Nuclear Facility for a site visit and tour of the facility in the afternoon.

Public roundtable details

Date: Friday, 20 September 2019
Time: 9am to 1pm
Location: Branksome Hotel and Residences, Mascot, Sydney

9:am–10:30am: Government departments
11am–1pm: Non-government organisations 
1pm: Close

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

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THE Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) will hold two further public hearings this week for its Inquiry into the impact of the exercise of law enforcement and intelligence powers on the freedom of the press.

The Chair, Andrew Hastie MP, said, "These further public hearings will allow for the Committee to hear more from key witnesses on the important issues being raised in this inquiry. The inquiry has raised a number of lines of evidence that the Committee wishes to interrogate further and these hearings will be crucial to pulling these many threads of evidence together.

"The complexity of this inquiry has also resulted in the Committee requesting extra time from the Attorney-General in which to report its findings, which was agreed to. The Committee will now report back to the Parliament by 28 November 2019."

Public hearing details

Date: 19 September 2019
Time: 3.30pm – 5.30pm
Location: Committee Room 2R1, Parliament House, Canberra

Date: 20 September 2019
Time: 8.30am – 4.00pm
Location: Committee Room 2R1, Parliament House, Canberra

Programs for the hearings can be found here. The hearing will be broadcast live at aph.gov.au/live.

Further information on the inquiry can be obtained from the Committee’s website.

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THE House of Representatives Standing Committee on Communications and the Arts has commenced a Parliament-first inquiry into fifth-generation (5G) mobile network technology.

The Chair, Dr David Gillespie MP, said the Committee would examine the deployment, adoption and application of 5G in Australia.

"5G will transform the way we live and work, and provide opportunities for family life, industry and commerce. It will power smart homes and cities and provide new ways to experience entertainment, and at the same time transform transport, logistics and industry," Dr Gillespie said.

Dr Gillespie added, "5G is expected to be significantly faster than current mobile network technology, delivering more capacity and faster mobile data speeds for consumers. We want to hear about the opportunities and challenges of 5G."

For more information about the inquiry, including the terms of reference, visit the committee’s webpage at: www.aph.gov.au/communications \

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THE Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters wants to know if new technology has a role to play in Federal elections.

Committee Chair, Senator James McGrath, said technology such as tablet devices have now become mainstream and a new generation of voters are more comfortable with swiping rather than scribbling.

"Australian elections are still reliant on pencils and paper. Personally I don’t think electronic voting is the solution – but we do need to consider how the AEC can use new technology to improve service delivery," Senator McGrath said.

"It’s not just about what happens in the polling booth. We need to find out how technology can help with the huge job of maintaining the electoral roll, processing information between polling centres – and even replacing electoral related snail mail."

Submissions close on September 20 and the Committee expects to hold public hearings later this year.

Anybody can make a submission that address the terms of reference. Submissions attract protection under the Parliamentary Privileges Act 1997.

People wishing to make a submission can call the secretariat for advice or visit aph.gov.au/em for more information.

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