THE FINAL entry deadline for the 2020 (17th annual) edition of The International Business Awards is Tuesday, July 28.

All individuals and organisations worldwide — public and private, for-profit and non-profit, large and small — may submit nominations to The International Business Awards.

The International Business Awards, one of the eight Stevie Awards programs, are widely considered to be the world's premier business awards competition. In 2019 the competition attracted more than 4,000 nominations from organizations in more than 70 nations.

Juries featuring more than 150 executives will determine the Stevie Award winners. The Gold, Silver, and Bronze Stevie Award winners will be announced on September 9. Stevie Award winners will be honored at a virtual awards ceremony this year.

New this year are a variety of COVID-19 response awards categories that do not have entry fees. These aim to honor heroes of every industry including medical, education, food delivery, media, public service, business response, and more.

The International Business Awards recognise achievement in every facet of the workplace. Categories include:

The IBAs feature more than 40 categories that do not require the payment of entry fees, including all 35 of the Company/Organization of the Year categories, and that there are many new and revised features of the IBAs for 2020, including:

  • Nine new categories to recognize singular business achievements in areas such as business turnaround, finance, revenue generation, and science and technology, among others.
  • The simplification of submission requirements in the Company/Organization, Corporate Communications & Public Relations, Marketing, and New Product & Product Management category groups.

About the Stevie Awards
Stevie Awards are conferred in eight programs: the Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards, the German Stevie Awards, The American Business Awards, The International Business Awards, the Stevie Awards for Great Employers, the Stevie Awards for Women in Business, the Stevie Awards for Sales and Customer Service, and the new Middle East Stevie Awards. Stevie Awards competitions receive more than 12,000 entries each year from organisations in more than 70 nations. Honouring organisations of all types and sizes and the people behind them, the Stevies recognize outstanding performances in the workplace worldwide.

www.StevieAwards.com.

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THE Association of Accounting Technicians in Australia (AAT) has joined the Institute of Public Accountants (IPA) as part of the IPA Group.

"The IPA has enjoyed a long association with AAT.  This change will bring enhanced member benefits and support in line with global trends which demonstrate the importance of an inclusive and collaborative approach between accounting technicians and accountants, particularly in their support to the small business sector,” IPA chief executive officer, Andrew Conway said.

“Significant new benefits will be offered to technician members, including a comprehensive member pathway for student members seeking a career as an either an Accounting Technician or a Public Accountant.

“This process is similar to the transition of the IFA (UK) into the IPA Group in late 2014,” Mr Conway said.

www.publicaccountants.org.au

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THE LAW COUNCIL of Australia has called on the Federal Government to improve the use of electronic processes in the execution of documents and said consideration should be given to consistency across the states and territories is needed to avoid confusion.

Appearing before the Senate Select Committee on Financial Technology and Regulatory Technology, Law Council president, Pauline Wright, said while the implementation of electronic document execution, introduced during the pandemic should be applauded, it is important that the Committee considers the medium and long-term supports needed, including the benefits of harmonising approaches across jurisdictions.

“There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the economic and financial environment in Australia and has significantly affected the FinTech, RegTech and LegalTech sectors,” Ms Wright said.

“Improving the ability to undertake the witnessing and signing of crucial documents as well as filing or registering documents with governmental and regulatory agencies electronically, should be priority of any reform process,” Ms Wright said.

While the Law Council commended the initiatives regarding electronic document execution that have been introduced during the pandemic, the potential for inconsistency between jurisdictions has created uncertainty.

“The Law Council asks that the Committee consider the possibility of harmonising, where appropriate, processes for e-signature and similar activities nationally,” Ms Wright said.

“We also suggest that the temporary provisions for the virtual running of company meetings, such as AGMs, under the Corporations Act, has clear benefits for the corporate sector and investors in times when the economy is under stress.

“In the Law Council’s view, these reforms should be maintained post COVID-response measures, with the necessary safeguards in place,” Ms Wright said.

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EQT HOLDINGS Ltd (ASX: EQT) has announced the appointment of Equity Trustees Superannuation Limited as superannuation trustee for AMP Life Limited’s  (AMP Life) superannuation funds replacing current trustees N M Superannuation Proprietary Limited and AMP Superannuation Limited.

AMP Life has more than $7 billion invested in these superannuation funds held by more than 340,000 Australians and has been acquired by Resolution Life Group Holdings LP (Resolution Life), a global manager of in force life insurance businesses.

Following this appointment, Equity Trustees is now responsible for over $20 billion in superannuation assets for more than 700,000 members overall.

Equity Trustees managing director, Mick O’Brien said, “The appointment to AMP Life confirms Equity Trustees as the leading provider of independent superannuation trustee services in Australia. It also marks another leading financial services firm choosing Equity Trustees to provide its specialist fund governance services.”

Mr O’Brien said there was an increasing trend to outsource the trustee role amongst superannuation providers in Australia and overseas.

“The appeal of outsourced specialist oversight of super members’ funds is a growing trend in the wake of the financial services royal commission. Recent market volatility, including unprecedented numbers of people accessing part of their superannuation early, alongside an inherently complex regulatory environment, have also highlighted how a specialist superannuation trustee can deliver value for funds and their members.”

Equity Trustees has grown to be the market leader in superannuation trustee services and has secured several large-scale appointments this financial year, including the appointment by AIA to oversee the CommInsure superannuation funds.

Mr O’Brien said the company had been investing significantly by recruiting specialised professionals to its Superannuation Trustee Office to capture the expected growth in industry outsourcing.

“We aim to be the only choice for large-scale providers with sophisticated needs, who want the best governance structure they can find for their members. That includes global players who want an Australian specialist with deep understanding of the complex regulatory environment,” he said.

Mr O’Brien said the role of trustee was critical to a robust, secure superannuation system.

“The role of trustee has not been well understood, but its value is becoming more appreciated; it must balance technical expertise in the complexities of governance and regulation, with great judgement. This is the essence of being a trustee.”

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WITH THE COVID-19 pandemic highlighting the responsiveness and flexibility of Australian systems and its people, as well as exposing some structural weaknesses, the Parliament’s Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee will tomorrow hold a public hearing as part of an inquiry into the resilience of Australia’s supply chains and the impact of COVID-19 on the global rules based order.

Witnesses appearing before the Committee will represent an inter-disciplinary consultancy group, an Australian policy, geopolitical and economic think-tank, and experts specialising in ‘grey zone’ defence tactics, strategies increasingly used by other nation states.

Committee chair Senator David Fawcett said COVID has heightened awareness for many Australians that a “business as usual” approach is not sustainable with the dual impacts of the pandemic and the changing strategic environment.

"Reducing acquisition cost has been a major feature of business supply-chain decisions since the turn of the century, including off-shoring production and just-in-time replenishment," Senator Fawcett said.

"This disruption is forcing a national discussion into the weaknesses in some of Australia’s key supply-chain models and an analysis of what can be done to build-in resilience. COVID‑19 has prompted a rethink of our current trade and manufacturing architecture and ensuring defence strategy responds to the new environment, from both a health and a strategic perspective."

Dr Alan Dupont AO, the CEO and founder of consultancy firm Cognoscenti Group, will discuss his submission highlighting the threats to the current global rules-based order and the likely implications for Australia as supply chains 'decouple’.

The Committee will explore this—and the possible emergence of new geopolitical blocs—with Dr Dupont and with another submitter, John Blackburn AO, retired RAAF Air Vice‑Marshal and founder of the Institute of Integrated Economic Research Australia.

Australia’s exposure to geopolitical risks, the stability of near neighbours and its defence and cyber security capabilities will be discussed with joint submitters: Professor Sascha Dov Bachmann, professor in law, University of Canberra; and Dr Andrew Dowse AO, director of Defence Research, Edith Cowan University and also retired RAAF Air Vice-Marshal.

Full terms of reference for the inquiry are on the Committee website.

Public hearing details

Date: Thursday, 2 July 2020
Time: 3pm—5pm AEST
Location: By teleconference

The hearings will be audio streamed live at aph.gov.au/live.

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THE Queensland Resources Council has welcomed the announcement by BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) to invest $100 million into autonomous haulage trucks at its Daunia coal mine in the Bowen Basin.

QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said the Queensland coal industry was an early adopter of technology and a world leader in creating the long term jobs of the future through automation.

“What we are seeing from the resources sector, such as BMA today, is companies building high-tech capacity into their operations to improve safety and efficiency,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“Technology is a multiplier of jobs and through this investment up to 10 regional businesses including Indigenous businesses would share in $35 million worth of contracts, creating 150 project jobs on top of the 56 new permanent jobs on site.

“In addition Hastings Deering would see an additional 30 regional jobs to work on fitting and converting the trucks.

“Queensland’s resources industry will continue to invest in technology to ensure it maintains leading practices in safety and innovation which will secure the sector’s competitiveness over other mining jurisdictions around the world.”

BMA said the rollout of the Caterpillar trucks would be completed by the end of 2021.

www.qrc.org.au

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INDUSTRY SUPER FUNDS are poised to spend $19.5 billion on projects across Australia as part of a three-year investment pipeline that will create more than 200,000 jobs.

The capital expenditure was identified as part of a comprehensive survey of industry super funds, IFM Investors and Industry Super Property Trust (ISPT).

The projects will be a key feature of a new advertising campaign fronted by Industry Super Australia (ISA) chair Greg Combet, which highlights how Industry SuperFunds’ investments will help get member balances and the economy growing again.

The projects include new commercial construction, redevelopments, public infrastructure upgrades and making assets more energy efficient.

“We’re already big investors, but we’ve got much more planned that will not only grow our members’ balances but generate jobs and economic activity across Australia," Mr Combet said.

“Government will need to mobilise private investment to create jobs and stimulate the economy – the super system will be vital for this task and industry funds will play a significant role.”

“Crucial to the industry funds contribution to economic recovery will be policy stability in the super system.”

Industry super fund members already collectively own more than $104 billion in Australian infrastructure, property, and other physical assets. These investments create jobs and drive productivity and growth.

The profits generated by these investments have been critical to the good performance of the funds with members reaping the benefits through strong returns. Analysis shows that $100 invested in unlisted assets 15 years ago is now worth $510, in comparison $100 invested in international shares would be worth $351 now.   

The survey has also revealed the funds are venturing into new investment opportunities across many sectors – ploughing billions into aged care, affordable housing, direct lending to business and agriculture.     

Since the Covid-19 downturn Industry SuperFunds have poured hundreds of millions into the balance sheets of good Australian business, this helps them to rebuild and to expand operations.

And there could be billions more to come, at the end of the Global Financial Crisis superannuation funds provided a significant portion of the $120 billion in capital raised by local businesses.

Industry super funds hold a major stake in Australia’s economic life. They invest in Australian listed companies - holding 10 percent of the ASX – are active in debt markets, have significant infrastructure and property holdings and invest in the wider Australian financial system.  

The super system needs a strong Australian economy to deliver for members, and the economy needs a strong super system to support its recovery.

The campaign (which can be seen here: https://youtu.be/RoRYeb7Mmeg) will run across mass media markets including broadcast TV, digital and catch-up TV, online, throughout social media and more. The Shannon Company is the creative agency and ISA’s director of marketing is Alana Burnside.

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THE CFMEU NSW has placed a 'green ban' on the demolition of the Willow Grove and St Georges Terraces buildings in Parramatta, earmarked for destruction by the NSW Government as part of plans for the new Powerhouse Parramatta.

"These green bans mean no work can be done to destroy these historically significant sites," said Darren Greenfield, CFMEU NSW secretary.

"If the Berejiklian government wants work on the museum to proceed they need to sit down with the local community, listen to what they say and come up with a plan that preserves these buildings," he said.

"The local community, through the North Parramatta Residents Action Group, has campaigned for years to save these two heritage buildings and they are supported by the National Trust of Australia (NSW) and the Historic Houses Association.

"The CFMEU is proud to stand with the community in support of this important campaign. This is the first green ban the CFMEU has put in place since the recent passing of Jack Mundey who inspired a generation of unionists and community activists to fight for our shared built, cultural, and environmental heritage.

“As shown by the recent success of the green ban on the Bondi Beach Pavilion, the CFMEU won’t stand by while local communities are ignored and important heritage sites are destroyed," Mr Greenfield said.

“Built in the 1870s as a residential home, Willow Grove is a rare remaining example of Victorian Italiante Villa in Parramatta. Many generations of people in the Parramatta community were born there during the three decades it served as a maternity hospital between 1919 and 1953.

“The Berejiklian government has ignored the local community and refused to look at alternative designs that incorporate these two heritage buildings in the design,” said Darren Greenfield.

Suzette Meade, spokesperson for North Parramatta Residents Action Group said, "For four years the community has tried to reason with Premier Berejiklian. Over this time we’ve offered solutions but they have been ignored.  We will not stand by and watch as more local heritage is destroyed.

"The Berejiklian government bulldozed Parramatta's war memorial pool, then it was the historic Royal Oak Hotel - a hotel older than Perth. This hotel was knocked down in the dead of night.  Premier Berejiklian should be under no illusion; if the destruction of Willow Grove or St Georges Terraces commences people will be prepared to put their bodies in front of machinery," Ms Meade said.

"Jack Mundey saved Sydney's historic Rocks precinct. Jack's recent passing has reminded all of us that to simply be passive will only accelerate the destruction of Australia's heritage and our activities honour Jack Mundey’s legacy," she said.

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AUSTRALIA'S accommodation sector has welcomed this afternoon’s announcement to open Queensland borders from midday this Friday.
 
The Accommodation Association, the industry’s peak body, said the decision will bring much needed relief to the many hotels, motels, serviced apartments, resorts, caravan parks and accommodation providers at the heart of Queensland’s tourism sector.

Accommodation Australia CEO Dean Long said the Accommodation Association represented close to 3,500 hotels, over 150,000 rooms and nearly 100,000 employees across Australia. He said accommodation contributed $17 billion to the Australian economy each year.

About 60,000 tourism accommodation jobs have been lost due to COVID-19 with 8,000 Queenslanders now unemployed.

“This announcement has brought a big smile to the faces of our Queensland hotel, motel and accommodation operators," Mr Long said. "While leisure travel is just a small part of revenue and on-going government support is critical to help the sector through the ongoing restrictions, this is a very welcome announcement.
 
“For the many locals who work in the accommodation sector, the prospect of being able to welcome guests once again as restrictions on travel and gatherings ease is great news," Mr Long said.
 
“The accommodation sector has adjusted quickly from the get-go to implement all the recommended health measures. The systems, cleaning protocols and necessary measures are all in place and we’re ready to open for business.”

 

About the  Accommodation Association
The Accommodation Association represents over 80 percent of all known accommodation providers from small regional parks, caravan parks, serviced apartments and resorts through to the largest hotel groups in the world including Accor, Hilton, Wyndam Destinations and IHG.

www.aaoa.com.au

 

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A RESTRICTION on new applications and a slowdown in Significant Investor Visa (SIV) processing times is leading to a desperate shortage of funding for venture capital and emerging companies to survive the post-COVID-19 recession, according to Atlas Advisors Australia.

A large number of SIV applications under the Business Innovation and Investment Program (BIIP) remain frozen in the final stages of approval because they are not being prioritised.

Executive chairman of Atlas Advisors Australia, Guy Hedley said this added to a general slowdown in processing times and a downward trend in BIIP approvals that was impeding venture capital funds and emerging companies from obtaining urgently needed capital.

Mr Hedley said there were grave concerns BIIP applications could be stalled beyond July, creating uncertainty and further funding constraints for organisations that were already on the brink.

“These are startups and emerging companies that have the prospects of becoming global leaders in health, technology, agribusiness and manufacturing but are now on the verge of collapse,” Mr Hedley said.

“The Australian economy risks losing billions of dollars, jobs and future innovation if this occurs.”

Mr Hedley said BIIP applications should be urgently reopened and the Australian Government’s review of the program should be sped up to unlock urgent funds to support post-pandemic growth.

“The current cap on BIIP applications means Australia’s economy has closed itself off from millions of dollars that could assist our recovery,” he said.

Significantly, this could also offset the serious ramifications of an expected 85 percent fall in migration in the 2020-21 financial year compared to 2019-20.

“Priority should be given to higher net worth migrant applicants to Significant Investor Visa, Investor Visa and Premium Investor Visa programs that bring substantially greater investment and longer-term benefits to the Australian economy.”

Atlas Advisors statistics showed: 

  • It took up to six months to process applications in 2015. Today it takes between up to two years.
  • The number of primary visas granted has declined to 98 in the six months between July to December 2019 from 191 in the previous corresponding period of July, 2018 to June, 2019.
  • In 2015, when applications were processed at their fastest, there were 879 approved.

About Atlas Advisors Australia 

Atlas Advisors Australia is a funds manager and investment advisory business, operating between China and Australia offering a wide range of financial services and wealth management solutions. With operations in Sydney and Melbourne in Australia and Shanghai in China, Atlas is able to support investors in all China and Australia locations.

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SMALL BUSINESSES emerging from hibernation and ready to make the most of easing COVID restrictions can find the information they need on ASBFEO’s My Business Health web portal.

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell said the My Business Health web portal now features important information for small business owners ready to re-open or ramp up their operations.

“There’s never been a tougher time to be in business and it is understandable if some small business owners are feeling overwhelmed right now,” Ms Carnell said. 

“The pandemic has changed so much in such a short amount of time, small business owners may be finding it difficult to stay on top of their obligations.

“My Business Health is a one-stop-shop for state-by-state information about restrictions and COVID-Safe Plans.

“It includes links to relevant posters and signage for your workplace along with safe workplace checklists and grants available to re-opening small businesses.

“There’s also information on free apps available such as GuestTrack, for those small businesses that need to collect and store customer and visitor contact details in the event of a localised COVID outbreak.

“My Business Health also links through to leading mental health organisations’ resources, such as Beyond Blue’s dedicated coronavirus mental health support service and Ahead for Business," Ms Carnell said.

“As small business owners work around the clock to get back on their feet, they may not realise the toll it’s taking on their mental health.

“Over the coming weeks, it’s important to take time to be kind to yourself – your business depends on you being healthy. Help is available if you need it. Visiting My Business Health is a good place to start.”    

Beyond Blue’s Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service is now live at coronavirus.beyondblue.org.au

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MANSFIELD QLD 4122