THE HOUSE of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics will hold public hearings in Queensland for its inquiry into the implications of removing refundable franking credits.

The chair of the committee, Tim Wilson MP, said, "The committee is examining how the removal of refundable franking credits would affect investors, in particular older Australians who have planned for their retirement under the existing rules and whose financial security could be compromised."

Mr Wilson said, "The committee has received well over 1000 submissions, including many from retires who are concerned they will be forced on to the aged pension if the ability to claim a refund on their franking credits is removed.

"These hearings will provide an opportunity for Australians impacted by a change to refundable franking credits to address the committee directly with a three minute statement, and we welcome their contributions and participation," Mr Wilson said.

Public hearing details:

Townsville, 2pm to 3.30pm, Tuesday, 29 January 2019, Pandora Room, Hotel Grand Chancellor, 334 Flinders St, Townsville City, Queensland.

Alexandra Headland, 9am to 10.30am, Wednesday, 30 January 2019, The Bluff Function Room, Alexandra Headland Surf Life Saving Club, 167 Alexandra Parade, Alexandra Headland, Queensland.

Paddington, 2.30pm to 4pm, Wednesday, 30 January 2019, Presentation Room, The Lavalla Centre, 58 Fernberg Rd, Paddington, Queensland.

Eight Mile Plains, 9am to 10.30am, Thursday, 31 January 2019, Central Auditorium, Brisbane Technology Park Conference Centre, 1 Clunies Ross Ct, Eight Mile Plains, Queensland.

Upper Coomera, 2pm to 3.30pm, Thursday, 31 January 2019, Upper Coomera Centre, 90 Reserve Rd, Upper Coomera, Queensland.

Further public hearings will be announced as the inquiry progresses. The hearings will be webcast live (audio only).

A number of submissions have been received and are available on the committee’s webpage at: www.aph.gov.au/economics.

A number of submissions are still being processed and will be published over the coming months. Submissions can be made online or by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

www.aph.gov.au/economics

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CREW MEMBERS of the last Australian vessels operated by BHP and Bluescope are demanding the Federal Government intervene by refusing to issue a temporary license allowing flag of convenience ships crewed by exploited foreign workers to carry iron ore between Port Hedland and Port Kembla.

Almost 80 crew members from the MV Mariloula and MV Lowlands Brilliance were notified this week that the ships would be immediately withdrawn from the coastal shipping route and their jobs axed.

A number of these workers will tomorrow make a public plea to the Morrison Government to use their regulatory powers to save Australian seafaring jobs.

The seafarers will be joined by Maritime Union of Australia Southern NSW relieving branch secretary Mick Cross, along with Member for Cunningham and Standing Committee on Infrastructure, Transport and Cities deputy chair Sharon Bird, Member for Wollongong Paul Scully, and Member for Shellharbour Anna Watson.

The MUA said BHP and Bluescope were legally unable to use exploited foreign seafarers to carry iron ore between Australian ports without a temporary licence. These licences are subject to ministerial discretion, meaning the Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, in his role as Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, will ultimately determine whether Australian seafarers remain on these iron ore vessels.

The loss of the MV Mariloula and MV Lowlands Brilliance will see the end of 100 years of Australian merchant mariners carrying iron ore for BHP.

www.mua.org.au

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IN RESPONSE to the Productivity Commission report Superannuation: Assessing Efficiency and Competitiveness, the Institute of Public Accountants (IPA) has referred to its earlier views made in a submission by the IPA Deakin SME Research Centre, which reinforced the 2014 Financial Services Inquiry proposed objective that superannuation is intended ‘to provide income in retirement to substitute or supplement the Age Pension’.

“Acknowledging the purpose of the superannuation system, we need to continue the process of crafting and shaping the potential forms of the Retirement Income Covenant,” IPA chief executive officer, Andrew Conway said.

“An important part of this work includes clarifying the fiduciary relationship between trustees and the members of a retirement fund.

“Australia has $2.61 trillion in managed superfunds and this underlines the significant role that the fund trustee plays.

“Considering the interim findings of the Hayne Royal Commission, the Productivity Commission superannuation report and other inquiries, the role and accountability of trustees must be reinforced.

“Australia needs a framework which acknowledges significant funds being invested, varying levels of expertise and knowledge of trustees, along with their reliance on external experts, to provide further guidance in the Covenant to clarify the obligations of trustees.

“The IPA strongly supports the high level guidance of a Comprehensive Income Product for Retirement (CIPR) to ensure fund members have efficient and constant income, longevity risk management and some access to capital.

“However, CIPR is not appropriate for all; for example, where illness leads to shorter life expectancy or a lower super balance.

“The IPA also supports Retirement Income Covenant principles that encompass the development and existence of a retirement income strategy and facilitating engagement of fund members with decision making on their own retirement.

“Higher levels of financial literacy would also lead to higher levels of fund member engagement as recommended by the Productivity Commission; a recommendation, we strongly support,” Mr Conway said.

 

publicaccountants.org.au

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THE Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) has accused large multinational companies BHP and BlueScope Steel of using the January holiday period to quietly sack nearly 80 Australian seafarers and replace them with $2-an-hour exploited foreign labour on the Australian coast.

MUA national secretary Paddy Crumlin said the union has been informed that the MV Mariloula and MV Lowlands Brilliance would be dumped immediately – the last remaining Australian ships that have serviced BHP and subsequently Bluescope steelworks in this country for more than 100 years.

“This is a national disgrace,” Mr Crumlin said. “Many, many Australians have known someone who worked on the famous fleet of BHP iron boats, yet the company wants to end more than 100 years of proud trade by sending a couple of sneaky emails in early January.

“One in eight merchant seafarers died defending this country in two world wars and their legacy deserves a lot more than this treacherous, underhanded attempt to dump Australian workers ahead of a federal election.”

Mr Crumlin said the two vessels move iron ore from BHP’s mining operations in Port Hedland to BlueScope’s steelworks in Port Kembla, then run coal to China before returning to Port Hedland and qualify as cabotage trade.

The union has written to the company demanding answers.

“It is with great surprise and regret we received notice from BHP informing the impending removal of the MV Mariloula and MV Lowlands Brilliance from freight services contracted to BlueScope and consequently, their removal from Australian coastal and international trade,” the correspondence said.

“The decision has the potential to devastatingly affect Australian seafarers and will see BlueScope’s supply chain effectively removing Australia labour from the local Australian industry, being replaced by highly exploited foreign crews paid as low as $2 per hour.”

Mr Crumlin said the MUA remains deeply concerned with BlueScope’s lack of consultation and discussion prior to the announcement by BHP, as well as the fact BlueScope is planning to shut down a trade that has run successfully for more than 100 years when alternatives are available.

“The union understands there to be considerable availability of Cape Size Bulk vessels suitable for the BlueScope freight task currently performed by the MV Mariloula and MV Lowlands Brilliance,” the letter said.

“We urge BlueScope to utilise Australian seafaring labour in its local supply chain. Australian seafarers have serviced BHP and subsequently Bluescope steel works in this country for more than 100 years.”

Mr Crumlin said the MUA had historically worked constructively with both BHP and Bluescope to meet cabotage requirement, including pay freezes during periods of economic downturn.

“This contribution to the company by Australian seafarers deserves ongoing certainty of their employment in BlueScope’s shipping supply chain. We note that during the period of wage freeze by workers including seafarers the Company made a $1.6 billion profit,” the letter said.

Mr Crumlin said the move was particularly galling given the current shipping arrangements do not expire between BHP and Bluescope until June this year and that his brief discussions with company management had shed no light on the reasons behind the decision.

The MUA is now requesting a meeting with BlueScope, BHP, maritime unions and the AWU to ascertain the real facts behind BHP’s decision to dump current shipping arrangements and to further discuss what will occur between now and June.

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QUEENSLAND'S coal industry has yet again demonstrated its critical importance to the State’s economy delivering record exports over the year to December 2018, according to the Queensland Resources Council (QRC).
 
QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said new data from Queensland’s ports revealed total coal exports of 223 million tonnes (mt) surpassing the last record by 2 mt set in 2016.
 
“Countries around the world are using our metallurgical coal to make steel needed for building modern cities and our high quality thermal coal is delivering tomorrow’s energy needs through high efficiency, low emission coal-fired power plants,” Mr Macfarlane said.
 
“Green activists continue to claim the world is turning away from coal but the data proves it’s an essential ingredient for the world economy to grow. 
 
“Queensland coal was exported to 30 different countries or territories – Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, England, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Italy, Gibraltar, Japan, Malaysia, Netherlands, Philippines, Poland, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, Vietnam and Wales.                                                                                 
 
“This record can only be achieved through the hard work and world-class standards set by the 215,000 Queenslanders who work in or with the coal industry," Mr Macfarlane said.
 
“According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) Australia’s net exports of coal is forecast to increase by 20 percent by 2040 while the Office of the Chief Economist said Australia’s coal earnings are on target to generate more than $67 billion in 2018–19 making it Australia’s largest commodity export." 
 
In addition, Queensland LNG from the Port of Gladstone recently set a new export record of 20.58 million tonnes (mt) in 2018.

“Every tonne of coal and all resources exported brings in royalty taxes, which help pay for Queenslanders’ roads, schools and hospitals, and pay for the teachers that educate our children, the nurses and doctors who look after our health and the police force that keeps us safe,” Mr Macfarlane said.

QRC’s current economic data shows the coal industry contributed $43.4 billion to the State’s economy in 2017/18 and invested $13.1 billion with local businesses and community organisations. 

Port breakdown 

Port of Brisbane (Queensland Bulk Handling)     7.1
Abbot Point Coal Terminal     29.8
Hay Point Coal Terminal     48.9
Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal     69.5
Port of Gladstone (RG Tanna & WICET)     67.9
TOTAL     223.2mt

www.qrc.org.au

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