AN UPDATED Business Funding Guide, which has been revised to reflect feedback and support small businesses impacted by the COVID crisis, has been released today.

The guide, developed by the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman in partnership with Scottish Pacific Business Finance, is primarily written for accountants, bookkeepers and other accredited financial advisers, to assist their small business clients to find appropriate funding and increase their chances of getting approved for finance.

“Trading conditions have changed dramatically since we released the first Business Funding Guide last year,” Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell said.

“The guide was originally intended to help small businesses secure funding for growth, however given the heavy toll the COVID crisis has taken on small businesses, the focus is now firmly on their survival.

“While many small businesses are still eligible for government support, these measures are temporary and plans will need to be made to fund their recovery, reinvention and growth.

“This independent guide provides comprehensive up-to-date information about a range of funding options available to small businesses, along with a step-by-step pathway to becoming ‘finance fit’ to give small businesses their best chance at success with the application process.

“Even at the best of times, many small businesses face an uphill battle to secure funding," Ms Carnell said.

“We know many have not bothered to apply due to the onerous application process and unrealistic serviceability requirements. Even for loans that have been 50 percent guaranteed by the Federal Government, small businesses have been asked for all sorts of documentation including director guarantees, which really means the family home.

“That’s why it is crucial small businesses understand the growing range of financial providers and products on the market – the big four banks are not the only game in town.

“Small business owners that need funding to stay afloat and recover from this challenging period need to consider all of the funding options, including those that are not tied to the family home, to make the best choice for their business," she said.

“Finally, it is vital small business borrowers ensure their lender is an AFCA member and talk to their trusted accredited financial adviser – who has our Business Funding Guide – before taking out a loan.”


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THE VICTORIAN Government has doubled down on last week’s record investment in energy efficiency in the residential sector with a swathe of smart stimulus measures targeted at businesses, community groups and government operations.

Together, this $1 billion energy management package will create thousands of local jobs and ensure every part of the economy is supported through Victoria’s economic recovery, acccording to the Energy Efficiency Council’s CEO, Luke Menzel.

“Last week the Andrews Government took a leadership position on energy efficiency, with a record $797 million investment in energy efficiency upgrades, with a focus on social housing residents and concession card holders,” Mr Menzel said. 

“Today they doubled down, extending the benefits of energy efficiency stimulus to every part of the Victorian economy, and ensuring no business is left behind.”

Today’s budget includes $91 million of energy management support for Victorian businesses and community groups, including:

  • A $31 million co-investment fund for large energy users to transform the way industry uses energy and helping businesses save money, to be spent in the next twelve months;
  • A $30 million top up for the Agriculture Energy Investment Plan to support Victorian farmers to improve their energy management;
  • $9 million for Victorian Energy Upgrade (VEU) incentives targeted at small businesses, to accompany the $38 million going towards 15,000 solar rebates for businesses; and
  • $21 million for climate change community action, which will include funding to help community groups install renewable energy systems, storage and energy efficiency improvements in community buildings.

In addition to supporting Victorian businesses, the Andrews Government is leading by example, committing almost $100 million over four years to increase the energy performance of its own operations, including:

  • $40 million for LED lighting and solar PV in public hospitals; and
  • $59.9 million to the Greener Government Buildings (GGB) Program and creating a revolving fund that will see energy savings reinvested in further buildings upgrades for years to come.

The budget also included $10 million for supporting the clean economy workforce, including setting up a Clean Economy Skills and Jobs Taskforce, which would develop a Clean Energy Workforce Development Strategy and oversee the rollout of a $6 million for a Clean Economy Workforce Capacity Building Fund.

Energy experts applauded these investments.

“Today’s announcements bring Victoria’s total commitment to energy management stimulus investments to $1 billion,” Mr Menzel said.

“This is smart stimulus. We know that energy efficiency upgrades have the biggest jobs multiplier of any form of clean energy investments. Victoria is harnessing that jobs multiplier to supercharge their post-COVID recovery, creating thousands of good, local jobs and cutting carbon along the way,” he said.

This major new stimulus effort is consistent with evidence from bodies like the International Monetary Fund and the International Energy Agency, who call energy efficiency a ‘job-creation machine’, and have advocated for it to be put at the heart of economic recovery programs post COVID-19.


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THE Joint Select Committee on Implementation of the National Redress Scheme will hold a public hearing this week. The Committee will hear from individuals who have engaged with the Scheme and service providers who are supporting survivors.

The Committee’s First Interim Report, tabled in May 2020, made 14 detailed recommendations that were intended to inform the Scheme’s legislated second anniversary review.

Committee Chair Senator Dean Smith noted in September that, while the second anniversary review is ongoing, a number of issues associated with the operation of the Scheme need to be considered now.

“The Committee will hear evidence directly from survivors and the support services on the ground to ensure that the National Redress Scheme … is suitable for all survivors including First Nations people,” Senator Smith said.

Public hearing program

Date: Thursday, 26 November 2020
Time: 1pm to 5pm
Location: via teleconference

The hearing will be broadcast live at and public hearing programs will be available at the Committee website prior to the hearing.


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THE collapse of construction company Grocon shows Australia needs effective national security of payment laws to ensure workers, subcontractors and small businesses are not left carrying the can when builders and property developers go into administration or liquidation, says the CFMEU.

“In nearly all instances it is small businesses and subcontractors who do the majority of the work on sites, but it is the big developers who hold back payments,” said Dave Noonan, CFMEU National Construction Secretary.

“This is a massive rort that has been besetting the industry for decades. The latest Grocon collapse is just like Groundhog Day for anyone who has been around the construction industry for any length of time.

"The Federal Government is well-aware of the problem and commissioned John Murray, former CEO of Master Builders Australia and a former construction lawyer with decades of experience to investigate the widespread industry practice of non-payment or late payment of money owed for work done.

"The Murray Report made 86 recommendations around national security of payment laws and the introduction of statutory trusts which the government has been sitting on since 2017," Mr Noonan said.

“Master Builders Australia have consistently acted to stop the introduction of security of payment laws which only serves interest of big property developers and builders, and damages the small businesses and subcontractors who actually do the work in the industry.

“We call on the MBA to support the recommendations made by their former CEO, John Murray, and do right thing for small businesses and subcontractors.”


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MICHAEL RAY, a 38-year-old fraud syndicate member who conspired to defraud the Commonwealth of more than $5 million through Goods and Services Tax (GST) refunds, has been sentenced to five years imprisonment with a non-parole period of three years after facing the Melbourne County Court today.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Australian Taxation Office (ATO) joint investigation, known as Operation SPINEL, identified and charged the South Melbourne man, in May 2017, along with two other members of the Victorian-based fraud syndicate.

Mr Ray was charged after detectives identified he had attempted to obtain a share in over $5 million and did dishonestly obtain a share in more than $2.5 million from the GST fraud scheme which had operated between November 12, 2010 and December 14, 2012.

The scheme was concocted to illegally obtain personal identifying information. This information was then used to create false entities and register them for GST. Business activity statements (BAS) were then lodged to claim false GST refunds, which were directed to bank accounts that had been created using the stolen identities.

In total, the scheme intended to defraud the Commonwealth of more than $5 million.

Police executed search warrants at a number of Melbourne properties and safety deposit boxes, seizing more than $1.5 million in cash.

Mr Ray was sentenced today to five years imprisonment, with a non-parole period of three years, after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy with the intention of dishonestly obtaining a gain from the Commonwealth, contrary to Section 135.4(1) of the Criminal Code (Cth).

ATO Assistant Commissioner Ian Read said this was a successful result under the partnership of the ATO and AFP, who work together to investigate serious criminal activities.

"Tax crime affects the whole community by reducing the revenue that is available to fund essential community services," Mr Read said. "We know the majority of people are honest, but there is a small percentage of people who deliberately abuse the tax and super system for their own financial benefit. Today’s sentencing shows that these people will be held to account.

“$1.5 million has been recovered and those who had their identity compromised were provided support to help get their affairs back on track. This is an excellent result,” Mr Read said.

This matter was prosecuted by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.


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