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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