VICTORIA's most influential employer group today launched its election campaign warning the major parties that jobs, infrastructure, skills and international engagement will be vital issues in the November election.

The Victorian Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VECCI) listed key priorities within these four areas that the major parties must address to win the support of Victorian business.

VECCI Chief Executive Mark Stone said Victoria has a solid economic base and industries such as health, finance, education and agribusiness have been identified as having growth potential.

“However Victoria’s potential will not be realised without policies that drive greater investment, confidence and business activity,” said Mr Stone.

“There must be incentives for employers to expand their business and employ more people.”

In launching VECCI’s Taking Care of Business campaign, Mr Stone highlighted some of VECCI’s priorities:

Jobs

- Lift the threshold at which a business starts paying payroll tax to $850,000 - bringing payroll relief to 40,000 businesses and generating more jobs for Victoria. 

Infrastructure

- Commence construction of East West Link Stages 1 and 2 and the Melbourne Rail Link. 

- Commit to the expansion of the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre – which would increase business tourism income by $150 million a year. 

Skills

- Increase VET in schools funding to reduce youth unemployment and stimulate apprenticeships and traineeships. 

- Redirect Training Guarantee funding to support career paths in the services sectors including hospitality, tourism and retail. 

International Engagement

- Commit $75 million to Victoria’s international engagement strategy over the next four years. 

- Build on Victoria’s strong export base by partnering with business to capitalise on free trade agreements and grow export opportunities in Asia across a wide range of industries. 

Mr Stone said VECCI had launched its campaign almost six months before the election so the major parties have enough time to commit to its agenda for business.

“This is a crucial election for Victorian business,” said Mr Stone.

“A strong business sector means a financially healthier Victoria and VECCI has highlighted a number of recommendations vital to this. Many are longer term innovations that will require detailed discussion with both sides of politics.

“We are seeking a commitment to our agenda from the major political parties to ensure Victoria remains the best place in Australia to live, work and do business.”

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The Victorian Employers' Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VECCI) is the peak body for employers in Victoria, informing and servicing more than 15,000 members, customers and clients around the state.

www.vecci.org.au

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THE Australian Government’s commitment to continue funding a successful online mentoring program for women working in mining, oil and gas, is today welcomed by national resource industry employer group, AMMA.

An AMMA initiative, the Australian Women in Resources Alliance (AWRA) e-Mentoring Program was launched in early 2013 with a mandate to provide valuable support to women forging a career in the mining, oil and gas sectors.

“More than 150 resource professionals are already benefiting from the AWRA e-Mentoring Program, which facilitates a nine-month online mentoring relationship tailored to the remote locations and non-traditional work schedules of many resource workers,” says Tara Diamond, AMMA executive director, industry services.

“The federal government’s decision to continue joint-funding the AWRA e-Mentoring Program for another two years mirrors the commitment of resource employers to build a pipeline of female talent.

“Women have a critical role to play in ensuring the industry has the skills and talent to build and operate major resource projects well into the future, however the workforce is not as diverse as it could be.

“Investment in initiatives like AWRA is vital if we are to see women’s participation in the sector increase from the current 15% to our goal of 25% by 2020.”

Ms Diamond says following its initial success, the e-Mentoring scope will now target demographics of women which are particularly underrepresented in the industry.

“AWRA will bring on board experienced male and female mentors to engage with Indigenous and recently trade qualified women in the resources and allied sectors, as well as graduates in non-traditional roles,” she says.

“The real value of the e-Mentoring program is that each mentee has access to the most appropriate mentor from a variety of levels in the resource, related construction and allied service sectors, anywhere in the country.

“For a woman working on a remote mine site or oil rig, a connection to an experienced professional working in a different state or on another project can make all the difference to their career development.”

The e-Mentoring program is part of a suite of AWRA initiatives designed to attract, retain and develop women in the resource industry. This includes the AWRA Recognised Program – the industry’s first assessment of a resource organisation’s gender diversity capability.

www.amma.org.au

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PEAK retail industry body the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) congratulates the Federal Government for their commitment to supporting retailers to get on with the job of doing business through the Paid Parental Leave Amendment Bill 2014 which has come under debate today.

ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman said it is now more important than ever for the Federal Opposition to also support business and back the abolition of the ‘pay-clerk’ burden from the paid parental leave scheme.

“The Federal Government is trying to remove this major burden from all businesses but the Opposition is yet to show their support - which comes at a severe cost to business.

“The current system is overly complex and burdens business with having to carry the costs of changing their payroll systems and the additional paperwork. We are calling on all parties to put politics to one side and focus on making life a little easier for business owners, in turn helping business and the economy to grow and increasing employment opportunities.

“Under the Federal Government’s plan to remove the ‘pay-clerk’ burden, businesses of ALL sizes would be relieved of the red-tape burden of acting as the ‘pay-clerk’ for the paid parental leave scheme unless the employer and employee both ‘opt in’ to having the employer administer payments.

“We encourage the Opposition to stop playing politics on this issue and provide the support required for retailers to get on with the job of doing business. A common sense approach must prevail,” Mr Zimmerman said.

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Since 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has been the peak industry body representing Australia’s $265 billion retail sector, which employs over 1.2 million people. The ARA ensures retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating and saving money for its 5,000 independent and national retail members throughout Australia.

Visit www.retail.org.au or call 1300 368 041.

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THE Council of Small Business of Australia (COSBOA) is today challenging Coles and Woolworths on their notion that extended trading hours will be of benefit to the economy and consumers.

While COSBOA agrees with Coles and Woolworths, in identifying Australia’s need for uniform trading hours (as reported in The Australian newspaper on 26 May 2014 ('Woolworths and Coles unite on trading'), it argues that longer hours will instead be detrimental to innovation and productivity to our communities.

Peter Strong, CEO of COSBOA explains while retailers need uniform opening and closing times, it is the major supermarkets, Coles and Woolworths, that should be cutting back their hours of operation in order to allow smaller retailers to thrive and foster healthy competition.

“Each community should have the capacity to adjust shopping hours according to the needs of local people and the duopoly should be limited to these set opening hours, thus providing smaller outlets with the opportunity to thrive while meeting community needs for access to retail at convenient times.

“If the duopoly is allowed to extend their hours further, competition will be limited even more and innovation and productivity will continue to decline. The effect on local retail culture and diversity is just as important.  If the duopoly is allowed to drive other shops out of business then it is the consumer that will suffer,” said Mr Strong.

COSBOA acknowledges that competition is at the heart of any good economy, but the domination of Coles and Woolworths is already stifling innovation and productivity within the supply chain and manufacturing; extending trading hours will only increase their dominance of the marketplace.

“The problem does not end with Coles and Woolworths but also encompasses large landlords, such as Westfield and Stocklands, who dictate unsustainable opening hours even when there is no likelihood of good business for small business operations.

"With the dominance of these big landlords and the duopoly combined, we will inevitably see the closure of main-street shopping, resulting in a common, predictable model that erodes our culture and diversity as well as Australia’s capacity to compete internationally.

“The power and influence of the duopoly and the biggest landlords must be curbed if the economy is to grow and our local and unique retail and café marketplaces are to be allowed to survive,” added Mr Strong.

www.cosboa.org.au

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PEAK retail industry body the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) said while the call for uniform trading hours can relieve consumer living pressures, smaller independent supermarkets will be left under the financial pressure.

The call for uniform trading hours made today benefit large chain supermarkets leaving smaller supermarkets in the dark.

Statements that greater shopping hours will address the impact from online retailers is misleading.  The main user of longer shopping hours are major chain supermarkets. Online shopping impacts non supermarket retailers in the main.

ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman said although the ARA supports the retail industry wide trading hours, caution must be taken to keep smaller independent businesses alive.

“With the big two retailers seeking the positive side of economic growth, we must be tread carefully to not destroy smaller independent retailers.

“Small independent retailers  will endure increased hours raising the cost of doing business, increased pressure on family businesses as owners will have to cover long hours, staff retrenchment and rises in utility costs.

“The call for uniform trading hours may assist economic growth in the short term, however, smaller businesses will be unsustainable with the pressures it will involve, and long term may not prove to give positive economic growth” Mr Zimmerman said.

If consumers want longer trading hours, then employment costs and penalty rates must also be part of the discussion, without penalty rates being reviewed, wages and on costs will be unsustainable for the independent retailers of Australia.

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Since 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has been the peak industry body representing Australia’s $265 billion retail sector, which employs over 1.2 million people. The ARA ensures retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating and saving money for its 5,000 independent and national retail members throughout Australia.

Visit www.retail.org.au or call 1300 368 041.

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THIS WEEK's Carbon Nexus opening was welcomed by VECCI for the benefits it will bring to the Geelong-region and the Victorian economy.

“The Carbon Nexus opening is a significant event for the region and Victoria, as carbon fibre is a vital part of developing the Geelong-region’s potential as a global advanced manufacturing leader,” said VECCI Chief Executive Mark Stone.

“Building Victoria’s international competitiveness must be a pillar of our state’s longer term growth strategy, so it’s positive to see support for industries with demonstrated growth potential that can take advantage of global opportunities.

“As the Victorian economy continues to undergo change it is important that governments look to capitalise on our core strengths, so we welcome today’s opening,” said Mr Stone.

Mr Stone’s comments come after Premier Denis Napthine officially opened Carbon Nexus today, as part of Deakin University’s Australian Future Fibres Research and Innovation Centre.

“It’s positive to see both state and federal government’s supporting industries that make Victoria more competitive and prepared to take advantage of international opportunities,” said Mr Stone.

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The Victorian Employers' Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VECCI) is the peak body for employers in Victoria, informing and servicing more than 15,000 members, customers and clients around the state.

www.vecci.org.au

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VECCI welcomes the State and Federal Government’s $50 million investment in the Latrobe Valley’s brown coal industry because of the positive economic benefits it could bring to the region and potentially, across Victoria. 

“Funding that assists business to transition into the production of new products using a plentiful natural resource of Victoria is good policy,” says VECCI Chief Executive Mark Stone.

“Given the magnitude of Victoria’s brown coal reserve, it makes sense to explore new uses for it and we should pursue the range of possibilities, particularly if they could lead to greater prosperity.”
 
The Federal Minister for Industry Ian Macfarlane, Deputy Premier Peter Ryan and Victorian Minister for Energy Russell Northe announced the funding today as part of the 50:50 State-Commonwealth Advanced Lignite Demonstration Program.

“Strong regional economies are vital to a strong Victoria. VECCI has long recognised and supported the significant contribution the Latrobe Valley makes to the Victorian economy and supports efforts to continue to strengthen and transition the local economy,” says Mr Stone.

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The Victorian Employers' Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VECCI) is the peak body for employers in Victoria, informing and servicing more than 15,000 members, customers and clients around the state.

www.vecci.org.au

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FOLLOWING yesterday’s decision by the Fair Work Commission (FWC) on the Restaurant and Catering Award for penalty rates, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is hopeful we will see a common sense outcome in this year’s Retail Award Review due later this year.

ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman said the ARA has been in discussions with retailers nationwide and believes there is a sound economic and social argument to bring penalty rates in line with Saturday rates.

“We know if retail is to compete with new sales channels we need to be more flexible. Employees as well as consumers today see Sunday’s as little different to Saturdays.

“The minority of the Full Bench of the FWC stated the following in relation to the Restaurant Award: 
 'From the evidence led in this case we are not persuaded that in the restaurant and catering industry there is an ongoing justification for a level of Sunday penalties significantly above the Saturday rate for employees'.

“ARA research conducted through Monash University showed that employees were overwhelmingly prepared to work on Sundays for sensible rates of pay. Click here to see research report.

“There are numerous categories of employees in retail who prefer to work on weekends. For students, weekends may be the only time they are available to work. 

"For dual income families, it is an opportunity to share the caring burden and to minimise child care costs while at the same time allowing for sufficient family time. For many others, it represents an opportunity to pursue their interests, be they sporting, cultural or leisure, at times when competition for the activities associated with those interests is reduced.

“We are heartened that the FWC is beginning to understand the problems Sunday penalties cause, and that there is at least some recognition that high penalty rates can negatively impact on employees in their pursuit of greater employment opportunities.

“The ARA will be pushing hard to ensure retailers gain some relief from Sunday penalties and are able to continue their strong tradition of providing employment opportunities, particularly to young people, that are so crucial to the success of the Australian economy” Mr Zimmerman said.

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Since 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has been the peak industry body representing Australia’s $265 billion retail sector, which employs over 1.2 million people. The ARA ensures retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating and saving money for its 5,000 independent and national retail members throughout Australia.

Visit www.retail.org.au or call 1300 368 041.

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PEAK retail body the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) encourages retailers to get their submissions in for the 2014 eftpos ARA Australian Retail Awards – entries close 5pm today.

Tickets are also selling fast for the retail industry’s most recognised awards event of the year - the 2014 eftpos ARA Australian Retail Awards Breakfast on Tuesday July 15 at the Grand Hyatt, Melbourne – where all award category winners will be announced.

The 2014 ARA Awards are shaping up to be bigger and better than ever before, complete with a brand new venue, new collection of awards on offer and new major sponsor – eftpos.

Eftpos Managing Director Bruce Mansfield said he hoped to see a record number of retailers submit nominations for this year’s awards, and share their success stories.

“Eftpos is proud to support these awards because they recognise the extraordinary work that is done by the hundreds of thousands of retailers who serve the Australian community every day,” Mr Mansfield said.

ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman said the ARA Retail Awards program is an ideal vehicle for driving successful retail players from the shop floor to the national stage.

“As Australia's only national retail award program, the ARA Awards have played a hand in helping many recipients achieve greater success.

“The ARA Awards Breakfast is not only a fantastic platform for award winners to gain recognition amongst their peers and in the media, but also a great opportunity for all involved in the retail industry to enjoy a morning of valuable insights and networking with some of retail’s finest.


“We’re thrilled to announce that a very high calibre of submissions have already arrived in the office over the past week or so. We are looking forward to judging day and also the opportunity to provide recognition to our hard working retail professionals – mums and dads, families, individuals, graduates and entrepreneurs – who are shaping the retail landscape of tomorrow,” Mr Zimmerman said.

Tickets are on sale now. Prices are as follows:

ARA members $60
Non members $80
ARA members table of 10 $500
Non members table of 10 $700

eftpos ARA Australian Retail Awards -  key information and dates:

WHAT: 2014 eftpos ARA Australian Retail Awards
WHEN: Nominations now open and due by Friday 16 May 2014
Winners will be announced at the eftpos ARA Australian Retail Awards Breakfast in Melbourne on 15 July 2014 (tickets available at www.australianretailawards.com.au).
TO ENTER/NOMINATE: Visit www.australianretailawards.com.au to view eligibility criteria and select from eleven award categories
TO BUY TICKETS: Visit www.australianretailawards.com.au
MORE INFORMATION: Go to www.australianretailawards.com.au, call 1300 368 041 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

AWARD CATEGORIES: eftpos Australian Retailer of the Year, BDO Australian Retail Employer of the Year, Visa Australian Independent Retailer of the Year, Quest Payment Systems Australian Retail Innovator of the Year, Expr3ss! Staff Selection Software Australian Retail Graduate of the Year, eBay Inc Australian Multichannel Retailer of the Year, FCB Australian Retail HR Practitioner of the Year, Rest Industry Super Individual Retailer of the Year – male & female, Roy Morgan Customer Satisfaction Retailer of the Year, Victorian Government Victorian Retailer of the Year and the Shop for Shops Australian Retail Store Upgrade of the Year.

Since 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has been the peak industry body representing Australia’s $265 billion retail sector, which employs over 1.2 million people. The ARA ensures retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating and saving money for its 5,000 independent and national retail members throughout Australia.

Visit www.retail.org.au or call 1300 368 041.
 

 

VECCI Chief Executive Mark Stone has released the peak Victorian employers body's early analysis of the Federal Budget.

"The Budget is squarely focused on reducing the cost and size of government comes as no surprise and VECCI recognises the difficult financial position the government inherited and that the burden of restoring it to surplus must be shared across business and the community," Mr Stone said.

He said some positives for Victorian business included:

  • $1.5bn commitment to East West Link Stage 2, which will deliver jobs and improved freight movement and commuter travel times.
  • The recycling of proceeds from privatisation of government assets into new infrastructure and the creation of financial incentives for the Victorian government to do this.
  •  
  • Confirmation of the previously announced cut to the company tax rate to 28.5% which will reduce the cost of doing business.

"It is pleasing that the Deficit Levy will be a temporary measure only but it is important that the Government sticks to its budget strategy and returns the budget to balance by 2018/19," he said.

"The reintroduction of the indexation of the fuel excise will raise business costs so it is at least a positive that proceeds will be directed into road infrastructure projects that will create jobs and boost productivity.

"Amid the changes to funding for assistance programs for business, there is still an important role for targeted industry assistance with measurable benefits that support industries in transition and/or with export potential, which appears to have been recognised.

"There will be some improvements to tourism promotion at a time when Australia needs to do more to leverage opportunities in the Asia century and particularly with China.

"The proposal to reduce the cap for the Government’s proposed Paid Parental Leave is warranted but given the overall state of the Budget, the scheme is still beyond what is affordable and the levy on big business remains counterproductive."

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The Victorian Employers' Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VECCI) is the peak body for employers in Victoria, informing and servicing more than 15,000 members, customers and clients around the state.

www.vecci.org.au

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PEAK retail industry body the Australian Retailers Association (ARA), representing the majority of Australia retailers, has welcomed moves in the just-released Federal Budget to get spending under control. Concerns remain, however, over the impact of increased taxes on consumers.

ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman said that while the ARA supports the Government’s reduction in spending to reduce debt, there are concerns over the impact that increased taxes will have on consumer spending and confidence.

“We are only just beginning to see retail and the services sectors regain momentum after many years in the doldrums. It would be a travesty if these tax increases impacted on that recovery to the sector and the services economy.

“The ARA commends the Government on reducing the long-term blow out in Government expenditure through a solid plan which will see supply chain improvements and efficencies through infrastructure spend.

“We commend the Government’s decision to abolish the carbon tax. The ARA has long campaigned for the removal of this unnecessary cost burden to retailers and consumers, and we are confident the decision to finally remove the carbon tax will be music to the ears of business owners.

“The ARA was pleased to hear $1 billion p.a in red tape will be removed – allowing retailers to get on with the job of doing business.

“The 1.5 percent cut on company tax for small business is also welcomed by retailers.

“We are still waiting, however, for a decision to be finalised on removal of the low value GST exemption for overseas goods under $1000.

“The ARA welcomes the establishment of the Industry Skills Fund ($476 million over four years). We will be looking to this fund to assist in the growing skills gap in the services sector, as this sector supports jobs growth. We hope to see the Industry Skills Fund start to bridge the gap between training and employment.

“Moves to support employees in the over 50s bracket to gain jobs could open the door to older workers entering the retail sector.

“Overall, this budget does deliver much needed structural change. What we need to see now is every effort made not to harm consumer confidence further with a clear long term plan from Government to support consumers through future tax cuts and short term support from agencies such as the RBA,” Mr Zimmerman said.

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Since 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has been the peak industry body representing Australia’s $265 billion retail sector, which employs over 1.2 million people. The ARA ensures retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating and saving money for its 5,000 independent and national retail members throughout Australia.

Visit www.retail.org.au or call 1300 368 041.

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