RESOURCE industry employer group AMMA (Australian Mines and Metals Association) has renewed its call for trade unions and employer organisations to stop being treated as a protected species and to be subject to the same standards and penalties as corporations, after the Royal Commission into Trade Union Corruption today reported serious criminality and disregard for our laws.

“The interim report of the Royal Commission has identified alarming criminal conduct among some Australian trade unions, including intimidation and coercion, blackmail, fraud and frequent misuse of members’ funds to set up union election slush funds,” says AMMA chief executive Steve Knott.

“There is nothing short of a culture of lawlessness in some trade unions, and a key driver of this is the ongoing treatment of registered organisations, including unions and employer groups, as special cases when it comes to governance standards, regulation and penalties for breaking the law.

“Having separate rules leads some union officials to think they are different from company directors, and that compliance with the law is optional.  Examples include the prosecution of the CFMEU over its illegal boycott of Boral and this week’s conviction of former HSU official Craig Thomson.”

The Australian Government’s approach, through the Fair Work Amendment (Registered Organisations) Bill 2014, is to create a separate Registered Organisations Commission to oversee enhanced regulation of unions and employer groups. This Bill is before the Senate and has been opposed by the Opposition.

“This is a step in the right direction, but creating another unique body to oversee unions and employer organisations is not the best approach,” Mr Knott says.

“It is well beyond time to stop treating unions and employer groups as a protected species with their own set of rules. Unions and employer organisations should be regulated by Australia’s Corporations Law under the watchful eye of the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC).

“Trade unions and employer organisations are often multi-million dollar businesses and in AMMA’s view, should be treated no differently to corporations, with the same responsibilities, oversight and penalties.

“Just as the community expects corporations to meet standards of probity and proper governance, the community is entitled to expect trade unions to meet the same standards, a point reinforced by the unacceptable conduct revealed by the Royal Commission.”

The Royal Commission’s findings, released by Employment Minister Eric Abetz, also present an undeniable case for the urgent reintroduction of the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) – which was abolished by the former ALP government under trade union pressure.

“No part of our community, be it businesses, trade unions or any other organisations, should be able to engage in acts of willful defiance of our laws, maintain unaccountable slush funds, or fail to properly serve the interests of their members,” Mr Knott says.

“As Minister Abetz noted, 1800 pages of evidence now back the reintroduction of the ABCC, including today’s finding of ‘a culture of willful defiance of the law which appears to lie at the core of the CFMEU’; and that such criminality ‘reveals grave threats to the power and authority of the Australian state’.

“It is time our parliamentarians reflect community sentiment and deliver effective regulation that will to rid our nation’s union movement of crooks, criminals and thugs.”

www.amma.org.au

ends

 

FUNDAMENTAL workplace relations reform is critical for Australia’s resource industry to reclaim its place as the top global destination for billions of dollars in major project investment, Australia’s resource industry employer group AMMA will tell the Productivity Commission in the review announced today.

The federal government has released the terms of reference for the Productivity Commission to review Australia’s workplace laws, and with investment tightening and commodity prices falling, improvements to our workplace system cannot come soon enough.

“The urgent need for fundamental structural reform has become clearer in recent months as concerning signs emerge in our economy and labour market,” says AMMA chief executive, Steve Knott.

“In a short period of time, our nation has seen just how poorly thought-out workplace regulation can very quickly impact on our ability to compete for capital in a rapidly evolving global market.

“Only a few years ago, investment and jobs growth in Australia’s resource sector showed little signs of slowing, with direct employment, economic and social benefits flowing to every Australian.

“Since then, due in no small part to the inflexible and regressive Fair Work system penned by Julia Gillard in close consultation with the ACTU, our nation has fast changed from being one of the most attractive places in the world for major project investment, to being viewed with concern and risk.

“While Australians think of ourselves as living in the ‘lucky country’, blessed with natural resources, our prosperity relies on sound policy and regulation. Structural reform, including workplace reform, may be difficult to confront, but will ultimately position Australia for success in the longer term.

“The IMF, OECD and World Economic Forum have all clearly identified labour market reform as critical to Australia meeting its growth targets and maintaining living standards. These global organisations caution Australia against complacency, and ignoring this critical area.

“The launch of the Productivity Commission’s review provides an opportunity to address fundamental structural concerns before they further impact on Australia’s living standards, competitiveness and investment.”

While various political and vested interest groups deliberately ignore the impact of workplace relations on productivity and competitiveness, resource employers are calling for sustainable, long-term reforms that can survive across political cycles and position Australia as a world leading economy for generations to come.

Mr Knott says employers, unions and others should take up this opportunity to consider how our workplace relations system can better support our industries and communities into the future.

“We need to seize this opportunity to consider how we regulate work in this country and have a mature national debate on how we can realise our economic and social potential. The resource industry is well advanced in providing relevant and factual input to this process,” Mr Knott says.

“In consultation with our members, AMMA’s experienced workplace practitioners and lawyers have been preparing the industry’s evidence for this significant review for more than eight months.”

www.amma.org.au

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The public is invited to comment on an amendment to the Defence Trade Controls Act 2012 associated with strengthened export controls around the supply, publication and brokering of items listed in the Defence and Strategic Goods List.

The Defence Trade Controls Amendment Bill 2015 (the Bill) has been drafted to change the scope of regulation associated with the strengthened export controls introduced by the Defence Trade Controls Act 2012 (the Act).

The Act’s provisions relating to strengthened export controls are subject to a two-year transition period which began on 16 May 2013.

During this transition period, the Department of Defence, through the Defence Export Control Office, has been working closely with stakeholders. This work has resulted in a number of proposed legislative and policy changes.

In addition to strengthened export controls, the Act introduced a treaty between Australia and the United States of America – the Defence Trade Cooperation Treaty.

The Bill does not affect this treaty.The Bill and its associated documents, including the DTC Amendment (Decision Criteria) Regulation 2015, are now open for public consultation until 30 January 2015.

Public consultation sessions will occur in all capital cities from 19-30 January 2015.

Informal stakeholder engagement and consultation will continue across all sectors after the formal period of consultation has concluded.

The relevant documents and further information can be accessed from the Defence Export Control Office (DECO) website: www.defence.gov.au/deco/

Public inquiries can be directed by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by calling 1800 661 066.

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SHOPPERS are expected to spend $16.1 billion during post-Christmas sales from Boxing Day through to 15 January 2015.

New research released by the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) and Roy Morgan reveals the figure of $16.1 billion represents an estimated year on year growth of 3.6 percent.

ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman said last year’s post-Christmas predicted sale figure ($15.1 billion) was confirmed only slightly higher at $15.5 billion.

“Previous ARA/Roy Morgan Christmas research has been almost spot-on every time, meaning retailers can be quite confident that this Christmas will be a merry one.

“Looking at the actual post-Christmas sales figures for 2013 and this year’s post Christmas predictions, the hospitality sector shows the highest level of growth at 6.7 percent.

“Household goods (4 percent) and food (3.6 percent) categories are also set to experience a small but significant jump in post-Christmas sales, indicating that gift buying will be replaced by shoppers splurging on household items for themselves as well as dining out.

“It’s fantastic to see that all states and territories are predicted to experience positive growth post-Christmas, ranging from 1.2 percent (ACT) to 4.2 percent (NSW).

“As we know, the festive sales period doesn’t just continue in the stores; there are also many shoppers who will be enjoying the sales from their living rooms. Some retailers are expected to start their Boxing Day sales as early as Christmas Eve.

“After what has been a very tough year in business, the ARA is confident that the retail industry will enjoy a well-deserved boost in sales this Christmas and we hope this positive trend will continue into 2015,” Mr Zimmerman said. 

*

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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PARLIAMENT’s Joint Public Accounts and Audit Committee (JCPAA) will examine the joint Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) and Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO) Major Projects Report (MPR) 2013-14.

Today, the JCPAA opened an inquiry into the MPR 2013-14 following the report’s out-of-session tabling in the Australian Parliament.

Committee Chair, Dr Andrew Southcott MP, said that major Defence equipment acquisition projects remain the subject of considerable parliamentary and public interest, in view of their high cost, contribution to national security and the challenges involved in completing them within budget, on time and to the required level of capability.

“This is the seventh MPR produced by the ANAO and DMO and the Committee remains committed to seeing that, when it comes to Defence procurement, Australian tax-payers money is being spent wisely,” Dr Southcott said.

“The JCPAA’s on-going work has been very important in the MPR’s development.  Our efforts actively contribute to greater efficiencies in terms of current Defence projects as well as helping inform government on the best way to approach new Defence acquisitions, such as the Future Submarine project.”

Interested persons and organisations are invited to make submissions to the Committee’s inquiry by Friday, 13 February 2015.  Further information about the Committee’s inquiry, including details on how to lodge a submission, are available on the Committee’s website at: www.aph.gov.au/jcpaa.

A public hearing is expected be held on 27 February 2015.

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THE Australian Government will begin a nationwide voluntary site nomination process for a radioactive waste management facility. A call for expressions of interest from landowners will open in March 2015.

The nationwide process will provide an opportunity for landowners in all States and Territories to nominate land for a facility under the National Radioactive Waste Management Act 2012.

The Department of Industry will establish technical and public interest stakeholder panels to assist in developing a framework to shortlist potentially suitable volunteered sites. Sites will be assessed against technical, economic, social and environmental factors.

The site, construction and operation of the facility will be subject to assessment and approval under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Act 1998.  This multi-stage process will involve extensive community consultation and ensure safety and the protection of human health and the environment.

Australia has 4,000 cubic metres of low level and 550 cubic metres of medium level waste in temporary storage. The Government is committed to taking responsibility for this waste, which is a by-product of world leading medical and industrial processes that benefit all Australians.

The site identification, assessment and selection will be transparent, rigorous and informed by thorough public consultation.

More information can be found at http://www.radioactivewaste.gov.au/

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THE Australian PGA Championship will remain in Queensland under a new long-term agreement that will see the tournament hosted on the Gold Coast until 2017.

Minister for Tourism, Major Events, Small Business and the Commonwealth Games, Jann Stuckey, made the announcement to an enthusiastic crowd of golf fans.

“It is with great pleasure I announce the Australian PGA Championship will remain on the Gold Coast until 2017 under a new agreement between Tourism and Events Queensland and the PGA of Australia,” said Ms Stuckey.

“Australia’s oldest professional golf tournament, the Australian PGA Championship has quickly established itself as a must-see event on the Gold Coast event calendar.

Destination Success, Queensland’s 20-year plan for tourism, recognises the importance of securing major events such as this which drive repeat visitation to Queensland’s destinations.

“The Australian PGA Championship will be promoted as part of It’s Live! highlighting the perfect union of world-class events in world-class destinations."

Ms Stuckey said the agreement will see Tourism and Events Queensland work in partnership with the PGA of Australia to offer visitors an expanded program of entertainment throughout the Australian PGA Championship.

“A live music concert program, expanded fan zones and a stadium experience around the 16th hole are all options being considered to create a unique and Famous for fun Australian PGA Championship experience,” she said.

“I look forward to welcoming the world’s golfing greats, their families and friends back to the Gold Coast for the 2015 Australian PGA Championship.”

PGA of Australia Chief Executive Officer, Brian Thorburn re-affirmed the statements of Minister Stuckey for the future of the tournament on the Gold Coast.

“The Australian PGA Championship has a long and proud history in Queensland, and we are excited for what the future holds. Not only does it provide great opportunity for growth and development, it also provides certainty for our flagship event and one of Australia’s major golf tournaments.”

“The event has always been a favourite for players on the PGA Tour of Australasia, and with the Gold Coast confirmed as the home of the Australian PGA Championship for a further three years we have the opportunity to deliver an even greater spectacle for players, visitors and the local community” added Thorburn.

The Australian PGA Championship is co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour of Australasia and OneAsia, and is Australia’s oldest professional golf tournament. Past winners include Peter Thomson, Greg Norman, Ian Baker-Finch, Wayne Grady and current world number three Adam Scott.

www.teq.queensland.com

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RETAILERS are predicting the next seven days to be the biggest of the year as shoppers move their Christmas preparations into top gear, according to weekly Christmas spending projections released by the Australian National Retailers’ Association (ANRA) today.

“Despite consumer confidence readings suggesting a cautious community, more people have returned to retail in the last 12 months and delivered growth to the sector and the economy more broadly. This incremental growth will assist the sector in contributing a little more than four per cent to Australia’s GDP this year,” ANRA CEO Anna McPhee said.

Ms McPhee said more than $8.3 billion is expected to be spent nationally this week with the average family anticipated to spend about $1,060 on Christmas preparations including gifts, food, liquor and dining.

“Consumer spending is important for the national economy and it is encouraging that retail sales are expected to surge by around 10 per cent compared to last week with Australian shoppers anticipated to spend about $750 million more than the previous week.

“To prepare for the Christmas rush, the retail sector has employed approximately 39,000 additional staff this December as well as providing existing staff with extra shifts to support demand throughout this busy period.  The retail sector employs over 1.2 million Australians.

"Many retailers will offer extended trading hours over the next 10 days to meet heightened customer demand across the peak period. The extension of trading hours in the lead up to Christmas has been particularly successful in previous years and highlights how consumer expectations are changing.  Consumers want to be able to shop at times that are convenient,” she said.

ANRA’s survey of Christmas shoppers looked at Christmas shopping tactics between men and women and found differences in their approaches.

“Twice as many men than women expect to do most of their Christmas shopping between now and Christmas – with just under one in four men admitting they’ll probably do most of their shopping quite close to Christmas.

“Our survey showed women take a much more structured approach to Christmas shopping with one in four shopping throughout the year – compared to just 16 per cent of men. Women are also around twice as likely to buy fun things like toys (15% vs 8%) and more-so experiences (6% vs 2%).

“Christmas shoppers told us they will be shopping primarily for immediate family (81%). While 18 per cent admitted to buying a gift for themselves and 15 per cent said a gift for the family pet was also on the Christmas to-do list,” said Ms McPhee.

This year ANRA estimates $32.6 billion will be spent on gifts, food, liquor and dining. Shopping with Australian retailers online and in store supports Australian businesses, jobs and local communities. 

The below table provides a breakdown by state for the 30 days to Christmas (24-Nov to 24-Dec) and spending in the fourth week (15-Dec to 21-Dec):

 

 

NSW

VIC

QLD

SA

WA

TAS

NT

ACT

TOTAL

Total (million)

$10,559.8

$8,146.8

$6,554.5

$2,149.5

$3,721.4

$637.9

$307.1

$571.1

$32,648.1

Week 4 (million)

$2,612.0

$2,155.0

$1,683.2

$572.0

$934.9

$155.9

$72.5

$147.5

$8,333.0

www.anra.com.au

ends

 

LORD MAYOR Graham Quirk has joined APSA chairman Michael Hawkins, APSA Academy president Dr Jack Thompson AM, jury members and finalists of the prestigious 8th Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSA), ahead of the official awards ceremony to be held in City Hall tonight.

The Lord Mayor said the APSAs were the Asia Pacific region’s highest film accolades and were well respected in the international film community.

“In their 8th year, the Asia Pacific Screen Awards signal the emergence of Brisbane as a major economic and cultural player, not only in the Asia Pacific region, but across the globe,” Cr Quirk said.

“Off the back of the G20 Summit, where Brisbane was the capital city of the world, the APSAs build on this momentum and Brisbane’s reputation as Australia’s New World City.”

Cr Quirk said the APSAs were the largest and most prestigious gathering of international filmmakers in Australia each year and were expected to be attended by over 1,200 film industry luminaries from the Asia Pacific region and beyond.

“The Asia Pacific Screen Awards are a unique testament to the vibrancy and incredible artistic prowess evident in this region,” he said.

“In 2014, 36 films from 21 Asia Pacific countries received award nominations, with the films displaying cinematic excellence and cultural diversity of the vast Asia Pacific Region,” Cr Quirk said.

“Brisbane residents will be able see some of cinemas biggest stars during the black carpet arrivals including, legendary Aboriginal actor David Gulpilil (Charlie's Country), screen legend and APSA Academy president Dr Jack Thompson AM, ceremony presenter and acclaimed Australian actor Aaron Pedersen (Mystery Road), and Oscar-winning Australian producer Emile Sherman (The King's Speech).”

APSA chairman Michael Hawkins said the 2014 APSA Nominees and International Juries would be welcomed into the APSA Academy at a special event this afternoon by APSA Academy president and Australian screen legend Jack Thompson.

“The Academy is a growing body of the most influential names in Asia Pacific cinema, and provides a range of networking, funding and development opportunities to its members,” Mr Hawkins said.

The Asia Pacific Screen Awards, proudly presented by Treasury Casino and Hotel, is supported by Brisbane City Council.

APSA is managed by economic development board Brisbane Marketing in a unique collaboration with Paris-based UNESCO and FIAPF-International Federation of Film Producers Associations, recognising and promoting cinematic excellence and cultural diversity of the world’s fastest-growing film region, comprising 70 countries and areas, 4.5 billion people, and responsible for half of the world’s film output.

Watch the ceremony webcast live on Thursday, 11 December 2014 from 19.00 (AEST) at: http://www.asiapacificscreenacademy.com/the-awards/the-ceremony/

Black carpet arrivals: From 5.30pm Thursday, 11 December in King George Square, Brisbane City Hall.

To view 2013, highlights, trailers from nominated films and images visit

To view a full list of 2014 APSA nominations visit http://www.asiapacificscreenacademy.com/the-awards/2014-nominees/

[Ends] 

 

THE Australian Retailers Association congratulates the New South Wales (NSW) Government’s decision to allow eligible retailers to trade 24-hours-a-day in the two weeks before Christmas.

Starting today, retailers and local shopping centres can offer shoppers more flexibility by extending their trading hours without requiring specific planning approval.

ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman said the industry strongly supported the changes, provided retailers who didn't want to open for extended hours during the Christmas shopping period were not forced to do so.

“This is a first for NSW and a great opportunity for retailers. The ARA would like to thank Minister for Planning Pru Goward and Minister for Small Business John Barilaro for supporting this initiative which will no doubt give local retailers a much-needed boost during the crucial shopping season.

“This move should help NSW in continuing to be the growth engine for the Australian economy while other states are going through structural adjustments.

“With only 14 days until Christmas, we’re confident that this move will also support the ARA’s predicted pre-Christmas sales figure of $45 billion to go through retail tills before 24 December 2014.

“The ARA now calls on state Labor and the NSW Upper House independents to support the government and allow Boxing Day trade for all retailers who want to open - not just the current restricted areas which kill trade for small and large businesses on the busiest trading day of the year,” Mr Zimmerman said.

*

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.

ends

 

VICTORIA's peak tourism industry body today called on the Federal Government to ensure the tax incurred by visitors leaving Australia is not increased, as the additional cost would be a disincentive for international visitors.

“Visitors to Australia pay one of the highest departure taxes in the world. Any increase will particularly negatively impact the price-sensitive leisure travel market, which has been one of the biggest growth sectors for international visitation to Victoria. We don’t want to see this promising trend reversed because of a tax hike,” said VTIC Chief Executive Dianne Smith.

Ms Smith’s comments come amid the Federal Government’s review of the $55 per person Passenger Movement Charge (PMC) incurred by travellers when leaving Australia.

“Australia is already an expensive holiday destination by international standards. The focus must be on reducing taxes to drive greater visitation and encourage guests to spend money at our cafes, restaurants and tourist attractions to support job creation,” said Ms Smith.

VTIC’s announcement echoes those made by the Australian Tourism Export Council, Tourism and Transport Forum and National Tourism Alliance in calling on the Federal Government to honour its pre-election promise to ensure the charge remains unchanged.

“At $55 the PMC is a substantial proportion of the airfare from popular destinations such as New Zealand,” said Ms Smith.

"The Federal Government has identified tourism as a key growth sector and any increase to the PMC will hamper industry growth.”

*

The Victoria Tourism Industry Council (VTIC) is the peak body for Victoria’s tourism and events industry, providing one united industry voice. Tourism and events are growth industries for Victoria and contribute $19.6 billion to the state economy each year and employ more than 200,000 people.

vtic.com.au

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