"THE RECENT Federal election result reinforces a principle that we have constantly recommended to successive governments that retirees require certainty when they plan their retirement finances, especially those who rely on modest investment income and don’t qualify for the age pension,” Association of Independent Retirees acting president Wayne Strandquist said.

“Our association acknowledges that from time to time there may be a need to increase spending on such areas as health, aged care, education and infrastructure, but targeting particular concessions and taxes or particular demographics creates unfairness and discrimination in the community," Mr Strandquist said. 

“If a large increase in revenue is required, then a comprehensive review of all taxes, concessions, royalties and excises and other revenues should be undertaken. This wide-ranging review should include a thorough impact assessment using current data to ensure that vulnerable members of the community are protected.”

He further noted, “Retirees are used to living within their means and maybe politicians should consider a similar approach when devising government expenditure policies."

Following the Federal election result, partly and fully self-funded retirees are relieved that they will not be disadvantaged through any changes to current legislation that applies to retirement savings, superannuation, Australian share dividends and franking credits, capital gains tax, negative gearing of investments (including property) and family trusts.

"Our association notes the Federal Treasurer’s recent comments that he is positively disposed to a review of the retirement income system as proposed by the Productivity Commission. This and many other recommendations made by the Productivity Commission and the Banking Royal Commission still need to be progressed," Mr Strandquist said.

“The Association of Independent Retirees looks forward to providing input on any review of the retirement income system or other recommendations that may be initiated by the newly elected government.

“However, we would be concerned if self-funded retirees of modest means, many of whom are on a part age pension, were disadvantaged by changes to legislation that impacted their current retirement income arrangements.” Mr Strandquist said.

www.independentretirees.com.au

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INDUSTRY Super Australia (ISA) today congratulated the Morrison Government on its re-election and announcement of key treasury portfolio ministers who will be responsible for progressing important reforms that could make hundreds of thousands of dollars difference to Australians’ retirement.

ISA chief executive Bernie Dean today congratulated the newly appointed Assistant Minister for Superannuation, Financial Technology and Financial Services Jane Hume, who will work alongside Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, to oversee Australia’s superannuation system.

“We’re looking forward to working constructively with the Morrison Government to deliver the change that is needed to lift performance and improve member outcomes,” Mr Dean said.

“The Royal Commission and Productivity Commission made it clear that the chronic underperformance plaguing parts of the system and incidence of multiple accounts will have a devastating impact on Australians’ retirement savings unless there is significant reform.

“We need to ensure dud underperforming funds are weeded out from the system, and that there is a framework in place to connect people to a single, high-performing and quality checked fund - whether by default or choice.”

Mr Dean said stopping the rort of unpaid super that sees nearly 3 million workers robbed of close to $6 billion in super by dodgy bosses every year was another area requiring urgent action. 

“There is a simple fix the new Government can make – requiring all employers to pay super at the same time as they pay salary,” Mr Dean said.

“With women on average retiring with less than half the amount of super than men, closing the gender gap is another area that we need to see more progress in.

“Paying super on parental leave and abolishing the $450 super guarantee threshold are two commitments the Government could make that would go some way to closing the gap.”

Mr Dean said there were also significant opportunities for IndustrySuper Funds to be partners in the Government’s infrastructure agenda, investing capital at appropriate rates of return for members whilst simultaneously driving growth and creating jobs.

THE Australian Tourism Export Council today congratulated Senator Simon Birmingham on his return to the role of Minister for Tourism and welcomes the new role of Assistant Minister for Regional Tourism which will be held by Senator Jonathon Duniam.

“Minister Birmingham took on the tourism portfolio in August last year and his reappointment to the role gives us the opportunity to continue to grow our relationship with his office and build on our advocacy for the tourism industry,” ATEC managing director, Peter Shelley said.

“We are also very pleased to see recognition for our regional industry members with Senator Duniam appointed as Assistant Minister for Regional Tourism, providing a firm focus on developing regional tourism with a view to increasing regional dispersal of domestic and international travellers.

“Our industry is strong and robust but we have some significant challenges to overcome in delivering a continuing economic success for Australia.

“These challenges centre around questions relating to maintaining our competitiveness as an attractive tourism destination over the coming years, and how we ensure the delivery of high quality, authentic Australian experiences - key questions to our future success -  and ATEC will be working with the Government to highlight these issues and find solutions.

“ATEC calling on the new Morrisson Government to embrace an ‘an all of Government approach’ to address issues which are impeding the growth of the tourism industry threatening to erode the momentum of what is a $44bn export industry that grew at more than 7 percent in the past year.”

 

QUEENSLAND Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk should immediately cancel her planned trade trip to Japan and stay in Queensland to end the uncertainty about royalty taxes which could cost jobs in the resources sector, Queensland Resources Council (QRC) Chief Executive Ian Macfarlane said.

“To be frank, there’s no point to a trade mission to any of our valued trading markets while there is uncertainty that new taxes will be imposed on resources," Mr Macfarlane said.

“Unless Annastacia Palaszczuk can give a straight answer that no, there won’t be any increases in royalty tax rates in the upcoming budget, she should cancel the trip.

“Japan is one of our most important trading partners and a big investor in mining in Queensland. They deserve better than the mixed messages the Premier and the Treasurer are sending which are causing concern to Japanese investors and coal buyers both here and in Japan.

“Queensland relies on investment from overseas, particularly Japan, to grow our resources sector and create more jobs in regional Queensland and create more wealth for all Queenslanders.

"Japan has long been a foundation customer for Queensland and has invested in mines, ports and rail and helping us build our most valuable export industry based on long term relationships. We need to be sending consistent, positive messages to those investors that they are welcome here and that the investment climate here is stable.

“Queensland is also a trading state. About 80 percent of our $80 billion export trade comes from resources, including our high quality coal exports," Mr Macfarlane said.

“Our world-class commodities will already deliver $5.3 billion in royalty taxes to the state budget, to build roads, schools and hospitals. 

“By putting up taxes the State Government risks undermining our state’s biggest asset -- mining jobs.

“Increasing royalty tax rates would undermine the competitiveness of our resources sector and make our commodities less attractive compared to other nations and even other Australian states like New South Wales.

“Job security through resources projects is a top priority for Queenslanders, especially in our regions. They sent that message in no uncertain terms at the ballot box last weekend.

“The LNP has committed to no increases for royalty taxes through its first term if it wins the next state election. That would mean stable royalty tax rates through until at least 2024.

“Annastacia Palaszczuk and Jackie Trad must do the same.The QRC will work with both sides of Parliament on policies that deliver a long term, stable future for the resources sector and the 315,000 Queenslanders who work in or with the sector.

“The Premier has been a strong advocate for coal in Japan.  She and Minister Anthony Lynham secured the $1 billion Byerwen coal mine, she soothed concerns in Japan about last year’s dispute over rail access for coal and over the new financial assurance scheme. I fear a lot of that work will be undone without an assurance on royalties.

“The Premier should convene a resources specific delegation to our key trading partners but only when there is a clear message of support for resources projects. Until then the Premier should stay home and end the uncertainty the Government has created.

“There must be a clear commitment to no new royalty taxes and a rock solid commitment to a clear and independent approvals process through the Coordinator General that applies to all projects," he said.

“The Queensland Parliament can also voice its unequivocal support for regional mining jobs by rejecting the Greens Bill which wants to ban all mining in the Galilee Basin.

“Our jobs and our prosperity as a state depend upon a prosperous resources sector and when resources prosper, all of Queensland prospers.”

www.qrc.org.au

 

DENITA WAWN, CEO of Master Builders Australia has welcomed the announcement of the new Federal Government Ministry by Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

“It is particularly good news for our industry that industrial relations will be overseen by the Attorney General Christian Porter MP in Cabinet and that the Assistant Treasurer will be responsible for the housing portfolio," Ms Wawn said.

“Master Builders fought hard at the election on housing tax and the need to keep the ABCC to stop construction union bullying and we appreciate the Prime Minister’s special mention of both matters in his remarks today,” she said. 

“The Prime Minister’s move to ensure that the nation’s chief law officer now has charge of enforcing the rule of law on construction sites will be welcomed by builders and tradies who heaved a sigh of relief that the return of the Morrison Government meant they would not have to face the surge in bullying promised by construction unions if Labor had been elected.

“The housing industry plays a vital role in building a strong economy. Last week Master Builders called for the Minister of Housing to also have a senior economic portfolio and we welcome the appointment of Michael Sukkar MP as Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Housing. We look forward to working closely with him on his return to this role,” she said. 

“Infrastructure, urban infrastructure, population and cities are key engines for economic growth. It’s a positive signal that they will be overseen by the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister for Population, Cities and Urban infrastructure. 

“It is also good to see the small business and vocational education and apprentices will have energetic champions in Senator Michaelia Cash and Steve Irons MP, these are both important to our industry,

“Bringing together Energy and Emissions Reductions in one ministry makes sense and we look forward to working with Angus Taylor MP,” Ms Wawn said.

www.masterbuilders.com.au

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THE Law Council has welcomed the announcement of the Federal Government’s new ministry and looks forward to a collaborative, consultative relationship with new and returning Ministers.

Law Council president Arthur Moses SC today congratulated re-appointed Attorney-General Christian Porter, who also adds Industrial Relations and Leader of the House to his portfolio. Mr Moses also congratulated the new Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt, the first Aboriginal Australian appointed to the portfolio.

“We look forward to working with the government and the 46th Parliament in an honest and productive relationship for the benefit of all Australians and the rule of law,” Mr Moses said.

“The role of First Law Officer is an important portfolio. It is critical that Attorneys-General enjoy a respectful and robust relationship with the national legal profession that is built on trust and transparency. I congratulate Mr Porter on his re-appointment and look forward to continuing to work with him to promote the rule of law and administration of justice.

“Access to justice through increased legal assistance funding, securing adequate resources for our courts and establishing a Commonwealth Integrity Commission, Federal Judicial Commission and transparent judicial appointments process are our key policy concerns. The Law Council will continue to advocate to the Attorney-General for their prompt implementation.”

Mr Moses described Mr Wyatt’s appointment to the Indigenous Australians portfolio as a defining moment in Australian politics.

“For the first time in the history of our federation, a person of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent been appointed as Minister for Indigenous Australians – this is a pivotal decision by the Prime Minister and one that will undoubtedly benefit all First Nations Australians,” Mr Moses said.

“Establishing an Indigenous Voice to Parliament is a priority for the Law Council and we look forward to working with Mr Wyatt to ensure the future vision captured by the Uluru Statement of the Heart becomes a reality. The Law Council will seek a meeting with Prime Minister Morrison and Minister Wyatt at their earliest convenience to advance this significant issue.

“Improved justice outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is vital. We offer our expertise in this area to help formulate legislation to support Indigenous-led policy solutions.”

Mr Moses also reiterated the Law Council’s commitment to assisting and consulting with government, the opposition and cross-bench in relation to the formulation of effective legislation.

“Working with government to ensure laws passed through our Federal Parliament best serve the Australian people is at the core of our mission and of the utmost importance. We will continue to hold the government to account without fear or favour.

“We offer our assistance to the new parliament in the formulation of legislation that benefits all Australians and strengthens our democracy and the rule of law,” Mr Moses said.

www.lawcouncil.asn.au

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QUEENSLAND'S racing industry is supported by almost 7700 volunteers that give their time and resources each week to ensure our sport continues to prosper across the state.

To celebrate National Volunteer Week, RQ is calling on all industry stakeholders to share their stories and thank the wonderful volunteers that contribute to our sport each year.

RQ CEO Brendan Parnell said volunteers come in many shapes and forms.

“Volunteers play a crucial role in the ongoing success and viability of racing across the state, particularly in regional and rural areas,” Mr Parnell said.

“Volunteers might help out at their local club on race days, or help out a family member who participates in racing.”

Mr Parnell said Racing Queensland was proud to join the rest of the country to celebrate the six million Australians who give their time to help others each year.

“I would encourage as many people as possible to share their stories, which serve to inspire others to lend a hand and make a difference.”

Racing Queensland wants to see all of your favourite photos and short stories about volunteers in racing, across all three codes.

To do so, visit the Racing Queensland Facebook page or, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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THE ACCC will not oppose Australia Pacific LNG’s (APLNG) proposed acquisition of the Ironbark coal seam gas project from Origin Energy (Origin).

APLNG is a large gas producer with significant gas tenements in eastern Australia. It supplies almost 30 percent of the gas going into the east coast market, and processes the balance of its gas for export at its LNG facility near Gladstone, Queensland.

Origin is a 37.5 percent shareholder in APLNG and is the upstream operator for APLNG, responsible for the development of its CSG fields in the Surat and Bowen basins and the main transmission pipeline that transports the gas to the LNG facility near Gladstone.

Ironbark is an undeveloped coal seam gas permit held by Origin, located in the Surat Basin. It has expected reserves of around 129 PJ of 2P reserves, which is approximately 0.34 percent of total eastern Australian reserves.

In reaching its decision, the ACCC considered the effect of the acquisition on domestic gas supply and the level of competition between suppliers of domestic gas.

“We had regard to the relatively small size of the Ironbark project. We also considered the alternatives available to Origin to either sell Ironbark to someone else or develop the project itself,” ACCC Commissioner Roger Featherston said.

“In our view, neither of these alternatives would lead to a significantly different outcome for domestic gas users from that of the sale of Ironbark to APLNG.”

The ACCC concluded that the proposed acquisition would be unlikely to substantially lessen competition in any domestic gas market.

“However, we have long voiced concerns about the challenges facing east coast domestic gas users and will continue to closely examine the acquisition of further gas reserves by major LNG producers and the likely impact on competition,” Mr Featherston said.

Further information is available at APLNG - proposed acquisition of Ironbark gas project.

Background

Origin Energy ATP 788P Pty Ltd, also known as Ironbark, is an Authority to Prospect held by Origin. It is a proposed coal seam gas project located north of Tara, Queensland, in the Surat Basin.

Ironbark is in the exploration and appraisal stage, and is not currently producing. Origin estimates Ironbark has 129 PJ of 2P reserves and 192 PJ of 3P reserves.

APLNG is a joint venture between Origin (37.5 percent), ConocoPhillips Australia Pacific LNG Pty Ltd (37.5 percent) and Sinopec Australia Pacific LNG Pty Limited (25 percent).

It has significant gas tenements in the Surat and Bowen basins and processes CSG into LNG for export from its facility near Gladstone, Queensland. It is also the largest supplier of gas to domestic customers and in 2018 supplied close to 30 percent of total east coast gas.

Origin is an ASX-listed major Australian energy retailer, supplying customers with electricity, natural gas and LPG.

Origin is the upstream operator for APLNG and is responsible for the development of its CSG fields in the Surat and Bowen basins and the main transmission pipeline that transports the gas to the LNG facility on Curtis Island near Gladstone.

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THE Queensland Resources Council (QRC) has welcomed a commitment from the Liberal National Party to keep the rate of royalties on the Queensland resources industry stable for the next five years.

Speaking from Mackay, QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said LNP Leader Deb Frecklington has responded to the industry, union and small business calls for no change in rates of royalties to provide investment and employment certainty for the resources sector in Queensland, which already supports the jobs of more than 315,000 Queenslanders.

The QRC has secured the commitment that if the LNP win the next State election in October next year that royalty rates will be stable for that first four-year term.

“I welcome the commitment of the LNP.  They have listened to business, workers and resource companies and they have responded," Mr Macfarlane said.

“The commitment from Deb Frecklington today is a commitment of confidence in the resource sector, in resource communities and most importantly resource jobs.

“Annastacia Palaszczuk and Jackie Trad need to match that commitment," he said.

"The resources industry will already pay the Palaszczuk Government a record $5.3 billion in royalties this financial year. We remain concerned Treasurer Jackie Trad will increase royalties in the State Budget on June 11 as part of an anti-mining agenda.

“An increase in royalties undermines new and existing jobs. The CFMEU knows that and they have called on the Palaszczuk Government to rule out royalties increases.

"A royalty increase undermines investment and saps confidence in those 14,000 Queensland businesses who supply the resources industry.  The Mackay-based Resources Industry Network knows that and they too have called on the Palaszczuk Government to rule out increases.”

A survey of more than three quarters (77%) of resource company CEOs, released before the Federal election, found that uncertainty about Queensland Government royalty rates affected the likelihood of their projects proceeding.

www.qrc.org.au

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THE Palaszczuk Government would jeopardise Queensland coal exports to Japan if it increased the rate of royalties on resource commodities when it delivers its State Budget next month, according to the Queensland Resources Council (QRC).

On the eve of Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk visiting Tokyo, QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said US coal exports to Japan were at five-year highs and a royalty hike could make US coal more attractive than Queensland coal in the Japanese market.

"Coal is Queensland's biggest export commodity and Japan is one of our longest and most important markets," Mr Macfarlane said.

"When we have supply problems, such as in the wake of damaging cyclones, US coal often fills the shortfall.

“US coal exports to Japan increased by 35 percent between 2017 and 2018.  Let’s not help US coal miners.  Let’s not help Donald Trump steal mining jobs from Queensland.

“Our royalty rates and taxes in Queensland are among the highest in the world already.  The Palaszczuk Government is set to take a record of almost $4.5 billion in coal royalties this financial year based on the current rates," Mr Macfarlane said.

“If we make Queensland coal even more expensive, key markets like Japan may look elsewhere. That means a loss of exports, employment and investment for Queensland.

“With Queensland’s unemployment rate of 5.9 percent among the nation’s highest, Queenslanders - particularly in the regions - cannot afford more attacks and more tax on the resources industry from the Palaszczuk Government.," he said.

“On behalf of Queenslanders, we urge the Premier to rule out changes to royalty rates. We also urge the Premier, as Trade Minister, to reassure Japanese coal investors and importers in Tokyo that there will be no royalty change and encourage them to continue to buy Queensland coal and support Queensland jobs and Queensland communities.”

Mr Macfarlane said while Victorian voters and the likes of Bob Brown might not support the resources sector - yet rely on it for their everyday lives - all Queenslanders do.

In 2017-18, the resources industry supported more than 315,000 jobs in Queensland.  The coal industry alone supported more than 200,000 full-time equivalent jobs or 9 percent of Queensland’s total workforce.  The sector also contributed $43.4 billion to the State’s economy, supported more than 6000 local businesses and more than 560 community organisations. 

www.qrc.org.au

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“OFFICIAL figures for the first quarter of 2019 show that construction activity across Australia dropped by 1.9 percent compared with the end of 2018 – but there were signs of growth in some important areas,” Master Builders Australia’s chief economist Shane Garrett said.  

“During the March 2019 quarter, civil construction activity dropped back by 3.9 percent although commercial building saw growth of 3.6 percent to reach a new all-time high

“The re-election of the Morrison Government will boost confidence in our industry and is being welcomed by the hundreds of thousands of small firms active in building and construction,” Mr Garrett said.

“Unfortunately, the decline in civil construction activity during the opening quarter of this year will not be a surprise to the industry. The time taken for government infrastructure announcements to translate into real, visible activity on the ground is often far too long.

“We don’t want to see projects languishing on lists. We are hopeful that the government’s renewed mandate will drive new energy in getting more projects shovel ready and construction work started,” Mr Garrett said.

“Turning to the commercial building space, it is encouraging to see the continuation of modest yet consistent growth. Population and employment increases continue to be robust in most parts of Australia. This creates the need for more offices, schools, hospitals and shops. Today’s figures indicate that this demand is indeed being matched by the building industry,” he said.

“Not surprisingly, residential building moved backwards by 2.3 percent during the March 2019 quarter. Despite the fact that Australia’s population expanded by almost 400,000 over the past 12 months, fewer new homes are being built due to the negative impact of micro factors including the slow motion credit environment post-Royal Commission.

“We look forward to the quick implementation of the government’s election pledges around First Home Buyer home loans and support for small businesses,” Mr Garrett said. 

www.masterbuilders.com.au

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