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Payment times improve but more needs to be done

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THE Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell, has welcomed new data which shows that late payment performance is beginning to improve.

The latest Dun & Bradstreet report shows that late payments fell during the second quarter of 2017 by 4.6 percent, while prompt payments rose sharply.

On average, 63.8 percent of Australian businesses paid their bills on time.

However, just 12 per cent of ASX-listed companies pay on time compared with almost 34 percent of non-ASX-listed companies.

“This is very disappointing as public companies should be leading by example,” Ms Carnell said.

“It’s pleasing that some progress has been made since the ASBFEO inquiry into payment times and practices reported in March but more needs to be done.

“One of the biggest issues facing small business is delayed payments by big business and governments.

“Cash flow is king to small business; late payments can be the difference between success and insolvency.

“Overseas jurisdictions have demonstrated that faster payments through supply chains will free up cash flow and stimulate investment, jobs and growth.”

Ms Carnell said the Dun & Bradstreet report also reveals that Western Australia has the slowest payment times and the worst-performing sectors are wholesaling and manufacturing.

She said ASBFEO is developing a National Payment Transparency Register to publish businesses payment times and practices rated against a benchmark for good and bad performers.

The Business Council of Australia has established the Australian Supplier Payment Code – a voluntary, industry-led initiative.

For government payments, Ms Carnell said she would continue to push for 15-day payment terms.

“I’m encouraged the NSW Government has undertaken to investigate this,” she said.

View the Dun & Bradstreet report online.

 

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Court of Appeal dismisses activist’s claim

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QUEENSLAND Resources Council (QRC) Chief Executive Ian Macfarlane said the opening of the vast rich coal deposits in the Galilee Basin edged forward today with another dismissal of an activist’s challenge in the Court of Appeal.

The proceedings were brought against Adani’s Carmichael coal mine project and the State Government from a member of the Wangan and Jagalingou people over the granting of Adani’s mining lease.

"It’s no surprise the court action was dismissed as it is just another in the long line of vexatious legal suits that hold back regional economies. Ten local government areas across central and northern Queensland are desperate for the economic investment this project will generate," Mr Macfarlane said.

"For every year, the Adani Carmichael coal mine project is delayed, Queensland misses out on $185 million in royalties, which would pay for 2,900 extra nurses or 3,350 extra police officers or 3,400 extra teachers. Exporting resources helps to fund essential services and they are a significant driver of growth, in 2015/16 the industry contributed $55.7 billion to the state’s economy.

"The appeal by Adrian Burragubba is merely a tactic of the anti-coal brigade and is straight out of the activists’ playbook. It’s all about disrupting and delaying new projects in the hope that the investor will give up and walk away and in so doing, denying regional Queensland thousands of desperately needed jobs.

"With coal prices strong, we need to get this project out of the courts and into construction."

www,qrc.org.au

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Is Telstra’s regional monopoly holding back small business growth?

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ACCORDING to telecommunications and small business experts, ahead of the Vodafone National Small Business Summit in Melbourne this week, Telstra’s regional monopoly is holding small business growth back.

On the agenda at the Summit will be how domestic mobile roaming is Australia’s best opportunity to drive mobile coverage expansion in regional areas.

Currently, Telstra holds a taxpayer-funded mobile monopoly in vast areas of regional Australia. The Summit hosted by the Council of Small Business Australia (COSBOA) will support the right for regional businesses to have the same coverage enjoyed by their metropolitan counterparts.

The introduction of domestic mobile roaming would allow all Australians to use their mobile wherever coverage exists, regardless of their provider. This removes the need for multiple carriers to duplicate infrastructure in regional areas, so that carriers, governments and communities could co-invest in one expanded, shared set of infrastructure which delivers new coverage. 

Dan Lloyd, Chief Strategy Officer and Corporate Affairs Director, Vodafone will champion the call at the Summit to improve coverage, competition and choice in regional areas.

“Domestic roaming would be a game changer for small businesses in regional Australia, unlocking enormous opportunities for innovation, productivity and growth through improved mobile coverage and competition.

“Telstra’s regional mobile network is the network taxpayers built, with around $2 billion in government funding and subsidies given to Telstra since 2006. All small businesses in regional Australia should be able to benefit from taxpayers’ investment, instead of being stung with Telstra’s price premium,” said Mr Lloyd.

Domestic mobile roaming has proved successful in similar countries around the world.

“Mobile roaming has been effectively regulated in virtually every other western country with similar challenges of large land area and low population density – the USA, Canada, New Zealand, France, and Spain. It should be a no-brainer for Australia,” concluded Mr Lloyd.

Small business advocate, Peter Strong, CEO of Council of Small Business Australia (COSBOA) supports Mr Lloyd’s call for increased competition through domestic mobile roaming

“Small businesses across the country would benefit from increased competition in the rural telecommunications. Sector competition encourages product improvement and lower costs, both which rural small business people and consumers alike would welcome,” said Mr Strong.

Mr Lloyd will join senior politicians and industry leaders at Australia’s premier small business policy event to discuss key issues facing small business in Australia, including banking payments, cyber security, the digital economy, regulation red-tapeand more.

Key speakers include:

  • Bill Shorten MP, Leader of the Opposition
  • Josh Frydenberg MP, Federal Minister for the Environment and Energy
  • Michael McCormack MP, Federal Minister for Small Business
  • Kate Carnell, Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman
  • Anna Bligh, CEO, Australian Bankers Association
  • Dan Lloyd, Chief Strategy Officer and Corporate Affairs Director, Vodafone
  • Richard Flanagan, Head of Business Marketing, Google Australia and New Zealand
  • Jennifer Westacott, Chief Executive, Business Council Australia 

Vodafone is partnering with COSBOA to host the Vodafone National Small Business Summit, Australia’s premier policy event for small business representatives, government and industry leaders which will take place in Melbourne, 23-25 August 2017.

Registrations are open for the Vodafone National Small Business Summit. For more information please visit: www.cosboansbs.com.au

#NSBS17

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Sydney striding towards a sustainable future

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SYDNEY'S population is now north of 5 million people and growth is projected to continue. Its expanding population will test the capacity of key infrastructure including transportation, water, energy and waste treatment facilities. Innovative methods will be needed to meet greater demand.

The Committee on Infrastructure, Transport and Cities is investigating the Australian Government’s role in addressing these issues. It will conduct site inspections in Sydney next week, to examine examples of environmentally and socially sustainable urban design, and to talk to thought leaders at a public hearing on Tuesday.

Committee Chair, John Alexander OAM MP, said Sydney is already making strides towards a more environmentally sustainable urban form, capable of accommodating an increasing population.

“A lot of people in Sydney are aware of these issues and are identifying innovative solutions,” Mr Alexander said.

“The city is a global leader with pioneering urban renewal projects, like Barangaroo, which will be the first ‘climate positive’ precinct in the world when it is completed.

“Our inquiry will look at development and other activities occurring in Sydney with a view to identifying a role for the Commonwealth Government in facilitating long term city planning to address these issues.”

‘Smart cities’ will be on the agenda at the hearing. The Downer Group describes smart cities as efficient, liveable, and economically, socially and environmentally sustainable cities, which “take static infrastructure and services, and make them smart, to empower people and improve their standard of living”.

“While the cost of building smart infrastructure can be more expensive to build, there is huge value to be gained through operational efficiency and improved customer outcomes”, the Downer Group suggested.

 

Public hearing details: 9.00 am – 3.00 pm, Tuesday 22 August, Jubilee Room, NSW Parliament

9.00 am: Green Building Council of Australia
9.40 am: Consult Australia
10.40 am: Sue Holliday
11.20 am: Total Environment Centre
12.00 pm: Lunch
12:50 pm: Downer Group
1.30 pm: Committee for Sydney
2.10 pm: IoT Alliance Australia
3.00 pm: Close

The hearing will be broadcast live at aph.gov.au/live

Further information on the inquiry, including the full terms of reference, is available on the Committee website.

 Interested members of the public may wish to track the inquiry via the Committee’s website.

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Chevron tax case outcome welcomed

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THE FEDERAL Government has welcomed the withdrawal of Chevron’s appeal to the High Court over the Australian Taxation Office’s assessment of $340 million in tax and penalties for interest payments made to related offshore parties.

Chevron sought to challenge Australia’s transfer pricing rules and the appropriate method for establishing an arms-length interest rate for a related party loan.

"The case also raised constitutional issues regarding transfer pricing provisions," Financial Services Minister Kelly O'Dwyer said. "The Full Federal Court upheld the ATO’s position in April this year. The withdrawal of the appeal means that the decision is now final.

"While the Commissioner cannot brief me on any individual's or entity's tax affairs, the resolution of this matter is a significant win for the Australian community.

"The ATO’s initial estimates are that the Chevron decision will bring in more than $10 billion dollars of additional revenue over the next ten years in relation to transfer pricing of related party financing alone.

"Not only does this result put more revenue back to the Australian people, it also strengthens the ATO’s position in pursuing other arrangements where multinationals seek to dodge Australia’s transfer pricing rules.  

"The resolution of this matter clearly demonstrates the Government is taking strong action to ensure multinational companies pay their fair share of tax on the profits they earn in Australia.

"We have already provided an additional $679 million in funding to the ATO through the Tax Avoidance Taskforce to strengthen the ATO’s capabilities and ensure these multinational companies operating in Australia are held to account. The Taskforce is estimated to generate $3.7 billion from 2016-17 to 2019-20.

"We are also taking action by further strengthening Australia’s tax laws. The Multinational Anti-Avoidance Legislation has brought $6.5 billion per annum into Australia’s tax base through the restructuring of corporate groups.

"More recently the Diverted Profits Tax will also put more pressure on these multinational companies to justify their international tax arrangements."

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