Business News Releases

VET Inquiry public hearings commence

THE House of Representatives Standing Committee on Employment, Education and Training is holding the first public hearing for its inquiry into the perceptions and status of VET.

Lisa Chesters MP, Committee Chair, said, “The committee is commencing its hearings for this important inquiry by hearing from the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations and Jobs and Skills Australia."

Ms Chesters said, “The Department has responsibility for the Commonwealth skills and training portfolio, and these hearings will provide the Committee with the opportunity to understand and examine the current policy environment before hearing from other stakeholders at future hearings.”

The committee will seek to hold further public hearings over the coming months, with groups and organisations including National Rugby League, TAFE Directors Australia, the Australian Education Union, education peak bodies, employer groups, unions, academics and others.

Details of these public hearings will be posted on the committee website when available. More information on the inquiry, including the full terms of reference and details on making a submission, can be found on the committee website.



Intelligence and Security Committee recommends passage of the IGIS Modernisation Bill

THE Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) today presented its Advisory Report on the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security and Other Legislation Amendment (Modernisation) Bill 2022.

The report considers the operation and effectiveness of the amendments proposed by the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security and Other Legislation Amendment (Modernisation) Bill 2022. The Committee recommended the Bill be passed following the implementation of the four remaining recommendations.

The committee considered that information sharing provisions between the IGIS and the committee could be improved and recommended that opportunities to improve information sharing should be pursued. The committee also recommended that an individual’s eligibility for appointment to the role of Inspector-General should occur after an appropriate period of time to be determined by the government, following the individual’s employment in an intelligence agency.

The remaining recommendations provide that the Office of National Intelligence develop an employment framework for staff engaged under their Act, and an amendment to the Bill to ensure consistency between integrity bodies’ legislation.

Committee Chair Peter Khalil MP said: ‘The committee supports improvements that allow the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security to effectively oversee Australia’s intelligence agencies."

Further information on the inquiry as well as a copy of the report can be obtained from the Committee’s website.



Australia-Iceland Double Taxation Convention and Underwater Cultural Heritage Convention recommended for ratification

THE Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) has recommended the Australian Government ratifies the convention between Australia and Iceland for the Elimination of Double Taxation with respect to Taxes on Income and the Prevention of Tax Evasion and Avoidance and its Protocol (Reykjavík, October 12, 2022) (Tax Convention) and the convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage (Paris, November 2, 2001) (UCH Convention).

The Tax Convention would establish a framework for the taxation of cross-border transactions between Australia and Iceland. It identifies the persons and taxes to which the convention would apply, establishes where various types of income would be taxed, and specifies how relief from double taxation would be provided.

JSCOT Chair, Josh Wilson MP said, "This would be the 46th double taxation agreement to which Australia is a party. Eliminating double taxation through the Tax Convention would encourage expanded investment and economic activity between Australia and Iceland.”

The UCH Convention focuses on the protection and preservation of underwater cultural heritage that has been underwater continuously or periodically for at least 100 years.

Mr Wilson said: “Australia has become a leader in UCH and proudly helped to draft this convention. Ratification would allow more scope for Australia to assist other state parties in the preservation of Australian UCH outside our own waters, like war ships sunk in battle. Australia would also be able to lead by example and encourage other states in the Asia-Pacific to become state parties.”

The importance of preserving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander UCH was raised during the public hearing.

Mr Wilson said: “Academics report that over the past 20,000 years 2 million square kilometres of Australia’s continental landmass has been submerged. This means that many historic Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sites - dating back thousands of years - lie underwater and can be protected, preserved or studied.”

The committee considered evidence from the government that the harmonisation of Commonwealth, state, and territory legal regimes would be encouraged as a result of ratification. This would help create a more consistent protection and management of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander UCH.

“The preservation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander underwater cultural heritage is of vital importance to Australia, and this can be better protected through the provisions of the Convention,” Mr Wilson said.

The convention would also provide for public awareness of UCH, education, research, training in underwater archaeology and the exchange of technology. Notably, the Convention contains an Annex of Rules for activities directed at UCH. 

As part of its inquiry into UCH, the committee heard from a range of stakeholders in the field of UCH including government, non-government organisations, academics, and other specialists who all supported ratification.

The report can be found on the Committee website, along with further information on the inquiry.




Sales of new homes in February remain low - HIA

NEW HOME SALES in the three months to February were 46.8 percent lower than at the same time the previous year.

That is the advice of Housing Industry Association of Australia (HIA) chief economist, Tim Reardon, based on the latest HIA New Home Sales report – a monthly survey of the largest volume home builders in the five largest states – as a leading indicator of future detached home construction.

“Sales in the month of February rose by 14.3 percent compared with the previous month but remain exceptionally low,” Mr Reardon said.

“Sales of new homes stalled late in 2022 as the adverse impact of the RBA’s rate increases continue to erode market confidence.

“When the cash rate started to rise in May 2022 there was a very large pool of work to commence construction. This pool of work yet to commence is shrinking quickly as new sales remain very low and the number of new projects entering the pipeline falls," he said.

“Tighter access to finance and a higher cash rate is seeing many new home buyers withdraw from the market. Customers that received approval to build a new home early in 2022 are cancelling these projects as the cost-of-living bites and banks withdraw financing.

“Without an improvement in access to finance, or a lowering of rates, the number of new homes commencing construction will slow later this year.

“The RBA isn’t going to return the economy to stability by putting the building industry through boom-and-bust cycles,” Mr Reardon said.

For the three months to February 2023, compared with the same period the previous year, new home sales in New South Wales were down by 76.6 percent, followed by Queensland (-51.2 percent), Victoria (-42.3 percent), Western Australia (-14.8 percent) and South Australia (-6.0 percent).



Economics Committee examining healthy competition and boosting productivity

AUSTRALIA's competition landscape will be the focus of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics’ public hearings with the Productivity Commission and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) on March 16 and 17, 2023.

These are the first hearings for the committee’s new inquiry into promoting economic dynamism, competition and business formation.

Committee Chair, Daniel Mulino MP said, "Healthy competition and stimulating productivity can enhance the wellbeing of all Australians.

"Boosting productivity is a key driver of wages growth, while healthy competition can lead to higher quality goods and services, greater variety, lower prices, and more innovation.

"The Productivity Commission and the ACCC are key players in these areas and a number of other issues that the committee will be exploring throughout this inquiry. Both organisations have done extensive work in this field, so the committee will benefit from their perspectives and experience."

The committee is also seeking submissions that respond to some or all of the inquiry Terms of Reference by Friday, March 31, 2023. Submissions can be made online via

More details about the inquiry and upcoming public hearings, including the full terms of reference, are available on the committee’s website.

Public hearing details

Productivity CommissionDate:Thursday 16 March 2023Time: 2pm to 4pm

Australian Competition and Consumer CommissionDate: Friday 17 March 2023Time: 11am to 1pm

Both public hearings will be broadcast live at

For more information about this committee, visit its website



Paramedics target bed block with 'return to road' pledge

FRUSTRATED paramedics in New South Wales are launching their ‘return to the road’ pledge, bucking health department orders to stay in clogged hospitals with non-urgent patients, and instead vowing get back on the road to deal with life-threatening emergencies.

Under current health department policies, paramedics can get stuck in bed blocked hospitals for hours on end accompanying patients suffering relatively minor conditions such as sunburn because the hospital is too overwhelmed to process a formal handover.

This bed block prevents the paramedic attending to fresh, life threatening emergencies, according to the Health Services Union (HSU).

HSU NSW Secretary, Gerard Hayes said from early Tuesday, paramedics will take matters into their own hands. If they judge the condition of a patient aged 18-85 to be stable, they will return to the road.

Mr Hayes said the paramedic workforce was taking the action to promote public health.

“It’s astounding we have to do this, but we have no other option,” Mr Hayes said.

“Paramedics are at their wits’ end. They are forced to hang around emergency departments with patients who have constipation, stubbed toes or sunburn all because there simply isn’t enough staff to process a handover. We are sacrificing crucial minutes where we could be responding to a potential cardiac arrest.

“At the heart of this problem is the collapse in hospital staffing. There are 12,000 vacancies across the hospital system because people with skills and experience simply can’t afford to live in NSW and work in health," he said.

"This is the consequence of a decade of wage suppression.

"We have tried every which way to propose reform options that would reduce bed block. Sadly we have hit a brick wall.

“HSU paramedics have designed this action carefully and responsibly so that it enhances patient wellbeing."

The action begins from the first shift on Tuesday morning in NSW.



Treaties Committee reports on the minimum age convention

THE Joint Standing Committee on Treaties has recommended the Australian Government ratifies the International Labour Organization Convention No. 138: Convention concerning Minimum Age for Admission to Employment (the Convention).

Committee Chair, Josh Wilson MP said, “The purpose of the convention is to effectively abolish child labour by ensuring that the right of children to attend school will be protected; that types of economic activity that may be undertaken by children will be regulated; and that children’s health, safety and morals will be protected."

The convention contains three key obligations: a requirement to specify the age of completion of compulsory schooling as the minimum age for admission to employment or work (in any case not less than 15 years); a requirement to establish 18 years as the minimum age for hazardous work (or 16 years if certain protections are in place); and a requirement to specify the conditions where children no younger than 13 years may undertake light work.

The flexible framework provided by the convention means members with varied legal systems can ensure their compliance with its obligations. While there is not a single prohibition against child labour in Australia, the committee agreed that in effect it is prevented through the combination of education, employment, and workplace health and safety legislation.

Children across jurisdictions in Australia will continue to be permitted to undertake light work where the available evidence suggests such work is undertaken in beneficial circumstances without impact on their health and wellbeing.

“Ratification would add to Australia’s existing strong framework for the education and safe employment of young people," Mr Wilson said.

“One way it would achieve this is through reporting requirements to the International Labour Organization (ILO). One year after the convention enters into force, Australia would submit a report on its compliance. Every three years, Australia would then report to an ILO committee of experts for an impartial and technical evaluation. In essence, we would be held to the commitments we have signed up to.

“By becoming party to this convention, we would join a large part of the international community. Importantly, it would lend credibility to Australia in promoting strong measures to eliminate child labour in the Asia-Pacific," Mr Wilson said.

The committee expressed that it looked forward to receiving a copy of Australia’s first report on compliance with the convention.

The report can be found on the Committee website, along with further information on the inquiry.



Productivity Commission maps out a student centric approach to addressing skills shortages

THE Productivity Commission’s latest report five-year Productivity Inquiry: Advancing Prosperity maps out what’s required to create a tertiary education system that is student centric, more cohesive and better positioned to address workforce shortages.  That’s the view of the Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA), the peak body representing independent providers in the skills training, higher education, and international education sectors.

“The key to addressing workforce shortages and supporting students can be found through creating an integrated tertiary education system in which the skills training and higher education systems operate as one, yet retain their separate strengths and identities.  Many of the recommendations in the Productivity Commission report seek that also,” ITECA chief executive Troy Williams said.

It is significant that the Productivity Commission has taken up many of the recommendations from ITECA concerning student loan programs.

“One of the most egregious aspects of today’s tertiary education system is that many students pay a 20 percent student loan tax simply for choosing to study with an independent provider.  It is welcome news that the Productivity Commission has made recommendations to end this discrimination,” Mr Williams said.

Another recommendation taken up by the Productivity Commission is a proposal to consolidate the Australian Government’s various online platforms to guide student decision-making.

“The recommendation that the Australian Government’s microcredential information platform be extended to skills training courses and other well-recognised domestic course offerings is well over due.  It corrects a hitherto lost opportunity to help students make informed decision making,” Mr Williams said.

For Australia’s skills training system, one of the more significant recommendations from the Productivity Commission was that the Australian Government fund extra training and development programs for trainers and assessors so they can adequately perform independent and proficiency-based assessment.

“If the Australian Government made the recommended commitment to support the development of the skills training workforce, the ability of ITECA members to support the reskilling and upskilling of the Australian workforce would be significantly enhanced.  That’s just what Australia needs at this crucial economic juncture,” Mr Williams said.

Given the significance of the Productivity Commission’s report, ITECA will actively lobby the Australian Government for the adoption of key recommendations.

“The Commission’s report shows what a student centric tertiary education system looks like, one that would be well equipped to help Australia address its skills shortages,” Mr Williams said.

According to data referenced in the ITECA State Of The Sector Report, independent providers support more than 97 percent of the 4.3 million students in skills training and around 10 percent of the 1.6 million students in a higher education awards program.


Audit committee commences inquiries into Defence Major Projects and Annual Performance Statements

THE Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit (JCPAA) has commenced two inquiries into important areas of public sector accountability as part of its examination of Auditor-General’s reports.

The Auditor-General's reports on Defence Major Projects and on Audits of the Annual Performance Statements of Australian Government Entities are critical accountability mechanisms for the expenditure of public funds and operation of Government Departments.

Committee Chair, Julian Hill MP said the performance statements audits were a new function of the Australian National Audit Office intended to drive improvements in the transparency, reliability and quality of performance reporting across government. The inquiry into the Audit of Annual Performance Statements for 2021-22 (Auditor-General Report No. 13 of 2022-23) is a chance for the JCPAA to examine the performance and annual reporting of six Government Departments and to consider the Auditor-General’s findings in the first year of the performance statement audit process.

The inquiry into the Major Projects Reports (Auditor-General Report No. 13 of 2021-22 and Auditor-General Report No. 12 of 2022–23) will also allow the JCPAA to review the cost, progress and technical attributes of major Defence acquisitions over recent years.

"This is the is the first opportunity that the committee has had since the 2022 Federal Election to consider the Major Projects Reports, so there are two years’ worth of reports to be examined in this inquiry,” Mr Hill said. “We will also be specifically considering the scope and guidelines for Defence Major Project Reports to ensure that they are fit for purpose into the future.”

The committee has invited submissions addressing the terms of reference of these inquiries by Friday, April 21, 2023. Details of the inquiries – including the terms of reference and upcoming public hearings – will be made available on the Committee website.



Audit Committee continues hearings on Commonwealth grants

THE Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit will hold a public hearing on Friday, March 17, for its inquiry into Commonwealth grants administration.

The hearing will focus on equity, decision-making and matters relating to the allocation of funding under three programs: Urban Congestion Fund, Regional Growth Fund and the Modern Manufacturing Initiative.

Committee Chair, Julian Hill MP, noted that these three programs have had significant funding commitments and expenditure by the Australian Government, making them worthy of further scrutiny.

“In the last public hearing held on 3 March, the committee examined a number of grants programs that had been subject to audits by the Australian National Audit Office,” Mr Hill said. “In the upcoming session, we are keen to see whether the issues identified by the Auditor-General in the audit reports are recurring in these other programs.

“The committee will also hold two roundtables in the afternoon, on integrity in Commonwealth grants administration and on grant applicant experiences.”

Details for the public hearings are:

Friday 17 March 2023Time: 9am – 3.15pmVenue: Committee Room 2R1, Parliament House, CanberraInquiry into Commonwealth Grants Administration

Further information about the inquiry is available on the Committee website.



Workforce Australia Committee turns its focus to the employment services system

HAVING TABLED its interim report into ParentsNext, the Select Committee on Workforce Australia Employment Services will turn its attention to the broader employment services system during a public hearing in Melbourne on Tuesday, March 14, 2023.

The Committee will hear from a range of witnesses including academic experts, peak and advocacy bodies, think tanks, and providers of Workforce Australia and government and non-government programs.

Committee Chair, Julian Hill MP said, "I want to reiterate that this will be a comprehensive, first-principles review. Nothing is off the table.

"There is strong evidence that employment services have failed to invest in jobseekers and to support them into sustainable employment. The committee has also heard that the system has caused harm to many of those it is intended to support and has neglected the needs of employers during a period of increased workforce demand."

"Over the coming months, the committee will conduct public hearings and site visits to explore employment service and alternative programs. We want to ensure we hear from as diverse a range of stakeholders as possible so that we can make sensible, evidence-based recommendations to optimise employment services in the future."

Submissions are requested by March 17, 2023.

Community consultation sessions

Members of the committee will be participating in community consultation sessions facilitated by the Brotherhood of St. Laurence on Monday, April 3, 2023. The sessions — which will be in-person in the Melbourne CBD and online for anyone to attend nationally — are an opportunity for people with lived experience of employment services to share their stories and make suggestions for reform. Thos people who want to participate in one of these sessions can register interest at the link below.

Community consultation sessions: register your interest.

Further information about the inquiry, including Terms of Reference, future public hearings, published submissions and hearing transcripts, are available on the inquiry website.

Public hearing details

Date             14 March 2023Time             9am – 5pm AEDTLocation       Room G.6, Victorian Parliament House, Springer Street, East MelbourneWitnesses    Professor Jeff Borland                      Professor Mark Considine                      Associate Professor Siobhan O’Sullivan                      Professor Gaby Ramia                      Dr Michael McGann                      Brotherhood of St Laurence                      Centre for Policy Development                      Per Capita                      National Employment Services Association                      Jobs Australia                      Jobs Victoria                      APM Employment                      IntoWork Australia                      Jobfind Centres Australia

The hearing will be live broadcast via the Parliament’s Watch, Read, Listen website.



Contact Us


PO Box 2144