In Brief

QRC calls for Qld Govt to 'finally' declare New Acland coal extension a 'prescribed project'

THE Queensland Resources Council (QRC) is calling on the Queensland Government to stop stalling and declare New Hope Group's New Acland Stage 3 a prescribed project.

The call follows what the QRC said were unfounded claims by the Oakey Coal Action Alliance (OCAA) that the Department of Environment and Science was influenced by New Hope Group to award New Acland Stage 3 its Environmental Authority.

QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said the Department of Environment and Science took more than six months to hand down a decision regarding New Acland Stage 3’s Environmental Authority and its decision had been thoroughly and appropriately considered.

“The Palaszczuk Government needs to have faith in its own processes and not be held to ransom by minority activist groups,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“No resources project in Queensland history has been more scrutinised or assessed than New Acland Stage 3.

“New Hope Group, its workers and the local community have been stuck on a never-ending roundabout for more than 15 years.

“If the relevant government departments and Ministers Stewart (Mining Leases) and Butcher (Associated Water Licence) believe New Acland Stage 3 should go ahead, then they should back themselves. 

“If the Palaszczuk Government believes in its processes and people it needs to declare New Acland Stage 3 a prescribed project," Mr Macfarlane said.

“Otherwise, it is giving an indefinite green light to groups like OCAA, which is backed by the taxpayer-funded Environmental Defenders Office, to challenge every decision. 

“Does the Palaszczuk Government really want New Acland Stage 3 to return to the Land Court for a fourth time, and place at risk hundreds of potential new jobs associated with this project? 

“It’s time for the Government to act decisively.”


World MSME day celebrates the essential vitality of small business says Ombudsman

AUSTRALIAN Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Bruce Billson is using World Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Day (MSME Day, June 27) is calling on Australians to join him today "in saying a big thank you to the women and men running our small and family businesses".

Mr Billson said World MSME Day presented "the perfect chance to applaud the contribution small businesses make to our country".

Mr Billson launched an MSME video of community leaders giving thanks to small business and encouraged people to show their own support.

“These are great people in plain sight, and we see them everywhere, every day,” he said.

“When you stop and think about it, we depend so heavily on the small and family-run businesses in our lives – whether it is the local café, pharmacy, accountant, builder, mechanic or grocer who are conveniently there when you need them. 

“The best way to support small businesses is to be a kindly customer – patient and understanding, with good and generous intent. Small businesses are run by real people who deserve our respect and empathy every day.”

Globally, the United Nations has marked June 27 as MSME Day to raise awareness of the contribution of small businesses to sustainable development and the global economy.

Small businesses provide employment for more than five million Australians – two out of every five people with a private sector job work in a small business.

Small business contributes $483 billion to the Australian economy each year.

Mr Billson said about 38 percent of small businesses are owned by women and in recent years two-thirds of all new businesses have been led by women who are finding solutions to everyday problems, sharing their ideas and building a business from their ingenuity.

“Small business is a dynamic and fast-growing sector that allows people with an entrepreneurial spirit to pursue their dreams,” Mr Billson said.

“We should do more to celebrate the vital and deeply personal commitment made by more than 2.3 million small and family businesses to our community.

“Small business people take on a big and often stressful responsibility. It is not just an enterprise but their life – often their home and mortgage, family and identity are all tied together.”

Mr Billson said the past two years had been particularly hard for small businesses who faced not just shutdowns from the COVID-19 pandemic, but a series of rolling disasters such as devastating bushfires, ongoing drought conditions and record-breaking flooding in various parts of the country.

“Now small businesses have to navigate crushing supply chain disruptions and leaping input costs, soaring energy bills, higher wage costs and a chronic labour shortage just to keep their doors open and serve their communities,” he said.

Mr Billson also urged small business owners and leaders to not overlook their own mental health during such difficult times.

“This can feel unrelenting and it is vitally important those running a small business look after their emotional well-being and mental health,” he said.

“Sometimes it can be as simple as making time to pause, reflect and reconnect. Talking to trusted advisers and networks is a great way to find solutions.

"Our website and the My Business Health portal have useful tools and resources," Mr Billson said.

"Watch the thank you MSME videos and join us in saying thanks by using our MSME stakeholder pack and learning more about the contribution of small business to our society through MSME small business facts."



Master Builders applaud High Court decision that 'sees through' CFEMU attempt to erase law breaking history

THE FOLLY of the Labor Party policy to abolish the construction watchdog, the Australian building and Construction Commission (ABCC), has been highlighted by a significant High Court decision, according to Master Builders Australia.

The decision of the High Court to overturn a Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia ruling is "a significant relief for the nation’s $210 billion building and construction sector" according to Master Builders Australia CEO Denita Wawn. Mr Wawn said the High Court decision "brings to an end attempts to erase from history countless examples of bullying, intimidation and other illegal behaviour demonstrated by the CFMEU and other construction unions for decades".

Ms Wawn said, “This is a huge relief for our industry and means that the horrific track record of building unions will be relevant when courts consider penalties for future breaches. 

“Construction unions have a long and sorry history of law breaking, particularly right of entry, misrepresentation and anti-coercion, which far exceeds any other union. This case means that record won’t be erased from history and remains relevant,” she said.

“Over the last five or so years, the ABCC has succeeded in around 98 of 107 cases in the courts, which resulted in around $16 million in penalties for breaches of the law by building unions. Over $14.5 million of these penalties were imposed on the CFMMEU for well over 1600 separate contraventions of workplace laws,” Ms Wawn said.

“To say that a track record like that isn’t relevant misses the point of why we have the ABCC and why it must be retained.

“The High Court decision has backed the reason why we need the ABCC – to ensure that penalties can determined in a way that stops the continuation of the CFMMEU’s history of non-compliance with the law, by making it something that is too expensive to maintain.

“The ALP has promised that the ABCC will be abolished if there is a change of government and this decision should hopefully make them reconsider. We are an essential part of economic recovery, so they need to tell the 400,000-plus businesses and almost 1.2 million workers we employ what their plans are to stop lawbreaking in our industry.”


Urgent Queensland coal shipment to assist Ukraine

AN AUSTRALIAN resources company has stepped up to supply a cargo of essential humanitarian aid to war-torn Ukraine -- thermal coal for vital electricity services.

Whitehaven Coal is supplying Ukraine with 70,000 tonnes of thermal coal to help keep the lights on and stave off freezing conditions, following an urgent request from the Australian Government.

The Australian Government is donating the shipment, worth close to $30 million, as part of its humanitarian response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Queensland Resources Council (QRC) chief executive Ian Macfarlane said council member Whitehaven Coal's shipment would be welcomed, following reports of civilians bunkering down in cities with no electricity and limited heating in bitterly cold conditions. 

“I'd like to commend Whitehaven Coal for working so quickly with the Australian Government to provide access to a cargo of thermal coal, which isn’t easy at the moment because it’s in such high demand,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“Whitehaven has also contributed $250,000 to the Australian Red Cross Ukraine Crisis Appeal to help the people of Ukraine, so it’s wonderful to see such a heartfelt, local response to this unfolding and tragic situation.”

Mr Macfarlane said the war in Ukraine had shone a harsh spotlight on the strategic issue of energy security.

“The secure and consistent supply of electricity is essential to so many aspects of everyday life,” he said.

“With millions of displaced Ukrainians fleeing the conflict, it’s vital they still have access to electricity for heating, lighting and even for charging phones so they can stay in touch with family members around the world, including in Australia.”

Today’s announcement comes shortly after many Queensland resources companies dug deep to help people in flood-affected parts of the state by donating millions of dollars to relief efforts, Mr Macfarlane said.


TWU urges government to provide rapid testing kits to save supply chains

EMPTY supermarket shelves underscore governmental failure to provide rapid antigen testing kits (RATs) for transport workers, according to the Transport Workers Union (TWU), with "as up to 50 percent of truck drivers are absent due to COVID-19".

TWU national secretary, Michael Kaine said Australia's supply chain is now under significant pressure, with large logistics operators reporting up to half their workforce absent amid testing delays and the inability of workers to secure rapid tests.

Mr Kaine said reports of empty supermarket shelves across Australia was a predictable outcome of the government's failure to prioritise rapid tests for the country's most mobile workforce. The union has been told by large transport operators working out of major Australia ports that between a third and half of their workforces were missing each day.

“The TWU wrote to the Prime Minister in October urging the government to provide rapid tests to road transport workers to avoid unnecessary delays and keep drivers on the road," Mr Kaine said. 

"Instead, we have a completely predictable scenario where drivers are delivering rapid tests to be sold on the shelves of supermarkets and pharmacies -- but they, like most Australians, can't access them themselves."

Mr Kaine said road transport was Australia’s most mobile industry and interstate truck drivers were at increased risk of virus exposure. The TWU and Australian Road Transport Industrial Organisation (ARTIO) have been calling on the Federal Government to implement a COVID-Safe National Transport Roadmap with rapid testing at its heart to combat the risk of covid spreading across states and territories as other restrictions are eased.

"We need to prioritise critical industries like transport," Mr Kaine said. "These tests are an important weapon in the fight against the virus, and without them, the virus is hitching a ride through transport supply chains, putting workers and the industry in danger.

“It’s always too little, too late with this government. First it was the sluggish vaccine rollout that left transport workers behind, and now it’s the failure to protect transport workers and supply chains from Omicron.

“It is vital that rapid tests are free and readily available. The government must prioritise access to transport workers and their employers who the community is again depending upon to keep Australia moving safely.”


Ombudsman wants Banking Code Compliance Committee's 'SME inclusion' to be adopted

THE Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Bruce Billson has welcomed the final report of the independent review of the Banking Code Compliance Committee (BCCC), which includes recommendations to improve small business representation and engagement.

A key recommendation in the Khoury review is the addition of a fourth member on the committee with expertise in small business.

The final report also includes a recommendation to revitalise the BCCC’s engagement with the small business and agribusiness advisory panel, highlighting a need to incorporate systematic ways of engaging with the panel particularly when developing strategy and planning inquiries

“We welcome the final report of the independent review of the BCCC, noting the adoption of two significant recommendations my office has advocated for,” Mr Billson said. 

“Having a committee member with expertise in small business will provide balanced representation and help the BCCC meet community expectations.

“We are equally encouraged by the final report’s recommendation for the BCCC to engage more with the small business and agribusiness advisory panel, particularly when planning and conducting inquiries," he said.

“The panel is critical to the committee’s purpose to monitor and drive best practice Code compliance. A greater understanding of the unique challenges faced by small business customers will enhance the work of the BCCC and help meet the needs of the small business community.”

In addition to the review of the Banking Code Compliance Committee, Mr Billson also welcomed the Callaghan review of the Banking Code, which includes recommendations around access to banking services.

“While there is work to do to improve relationships between small business customers and banks, and de-banking is still an issue for certain small business sectors,” Mr Billson said.

“The Code review recommends seeking a commitment from banks to communicate with the customer before denying a banking service or closing an account, with an opportunity for the customer to respond, in accordance with AUSTRAC guidance. In the case where a service is denied, or account closed, it recommends the bank give a reason. It finds these decisions should be on a case-by-case basis.

“My office also supports the recommendation the BCCC consider conducting an inquiry into banks’ performance in accordance with these commitments.”



International skills crucial for resources and energy growth says AMMA chief Steve Knott

RE-OPENING skilled migration to supplement Australia’s talent pool will be crucial to securing "the enormous pipeline of projected growth" in the resources and energy industry, according to resources and energy group the Australian Mines and Metals Association (AMMA).

“Today’s announcement on international skilled immigration is very welcome news for Australia’s resources and energy industry which has been crippled by skills shortages,” said AMMA chief executive Steve Knott said.

“In daily conversations with AMMA’s resources and energy members, working in all sub-sectors right across the nation, finding the right number of skilled employees continues to be the most pressing and most severe challenge. 

“Despite leading the nation’s economic performance throughout COVID-19, difficulties in attracting skilled employees in the scale required has presented a very real risk to future resources and energy project growth and the enormous role it will play in Australia’s fiscal recovery.”

AMMA’s annual workforce forecasting report has identified 98 projects that are advanced in planning stages and could create over 100,000 jobs between now and 2026.

“Without access to supplementary international skilled labour, even in the very small numbers utilised by resources employers historically, many of these projects may be deemed unviable to proceed,” Mr Knott said.

“The national Labour Market Portal also predicts key resources and energy occupations – including mining and petroleum engineers, geophysicists, skilled operators and trade technicians – will remain in very tight supply over coming years.

“There needs to be a circuit breaker to the present unsustainable situation of Australian industries cannibalising each other for talent. This is occurring across the skills spectrum from operators and tradespeople to chefs, hospitality professionals and cleaners.

“The arrival of skilled migrant employees in some of these key occupations will ease the great anxieties of employers on how they will both continue to resource existing operations and secure the skills required to support expansion and new project growth.”


Contact Us


PO Box 2144