In Brief

Retailers say Fair Work wage rise decision will cost SME jobs

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has slammed Fair Work Australia's (FWA) ruling today to increase the minimum wage by over $19 per week as thoughtless, "one size fits all" decision making which will have a disastrous impact on the retail sector.

Russell Zimmerman.


ARA executive director Russell Zimmerman said FWA's blanket decision lumped retailers in with other award-reliant sectors and "shows a total disregard for the bleak trading conditions of Australia's largest employer and will result in job cuts".

"Instead of paying heed to the already tough trading conditions specific to the sector, retailers will feel the biggest impact of the wage increase with the shop assistant rate increasing by over $21 per week," Mr Zimmerman said.

"Small to medium businesses will be hit the hardest. Many of the bigger companies are protected from the rise due to the EBAs they have in place. Meanwhile, the smaller players are facing the same struggles as Australian workers with interest rate increases, more taxes, increased utility bills and a higher cost of living.

"Many will simply have to close their doors.

"This decision is disastrous for retailers and it's unreasonable to expect them to pay increased wage bills while the sector struggles to post any significant growth and when retailers are already facing wage increases as of July 1 with the second transition to the Modern Award," Mr Zimmerman said.

"The double increase will give retailers no choice but to shed staff, especially since retail trade figures have shown little growth and any year -on-year boost in sales is still well below the rate of inflation.

"FWA's decision has disregarded the fact that we are operating in a two speed economy, with retailers traveling in the slowest gear and pitted up against the booming mining sector," Mr Zimmerman said.

The ARA represents Australia's $240billion retail sector which employs over 1.2 million people. The ARA promotes and protects more than 5000 independent and national retailers throughout Australia, Mr Zimmerman said.


Jessica Watson storms to banana industry defence

Round-the-world sailor and Young Australian of the Year Jessica Watson opens the Australian Banana Industry Congress today (June 2) as the industry changes tack for greater professionalism.

Jessica Watson talks about determination to Australia’s banana industry.


Also on the agenda is innovative Queensland businessman Phillip Di Bella, the founder and managing director of Di Bella Coffee, who will present a very different way to develop and sustain a successful business.

Australian Banana Growers’ Council (ABGC) president Cameron MacKay said he expected Jessica Watson would impress growers and industry stakeholders alike.

“Congress is all about the business of growing and marketing bananas – and Jessica’s determination and vision in her own life emulate what our growers need – in particular after recent climatic events across Australia,” Mr MacKay said.

“She also represents one of our most important demographics – that of the post teen, early adult market so we are very keen to hear what she has to say,” he said.

The congress takes place at the Hyatt Regency Coolum, on the Sunshine Coast Queensland, to June 4 and will attract the attention of growers and industry stakeholders Australia wide. It also marks the 50th Anniversary of the ABGC and will provide attendees with a unique opportunity to see what the industry has achieved in that time.

“It will be a time to celebrate and recognise the extraordinary contribution of many of the individuals, families and organisations that have made and continue to make our industry what it is today,” Mr MacKay said.

Other features of the Congress include Darral Ashton, chairman of Apple & Pear Australia Ltd, who is providing an insight into recent experiences of the apple industry and the decision to import from New Zealand; plus Visy Fibre Packaging, the council’s major foundation sponsor, will canvas their industry to present the latest in packaging trends from around the world and anticipate upcoming technical advances.

“It is an opportunity not to be missed so I strongly encourage growers and industry alike to make this most of this occasion,” Mr MacKay said.



Bill simplifies infrastructure charges and provides certainty

The Queensland Government has introduced key legislation to Parliament that will enable infrastructure charging reforms to commence from July 1.

New infrastructure charge limits may help boost Qld construction industry.


Standard maximum infrastructure charges will be set at $28,000 for a home with three or more bedrooms, and $20,000 for one and two-bedroom homes.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Local Government Paul Lucas said the Bligh Government had worked hard to get the charges right to help stimulate the building industry, create jobs and improve housing affordability.

"These maximum charges were reached following the recommendations of the independent Infrastructure Charges Taskforce," Mr Lucas said.

"With more than a third of all Queensland jobs are in the building and construction industries, so it's important to get the balance right.

"The latest report from the Housing Industry Association shows new home sales soared by 11.1 percent in Queensland in March, well ahead of the national increase of 4.3 percent.

"We need to keep focused to ensure this growth continues to deliver more jobs and houses and increase housing affordability.

"Introducing maximum charges is a key way of assisting the recovery of the building industry whilst providing opportunities for Queensland families to purchase their own home."

Mr Lucas said a central element of the reforms was giving local governments flexibility to choose whether they adopt maximum charges or charge lesser amounts for infrastructure.

"This will give councils the ability to choose lower infrastructure charges that are appropriate for their local communities, while stimulating construction activity and competing for investment," he said.

"The State Government was forced to step in to the charges debate to provide simplicity and consistency for local governments and developers who couldn't work this out between themselves.

"This is a maximum charge that has been set and it's important to note local governments are responsible for setting their own local charges.

"If local governments want to subsidise infrastructure charging to stimulate development and jobs they will still be allowed to - in fact I encourage it."

Mr Lucas said the amendments would not fundamentally change the existing planning system, but would simplify the current clutter and confusion around infrastructure charging arrangements.

A key part of the Bill is the establishment of a head of power to make a State Planning Regulatory Provision (SPRP) which will implement the maximum charges across Queensland.

The Infrastructure Charges Taskforce was created to stimulate the building industry, and was a key initiative from the State Government's Growth Management Summit held in March last year.


Sunshine Coast Business Awards launch

The Maroochydore Chamber of Commerce will officially launch the annual Sunshine Coast Excellence in Business Awards at a cocktail function at Novotel Twin Waters Resort on Wednesday May 12 at 6pm.

Maroochydore Plaza, Sunshine Coast

The regional awards which recognise and celebrate the efforts and achievements of the Sunshine Coast business community were first introduced 16 years ago and each year continue to strengthen and prosper.  

In 2009, the awards attracted a quality field and record number of nominations from across the entire Sunshine Coast with more than 150 finalists vying for honours in a diverse range of business sectors.  

In a fitting tribute to the 2009 awards program, 600 guests including the region's business, community and government leaders gathered to celebrate the diversity, innovation and strengths of Sunshine Coast business at an exciting gala presentation dinner.

President of the Maroochydore Chamber of Commerce Myles McNamara is confident that this year's awards will again bring out the best in the business. 

"The awards include both business and individual categories and have been designed to uniquely reflect how the Sunshine Coast does business," Mr McNamara  said.

"I encourage Sunshine Coast business owners to either self-nominate or to nominate another business of their choice."

Nominations for the Sunshine Coast Excellence in Business Awards will open on May 12 and information is available on the Chamber's website at or by contacting the Chamber directly on 5443 5661.  

The Maroochydore Chamber of Commerce has a fine list of sponsors of the Sunshine Coast Excellence in Business Awards 2010:

Platinum Sponsor:

Sunshine Coast Council


Major Sponsors:

Novotel Twin Waters Resort

Suncorp Bank

Sunshine Coast TAFE


Category Sponsors:

Accounting North


Sunshine Plaza

Telstra Country Wide

Trade Qld

University of the Sunshine Coast - Faculty of Business


Media Partners:

Hot/Zinc FM

Seven Local News

Sunshine Coast Daily


Reservist employers subsidy boost

Employers of Defence Reservists who claim financial assistance through the Employer Support Payment Scheme will now receive more money, the Parliamentary Secretary for Defence Support, Mike Kelly announced this week.

Reservist employers on target.

Employer Support Payments (ESPs) rose on July 1from $1123.30 to $1183.10, for every week full-time employee Reservists are away from their civilian jobs, once the qualifying period of two weeks and other eligibility criteria are satisfied.

"The scheme was introduced to provide financial assistance to both employers and self-employed reservists," said Dr Kelly.

"The weekly payment helps offset the costs associated with the absence of Reservist employees who are performing Defence service."

For Reservists in part-time employment, a pro-rata amount of the applicable Average Weekly Ordinary Time Earnings (AWOTE) is calculated based on their weekly working hours.  ESP support is also available to self-employed Reservists whose business provides their main source of income.

In order for an employer to qualify for ESP payments, their Reservist employees must perform Defence service for five or more consecutive days after completing the qualifying period.

Employers can download claim forms at  

Defence Reserves Support specialists are available on 1800 803 485 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it to help resolve any queries about the claims process.


'Dishonourable' Fair Work Act change

The Council of Small Business of Australia (COSBOA) has labelled the Federal Government "dishonourable" over a vital word change to the Fair Work Act that shifts the goal posts for small-to-medium business. Image

COSBOA CEO Jaye Radisich said the  Federal Government has implemented an 11th hour change to the Fair Dismissal Code on June 30, which now applies to small businesses under Federal workplace laws.

"The Federal Government has acted with extreme dishonour in relation to small businesses, and the implementation of the Fair Work Act," said Ms Radisich.

"I was astounded to learn from the Shadow Minister for Small Business, Steve Ciobo MP, that a significant change to the Fair Dismissal Code has been snuck through by the Government on the eve of the new workplace laws applying (July 1)."

"All citizens, including small business owners and managers, deserve to have faith in their government and know that the legislative and regulatory framework of our society has transparency and integrity. On this occasion, that faith has been seriously undermined.

"The Determination released by Senator Arbib in the absence of the Deputy Prime Minister, significantly changes the obligations for small businesses under the Fair Dismissal Code.

"The one word that has been covertly changed in the Code after months of consultation and negotiation, will cause a significant red-tape and procedural burden to small businesses - ultimately causing a real dollar cost," he said.

"Small business owners are fair and reasonable people. They are willing to work within whatever system they're confronted with, but they will not react well to the wool being pulled over their eyes," Ms Radisich said.

The Council of Small Business of Australia said it will take this matter to the Minister for Small Business and the Prime Minister, to seek an urgent re-issuing of the Determination in accordance with what has been agreed to and advertised by the Government to date.



Federal Register of Legislative Instruments F2009L02570 - Dated June 24, 2009:

Procedural Matters.

In discussions with an employee in circumstances where dismissal is possible, the employee can have another

person present to assist. However, the other person cannot be a lawyer acting in a professional capacity.

A small business employer will be required to provide evidence of compliance with the Code if the employee makes a claim for unfair dismissal to Fair Work Australia, including evidence that a warning has been given (except in cases of summary dismissal). Evidence may include a completed checklist, copies of written warning(s), a statement of termination or signed witness statements.


Previously agreed Fair Dismissal Code (live as at 4pm, June 30, 2009):

Procedural Matters

In discussions with an employee in circumstances where dismissal is possible, the employee can have another person present to assist. However, the other person cannot be a lawyer acting in a professional capacity. A small business employer may be required to provide evidence of compliance with the Code if the employee makes a claim for unfair dismissal to Fair Work Australia. Evidence may include a completed checklist, copies of written warning(s), a statement of termination or signed witness statements.


Brisbane’s Finalists In Lord Mayor’s Business Awards

Brisbane Lord Mayor Campbell Newman has congratulated finalists in the 2008 Lord Mayor’s Business Awards, the city’s most prestigious business accolade which recognises excellence and rewards exceptional contributions to the growth of the city’s economy.


The Lord Mayor’s Business Awards is in its third consecutive year and is an initiative of Invest Brisbane, the city’s official investment promotion agency and part of Brisbane Marketing.

Cr Newman said that the diversity and quality of entries across the nine categories reflected Brisbane’s emergence as an innovative, world-class city.

“I was impressed by the diversity of nominations, from global technology firms, construction companies and hotel chains, to local tourism operators and up-and-coming biotechnology companies. The one thing they have in common is that these businesses have invested in the fastest growing capital city in Australia – Brisbane,” Cr Newman said.

“The creativity demonstrated in the nominations was also overwhelming and I commend all businesses and individuals who have committed to taking part in my Award’s program.”

The finalists in each award category were selected by independent panels of local business leaders. Like the nominations, the 36 judges also represented very diverse industries, from global powerhouses – KPMG, Savills and Singapore Airlines; to local businesses, universities and charities including RACQ, University of Queensland and Youngcare.

The winners of all nine categories plus the Optus Platinum Award will be announced at the Awards gala dinner on October 23 at the BrisbaneCity Hall.

“I will be hosting the Awards evening with David Koch and Sophie Formica, two of Australia’s biggest television personalities from Channel 7, and guests will be further entertained by the Queensland Orchestra as well as a line-up of Brisbane’s emerging talent,” Cr Newman said.

The Lord Mayor’s Business Awards program was established in 2006 and has grown from five categories to 10 since its inception.

Tickets are available at



Australia TradeCoast Award for Business Growth:

Australian Country Choice, BMD Group, Queensland Gas Company, Rowland.

IBM Award for Business Innovation: Technology One Ltd, Cutting Edge Post Pty Ltd, Medi Honey, Emporium Hotel.

Nova 106.9 Award for Business Creativity: Urban Circus, Cutting Edge Post Pty Ltd, Hoodlum, Mercury Mobility.

National Australia Bank Award for New Investment: The Sebel & Citigate Hotel, Alba Capital Partners Limited, Clovely Estate, SkyAirWorld.

Brisbane City Council Award for Corporate Citizenship: Mater Medical Research Institute, Clayton Utz, Di Bella, Holiday Inn Brisbane.

Davidson Recruitment Award for Employer of Choice: St George Bank, Clayton Utz, John Holland, Riverlife.

Energex Award for Sustainability in Business: NRMA Insurance, Arup, Hassell, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, Mission Australia, Queensland.

Mercedes-Benz Young CEO of the Year: Phillip Di Bella, Di Bella Coffee; Avraam Solomon, Solomon Food Group; Don Meij, Domino’s Pizza Enterprises; Peter Carr, Longhaus.

Channel 7 Business Person of the Year: Avraam Solomon, Solomon Food Group; Adrian Di Marco, TechnologyOne Ltd; David H T Devine, Devine Limited; Richard Cottee, Queensland Gas Company.


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