Business News Releases

Retailers welcome competition review panel to address serious competitive issues in the Australian economy


PEAK retail industry body the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement today of the final terms of reference and the panel for its Competition Review and congratulates Small Business Minister Bruce Billson for driving this review.
ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman said the ARA is positive about the scope of the inquiry and will be active in the process to see serious competitive issues addressed within the retail sector which have hurt consumers and reduced competition in some areas.

“The ARA sees the short-termism of dominant sector players are working to the long term disadvantage of retailers, retail jobs and consumers.
“Retailers will be happy with the balance in the panel and the need for the panel to look at markets in the retail sector which lack real competition.

“The ARA has worked with many of the panel appointees in the past, whether in workplace relations roles such as with Ian Harper on the Australian Payments Clearing Association (APCA) Merchant Forum, or in the case of Peter Anderson, as the head of Australia’s largest small to medium business representative body ACCI of which the ARA is a member.
“The ARA looks forward to working with appointees including Professor Ian Harper (Chair), Ms Su McCluskey, Mr Michael O’Bryan SC and Mr Peter Anderson.
“The Harper Review will be the first comprehensive review of competition laws and policy in more than 20 years and we look forward to this initiative getting underway,” Mr Zimmerman said. 

Since 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has been the peak industry body representing Australia’s $265 billion retail sector, which employs over 1.2 million people. The ARA ensures retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating and saving money for its 5,000 independent and national retail members throughout Australia.

Visit or call 1300 368 041.



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Unnecessary migration zone changes must be repealed

THE Abbott Government’s move today to repeal the extension of the Migration Act to vessels servicing Australia’s offshore oil and gas projects shows it is serious about reducing red tape and attracting further resource investment to Australia, says resource industry employer group AMMA.

The Migration Amendment (Offshore Resources Activity) Repeal Bill 2014 seeks to repeal last ditch Gillard Government legislation designed to deliberately increase the regulatory burden on employers using essential overseas labour to temporarily service Australia’s offshore oil and gas projects.

“The current legislation is a relic of the 2013 election year, delivered by Labor and the Greens at the behest of trade unions whipping up false panic on foreign workers,” says AMMA executive director Scott Barklamb.

“It is set to force foreign nationals working on foreign-flagged ships in international waters to obtain an Australian visa.  This is an extraordinary proposition, only possible through an equally extraordinary expansion of Australia's migration zone. 

“Extending Australia’s migration zone to regulate offshore activities in this way was never in our national interest. It is completely at odds with how offshore resource projects are built and regulated anywhere in the world.”

Mr Barklamb says the current legislation, set to take effect from 30 June 2014, puts Australia at a competitive disadvantage as a place to do business in a critically important part of the offshore oil and gas sector.

“Labor’s legislation introduced a radical change that massively expanded Australia’s legal territory and targets highly specialised international vessels assisting with the laying of pipes and assembly of critical infrastructure in international waters,” he says.

“It was an attempt by a dying government to deliberately impose punitive red tape for red tape’s sake and pander to a union desire to control workplaces that were outside Australia’s legal reach.

“Imposing unnecessary additional costs on this critical service sector will only delay the construction of mega oil and gas projects and damage Australia’s reputation at a time when we need to demonstrate to international investors that we are a rewarding, productive and flexible place to do business.

“AMMA urges the parliament to pass this important remedial legislation as soon as possible and correct the short-sighted regulatory excess bequeathed by the previous government.

“Now is not the time to play petty party politics. It is time to make smart decisions that will support further investment and employment in Australia.”

AMMA’s 2013 submission to the federal government detailed the detrimental effect of the provisions on Australia’s resource industry, economy and employment.



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Tourism body applauds Melbourne public transport cost reduction



THE s initiative that will reduce the cost of public transport for Victorians and visitors to our state.

“This initiative will make Melbourne a more attractive destination for international and domestic tourists and encourage them to explore the many attractions our city has to offer,” says VTIC Chief Executive, Dianne Smith.

“This is a ‘win’ for Melbourne’s significant international student population and will further enhance the city’s reputation as a world-class study destination. 

“A comprehensive communications plan must accompany these changes so visitors are aware of their ticketing obligations when using public transport. 

“Ticketing for Victoria’s regions should be reformed to encourage visitors to explore more of our state and spread the associated economic benefits. 

“It is positive that this initiative has bipartisan support and we look forward to it coming into effect.”




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Costs are killing retail jobs – ARA to inform national red tape conference

PEAK retail industry body the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) urges the Federal Government to give retailers the opportunity to grow the Australian economy and create employment opportunities by quickly removing unnecessary red tape costs.

ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman will present at the Regulatory Reform conference in Canberra tomorrow morning. Mr Zimmerman will outline key cost blowouts which are killing jobs and growth in the Australian retail sector, as well as highlight potential employment growth opportunities if these issues are addressed in a timely manner. 

“The key message we will be delivering is that retail has a real opportunity for jobs and economic growth over the next five years, however, regulatory costs have stifled that growth in the last five years. The only way we will achieve our potential is to remove costs and restrictions. 

Key points that will be raised include: 

  • Over the last five years retail has grown by around 2% p.a. while jobs have only grown by 0.2% p.a.
  • Average full time wage is now over $55,000 with regulation killing flexibility.
  • Ernst & Young report confirms 93,000 jobs have been lost due to non-collection of overseas GST and the sector could grow by 87,000 jobs in the next four years with this red tape non-compliance measure being removed.
  • ARA/ACCI report shows 70% of businesses had their red tape burden increased in the last 12 months.
  • More than 55% of all businesses indicated they had no capacity to pass the cost of regulation on to consumers.
  • The carbon tax has significantly increased costs for retailers (e.g. for bakery retailers by $20,000 p.a.)
  • Almost one quarter of businesses (23%) spent between $10,001 to $50,000 on compliance management.
  • Safety and Workers Compensation is the most complex area of compliance (55.8 %). This was followed by Employee Wages, Conditions and Superannuation (51.4%) and Tax Compliance Obligations (47.5%).

“The retail sector shows real promise as the jobs driver for the economy over the next five years, but in order to achieve this, we must reduce costs and burden on retailers. 

“I see retailers every day of the week, from single store businesses to the boardrooms of some of Australia’s largest companies, and I can confirm that all of them have done a fantastic job in surviving - they have all had to cut costs and cut jobs. They are running on the smell of an oily rag. 

“The ARA congratulates the government on their first steps to reducing burden but the bulk of the work is still in front of them,” Mr Zimmerman said. 

Since 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has been the peak industry body representing Australia’s $265 billion retail sector, which employs over 1.2 million people. The ARA ensures retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating and saving money for its 5,000 independent and national retail members throughout Australia.

Visit or call 1300 368 041.



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Tourism body calls for MCEC funding to stem Melbourne’s loss of international business events

VICTORIA'S lead tourism body has called for the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) to be funded to stem Melbourne's loss of international business events.

Victoria Tourism Industry Council (VTIC) Chief Executive, Dianne Smith said:

"VTIC calls on the State Government to fund the expansion of the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC). 

"MCEC turns away 17 percent of potential clients due to lack of capacity. 

"VTIC has been a consistent advocate of the need for this project and the VTIC 2014-15 state budget submission encourages the government to prioritise funding for this expansion.

"Business events are vital to Victoria, as they contribute $1.2 billion to the economy and are responsible for 22,000 jobs.

"Work recently commenced on Sydney’s convention and exhibition centre renovation, so if the MCEC expansion does not go ahead Victoria will lose a significant amount of business to NSW. 

"Losing business events to Sydney would mean Victoria loses the very high return on investment benefits that business events provide to the events and associated sectors.

"Victoria's priority sectors, such as health and medical research, greatly benefit from the array of worldwide industry leaders that congregate in Melbourne for events, such as for the recent Diabetes World Conference or the upcoming AIDS conference.

"There is also significant flow-on benefit for local businesses such as hotels and restaurants."

* The Victoria Tourism Industry Council (VTIC) is the peak body for Victoria’s s tourism and events industry, providing one united industry voice. Tourism and events are growth industries for Victoria and contribute $19.1 billion to the state economy each year and employ more than 201,000 people.





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