Business News Releases

Environment 'one-stop shop' a boost for Victorian business

VECCI welcomes the Council of Australian Governments’ (COAG) decision to create a one-stop shop for environmental approvals, as it will remove unnecessary duplication and make the process simpler and quicker for Victorian businesses.

This streamlining is a great outcome for Victorian businesses as they will now be able to attain full environmental certification from the state approval process without also having to seek federal approval.

As part of its policy agenda for the recent federal election, VECCI sought a reduction in the regulatory burden on business and repeated this call more recently at its 2013 VECCI Victoria Summit.

“We’ve been consistent in our calls to governments at every level to reduce red and green tape and Victorian businesses will be delighted when these changes are implemented,” says VECCI Chief Executive Mark Stone.

“In the current economic climate, removing the roadblocks to job creation and productivity is crucial.” 



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Small business needs certainty on tax treatment of trusts

The Federal Government should move to finalise reform to laws governing the taxation of trusts, with interim legislation passed by the previous government hampering the small business sector, according to leading Australian accounting firm, Crowe Horwath.

Five weeks ago the government stated that it would review 92 announced but unlegislated tax and superannuation measures.

Reform to the taxation of trusts – started by the previous government but which remained incomplete by the time of the September 7 election - was not on this list.

This is despite trust tax reform being one of the most important legislative reform issues for small business.

Crowe Horwath National Tax Director, Tristan Webb, said that the government has stated it is committed to helping small business and therefore should put trust tax reform as a top order priority.

Interim legislation handed down by the previous government in response to the High Court decision in the Bamford case of 2010 was “only ever intended to be a stop gap.”

“We are surprised that the government has indicated that it will move on 92 announced but unlegislated measures but has left reform of the taxation of trusts out.

“Our 16,000 trust clients rightfully expect certainty in their business, farm and investment dealings. The government should act or at least indicate the direction that they want to move so that our clients can forget about tax and get on with business,” he said.

Two years since the legislation came into effect clear deficiencies have emerged with this legislation.

The Australian Tax Office is currently refusing to finalise a key public ruling on the basis that there are several competing views that relate to key aspects of the legislation, each of which may be correct at law.

The taxation of trusts has been a contentious issue for respective governments.

The Howard government originally supported taxing trusts as companies but moved away from this proposal.

The Rudd-Gillard government favoured maintaining the status quo post Bamford but legislation purporting to do that has come up short.



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Small Business urges Government to keep tax breaks to re-build tax receipts

In response to the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook report released on Tuesday, Council of Small Business of Australia (COSBOA) is calling on Joe Hockey to keep tax breaks in place for Small Business to help keep the economy moving and rebuild tax receipts.

COSBOA is pleased with the attention that Small Business has received in 2013 but this positive sentiment needs to be matched with action and policy. Recently, the coalition said that it would repeal some of the former Labour Government’s tax concessions including the loss carry-back and instant tax write offs.

Speaking at the National Press Club, the Treasurer announced that a deficit in June 2014 was expected to reach $47 million and said that unless the Government took immediate action, Australia would be in debt for more than a decade.

Peter Strong, Executive Director of COSBOA said: “We need the Government to keep the current tax breaks for Small Business in place. A saving in the budget from removing these measures will not impact the budget greatly and will affect the confidence of Small Business people, which will be counterproductive for the economy.

“Small Business confidence lifted following the election but we need the government to maintain that confidence, deliver on promises and provide much needed support.

“While the Government has clearly acknowledged the contribution and value of Small Business, the removal of much needed tax support sends a mixed message,” Mr Strong added.

With the budget deficit now forecast, COSBOA urges the Government to develop a cohesive long term plan for the economy that includes Small Business people and supports their capacity to innovate and increase productivity.

COSBOA will continue to work with the Business Council of Australia (BCA) in 2014 following the release of their Action Plan for Enduring Prosperity, which has identified nine policy areas and 93 recommendations that aim to maintain strong economic growth, restore Australia’s competitiveness, lift productivity and support businesses.

“The BCA Action Plan is a good start to a national plan for securing the future of our country. We also need the Government to articulate what they intend to do and how they will engage and assist business people in local communities to build strong micro-economies around the nation.

“Our economy is not one homogenous entity consisting of only big business, but is made up of hundreds of small economies built around communities and industry sectors. If these micro-economies are healthy then the national economy will also prosper,” Mr Strong concluded.



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Time for protesters to move on

It is time for the East-West Link protesters to stop disrupting lawful work on this very important project,” says VECCI Chief Executive Mark Stone.

“No one has the right to interfere with another person’s right to attend and perform their daily work free from harassment or the right of a business to engage in lawful operations, but this is exactly what the protesters continue to do. They are also continuing to divert the resources of the Victorian Police away from core operations and are placing the individual police officers in attendance in very difficult and unpleasant circumstances.

“There is nothing wrong with protesting as long as it is done peacefully, lawfully and does not infringe upon the right of others to engage in lawful activity.

“It seems incredible that at a time when workers in the vehicle manufacturing industry and its supply chain face an uncertain future, a small group of protesters seek to delay work on a project that will create thousands of jobs and improve the lives of commuters and business operators alike for decades to come.

“VECCI maintains its strong support for the East-West Link and wants the road in its entirety built. This includes the next stages that would link to the Port of Melbourne and the Western Ring Road. With closures of the Burnley and Domain tunnels for maintenance and the annual works on the Westgate Bridge due to commence shortly, the need for a second river crossing of Melbourne is self-evident. VECCI also supports the Melbourne Metro Rail tunnel, the removal of level crossings, the development of the Ports of Melbourne and Hastings and the completion of the Western Ring Road upgrade as part of a suite of major infrastructure projects of fundamental importance to securing Victoria’s long term prosperity.

“There are legitimate ways to protest that don’t impact on the right of others to go about their work peacefully. It is time for the noisy minority disrupting the East-West project to recognise and respect this.” 



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New 'home away from home' SilverKris Lounge debuts in Sydney

Singapore Airlines (SIA) has unveiled its new-concept SilverKris Lounge in Sydney, as part of a multi-million dollar investment programme to upgrade all of the Airline’s airport lounges around the world.

Designed by renowned architectural and interior design firm ONG&ONG, the new-concept SilverKris Lounge is thoughtfully designed and modelled after elements of a home, following extensive research that included focus groups with customers.

The new design concept will be progressively introduced to all of SIA's SilverKris Lounges in 15 cities over the next five years at an estimated cost of around $100 million.

Following renovation of the Sydney lounge, which has just been completed, planning work is underway to upgrade lounges at London, Hong Kong and Singapore (Terminal 3) in 2014.

Lounge customers can look forward to distinct personal spaces that provide a sense of ‘being home’, as well as more personalised services from lounge staff and a delectable selection of food and beverages to complement SIA's in-flight offerings.

"Our customers frequently tell us that they have a feeling of ‘home’ as soon as they board our aircraft, and our aim is to extend this experience to the ground. Through our new 'home away from home' concept, the intention is for our customers to experience the feeling of being taken care of at every step of their journey," said Mr Tan Pee Teck, Singapore Airlines’ Senior Vice President Product & Services.

"Each space is thoughtfully designed to create the ambiance of ‘home’ that is familiar and comforting, adding to the warm, authentic and personalised service that Singapore Airlines is well known for."

First introduced in Sydney, the new 'home' concept SilverKris Lounge showcases SIA's unique heritage distinguished by a customised batik design screen in the welcome foyer that customers can recognise from afar.

Inside, the lounge features tastefully selected art pieces, sourced locally and from Singapore.

Customers can make use of personal spaces tailored for different needs, ranging from a living room, kitchen and dining room to intimate coves for rest and relaxation.

Specially designed productivity pods will enable customers to work in privacy and comfort before their flight, while signature SIA armchairs will be a new feature at all refurbished SilverKris Lounges.

A familiar ‘taste of Singapore’ concept will also be progressively introduced at all SilverKris Lounges, with iconic dishes from Singapore such as laksa and mee siam offered alongside delectable food choices from around the world and a wide range of premium wines and spirits.

To complete the ‘home’ experience, Passenger Relations Officers, trained to deliver the personal SIA touch, will be on hand to host each customer and assist with their travel needs.

Singapore Airlines (SIA) is Australia's largest foreign carrier and operates 121 weekly services from the following cities, representing an 18% increase since 2011. The flights have been scheduled to offer seamless connectivity between Australia and the airline’s global network of 107 destinations in 39 countries:

  • Sydney 4 flights daily Airbus A380 and Boeing 777-300 & 777-200ER aircraft
  • Melbourne 4 flights daily Airbus A380 & A330 and Boeing 777-300 & 777-300ER
  • Perth 4 flights daily Airbus A330 and Boeing 777-200
  • Brisbane 3 flights daily Airbus A330
  • Adelaide 12 flights weekly Airbus A330
  • Darwin 4 flights weekly Airbus A320/A319 (operated by SilkAir, the regional wing of SIA)

In 2013, the airline unveiled its US$150m investment in the next generation of First / Business / Economy class seats to be featured on eight new Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, the first of which began service in September. The seats come complete with Panasonic’s new eX3 in-flight entertainment system, of which SIA is the launch customer.

SIA has also unveiled a suite of competitive products to drive greater value for Australian customers, including S$40 vouchers for customers transiting through Changi, an expanded Singapore Stopover Holiday package, as well as regular promotional fares for customers across Australia.

The roll out of the alliance with Virgin Australia continues, with SIA codeshare to 39 domestic destinations and VA codeshare and interline to a total of 89 destinations across the SilkAir/Singapore Airlines network. The airline owns a 19.9% stake in Virgin Australia.

The Group has 197 aircraft on firm order and planned capital expenditure of S$14.25 billion over the next five years. Singapore Airlines operates a modern passenger fleet of 99 aircraft with an average age of 6 years 7 months, SilkAir operates 24 modern aircraft with an average age of 6 years 9 months and Singapore Airlines Cargo operates 9 747-400 freighter aircraft with an average age of 11 years 11 months.



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