Business News Releases

Decline in workplace injuries highlights efforts by Victorian employers to set high WHS standards

New safety data released by the Victorian Government today confirms Victorian employers have continued to set high workplace occupational health and safety standards, says VECCI Chief Executive Mark Stone.

Mr Stone was commenting on the release of Victorian WorkCover Authority (VWA) data by the Assistant Treasurer,  Gordon Rich-Phillips MLC, that shows the number of injury claims has fallen by seven per cent in the 12 months to September 2013, from 7.98 to 7.42 claims per million hours worked.

Mr Stone said workplace safety is a priority for Victorian employers and their efforts, in concert with employees and VWA, has meant Victoria continues to set the standard for workplace occupational health and safety across Australia.

He added that the latest data builds on the 2012/13 safety results, which showed an encouraging improvement in return to work rates among injured workers.

VECCI’s 2013 Victoria Summit highlighted the importance of getting injured workers back to work sooner, to perform either their pre-injury role or suitable alternative tasks.

It also called for improvements in the way agents and health practitioners manage injury and illness claims.

“People returning to work as soon as possible after an injury is a ‘win-win’ for business, employees and their families, and the wider community,” says Mr Stone.

Mr Stone said that while the Government has delivered on its promise of a three per cent reduction in Victorian WorkCover premiums at 1.298 per cent of payroll, it is important to consider the scope for further premium reductions in 2014 and beyond, in order to reward better health and safety performance.

“With WorkSafe Victoria recording a solid net result of $1.084 billion in 2012/13 and a funding ratio of 108 per cent (compared to 96 per cent at 30 June 2012), now is the time to recognise the efforts of Victorian employers with lower insurance premiums,” says Mr Stone.

The Victorian Employers' Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VECCI) is the peak body for employers in Victoria, informing and servicing more than 15,000 members, customers and clients around the state.



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Australian retailers thank shoppers following a bumper Boxing Day with more than $2 billion in sales

Peak retail industry body the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) thanks Australian shoppers for their patience and courtesy in what were bumper Boxing Day sales, with more than an expected $2 billion going through retail tills.

ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman said Australian retailers saw unprecedented crowds yesterday with many stores forced to restrict entrance due to the sheer number of people already in store.

“Shoppers remained patient and understanding as they hit stores in the hope of bagging a post-Christmas bargains.

“Many shoppers spent hours waiting in lines – lining up to get into the store and lining up to make their purchases.

“The ARA would also like to acknowledge the dedication and hard work of all retail workers throughout the Christmas period, but particularly on what was undeniably a huge Boxing Day.

“Rather than spending time with family and friends, retail staff are at the coal face, as shopper navigate crowded stores.

“If sales continue like those we saw yesterday throughout the post-Christmas period, the 15.1 billion predicted in sales will be exceeded.

“The ARA and research partner Roy Morgan Research forecast $15.1 billion to be spent during post-Christmas sales from Boxing Day through to mid January – an almost four percent rise on last year’s actual sales of $14.5 billion,” Mr Zimmerman said.

Since 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has been the peak industry body representing Australia’s $258 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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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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Abbot Point puts Bowen back on track

AFTER 18 months of uncertainty, the Bowen community may finally have something to celebrate with yesterday’s announcement by federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt approving development of the Adani T0 project and capital dredging at the Abbot Point coal terminal.

Minister Hunt also issued approval for the Arrow LNG facility on Curtis Island near Gladstone and associated gas transmission pipeline.

Welcoming the announcements, Queensland Resources Council Chief Executive Michael Roche congratulated Minister Hunt for using the weight of scientific evidence to put Queenslanders ahead of increasingly hysterical environmental activists.

"The staged dredging of a commercial trading port 40 kilometres from the Great Barrier Reef has been painted by fossil fuel opponents as the end of a global icon," Mr Roche said.

"Minister Hunt’s decision confirms what we have known for the past 38 years of industry co-existence with the reef. We have the wherewithal in Australia to protect world heritage and environmental values because we have a standard of living that affords us such choices.

"The trading ports working alongside the Great Barrier Reef are responsible for the export of commodities worth $40 billion a year to the Australian economy.

"North Queenslanders are also looking to them to play a bigger role in supporting inbound tourism, particularly the cruise ship industry.

"The alternative proposal from environmental activists is to shut down shipping along 80 percent of the eastern Queensland coastline, effectively hanging almost one million people out to dry.

"The conditions set out today for both projects by Minister Hunt show the federal government is serious about protecting the outstanding universal values of the Great Barrier Reef and he can be assured of the continuing cooperation of industry stakeholders of meeting environmental and community expectations," Mr Roche said.



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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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