Business News Releases

Holden closure highlights need for continuing transformation of Victoria's economy

“THE announcement by Holden that it will cease its Australian manufacturing operations in 2017 is a significant blow for Victoria and in particular the workers and other businesses directly affected," says VECCI Chief Executive Mark Stone.

“While the decision does not come as a surprise, given the intense pressure on the vehicle manufacturing industry from factors such as international competition and changing consumer preferences, its impact will be felt inside and out of Holden. It is imperative that policy makers recognise the importance of supporting the transition of affected workers and businesses into new industries and markets.

“However, Victoria’s economy has already been embarking upon a transformation from traditional to advanced manufacturing and with the growth of other parts of our economy, such as the services sector, the impact of the Holden decision will be at least absorbed in part. Also positive is Holden’s confirmation that a national sales company, a national parts distribution centre and a global design studio will remain, despite the cessation of its manufacturing operations.

“It is fundamental that both Federal and State Governments support business activity that will create ongoing wealth and jobs and focus on relieving the burdens of unnecessary cost and regulation so that business can continue to meet the challenges of the increasingly competitive global economy.”

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.



Latest Victoria funding cuts damage industry and employment

THE latest round of funding cuts to the Victorian Training Guarantee funding model are bad for business and work opportunities for young people, says VECCI.

“Despite the State Government having undertaken to discuss proposals for further changes to the training system with business and industry, it appears that little consultation has taken place,” says VECCI Chief Executive Mark Stone.

Recent announcements abolishing funding support for young people engaged in part-time traineeships or apprenticeships while still at school will have an immediate negative effect on employers who traditionally provide employment and training opportunities for them.

“What seems to have been forgotten is that access to work experience and formal training not only has an immediate positive impact on young workers to the benefit of their employers, but it also provides skills that benefit the community as a whole.

“It goes without saying that the removal of funding support will now seriously undermine this training effort.”

The other major concern is a steep cut to hourly funding rates, with rates for some qualifications reduced by as much as $9 per hour to only $1.50 and many reduced by around $3 per hour.

“These cuts will work against the training effort of industry at a time when Victoria needs more highly skilled workers to remain competitive,” Mr Stone says.

The cuts being introduced will also affect existing trainees and their training providers, both of whom will now have to adjust as existing funding levels will not be maintained. Fortunately, there was some good news in the announcements, with the regional loading for training providers to be increased in line with the recommendation made by VECCI at its recent Victoria Summit.

“The regional loading increase is good news for both employers and individuals as it will help support local delivery,” Mr Stone says.

“The funding increase for concession eligible students is also welcome. However, these positives do not outweigh the funding cuts, which will affect skills shortage areas such as community services, aged care, disability services, the services sector and retail."

VECCI calls on the Government to immediately meet with business stakeholders to discuss and review the announced funding cuts because of their adverse impact on both employers and trainees.

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.



Retailers suffer while government plays politics on GST issue

Peak retail industry body the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) said retailers were anxious to hear some good news after Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey met with state treasurers today with an agenda to close the GST loophole; however, no such decision has been made.  

ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman said it is now up to the government to fix what the previous government couldn't fix.

“The ARA has met with senior State and Federal Government Treasurers over recent weeks on the low value overseas GST collection issue, and we look forward to urgent action following today’s meeting.

“Australian retailers have been competing at a disadvantage for too long, and it is only fair that the closing of the GST loophole is made a priority.

“Retailers will be working alongside the government to ensure this issue is resolved efficiently and effectively. Large overseas online retailers can be directed by the government to collect GST at virtually no cost – this would see around 80 percent of the missing GST collected.

“If a reduction to $20 in the threshold from the current $1000 collection rate was implemented, around $1 billion GST could be collected in the 2014-15 financial year. This revenue could be put into the state governments for schools, police and other community services.

“The ARA will continue to work alongside the government to get this issue resolved once and for all,” 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.



Aussies’ $10.7m ‘gift’ to banks - RateCity

AUSTRALIANS will 'gift' an estimated $10.7 million to their credit card providers in the form of extra interest revenue in January, new research from Australia’s leading financial comparison website, RateCity ( has found.

Credit card users owe a massive $48.8 billion on their cards, with more than $34.2 billion accruing interest, latest Reserve Bank figures show.

And RateCity estimates that plastic debts will balloon by 2 percent in January as the nation deals with Christmas spending hangovers.

Alex Parsons, CEO of, said the simple fact is we spend a lot more over the Christmas season on our credit cards than in other months.

“On average, January is the month where Aussies stack on the most credit card debt and it’s a good bet they’ll be higher again in January 2014 – for a start, there are over 200,000 more credit cards on issue than there were last Christmas,” he said.

Historical data shows January is the month when Aussies have the most debt on their credit cards at 2.21 percent extra debt compared with December, on average over the past decade.

And this coming January is unlikely to be an exception, despite Australians scaling back on their spending in the past few years.

RateCity’s analysis has found the average credit card interest rate is around 17 percent, which means that nearly $11 million of extra interest will be paid from cardholders in the New Year because of festive spending.

“Some Christmas spending might feel OK when you put it on plastic, but it’s just as much of a debt as borrowing for a house or a car, and a lot more expensive in terms of interest rate,” added Parsons.

“Credit cards are generally a pretty good instrument if you pay them off every month, but, if you don’t, they are probably the worst form of credit you can have in terms of average interest rates that are attached to them.

“Interest rates on credit cards remain very high at around 17 percent on average, and range up to 22.99 percent, so consumers who carry debt should look at switching to get a better deal.”

RateCity currently lists several credit cards with an introductory rate of 0 percent for up to 12 months, and ongoing rates from 8.99 percent.

• RateCity estimates that plastic debts will balloon by 2 percent in January as the nation deals with Christmas spending hangovers

• Credit card rates remain high at 17 percent on average, and up to 22.99 percent. Yet, several 0 percent cards are currently on offer for up to 12 months – consumers are urged to look around for a better deal

• The real number that matters with cards is not the initial spend, rather the balance accruing interest and currently Aussies have $34.2 billion accruing interest!



Emerchants signs five year agreement with Qld Government

Emerchants Limited (emerchants) (ASX:EML) is pleased to announce that its wholly owned subsidiary, Emerchants Payment Solutions Limited, has signed five year agreement with the State of Queensland through the Department of Treasury and Trade (Queensland Treasury Department) to become a preferred supplier of prepaid card solutions.

The agreement includes the option of two consecutive two year contracts which could take it to nine years.

The Queensland Treasury Department has appointed preferred suppliers for prepaid cards, such as emerchants, whose solutions will allow all of its various departments and agencies to benefit from the cost savings, fraud control, and risk control advantages prepaid brings over traditional funds disbursement mechanisms such as credit cards, cash and cheques.

With emerchants’ extensive background in comprehensive prepaid program management driven by its proprietary platform, SAM, the processing capabilities and strong focus on risk and compliance provide the Queensland Government the capability to tailor solutions that offer more control and flexibility in managing its varied payment processes.

In commenting on the agreement, Tom Cregan, Managing Director of emerchants, said: “emerchants’ primary focus is on tailoring prepaid programs to meet each customer’s needs, simplifying the administration of payments, whilst providing greater control through our innovative approach to prepaid cards. We believe that the approach taken by the Queensland Treasury Department is the right one. Our focus with each agency is on identifying the opportunity and consequently designing a solution that delivers savings whilst maximising the benefits that flow on to taxpayers.”

emerchants has partnered with Visa to create marketing and training materials to support the launch of the prepaid card programs.

The partnership reinforces Visa’s commitment to emerchants and its long term growth strategy. emerchants is looking forward to leveraging the experience that Visa has in other international government programs.

emerchants is one of Australia’s leading providers of innovative prepaid payment solutions and its unique position in the market as an end to end prepaid provider has led to this five year agreement.

The Company’s consultative approach allows the Queensland Treasury Department to tailor each payment process to gain administrative efficiencies, provide a better experience to the Queensland public, and have the oversight and controls to minimise the risk of fraud and misuse of public funds.

The first emerchants prepaid program to be rolled out will be the Disaster Recovery Card for the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disabilities Services.

This will allow the Department’s Community Recovery unit to quickly and efficiently distribute assistance grants during a declared disaster.

In commenting on the Disaster Recovery Card, Mr Cregan said: “The Queensland Government has identified the need to have a scalable solution that can be rolled out at a moment’s notice to support the Queensland public during the time of their greatest need. A solution has been developed that allows the efficient processing and distribution of grants, whilst minimising the risk of fraud through segregated administrative responsibilities and with a strong focus on control and oversight.”

emerchants’ Business Development Team will work with the Queensland Government to agree timeframes for the communication to other agencies and Government departments, to arrange meetings with select Government agencies, and organise seminars for Government managers as the first stage of the engagement roll out plan.

In further commenting on the agreement, Mr Cregan said: “Whether it is Community support, public funds disbursement or the improvement of petty cash and general expense management, we look forward to applying our expertise and capabilities to work with the various Queensland Government agencies and departments to develop prepaid solutions that provide the right mix of efficiency, transparency, and control.”


emerchants is a payments solutions provider of prepaid financial card products and services in Australia. By using their proprietary Secure Account Management (SAM) system, the Company provides its clients with innovative financial service payment solutions for reloadable and non-reloadable prepaid card programs.

emerchants are able to adapt to meet the expense management and funds disbursement needs of any organisation. Their corporate expense, petty cash, per diem, social payments and staff rewards programs are easy to implement and reduce administration burden and costs. emerchants is focused on the twin goal of delivering high quality payment systems to its customers and superior returns to its shareholders.

For more information please visit:



Plain tobacco packaging proven to have no effect but a burden to retailers

Peak retail industry body the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) said today after a year of implementation the plain packaging experiment is not working and has had no impact on legal tobacco volumes.

ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman said the change to plain packaging has been a waste of retailers’ time and resources.

"The ARA has long argued these changes were an unnecessary burden for small to medium retailers, and it is now evident that this initiative has had absolutely no effect.

"We are also very aware of reports from retailers that illegal tobacco products are swamping the market, and this has only been made worse by plain packaging which has seen product move out of well regulated legal distribution through retailers.

“Since plain packaging was introduced on 1 December last year, legal cigarette sales overall have remained very stable while illegal sales have increased, suggesting people are smoking more and paying less. The cheap price segment which represents the lower end of the legal market has actually grown by 33 percent since plain packaging was introduced, according to industry today.

“The ARA will be making the point to the government the effects of further excise and price hikes will only exacerbate the illegal tobacco trade,” 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


Resourcing required for real regional tourism results

The Victoria Tourism Industry Council (VTIC) welcomes the release today of the State Government’s Regional Tourism Strategy but is disappointed by the lack of associated funding.

“While Melbourne has demonstrated continual growth, tourism results in some of Victoria’s regions are concerning,” says VTIC Chief Executive Dianne Smith.

"This must be addressed, but real government action with appropriate resourcing is crucial.

“We are pleased that the Regional Tourism Boards (RTBs) are in place to effectively market and attract investment into Victoria’s many tourism assets and we wish them continued success in performing their wide-ranging functions. Regional Tourism Boards will drive industry engagement and success in local areas and we encourage operators to get behind these organisations.”

The long-awaited Victoria’s Regional Tourism Strategy 2013-2016 outlines how Tourism Victoria will address regional tourism challenges in the next three years, in line with directions set out in Victoria’s 2020 Tourism Strategy.

Tourism is an important contributor to regional Victoria, generating $10.9 billion and employing 109,000 people in 2011-12.

“Tourism is the lifeblood of many regional communities, not only economically, but also in the cultural and social contribution it makes,” Ms Smith says.

“The State Government must work across portfolios to achieve positive results for all regional Victorians. Positive and decisive leadership from government is essential as many regional economies look to diversify.

“Overnight expenditure by international visitors to regional Victoria fell by more than 20 per cent in the year ending June 2013 and it is essential that this decline is arrested.

“Government must show its support for our industry by immediately allocating funding for a dedicated marketing program to encourage Australians to venture beyond Melbourne and explore the wonderful experiences on offer in regional Victoria.”

The Victoria Tourism Industry Council (VTIC) is the peak body for Victoria’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.




THE Council of Small Business Australia (COSBOA) annual general meeting held today delivered changes of the guard with Institute of Public Accountants (IPA) chief executive officer, Andrew Conway taking the role of chairman.

COSBOA Council members wholeheartedly endorsed the focus of COSBOA on the fact that small business are people first and deserve the same rights and treatment as other people in the community,” said Mr Conway.

“There is no doubt a natural fit with my role at the IPA as we are fully focused on this most critical contributor to the Australian economy; the small business sector.

“Many of our members are either small business people or they are practices serving the small business community.

“I am very fortunate to take up the new challenge on the base of good work of Amanda Lynch who has been an excellent chairperson over the past year.

“I am looking forward to the year ahead to drive key initiatives that support the small business community and to work on building a more credible voice for small business,” said Mr Conway.



All retailers wanted for Christmas was an interest rate cut – hope now lies with the RBA to reassess

Peak retail industry body the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) said the decision made by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) today to leave the cash rate unchanged yet again at 2.5 percent has left retailers anxious that shoppers may think twice about increasing their Christmas spending.

ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman said although Christmas sales are currently going well, with retailers expected to pocket $42.2 billion from November 15 – Dec 25, business owners were disappointed that today’s rate stay may result in shoppers leaving gift purchases to the last minute.

“December is a crucial month for retailers who are counting on Christmas sales to get back on track financially. All we can do now is look forward to the Board reassessing the outlook in January and hope that policy is adjusted as needed. The ARA believes that the current cash rate of 2.5 percent has room for further adjustment.

“We know that the post-election boost for retail and consumer confidence has eased off somewhat, meaning the Abbott Government must rapidly implement its program of tax cuts and economic reform.

“The ARA is continuing to work alongside the government to rapidly implement its program of tax cuts and economic reform,” 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.



Retailers prepare for biggest online shopping day next Sunday

Peak retail industry body the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) said online retailers were looking forward to Sunday December 8 – the day eBay and PayPal have announced as the biggest mobile shopping day ever, with more mobile purchases predicted from Australian websites on this day than ever before.

ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman said approximately 2.3 million Australians will visit eBay on this day alone of which a record 1.28 million will come via a mobile device – 30 percent more than the busiest online shopping day in 2012 (December 9).

“Online retailers are in for a busy few weeks, with a record 140,000 items forecast to be sold and $5 million worth of goods traded via a mobile on this day – 40 percent more than in 2012.

“Shoppers will 'click into Christmas' more than ever this year, and the ARA has been working alongside retailers to ensure their websites are as user friendly as possible in the lead up to Christmas.

“eBay predicts that on December 8, a piece of women’s clothing will sell every eight seconds and a piece of fashion jewellery will sell every 20 seconds via a mobile device. An average of more than 200 items will be sold on every minute –a marked increase from last year,” Mr Zimmerman said.

Nicolette Maury, Buyer Experience Director, eBay Australia, said Australians are leaders when it comes to mobile adoption.

“In 2012, Australians who shopped online via a connected device were the minority but this Christmas more Australians will visit eBay via a mobile device than their fellow desktop shoppers.

“It’s become really clear this year that Australia is a nation of multi-taskers, using connected devices to multi-screen from the couch or to search for Christmas gifts on the way in to work. And it’s not just stocking fillers or last minute gifts that shoppers are heading online for this Sunday. 1800 fitness items and 1600 pieces of furniture will be purchased via a mobile device which means that consumers don’t think twice about purchasing large ticket items online anymore,” Ms Maury said.

Jeff Clementz, MD, PayPal Australia said the mobile trend is not isolated to eBay.

PalPal are also expecting to see one in three transactions during the peak Christmas buying period to occur via mobile, up from one in five last year.

“With more Australians shopping via a connected device, PayPal expects mobile shopping purchases to increase more than 60 per cent this year compared to last year as Australians tap into the trend of buying on the go,” Mr Clementz said.

“Overall, shoppers are expected to put $42.2 billion through retail tills from 14 November until 25 December, representing a 3.5 percent gain on sales during the same period in 2012 ($40.7 billion),” Mr Zimmerman said.

On Sunday December 8, 2013 on

- 390,000 items will be to be sold on on December 8 (17 percent more than the busiest online shopping day in 2012)

- $14.6 million worth of goods will be traded on this day

- An average of more than 200 items sold on every minute

- A piece of women’s clothing will be sold every 4 seconds

- A DVD will be sold every 6 seconds

- A piece of fashion jewellery will be sold every 8 seconds

- A piece of men’s clothing will be sold every 12 seconds

- A home decoration will be sold every 16 seconds

- A piece of furniture will be sold 24 seconds

- A radio controlled toy will be sold every 29 seconds

- A watch will be sold every 35 seconds

- A pair of women’s shoes will be sold every 36 seconds.

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. 



KPMG Capital to help KPMG firms' clients unlock tangible value of their data

NEW YORK: KPMG International today announced the formation of KPMG Capital, a new investment fund created to accelerate innovation in data and analytics (D&A) that will help clients of member firms unlock tangible value of their 'big data'.

KPMG Capital will support technology partnerships, strategic alliances and the recruitment of top talent to create new D&A solutions. With these capabilities, KPMG member firms will help clients solve critical business challenges in such areas as new revenue streams, risk management and cost optimization.

The use of D&A has become a critical business priority as companies try to derive value from the vast amounts of data now available to them. A new KPMG survey of business leaders from many of the world's leading companies found that while 69 percent see D&A as strategically important to their current growth plans, an overwhelming 96 percent believe their company is not currently using D&A effectively.

"Our new research shows that business leaders recognize the tremendous importance of D&A to business growth but feel they need more support to develop effective solutions," said Mark Toon, CEO of KPMG Capital and global lead for KPMG's D&A practice.

"KPMG Capital will enable us to develop or acquire opportunities in D&A quickly. Through partnerships with technology and service providers, strategic partners and other third parties, we aim to accelerate innovation in D&A to bring potential solutions to clients - and to the market - faster."

Mr Toon continued, "With more data produced and stored in the last two years than in the rest of human history, many businesses are looking for strategic and practical solutions to manage the volume, velocity and variety of this data revolution. KPMG Capital will lead the way in addressing the challenge of the three 'v's."

Addressing business challenges: innovating through partnerships

KPMG Capital's Toon believes the most successful companies will be those not merely collecting the data, but those that can distil data and translate it to insightful business guidance.

"Too many companies still see big data principally as a technology issue, when it really is a business issue across all industries," he said. "We're helping companies look at their data differently and turn it into value."

Investment will be made in a number of critical business areas including enhancing business flexibility; finance; regulation and compliance; improving workforce productivity; and customer and revenue growth. KPMG Capital will work to develop solutions that will focus on growth sectors such as healthcare, financial services, energy and telecommunications.

KPMG Capital's aim is to invest in, partner with and acquire organizations that specialize in data and analytics tools and assets. Combining that expertise with the KPMG network's global reach, existing D&A capabilities and deep insights, KPMG Capital will work to unlock new thinking to address the most pressing business challenges and deliver new solutions to market more quickly.

"KPMG Capital will enable a nexus for the world's best thinking in data and analytics," said Michael Andrew, Chairman of KPMG International. "D&A is part of our heritage, but with the fast pace of technology and globalization, clients want deeper insight more quickly. KPMG Capital's structure will allow us the flexibility to commercialize solutions which our global network of professionals can use to help business leaders harness the right data, analyze it and translate it into value. This is a transformative step for the future of KPMG's member firms as well as for clients' businesses."


About the survey

The KPMG survey was conducted in August 2013 by FT Remark on behalf of KPMG International. FT Remark interviewed 144 CFOs and CIOs from multinational companies with annual revenues of US$1 billion or more. A full report will be available in late November 2013.

About KPMG Capital
KPMG Capital is an investment fund which is not open to third party investment, and which will not itself provide professional services to clients. It is legally distinct and separate from KPMG International Cooperative and each other KPMG member firm.

About KPMG International 

KPMG is a global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax and Advisory services. We operate in 156 countries and have 152,000 people working in member firms around the world. The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative ("KPMG International"), a Swiss entity. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such.


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