By Leon Gettler >>

ANYONE wanting to dip into the Australian property market needs to treat it like any business, says Jayne Robbins, the owner of Brisbane-based buyer advocate firm, The Informed Buyer.

She said buyers need to look at the micro-levels behind the macro-numbers that the media like to talk about, at a time when the market is softening.

“So yes, we are seeing a downturn, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne but I still think there are markets that are performing so that’s getting into the finer details behind that overall number,” Ms Robbins told Talking Business

“If you look at houses versus units and then down to the different suburbs, you will find there are still markets that are performing well.”

She said there are many issues to consider and even looking at the performance of a suburb, there will be some pockets that are outperforming other areas of the same suburb. That takes highly specialised information.

She said investors needed long term property goals, whether it was capital or yield. And while everyone wanted to have both, investors needed to be strategic and understand their own risk profile.



Investors also needed to understand their target market.

“Like any good business decision, understanding what potential future renters would be looking for in your property and making sure you’re buying a property that fills those needs,” Ms Robbins said.

For example, if investors are looking at the family home market, they need to make sure the schools in the area are of good quality and that the property is in the right school catchment.

Similarly, if the investor was looking at accommodation for young professionals, they needed to look at issues like commute times and access to the city and workplaces.

These strategies would ensure they had long term tenants.

There were still opportunities for investors, Ms Robbins said.

“If you look at maps and things of average to medium prices, and work out what suburbs are closer in that have those sort of commute times and good schools … those are areas that are on the growth,” she said.

She said investors also needed to be right across their accounts because banks were now much more rigorous.

They needed to run various scenarios to show the bank it was affordable if things do change in the market

“It’s no longer just a budget you provide them, they’ll go and look at your history over the last three to six months to ensure what you’re saying you’re spending is actually what you’re spending your money” Ms Robbins said.


Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at


QUEENSLAND can thank its buoyant resources sector for its better-than-expected employment performance, according to the Queensland Resources Council (QRC).

QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said the resources sector had created more than 8400 jobs over the last 12 months – “the equivalent of a new job every hour” – and this was effectively a 0.4 percent cut to Queensland’s unemployment rate. 

“Without the contribution of the resources sector, Queensland’s unemployment rate would be 6.7 percent,” Mr Macfarlane said. “Without the contribution of the resources sector, Queensland’s unemployment rate would be the nation’s highest by 0.5 percent at 6.7 percent.

“Our industry needs stable and predictable policy to give it the confidence to invest more, export more and ultimately employ more in the sustainable, competitive and safe development of our coal, minerals, petroleum and gas,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“Without that, our sector’s confidence to invest, export and employ will be severely constrained.”

Mr Macfarlane said if the Palaszczuk Government continued to back the resources sector, the resources sector would continue to back Queenslanders, with more jobs and more opportunities.

“Every hour our industry is creating another job and investing another million dollars. Every week our industry is exporting another billion dollars and we are returning almost $100 million to the Palaszczuk Government in royalties,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“In regions like Mackay, the jobs impact has been significant. The unemployment rate has more than halved to 3.3 percent. Mackay is a critical services centre for the Bowen Basin.”

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has indicated her government’s long-term support for industry in the Bowen Basin, Mr Macfarlane said, and was reported as saying at a recent local event: “For as long as the world needs steel, it will look to the Bowen Basin as its pre-eminent supplier of metallurgical coal.”


DEFENCE will have new arrangements in place to deliver health services to Australian Defence Force (ADF) members from July 1, 2019.

Defence Minister Christopher Pyne MP announced that Bupa Health Services Pty Ltd was awarded the ADF Health Services Contract, which was signed today, for the provision of health services to Defence members.

These arrangements support the delivery of a range of primary and specialist health services at both on-base health facilities and through a comprehensive network of off-base service providers. 

“Delivering health services to over 80,000 ADF members and reservists is a complex and important undertaking and after a rigorous procurement process Bupa demonstrated it is able to deliver Defence’s requirements,” Mr Pyne said.

“Under the new contract, ADF members will continue to receive the full scope of health services they currently receive.

“Defence remains committed to maintaining continuity of care in delivering high quality health services for ADF members.

“Defence thanks Medibank Health Solutions for the service it has provided to ADF members under the existing contract.”

Bupa is now the second largest healthcare insurer in Australia, with just under a third of the market, slightly behind Medibank Private. UK-headquartered Bupa entered the Australian market over a decade ago, first buying Melbourne-based insurer HBA, then in 2008 merging with Sydney-based MBF in a $2.4 billion acquisition.


THE Queensland Resources Council (QRC) has backed a call from AgForce to keep the Queensland Agricultural Training Colleges at Longreach and Emerald running.

QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said strong commodity prices, which are delivering record returns through existing royalty taxes, meant the Palaszczuk Government could invest in a plan to ensure the long-term future of the colleges. 

“Agriculture and mining are our state’s two primary industries. Each sector plays an important role in Queensland’s economy and its character,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“We work hand-in-hand with the agriculture sector through shared access to land and shared returns to landholders. Returns from the resources sector help sustain rural and regional communities when times are tough, including during the recent drought.

“Resources royalty taxes are forecast to contribute $4.45 billion to the State’s budget this year. This is the return on resources investment that benefits all Queenslanders, whether it’s through building roads and hospitals, paying the wages of teachers and nurses, or investing in rural education and infrastructure.

“Given strong commodity prices and global demand, we expect that return on resources will be revised up before Christmas. Those extra calculations are currently underway.

“Even stronger returns from resources investment provide the Queensland Government with more options for the future of these agricultural colleges. It could also help fund a transition period to the industry ownership advocated by AgForce. This would mean the colleges could stay open beyond the end of 2019.

“A strong agricultural skills base helps strengthen rural communities, which in turn benefits the entire regional economy including sectors like resources, small business and tourism.

“Investments in agriculture, just like investments in resources, benefit all Queenslanders and help put our state on a strong footing for the future.”


THE Australian Parliament's House Tax and Revenue Committee review of the Australian Taxation Commissioner’s Annual Report for 2016–2017 is seeking final comments on the administration of Australia's tax system.

The committee’s annual review of the performance of the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) tests ATO reportage against evidence from taxpayers, tax experts, professionals and agency scrutineers, such as the Australian National Audit Office. 

During the reporting period the ATO faced a series of setbacks. Major system outages occurred in late 2016, and again in February 2017. These were followed in May by Operation Elbrus revelations of alleged tax fraud.

Then, in April 2018, news reports on the ATO’s treatment of tax debt among several small and medium businesses, and its media response, brought out further criticism — including from the Inspector-General of Taxation.

Committee chair Jason Falinski MP said the ATO had been asked some tough questions during this review.

“With the inquiry drawing to a close, the committee now makes a final call to taxpayers and other stakeholders for feedback on ATO performance,” Mr Falinski said.

Topics of particular interest to the committee include the ATO’s fairness in management of tax debts and the dispute process, and the impact of IT transformation and platform issues — including blackouts for short durations.

Submissions should be lodged by Tuesday, October 9, 2018 on the committee’s website at or by contacting the committee secretariat on 02 6277 4821.

The 2017 Annual Report of the Australian Taxation Office is available at:



THE tax system should provide targeted assistance towards stress points in a business life cycle, according to the Institute of Public Accountants (IPA).

“This is just one recommendation stemming from our Australian Small Business White Paper and would be particularly relevant to the small business sector,” said IPA chief executive officer, Andrew Conway. 

“Small business can do it tough at every stage of the business life cycle, including during the start-up phase or during a temporary setback.

“Most tax concessions (excluding the Small Business Capital Gains Tax and refundable R&D concessions) are merely timing benefits that bring forward tax deductions to reduce the amount of tax payable, which –is only useful if the business is in a tax paying position," Professor Conway said.

“If a small business is at the start-up stage or experiencing a temporary downturn, the bringing forward of deductions may not provide essential cash flow benefits other than more carried-forward losses.

“Loss carry-back for corporate entities is one way the tax system can assist taxpayers to deal with a temporary setback.  We will continue to advocate for the loss-carry-back initiative which had a short life but proved beneficial.

“Non-corporate entities, while problematic, may also require similar relief to assist with the survival of viable businesses,” Prof.Conway said.

The Australian Small Business White Paper released last month was the output of the IPA Deakin SME Research Centre.


BUREAUCRATS appear to be willing to sacrifice jobs in pursuit of negligible environmental gains. That is the claim of Lighting Council Australia acting CEO David Crossley on proposed and imminent changes to the National Construction Code.

Mrs Crossley, whose industry body represents lighting manufacturers in Australia, is arguing that changes to the National Construction Code aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions – from power used for lighting – were actually likely to decimate Australia’s successful lighting manufacturing industry. 

“The current proposal on the table will cause job losses and achieve very little in the way of energy efficiency benefits,” Mr Crossley said.

Lighting Council Australia has attacked the new draft of the National Construction Code, which, it claims, dramatically cuts the use of architectural and decorative lighting in new constructions and redevelopments.

Mr Crossley’s pointed comments come at a time when energy efficiency is a high priority for government, but he said the changes were ill-considered and warned that they will cost jobs.

“It looks like bureaucrats have dreamt up a new way of achieving a theoretical reduction in energy use, but they haven’t undertaken any assessment of the impact on industry,” Mr Crossley said.

He argued the sector currently provides 2,500 lighting manufacturing, design and engineering jobs.

“We’re running out of time to stop this disastrous policy from proceeding and we call for the Ministers with responsibility for building and construction issues to step up and rein in these bureaucrats who — despite the opposition of the three relevant peak bodies — have decided that it would be a good idea to sacrifice hundreds of highly-skilled jobs to achieve vanishingly little.”

Mr Crossley said the draft of the National Construction Code will be considered by the Building Codes Committee later this month and is expected to commence in July 2019.


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