BLUE ENERGY Limited has commended yesterday’s announcement by the Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, that the Queensland Government would invest $5 million in a concept study to investigate the feasibility and options for a new transmission pipeline south, to connect the Bowen Basin’s gas reserves to the east coast of Queensland.

The commitment was contained in yesterday’s release of  the Queensland Economic Recovery Plan by the Premier.

Blue Energy has regularly commented on the enormous gas resource that has already been discovered in the North Bowen Basin. This basin has been producing gas north to Townsville manufacturers and electricity generators via the 273mm diameter North Queensland Gas Pipeline, since 2005.

The Bowen Basin contains independently verified (ACCC Jan 2020) gas resources of up to 15,000 petajoules (PJ) which, if fully developed via a new southern pipeline, could supply the east coast domestic gas market for up to 30 years.

Blue Energy said in doing so, it would act to lower east coast gas prices to end users, and importantly, enable manufacturers and gas users to enter long term gas contracts and give certainty of gas supply and price, for decades. This in turn would encourage expansion and growth of existing manufacturers and entry of new manufacturers to establish themselves in Queensland. 

This will mean more jobs in Queensland, Blue Energy managing director John Phillips said.

"Gas is not only used for low emission electricity generation, but is essential as a feed stock for the manufacture of pharmaceuticals, plastics, explosives, bricks, glass, fertilizer, PPE, and many more products, all of which are integral parts of the modern economy," Mr Phillips said. 

Brisbane based Blue Energy has 3,000PJ of gas resource in its 100 percent owned tenements around Moranbah.. It currently has Production Licence Applications with the Queensland Government with the view to supply gas into the domestic markets, both into Townsville and to the south, once the southern pipeline is built.

"Along with extending a lifeline to struggling Australian east coast manufacturers and helping rebuild the economy, post the COVID induced economic contraction, long term gas supply from the Bowen Basin will be critical to firm up the large renewable energy project roll out mandated in Queensland," Mr Phillips said.

"This will not only provide reliable dispatchable synchronous firming generation for the 50 percent renewable generation target set by the state, but could also provide a significant portion of the other 50 percent of electricity generation that is not renewable, and give the workers currently in the coal fired generation sector a 'just transition' to gas industry jobs.

"Blue looks forward to additional detail on the scope of the Bowen gas pipeline study being proposed by the government, and stands ready to assist," Mr Phillips said.

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MASTER BUILDERS Australia has come out strongly behind the Federal Government’s new HomeBuilder scheme, saying it "will be a massive relief to the thousands of home builders and tradies around the country". 

“HomeBuilder will be a lifeline for an industry facing a valley of death in the coming months. It will mean more new homes, more small businesses and jobs are protected and provide a stronger bridge to economic recovery for our country,” Master Builders Australia CEO Denita Wawn said.

“Based on the government’s estimated 27,000 grants, we think the scheme will be used for $10 billion in building activity, supporting the viability of 368,000 small builders and tradies – the businesses which employ 800,000 people in communities around Australia,” she said.  

“Supporting the home building industry is essential to strengthening the economy and helping Australia recover from the impacts of the pandemic. Residential building activity gives back more than double to the communities that sustain it with every $1 invested in home building activity providing $3 to the wider economy.  

“This means that HomeBuilder will provide a boost for thousands of tradies; the cafes, pubs, and ute dealerships that they frequent; as well as the thousands of building supply businesses that depend on the industry,” Ms Wawn said.  

“The scheme is well targeted and should maximise the number of builders, tradies, workers, apprentices and households that will benefit.

 “The Government has listened to Master Builders call for HomeBuilder to include grants for both new home builds and renovations. EY modelling commissioned by Master Builders shows that this stimulus mix will deliver the best return on investment for taxpayers.

“The eligibility criteria mean that the vast majority of Australians will be able to access the scheme. More than 80 percent of households have income of $200,000 or less.” Ms Wawn said.  

“The scheme is structured to get building activity going immediately and to provide safeguards around quality and consumer protection. Making HomeBuilder grants accessible through state and territory channels should streamline its rollout and building work must be carried out by a registered or licensed builder.

“The lag effect of building activity means that HomeBuilder comes just in time for builders and tradies staring out at a valley of death with forward work for the next 6 -12 months fast evaporating,” Ms Wawn said.  

“The building industry is simply too important to the economy and living standards to allow to collapse. It is the nation’s second largest industry, provides the most full-time jobs, trains the most apprentices and is 98 percent made up of small businesses.

"Master Builders welcomes the government’s HomeBuilder scheme,” Ms Wawn said.

www.masterbuilders.com.au

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A $13.2 BILLION building and construction stimulus action would drive over $30 billion in new economic activity and create more than 100,000 new jobs across the economy, according to new EY economic modelling commissioned by Master Builders Australia.

Denita Wawn, CEO of Master Builders said, "We are seeking stimulus not subsidies from government. We want National Cabinet to urgently implement this independently modelled stimulus package and establish a special task force to fast track commencement of construction activity.”

EY modelling shows that a $13.2 billion investment by governments in a Master Builders proposed stimulus package would mean:

  • $30.9 billion in GDP from the $13.2 billion investment;
  • Creation of 105,500 jobs in construction and across the economy;
  • $17.6 billion in expanded construction activity (new dwelling starts, renovations and commercial construction activity).

"Building and construction is shaping up to be one of the industries worst hit in the long term by the COVID-19 economic crisis. We know from previous downturns that it takes four times longer for our industry to recover than the rest of the economy,” Ms Wawn said. 

"This economic crisis is not the result of a market failure; it is the result of the lockdown imposed by governments in response to the public health emergency of COVID-19. We are asking our political leaders to show the same courage and vision in supporting our industry as they showed in responding to the health emergency,” she said.

“Work for builders and tradies in 2020/21 is fast evaporating and the indications are that 2021/22 will not be much better. There is no time to spare in meeting this threat to the viability of nearly 400,000 building business and the jobs of 1.2 million people employed in our industry.

“We also want to see a dedicated building and construction industry taskforce established to oversee the implementation of the stimulus action plan. For stimulus to occur building activity needs to commence," Ms Wawn said.

"Builders and tradies cannot sustain their businesses and jobs on promises. We have seen that governments can fast track construction activity in response to natural disasters and COVID-19 is shaping up as an economic disaster."

EY was commissioned to model a stimulus package comprised of the following programs:  

A $40,000 uncapped the new home building grant.

  • $17 billion in additional economic activity resulting from $5.2 billion investment by government.
  • The creation of 58,311 jobs right across the economy almost replenishing the 77,580 jobs lost in construction since the start of the Covid-19.
  • Delivering 14,000 extra new homes. 

Resilience renovation program (funding for renovations to make homes resilient to natural disasters or to make homes more accessible).

  • $7 billion in economic activity for $4 billion investment by government.
  • Creating 24,036 jobs.

For commercial programs (programs including funding for cladding/asbestos rectification, a10% drop in developer charges, 5% increase in government spending in health, defence and education)

  • · $6.8 billion in economic activity for $4 billion investment by government.  This excludes wider economic benefits in relation to health, safety and building quality.
  • Creating 23,118 jobs.

www.masterbuilders.com.au

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UPSIDE Realty CEO and founder, Adam Rigby, is concerned about the trend for older Australians to live in their homes years longer than is suitable for them, because they fear market uncertainty and the costs associated with selling. The outcomes are affecting young families that, in the past, would  have bought into those types of homes.

“This is one person living in an otherwise empty six-bedroom house – there are more than 100,000 underused houses in NSW and Victoria alone,” Mr Rigby said.

“The increased expenses associated with running these homes is dangerously eating into retirement funds and locking families and first-home buyers out of the market.” 

The latest ABS data shows that 49 percent of Australians are living in ‘under-utilised’ dwellings – in houses with two or more empty bedrooms. This number increased throughout the property downturn last year, Mr Rigby said, and has now spiked with the drop in sales volume led by the COVID-19 outbreak.

“In the last month we have seen a 28.7 percent decrease in sales volume compared to 2019, a year which was already substantially down, compared to previous years. This stalemate has been going on for the last 18 months or more.

“Seniors keep delaying a downsize because they are unsure about the market and they know they will be slugged with a huge tax.”

Mr Rigby noted that Australia was unique in the world in terms of property transaction costs. 

“The high cost of sales transactions and stamp duty urgently needs to be addressed if the government is serious about improving affordability and assisting in the nation’s economic recovery," Mr Rigby said.

In Victoria, homeowners who pay $680,000 for a home have to come up with a further $35,870 in stamp duty. In NSW, homeowners buying for the same amount have to pay $26,032 in stamp duty. In Queensland, the stamp duty on a home of the same price is $16,450.

Upside Realty is a fixed-fee real estate company disrupting the industry in seven markets across the country, including Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra. Home vendors work online with an experienced agent to sell property for a fixed fee of $8,900 for private treaty or $9,700 for auction.

https://upside.com.au

 

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BRISBANE City Council – Australia’s largest municipality – has rolled out a comprehensive series of measures and new support services to assist businesses adjust to, and hopefully survive through, the coronavirus upheaval.

The council last month initiated a $7.9 million business relief package including fee waivers and has backed it up with  a range of supportresources and information. Brisbane City Council is also offering rates relief for up to nine months. 

All Council fees, permits, rents and licences have also been waived for businesses, community groups and clubs until at least June 30.

Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner announced on March 19 that Brisbane City Council was waiving all charges, rents, levies and permit fees effective immediately for all businesses, as they faced economic hardship caused by coronavirus impacts.

The $7.9 million business relief package applies to businesses and council lessees who will have a range of fees and charges waived for the next three months. 

There is a moratorium on fees and charges for footpath and outdoor dining, food safety permits, commercial river moorings, advertising, temporary food stalls, commercial lease rents, and commercial stalls, booths, and stands. Lease fees for community organisations will not be collected.

“This is about protecting jobs. Brisbane businesses are shedding staff, customer numbers have dropped off and supply chains could be hit when the virus starts affecting more people,” Cr Schrinner said.

“We will do everything we can to support our businesses through this extraordinary time and business charges, rent, fees or permits required to be paid will be waived until at least 30 June 2020. Businesses that have paid these fees since 1 March will have them refunded.

“We will also be refunding all fees or charges for events cancelled due to COVID-19. This is about protecting jobs and community organisations, not just the livelihood of business owners,” Cr Schrinner said.

“Businesses and staff are under enormous strain as the coronavirus impact erodes customer numbers across all sectors, but particularly the hospitality industry.

“Small and large businesses are the backbone of our economy but also one of our biggest employers; and they are staring down financial uncertainty, the likes of which they have never seen before.

“We will reassess the policy once we know the true impacts on the Brisbane economy and workforce after 30 June. Also, anyone who has just paid any one of the fees since 1 March will be given special dispensation,” Cr Schrinner said.

BUSINESSES INNOVATE

Brisbane businesses and not-for-profits are meeting the enormous challenges of the pandemic in innovative ways, as well.

For example, Movement and Vitality founder Virginia Corpus-McDermott opened her yoga studio in Indooroopilly just six months ago and has had to develop unanticipated operational ‘flexibility’.  Ms Corpus-McDermott  is now live streaming all her classes, allowing students to practice from the comfort of their home or workplace.  

Another innovator at a different business stage is Wholesale Fruit Company, which has been feeding Brisbane’s hospitality sector for more than 35 years. With many of their customers closed, or scaling back operations, the family-owned and operated wholesaler has shifted its focus to providing fresh produce boxes to the public. 

Cr Schrinner has pleaded with residents to heed the advice of Queensland Health, ensure you are safe and follow advice, but go about your daily life, shop, dine and support our local businesses.

“Brisbane businesses will rely on people power to soften the economic blow and save local jobs over the coming weeks and months,” Cr Schrinner said.

“If we don’t support our businesses now, we may find on the other end of this event they may not be there,” Cr Schrinner said.

“We don’t want to see businesses going to the wall. Every single resident has the ability to put their hand in their pocket and support our corner shops, restaurants, and services.

“Our fantastic health authorities are working hard to contain the impacts of the virus, but every one of us can play a role in reducing the economic impacts.”

In mid-2019, Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner also introduced a new Local Buy procurement policy which aims to lift the number of Council contracts going to local businesses to 80 percent.

Cr Schrinner said One-on-one advice sessions for business leaders were also available with Brisbane City Council’s Small Business Liaison officers, to hear about the resources and programs that are available to support business.  

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or phone council on 07 3403 8888 to book a one-on-one session.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/businessinbrisbane/?source_id=80836222708

 

BUSINESS SURVIVAL CHECKLIST

Brisbane City Council has released a Business Survival Checklist to assist business leaders and staff to ‘stay in the game’ while managing the effects of the coronavirus pandemic: 

Riding the storm 

These are unprecedented times, and we know local businesses are working hard to adapt. 

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we live and work and is threatening to have a real and devastating impact on Brisbane’s economy. That’s why council is committed to providing the information, tools and support businesses need to help them weather the storm. 

When facing tough times, the challenge is often knowing where to turn, or what to do next. To get you started, check out our simple business survival guide.   

Prepare to pivot  

Find ways to adapt your business. Can you offer your products online? Is home delivery or takeaway an option? Can you widen your target market? Think creatively. It may mean a complete shift to the way you do business. We spoke to some local businesses for inspiration.  

Get social 

Get in touch with others in your industry. Social media is a great way to connect with similar businesses, share ideas and offer support. Maybe other business owners have taken an approach you could adapt to fit your own? Stay up to date with council via Facebook as well as our Linkedin community.  

Arm yourself with information 
Being well-informed will help guide your decision-making process. Brisbane City Council’s business support page is a good starting point for information. Business chambers and industry-related bodies are also great contact points for tools, tips and resources. 
 

Seek financial support 
Make the most of the financial support being offered by local, state and federal governments. In response to the coronavirus pandemic council recently waived fees for all Brisbane businesses and council lessees. You can also contact council’s This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or the Business Hotline on 133 BNE (133 263), to learn more about other resources and programs available. 
 
Keep communication open 
Let your customers know how and why your business is changing. Monitor feedback and don’t be afraid to re-think your approach if it’s not going to plan. Utilise friends and family too. Often they can provide a unique perspective or a new idea.  
 
Don’t forget you 
During challenging times it can be easy to neglect your own mental health and well-being. Make time for something you enjoy outside of work, even if it’s just for a few minutes a day. Reach out to family, friends or one of the many support services, like Beyond Blue, if needed.   

Brisbane business permit fees, charges, and rents to be waived

This table includes Council business permit fees, charges and rents to be waived information

Fees and charges

Waiver details

Footpath dining (fees)

Waived for the period of 1 March to 30 June 2020

Outdoor dining (malls)

Credit of prepaid invoices for the period of 1 March to 30 June 2020 and Council will not pursue unpaid invoices

River Pontoon Moorings (bookings)

Credit of prepaid invoices for the period of 1 March to 30 June 2020 and Council will not pursue unpaid invoices

Advertising (application or license)

No fees for advertising, signs, hoardings and structures for the period of 1 March to 30 June 2020

Filming (application)

Waive or reduce application fees for filming approval at Council owned or controlled land or assets

Entertainment venues and events (booking)

Refunds granted for those seeking to cancel their events due to COVID-19 gathering restrictions

Music venues (booking)

Refunds granted for those seeking to cancel their events due to COVID-19 gathering restrictions

Food Act 2006 (fees)

Waived or refunded for the period of 1 March to 30 June 2020

Temporary Food Stalls/Premises (fees)

Waived or refunded for the period of 1 March to 30 June 2020

Standing vehicles, stalls booths and stands for commercial or promotional activity

Waived for small business for the period of 1 March to 30 June 2020

City Hall (booking)

Refunds granted for those seeking to cancel their booking due to COVID-19     

Community Hall (booking)

Refunds granted for those seeking to cancel their booking due to COVID-19

Commercial leases

Rent relief for the March to June 30 quarter for retail and tourism sector

Various park permit types

Park permit fee waived for small business for the period 1 March to 30 June 2020

As at March 19, 2020

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DOUBLE DIGIT unemployment for the next few years, a plunge in Gross State Product and slow recovery are the headline findings of a new Flinders University analysis of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on South Australia.

The research suggests economic stimulus will be required beyond the expected six months of the JobSeeker and JobKeeper support to assist workers, families, businesses and organisations to endure the extended effects of the tough measures that have been necessary to curb the virus’s spread.

The Flinders University’s Australian Industrial Transformation Institute director, professor John Spoehr said is is a recession and the outlook is grim, urging the state and federal governments to consider all options. 

"There’s no way of sugar coating it – the measures we have had to take to tackle the coronavirus crisis are having a profound impact on our state’s economy and employment and will continue to do so until at least 2024," Professor Spoehr said.

"Some 61,000 people will lose their jobs, notwithstanding the JobKeeper initiative. If they’re factored in, the total number of impacted jobs may be as high as 110,000.

"Unemployment will more than double from 52,000 to 117,000 in the current quarter and remain relatively high for the medium term. Peak unemployment is expected to reach 13.3 percent and remain above 10 percent at the end of 2023.

"Gross State Product (GSP) will be 14.8 percent lower this quarter than it would have been without the COVID-19 restrictions, and recovery will be slow, with GSP remaining 6.4 percent lower than would otherwise have been the case at this time next year," Prof. Spoehr said.

"Our earnings from interstate exports will fall 18 percent and our overseas export earnings will plunge 23.5 percent.

"The direct shock to the state economy totals almost $5.1 billion. Importantly, some sectors will be more affected than others. Amongst the biggest employment sectors in this state are the ones most affected – retail, education and training, and accommodation and food services – with their losses far outweighing the growth experienced in other sectors such as hospitals, health care and telecommunications.

"South Australia isn’t alone in this challenge – indeed, the actions necessary to contain the novel coronavirus have had profound impacts nationally and globally, with sharp declines in economic activity and escalating unemployment. However, our state is facing this crisis from a base of underperformance relative to other states, with lower GSP and lower employment growth than the nation as a whole," he said.

"Although the outlook is grim, our earlier emergence from the health crisis and bold action so far is a great advantage. The Australian Government is undoubtedly considering a range of options; substantial public investment in a national industry modernisation program with a focus on infrastructure such as hospitals, education and digital infrastructure would help breathe life back into the economy.

‘The State Government has the opportunity to leverage this with an economic recovery and jobs plan underpinned by further investment in social and physical infrastructure, including industry catapults to accelerate the uptake of advanced technologies and skills."

Prof. Spoehr said courage was needed to halt the coronavirus in its tracks, and similar courage is central to overcoming the ensuing calamity.

"Considerable investment and stimulus will be fundamental to durable recovery. There are fates worse than debt at times of great economic hardship, particularly when interest rates for government are at historic lows," Prof. Spoehr said.

The report Impact of COVID-19 on the South Australian economy and employment – 2020 to 2023 can been read in full at this link.

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THE HEALTH and wellbeing of the 372,000 men and women working in the State resources sector is the priority for the Queensland Resources Council (QRC) and its member companies in response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), accordong to QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane.

Mr Macfarlane said the QRC COVID-19 Working Group today shared information and responses to the virus with a focus on adhering to the advice from health authorities for all men and women working in the resources sector, their colleagues, their families and their communities.

“As an industry, we are following the advice of health authorities to minimise the impact on the one in seven working Queenslanders whose livelihood is linked directly or indirectly to the resources industry,” Mr Macfarlane said. 

“The QRC is in direct contact with Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young and both the state and federal resource ministers Dr Anthony Lynham and Keith Pitt.

“The Prime Minister, through his National Cabinet, announced mine sites as essential activities and the Queensland Government today reiterated the importance of the sector and amid current conditions it was an “essential service” to Queensland. 

“The QRC welcomed the announcement by the Palaszczuk Government to allow all Queensland companies to defer payroll tax payments for six months, in response to COVID-19, will boost much needed cash flow to thousands of companies across the State.

“Companies are already taking steps to slow the spread of COVID-19 as we do all we can to keep our workforce and their communities healthy. New procedures include health questionnaires for visitors/suppliers, temperature measurement at mine site entries and before flights to mine sites, improved separation procedures including head office staff working from home, staggered crib breaks, and no non-essential visitors to mine sites. As well, where possible, essential service crews such as Emergency Response and Pump Crews are being keep in isolation from broader workforce," he said.

“In order to ease pressure and help lighten the load on health workers in regional areas from people presenting for COVID-19 testing, resource companies are also waiving requirements for Doctors Certificates for general illness leave.

“As the COVID-19 situation evolves here and around the world, it will be critical for our industry – like all Australians – to heed the advice from health authorities.

“It is also critical as an industry we continue to devote our full attention to implementing the processes and procedures in accordance with the latest advice.

“While these are turbulent times amid the COVID-19 response, the resources industry will continue to play its central role in the economic productivity of the state and lives of all Queenslanders," Mr Macfarlane said.

“QRC will continue to work on a full range of industry issues, but we cannot afford distractions from what is essential at this time – responding to the global pandemic that is COVID-19.”

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