THE Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell said if the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) re-authorises the Australasian Performing Rights Association’s (APRA) operations, it should be limited to a year-by-year basis until APRA can be more transparent about its activities and provide better coverage to all businesses.

“The ACCC has heard our ongoing concerns over the lack of transparency with regard to APRA’s current reporting obligations,” Ms Carnell said.

“We are not convinced there has been adequate improvement in this area and have today issued a notice to APRA to provide more information about its operations and coverage.

“While the detail of APRA’s operations remains unclear and its coverage of businesses unsatisfactory, we believe the ACCC should refrain from re-authorising APRA for a five year period and instead proceed on an annual basis.

“We note the ACCC will hold a pre-decision conference on the re-authorisation on 19 July.

“In the meantime, we welcome comments by small businesses, including artists, impacted by the operations of APRA and OneMusic," Ms Carnell said.

“In our follow-up submissions to the ACCC regarding this issue we have asked that APRA be required to disclose in detail exactly what licence fees cover, for example artists on streaming services are not necessarily covered by APRA’s licence.

“We have again raised the need for comprehensive community radio coverage so that emerging Australian artists whose airplay is mostly through alternative channels such as community radio, internet radio and other broadcasters are paid the royalties they are entitled to.

“We will also be re-submitting our view that APRA must ensure licence fees provided to venues are tailored for actual use, rather than capacity.

“These and a number of other issues are critical to the future of Australian small businesses and need to be addressed before the APRA licence is re-issued.”


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GOVERNMENTS at the state and territory level must work together with the Federal Government "to fast track recent commitments on infrastructure, including both transport and social infrastructure projects, in light of today’s very mixed results for building activity,” according to Master Builders Australia chief economist Shane Garrett. 

ABS data released earlier indicate that the total volume of building work done in Australia dipped by 0.3 percent during the March 2019 quarter compared with the last three months of 2018. Compared with a year earlier, the total volume of building work is down by 0.9 percent.

“Commercial building is one of the economy's pillars at the moment," Mr Garrett said. "The amount of work done here rose by 3.2 percent during the March 2019 quarter and has reached a new all-time high.

"Strong population growth is boosting demand for new shops, cafes and restaurants with robust employment growth benefitting office and industrial building activity.

“In contrast, the volume of new home building has fallen to its lowest ebb since the end of 2013. This is mostly due to another sharp reduction in apartment/unit starts during the March 2019 quarter, meaning that high density dwelling commencements have lost 41.8 percent over the past year.

"Continued price falls, tight credit conditions and an absence of confidence have all contributed to the slump. As well as the obvious challenges for the building sector, the housing downturn is also holding consumers back, hurting demand in the economy," Mr Garrett said.

“The figures released this morning take into account activity only up until the end of March. Since then, there has been a bunch of very good news for the building sector with the April budget heavy on infrastructure commitments and the conclusive outcome to May’s federal election.

"We’ve had two interest rate reductions, a significant package of tax cuts passed, the relaxation of APRA’s mortgage rules -- and the new First Home Loan Deposit Scheme kicks off in January.

"We will keenly await building figures over coming months to see how all this good news affects the pipeline of activity," Mr Garrett said. 

“A real opportunity now exists to get all parts of the building industry moving again. We’ve heard lots of commitments on infrastructure in recent times but the challenge now is for federal, state and territory governments to fast track these major projects and get things happening on the ground in a real and tangible way."


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THIS WEEK will be an eye opener for Brisbane and regional students when they rub shoulders with mining professionals in Mount Isa and embark towards a career in a trade or science technology engineering and maths (STEM) fields.

Queensland Resources Council (QRC) chief executive Ian Macfarlane said the students would take part in two education camps run by the Queensland Minerals and Energy Academy (QMEA) and supported by Glencore's Mount Isa Mines. 

“Queensland needs to encourage young people into STEM and trades to ensure the talent pipeline for future workforces is secured. Mount Isa is blessed with talented professionals with real-world experience who can kick-start blue sky thinking in young minds,” Mr Macfarlane said.

Thirty-three students from Spinifex State College, Cloncurry State School P–12, and Good Shepherd Catholic College will be guided by Glencore professionals to manufacture a motorised bicycle from abandoned bicycles supplied by Mount Isa Police.

Phil Bamber, the manager for human resources at Glencore’s Zinc Assets Australia said students who show an aptitude for a trade will be encouraged to apply for future apprenticeship intakes. 

“We are very excited to provide local high school students with the opportunity to engage in practical work through the QMEA program,” Mr Bamber said. 

Spinifex State College head of campus Chris Pocock said, “These events are highly valued by the students as they give them a good insight into trade careers, and what they need to be studying to achieve them,” . 

Fifteen year 11 and 12 students from all over the state, with first time students from Rockhampton’s Cathedral College and Brisbane schools Somerville House and Centenary State High School, will take part in the STEM camp.

The Make it Now in Engineering Challenge will be hosted by Glencore’s Mount Isa Mines and will challenge the students across academic disciplines.

Leanne Ryder, manager for human resources and training at Glencore’s North Queensland Copper Assets said Mount Isa Mines has a diverse workforce ready to inspire the next generation of young professionals in this industry-school partnership. 

“The resources sector has an increasing demand for STEM skills, and we’re excited to enable industry collaboration to continue to develop STEM in Queensland schools and also drive and grow the sector,” Ms Ryder said. 

The QMEA is a partnership between the QRC and the Queensland Government under its Gateway to Industry Schools program. It has 60 schools throughout Queensland. 

QRC is the peak representative body for Queensland ‘s resource sector. The Queensland resources sector provides one in every five dollars in the Queensland economy, sustains one in eight Queensland jobs, and supports more than 15,400 businesses and community organisations across the State, all from 0.1 percent of Queensland’s land mass.


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EXPORT from the Queensland resources sector over the last 12 months have earnt $70 billion for the first time, based on trade data released this week.

Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane said the sector, which employs more than 315,000 men and women across the State, has delivered 81 percent of Queensland’s record export earnings of $85.8 billion for the 12 months to May this year.

“In dollar terms, exports from the resources sector – coal, minerals and gas – are worth more than $190 million every day. That means more jobs and frankly more money going into communities across Queensland, including Brisbane and the south-east,” he said.

Mr Macfarlane said coal continued to be Queensland’s largest export earner at $36.9 billion, with an increase of 12 percent or $4 billion over the previous 12 months, and there was strong growth for minerals and petroleum and LNG.

“Queensland has what the world needs. With the stable policy settings, the resources sector can continue to grow and in doing so create more jobs and more opportunities for Queenslanders,” he said.

“The performance of resource sector exports highlights the importance of investments in last month’s State Budget in developing key export channels for the resources sector such as half a billion dollar plan to boost mineral freight exports on the Mount Isa Line and almost $200 million for the channel capacity upgrade for the Port of Townsville expansion.”

Mr Macfarlane said he backed the Premier and Minister for Trade Annastacia Palaszczuk when she noted Queensland was exporting more than Victoria and New South Wales combined.

“Those states have failed to develop their resources, particularly gas. Those States have allowed Queensland to not only do the heavy lifting on gas, but also has given Queenslanders the lead as beneficiary of the world demand for the resources our states have,” he said.




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COUNCIL workers who downed tools over safety concerns involving the use of potentially carcinogenic glyphosate weedkiller have welcomed a commitment by Blacktown City Council to launch a five-month trial of organic alternatives.

More than 500 workers at Blacktown City Council stopped work yesterday and again this morning in response to management’s refusal to examine alternatives to the controversial weedkiller following a series of international legal cases that have linked its use to cancer.

In an urgent hearing of the NSW Industrial Relations Commission on July 4, council representatives agreed to implement a trial of safer alternatives, with the review process overseen by a committee that includes worker representatives.

The move makes Blacktown the fifth large council to phase out glyphosate sprays, following decisions by Fairfield, Randwick, Georges River, and Wollongong councils to last month trial safer alternatives.

United Services Union general secretary Graeme Kelly OAM said the outcome was likely to lead to similar reviews among other councils.

“Our members are very happy that their concerns have finally been addressed and that Blacktown Council will carry out a proper review of safer alternatives to this potentially cancer-causing product,” Mr Kelly said.

“Weed spraying is a common task for outdoor council staff, so it is understandable that workers have been deeply concerned by international legal cases which found a strong link between the use of glyphosate products and developing cancer.

“It is unfortunate that some members of the public have been inconvenienced by this dispute, but they need to understand that workers only took the decision to stop work only after council management refused to carry out a review of safer weedkillers.

“We expect today’s decision will spark similar reviews at many other councils, but what is really needed is leadership from the NSW Government to assist the local government sector to phase out this potentially dangerous product and find safe, effective alternatives.

“Keeping parks and public spaces looking their best is important, but that should never come at the expense of the long-term health and welfare of workers or community members.”


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