THE IMPORTANCE of the First Home Buyer (FHB) segment of the market has grown again, with newly released figures for March showing that their share of the market is at its largest in nearly seven years,” Chief Economist Shane Garrett said. 

During March 2019, First Home Buyer loans accounted for 27.6 percent of owner occupier housing loans, higher than at any time since September 2012. 

“First Home Buyers are becoming an increasingly vital driver of activity in our housing market, especially with investor activity so quiet,” Mr Garrett said. 

“Looking ahead, there is much potential for FHBs to support new home building activity in the years ahead. Our economy has generated over 600,000 new full-time jobs over the past three years – many of whom will want to buy their first home in the near future.

“In this respect, yesterday’s commitment by the Coalition that was matched by Labor to facilitate the low deposit loans for First Home Buyers is most welcome. This brings home ownership a giant step closer and spares young homebuyers from being forced to waste money on expensive Lenders’ Mortgage Insurance (LMI) premiums,” Mr Garrett said. 

“The housing market is reversing rapidly. It is vital that we receive support from all sources in order to get activity back on track and ensure that we build the 200,000 new homes needed each year to satisfy long term requirements,” Mr Garrett said. 

During March 2019, First Home Buyers enjoyed the largest share in the Northern Territory, with 42.9 percent of owner occupier housing loans. This was followed by Western Australia (36.9%), Victoria (30.0%) and Queensland (27.0%). 

FHB participation was lowest in Tasmania (20.7%), followed by South Australia (21.7%), the ACT (22.0%) and New South Wales (24.8%).

TODAY the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia (COSBOA), has released comparison findings on the policies proposed by the Coalition and the Australian Labor Party (ALP), affecting small businesses.

The policies were assessed based on areas considered to be of high importance to the small business community.

As part of the findings, COSBOA have graded policies of critical importance; three areas are considered highly critical for the future of the sector.

On the ‘Important Policy Areas’ for small business, the Coalition trails in one category (Climate and Energy), while the ALP trails in seven, with a further two areas having no policy coverage (Export Market Facilitations and Mental Health policies for small business owners) by the ALP.

Of the three areas deemed to be ‘highly critical’ (Wage Policy, Access to Finance and VET), the parties were deemed to be similar in two areas (Access to Finance and VET) however in the area of ‘Wage Policy’ the ALP policy was ranked as a ‘fail’.

A summary of the results have been laid out in the below table, however, a comprehensive document is available via the below link.

SUMMARY – Comparison of small business policies between the major parties

COSBOA policy area

COSBOA “Importance Weighting” (1 to 3)
with 1 being “highly critical

Policy Scores

Coalition Score

ALP score

  1. Taxation policy and processes

3

69%

69%

  1. Red Tape

2

60%

40%

  1. Late payment

2

75%

40%

  1. Competition, Contracts and Justice

2

65%

41%

  1. Wage policy

1

65%

32%

  1. Energy (and Climate) policy

2

40%

50%

  1. NBN and infrastructure policy

2

65%

45%

  1. Digitisation and cyber security

2

70%

45%

  1. Access to finance

1

75%

65%

  1. Industry specific policies

3

70%

40%

  1. Vocational Education and training

1

75%

70%

  1. Export market facilitation

3

60%

0%

  1. Mental health policy

2

70%

0%

Peter Strong, CEO of COSBOA, said, “Perhaps there is no surprise that the Coalition has scored well, and COSBOA members express deep concern about the wages policy proposed by Labor. VET and energy continue to rate highly as key areas of concern.”

To see the full report, visit: https://www.cosboa.org.au/policy-comparison
 

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THERE HAS been significant misinformation when it comes to accountants’ fees for providing tax advice, according to the Institute of Public Accountants (IPA).

“The figures used are based on a very small sample.  These in themselves do not justify a policy of capping deductions for tax advice,” IPA chief executive officer, Andrew Conway said.

“In addition, if the numbers being bandied around are using aggregated data, they will result in grossly overstated averages for adviser fees for this sample size.

“The ATO data that has been used related to the 2016-17 financial year. The label in the income tax return that makes up these figures includes adviser fees, ATO interest charges and litigation costs," Mr Conway said.

“From 2018 onwards, we will have a proper breakup of the three components. If aggregated figures are being used, then this is misleading the public.

“It is also misinformation to say that only the rich can access tax deductions; these are accessible by all Australians. There are already substantial penalties for advisers doing the wrong thing," he said.

“It is highly inappropriate to have a universal cap for all taxpayers as circumstances differ; a one-size-fits-all is inequitable.

“Our tax system is complex.  Denying deductibility for seeking advice from a trusted adviser is inappropriate,” Mr Conway said.

 

About the Institute of Public Accountants

The IPA, formed in 1923, is one of Australia’s three legally recognised professional accounting bodies.  In late 2014, the IPA acquired the Institute of Financial Accountants in the UK and formed the IPA Group, with more than 36,000 members and students in over 80 countries.  The IPA Group is the largest SME focused accountancy organisation in the world. The IPA is a member of the International Federation of Accountants, the Accounting Professional and Ethical Standards Board and the Confederation of Asian and Pacific Accountants. 

www.publicaccountants.org.au

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FOLLOWING the recent national crisis meeting in Fremantle to discuss the ongoing threats to resource access and property rights across the nation, Seafood Industry Australia (SIA), the peak-body representing the Australian seafood industry, has announced membership of its Resource Security Task Force.

“In the face of growing threats to our industry, we have formed the Resource Security Task Force. The Task Force will address the constant erosion of access and the devaluation and destabilisation this brings to the Australian seafood industry,” SIA CEO Jane Lovell said.

“The Task Force will develop a national strategy and actions to promote resource security. Our wild-catch and aquaculture sectors already provide one billion meals a year, and we want to grow this to 1.5 billion meals. The absence of secure access to resources, both aquatic and terrestrial, is a major impediment to the confidence and growth of the Australian seafood industry.

“Improving security is critical to providing an environment that encourages innovation and the confidence to invest and work in our industry," she said.

“We cannot sit back and watch our industry, which supports over 25,000 families, be compromised on an issue as crucial as access to resources.

“With the Federal Election just around the corner, we have grave concerns about Labor’s confirmation they will introduce their 2012 Commonwealth Marine Park Management Plans if elected.

“This will be a massive blow for our industry as we have fought long and hard to see the more balanced approach of the Coalition pass through Federal Parliament.

“We have had enough of the ongoing and widespread government interventions, review and reform processes that bring with them increased uncertainty for the future of our industry, the thousands of Australians who are employed by the industry, and the millions more who enjoy fresh, sustainable, healthy Australian seafood.

“As fishers, our priority is the environment. We will continue to advocate the health, sustainability and future of our ocean and land-based aquaculture activities. It’s our livelihood and the future livelihood of generations to come.

“SIA looks forward to working with governments, the community and industry to establish a strong and productive path forward," Ms Lovell said.

www.seafoodindustryaustralia.com.au

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THE RESULTS of the Suncorp CCIQ Pulse Survey for the March Quarter 2019 are in - and confidence in the Queensland and national economies remains relatively unchanged amidst a backdrop of uncertainty.

Responses reflected a mood of frustration around political and financial considerations weighing on the Queensland economy, a Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) spokesperson said.

"The data analysed indicated that the outcome of the May Federal Election, a potentially more punitive industrial relations framework, elevated costs, tighter margins, coupled with state government frustrations amidst a backdrop of soft operating conditions are key areas of focus for small businesses," the spokesperson said.

Key takeaways from the Pulse report include:

  • Business sentiment surrounding both the Queensland and Australian economies remained largely unmoved.
  • Over two in five respondents expect weaker economic conditions in the state economy over the next twelve months - which is a weaker outlook a year ago.
  • General business conditions have weakened since the December survey, with a greater proportion of small businesses reporting weaker conditions.
  • Slight moderation to increases in labour and operating costs.
  • More businesses indicated sales and revenues had decreased during the quarter.
  • The proportion of businesses reporting a decline in employment levels increased, as did the proportion indicating their intention to invest in new capital expenditures.

The forecasts measurements for the June quarter, while far from elating, tend to reflect the expectation of less pessimistic businesses conditions across each of the forward indices.

www.cciq.com.au

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SYDNEY's ‘micro’ businesses will, for the first time, be recognised as part of the Sydney City region business awards that are now open for nominations.

As part of the 2019 NSW Business Chamber’s business awards program, the ‘excellence in micro business’ category is for businesses with less than five employees that have achieved significant growth in the last financial year.

The City of Sydney is the principal partner of the NSW Business Chamber Business Awards program, committing $80,000 a year for three years to support the program.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the city was proud to support local businesses and provide new opportunities for micro enterprises to be recognised.

“These awards celebrate our local businesses’ outstanding achievements, including the new category to promote micro outfits that are helping create a diverse and vibrant economy,” Cr Moore said.

“Small to medium businesses are the powerhouse of our local economy, representing 85 percent of all businesses in our area and contributing nearly $20 billion to the economy. It is wonderful to see these awards embracing even smaller-scale initiatives to help them grow and thrive.

“I encourage city businesses to get involved in this year’s NSW Business Chamber Business Awards program as a fantastic chance to build networks and explore new business opportunities.”  

Local enterprise Winya Indigenous Furniture won the Excellence in Small Business and Excellence in Sustainability awards at last year’s Sydney City region business awards. It was also crowned Business of the Year at the Sydney Town Hall gala event and went on to win the award for Excellence in Workplace Inclusion at the state awards.

Greg Welsh, who founded Winya in 2015 with Deb Barwick, the head of the Indigenous Chamber of Commerce NSW, said the award wins proved a springboard for expansion.

“As a small business, being recognised by winning these prestigious awards has helped broaden our reach, build our presence and create a positive industry buzz,” Mr Welsh said.

“We went on to become the first Australian company to win a United Nations leadership award in the Sustainable Development goals and the first Indigenous business to exhibit at the 2019 Milan Furniture Fair.

“I would definitely encourage business of all sizes to think big, take the leap and get involved – whatever the outcome, it can only be a positive step for your business, your brand and your community.”

NSW Business Chamber CEO, Stephen Cartwright, said the annual business awards recognise and showcase business excellence within NSW.

“The program highlights the dedication and hard work of many business owners and their employees who are providing a product or service and strengthening the economy,” Mr Cartwright said.

“Adding the Excellence in Micro Business category has created a category for smaller businesses to enter without the intimidation of thinking they may not have a shot against businesses with up to 20 employees.”  

The city has supported business awards programs since 2004, and for the first time last year became the Principal Partner of the Sydney City Region of the statewide awards. The city is also the official sponsor for the statewide Excellence in Small Business category.

The annual awards recognise and celebrate businesses across the Sydney local government area, with the winners going on to compete in the NSW awards in November.

Entries are now open and and close on Wednesday, June 17. The winners will be announced at a gala event at Sydney Town Hall on Wednesday,  July 31.

The 2019 awards will recognise outstanding business people and businesses in the following 13 categories:

  • · Outstanding Young Employee
  • · Outstanding Young Entrepreneur
  • · Outstanding Business Leader
  • · Excellence in Micro Business
  • · Excellence in Small Business
  • · Excellence in Business
  • · Excellence in Social Enterprise
  • · Start Up Superstar
  • · Excellence in Innovation
  • · Excellence in Sustainability
  • · Excellence in Export
  • · Outstanding Employer of Choice
  • · Local Chamber of Commerce

See cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/business-awards for Sydney City region business award category details and how to enter.

www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au

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THE Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) has welcomed visa measures outlined in the Coalition’s Plan to Back Australian Tourism Jobs released last week.

"The Coalition’s policy commitment to deliver on improved arrival and visa processing systems is welcomed by ATEC, as visa processing times have been a major challenge for our industry and an issue we've been highlighting for some time” ATEC managing director, Peter Shelley said.

"Addressing the length of time it takes to process a visa application, and ensuring fast and efficient arrivals processes at the airport are important factors that will continue to contribute to Australia’s positioning as a sought after destination.

"We are pleased to see visas and processing issues are on the Coalition agenda, along with a benchmarking study which will identify our standing in this competitive area on the global stage," Mr Shelley said.

“The additional support for airport upgrades and a genuine investment in industry supported tourism icon infrastructure development was to be applauded along with small business tax breaks which were announced in the budget.”

However, Mr Shelley said the tourism export sector would be disappointed with the lack of additional marketing funds desperately required for Tourism Australia to maintain its ‘world leading’ tourism marketing program, especially given the number of competing countries which are now outspending Australia in efforts to attract international tourists -- stealing Australia’s market share as a result.

"It is disappointing that the call of the tourism industry, Australia’s second largest export industry, has not been recognised by the Coalition, especially when every $1 invested in marketing Australia as a tourism destination returns $15 to $20 to the Australian economy," Mr Shelley said.

“This week we saw the true contribution of our industry with the release of the National Tourism Satellite Account. Our industry contributed $57 billion to GDP, up 5 percent on the previous year while the rest of the economy is only growing at less than 3percent. Inbound tourism alone contributed 9.3 percent of total exports and we employed 5.2 percent of the workforce.

“We know that Tourism Drives Growth and that this industry has become a powerhouse of our economy, however we fear the hard-won success achieved over recent years is under threat in the absence of a genuine government commitment to invest in the future potential of this industry."

www.atec.net.au

ends
 

THE SAVINGS GAP between those Australians robbed of their super by rogue employers and those workers paid correctly has blown out by 25 percent in just three years, with new analysis shining a light on the unpaid super epidemic, according to Industry Super Australia (ISA).

ISA analysis of tax office data from 2016/17 by ex-Treasury official Phil Gallagher has revealed the extent of the theft, where employers withhold super payments to prop up their own books, robbing workers of their rightful entitlements.

The analysis shows since the first ISA analysis of ATO data in 2013/14, the number of workers short-changed super has climbed by 90,000 to a total of 2.85 million Australians being ripped off $5.94 billion in super entitlements (more than $2,000 each a year) – an increase of $340 million.

Most startling is the increase in the cumulative savings gap between those underpaid super in a single year, and those paid their entitlements – that has seen on average, a person not underpaid their super end up with around 50 percent more super than a worker underpaid in 2016-17. 

Underpayment seems to repeatedly affect the same workers and lead to large cumulative differences in their super balances.

The average gap in savings has blown out to $24,506 for 2016/17, up from $19, 709 in 2013/14 – an increase of 25 percent in the space of just three years.

It’s even worse for young workers under 25 with wages below $30,000 – those not underpaid in 2016/17 have an astonishing 81 percent more super accumulated than those who are underpaid. This shows how much damage could be done if the Government continues to fail to act.

The report has also shone a light on dodgy employers who exploit a loophole in the law where if workers choose to salary sacrifice and contribute to their super, employers then ‘count’ that as their super guarantee payment for that worker – robbing them of their rightful entitlement.

This unfair exploitation has seen 370,000 workers who think they are doing the right thing lose‑out on super payments totalling $1.5 billion.

The data also coincides with new research conducted by UMR which reveals more than half of Australians polled incorrectly believe employers are required by law to pay super into a workers account at the same time as salary – meaning many will not even know they are being ripped off.

Only 19 percent of Australians polled correctly identified that as many as one in three workers are currently being robbed of their super by their employer – proving the problem is a lot worse than people realise.

After being told that one in three workers are underpaid, or not paid super, a huge 93 percent of Australians say that stopping unpaid super by paying it at the same time as salary is important.

Other key take-outs from the ISA analysis of the ATO 2016/17 data include:

  • Almost one in two young adults earning under $30,000 are underpaid superannuation;
  • More than 43 percent of labourers, machinery operators and drivers have collectively missed out on more than $800 million making it to their super accounts in 2016/17; and
  • Combining these risk factors reveals 75 percent of Australians short-changed their super contributions are aged under 35, or earn under $30,000 or are in blue collar jobs.

Industry Super Australia Chief Executive Bernie Dean called on the major political parties to act on what can only be described as systematic exploitation.

“This should be a wake-up call for the major parties. We are now seeing the cumulative damage the unpaid super epidemic is doing to workers’ super balances and it’s very clear,” Mr Dean said.

“Allowing employers to continue robbing workers of their super entitlement means these workers are going to end up worse off at retirement.

“While most employers do the right thing, unless we see action from the major parties this election, those dodgy employers are going to continue taking advantage of lax laws, a weak regulator and insufficient penalties to rip off these hardworking Australians.

“The research shows Australians are rightly concerned about their super and the fact that so many people are missing out on their entitlements. They overwhelmingly believe stopping unpaid super is an important issue and that something needs to be done.”

Mr Dean said there was a simple fix the major parties could commit to this election that would solve the problem.

“The easiest way to end this exploitation and ensure workers are paid their super is to simply legislate that all employers must deposit money into a workers super account at the same time as they deposit their salary into their bank account,” he said.

“Anything else is nothing more than a band-aid solution that won’t fix the problem and will only see more hardworking Australians have their super entitlements stolen by rogue employers.”

The full report by Industry Super Australia into this latest data can be accessed at https://www.industrysuper.com/assets/Uploads/d62c256bec/Super-Scandal-Unpaid-super-guarantee-in-2016-17-FINAL.pdf

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THE Federal Opposition contradicted its own housing policy this week when it said that proposed changes to negative gearing and capital gains tax won’t have an appreciable impact on the price of housing, according to the Housing Industry Association.

“Labor’s proposals to increase capital gains tax on residential property investments and restrict access to negative gearing arrangements was intended to level the playing field between first home buyers and rental investors,” HIA managing director, Graham Wolfe said.

“How will first home buyers be better able to compete in the housing market if raising the taxes on residential rental property investors doesn’t impact house prices?

“How will additional taxation on housing deliver more affordable housing?

“Raising taxes on residential investors will constrain new rental property supply and inevitably place more pressure on housing affordability for hundreds of thousands of households that rely on rental accommodation," Mr Wolfe said.

“With no benefit for first home buyers and no increase in rental housing supply, the proposed changes to negative gearing and capital gains tax will only add another layer of taxation to the substantial amount of taxes already levied on housing, which can be in excess of 40 percent of the cost of a new home.

“It is hard to see the proposed changes to negative gearing and capital gains tax as anything more than a tax grab masquerading as housing policy,” Mr Wolfe said.

www.hia.com.au

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LIBERAL DEMOCRATS Senator Duncan Spender has slammed the Australian Tax Office for its mistreatment of small businesses, as exposed by the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman.

“Unfortunately the Ombudsman has confirmed what I already suspected: that the taxman is enforcing its debt recovery actions on small businesses, despite appeals processes still taking place,” he said.

“The fact that this was found to be occurring in at least 12 percent of cases is further cause for concern.

“While the Ombudsman has ordered the ATO to cease debt recovery action immediately, I’m concerned such maltreatment of small businesses will continue.

“The ATO should not have the power to reach into the backpockets of Australian small business owners to recover alleged debt, especially when the said debt is being contested.

“The ATO is garnishing the bank accounts of unsuspecting business owners, which puts their ability to pay wages, rent, overheads and supplier fees at huge risk. They are literally swiping the money out of the bank accounts of small businesses before any ongoing disputes have even been settled.

“Small businesses are already facing an uphill battle in this country. The last thing they need is the taxman preying on them when they are vulnerable," Senator Spender said.

“All Australians, including small business owners, need a low tax future. If elected, I pledge to make the necessary legislative amendments to ensure money made by small owners remains in their pockets, especially while ATO disputes are ongoing.”

The Ombudsman’s review into the ATO was conducted following a 2018 exposé by ABC’s Four Corners and Fairfax Media that showed alleged unfair treatment and heavy-handed tactics towards small business owners.

The final report was released on Monday and is available here.

ends

QUEENSLAND Resources Council has received assurances from the Queensland Government that increases of the rate of coal royalties, which are now at record levels, were not part of the preparations for the June 11 State Budget.

QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said the industry welcomed Treasurer Jackie Trad’s comments that the Labor Government was "proud to be a resource State here in Queensland," in response to a question from Katter's Australian Party (KAP) Member for Hinchinbrook Nick Dametto on coal royalties. 

“I understand the Treasurer did not want to disclose Budget details in Parliament, the reality is that the QRC has already sought and received assurances from the Palaszczuk Government that there is no plans to increase royalties,” Mr Macfarlane said.

"Queensland coal set an export record last year – every extra tonne we export delivers more dollars for the Treasurer’s budget and predictions are that the Government will receive an extra $1 billion in royalty taxes this year."

Mr Macfarlane said the State Government was on track to receive a record $5.2 billion in royalty taxes from the 316,000 men and women who work in the resources sector. Coal royalties are at record levels with $4.2 billion expected this financial year, compared to $1.6 billion under the last Budget of the previous Government.

“The Treasurer knows that Queenslanders are already seeing a strong return on coal exports and her answer in Parliament also acknowledged the importance of royalty stability to attract and retain investors in developing resources,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“With the Treasurer’s attack in Parliament today of the previous Government’s decision to increase royalties, it would be totally hypocritical for the Palaszczuk Government to consider an increase.

“It’s important in all Budgets not to kill the goose that lays the golden egg,” Mr Macfarlane said.

www.qrc.org.au

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