AFTER 18 months of uncertainty, the Bowen community may finally have something to celebrate with yesterday’s announcement by federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt approving development of the Adani T0 project and capital dredging at the Abbot Point coal terminal.

Minister Hunt also issued approval for the Arrow LNG facility on Curtis Island near Gladstone and associated gas transmission pipeline.

Welcoming the announcements, Queensland Resources Council Chief Executive Michael Roche congratulated Minister Hunt for using the weight of scientific evidence to put Queenslanders ahead of increasingly hysterical environmental activists.

"The staged dredging of a commercial trading port 40 kilometres from the Great Barrier Reef has been painted by fossil fuel opponents as the end of a global icon," Mr Roche said.

"Minister Hunt’s decision confirms what we have known for the past 38 years of industry co-existence with the reef. We have the wherewithal in Australia to protect world heritage and environmental values because we have a standard of living that affords us such choices.

"The trading ports working alongside the Great Barrier Reef are responsible for the export of commodities worth $40 billion a year to the Australian economy.

"North Queenslanders are also looking to them to play a bigger role in supporting inbound tourism, particularly the cruise ship industry.

"The alternative proposal from environmental activists is to shut down shipping along 80 percent of the eastern Queensland coastline, effectively hanging almost one million people out to dry.

"The conditions set out today for both projects by Minister Hunt show the federal government is serious about protecting the outstanding universal values of the Great Barrier Reef and he can be assured of the continuing cooperation of industry stakeholders of meeting environmental and community expectations," Mr Roche said.



VECCI welcomes the Council of Australian Governments’ (COAG) decision to create a one-stop shop for environmental approvals, as it will remove unnecessary duplication and make the process simpler and quicker for Victorian businesses.

This streamlining is a great outcome for Victorian businesses as they will now be able to attain full environmental certification from the state approval process without also having to seek federal approval.

As part of its policy agenda for the recent federal election, VECCI sought a reduction in the regulatory burden on business and repeated this call more recently at its 2013 VECCI Victoria Summit.

“We’ve been consistent in our calls to governments at every level to reduce red and green tape and Victorian businesses will be delighted when these changes are implemented,” says VECCI Chief Executive Mark Stone.

“In the current economic climate, removing the roadblocks to job creation and productivity is crucial.” 



The Federal Government should move to finalise reform to laws governing the taxation of trusts, with interim legislation passed by the previous government hampering the small business sector, according to leading Australian accounting firm, Crowe Horwath.

Five weeks ago the government stated that it would review 92 announced but unlegislated tax and superannuation measures.

Reform to the taxation of trusts – started by the previous government but which remained incomplete by the time of the September 7 election - was not on this list.

This is despite trust tax reform being one of the most important legislative reform issues for small business.

Crowe Horwath National Tax Director, Tristan Webb, said that the government has stated it is committed to helping small business and therefore should put trust tax reform as a top order priority.

Interim legislation handed down by the previous government in response to the High Court decision in the Bamford case of 2010 was “only ever intended to be a stop gap.”

“We are surprised that the government has indicated that it will move on 92 announced but unlegislated measures but has left reform of the taxation of trusts out.

“Our 16,000 trust clients rightfully expect certainty in their business, farm and investment dealings. The government should act or at least indicate the direction that they want to move so that our clients can forget about tax and get on with business,” he said.

Two years since the legislation came into effect clear deficiencies have emerged with this legislation.

The Australian Tax Office is currently refusing to finalise a key public ruling on the basis that there are several competing views that relate to key aspects of the legislation, each of which may be correct at law.

The taxation of trusts has been a contentious issue for respective governments.

The Howard government originally supported taxing trusts as companies but moved away from this proposal.

The Rudd-Gillard government favoured maintaining the status quo post Bamford but legislation purporting to do that has come up short.



It is time for the East-West Link protesters to stop disrupting lawful work on this very important project,” says VECCI Chief Executive Mark Stone.

“No one has the right to interfere with another person’s right to attend and perform their daily work free from harassment or the right of a business to engage in lawful operations, but this is exactly what the protesters continue to do. They are also continuing to divert the resources of the Victorian Police away from core operations and are placing the individual police officers in attendance in very difficult and unpleasant circumstances.

“There is nothing wrong with protesting as long as it is done peacefully, lawfully and does not infringe upon the right of others to engage in lawful activity.

“It seems incredible that at a time when workers in the vehicle manufacturing industry and its supply chain face an uncertain future, a small group of protesters seek to delay work on a project that will create thousands of jobs and improve the lives of commuters and business operators alike for decades to come.

“VECCI maintains its strong support for the East-West Link and wants the road in its entirety built. This includes the next stages that would link to the Port of Melbourne and the Western Ring Road. With closures of the Burnley and Domain tunnels for maintenance and the annual works on the Westgate Bridge due to commence shortly, the need for a second river crossing of Melbourne is self-evident. VECCI also supports the Melbourne Metro Rail tunnel, the removal of level crossings, the development of the Ports of Melbourne and Hastings and the completion of the Western Ring Road upgrade as part of a suite of major infrastructure projects of fundamental importance to securing Victoria’s long term prosperity.

“There are legitimate ways to protest that don’t impact on the right of others to go about their work peacefully. It is time for the noisy minority disrupting the East-West project to recognise and respect this.” 



In response to the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook report released on Tuesday, Council of Small Business of Australia (COSBOA) is calling on Joe Hockey to keep tax breaks in place for Small Business to help keep the economy moving and rebuild tax receipts.

COSBOA is pleased with the attention that Small Business has received in 2013 but this positive sentiment needs to be matched with action and policy. Recently, the coalition said that it would repeal some of the former Labour Government’s tax concessions including the loss carry-back and instant tax write offs.

Speaking at the National Press Club, the Treasurer announced that a deficit in June 2014 was expected to reach $47 million and said that unless the Government took immediate action, Australia would be in debt for more than a decade.

Peter Strong, Executive Director of COSBOA said: “We need the Government to keep the current tax breaks for Small Business in place. A saving in the budget from removing these measures will not impact the budget greatly and will affect the confidence of Small Business people, which will be counterproductive for the economy.

“Small Business confidence lifted following the election but we need the government to maintain that confidence, deliver on promises and provide much needed support.

“While the Government has clearly acknowledged the contribution and value of Small Business, the removal of much needed tax support sends a mixed message,” Mr Strong added.

With the budget deficit now forecast, COSBOA urges the Government to develop a cohesive long term plan for the economy that includes Small Business people and supports their capacity to innovate and increase productivity.

COSBOA will continue to work with the Business Council of Australia (BCA) in 2014 following the release of their Action Plan for Enduring Prosperity, which has identified nine policy areas and 93 recommendations that aim to maintain strong economic growth, restore Australia’s competitiveness, lift productivity and support businesses.

“The BCA Action Plan is a good start to a national plan for securing the future of our country. We also need the Government to articulate what they intend to do and how they will engage and assist business people in local communities to build strong micro-economies around the nation.

“Our economy is not one homogenous entity consisting of only big business, but is made up of hundreds of small economies built around communities and industry sectors. If these micro-economies are healthy then the national economy will also prosper,” Mr Strong concluded.



Singapore Airlines (SIA) has unveiled its new-concept SilverKris Lounge in Sydney, as part of a multi-million dollar investment programme to upgrade all of the Airline’s airport lounges around the world.

Designed by renowned architectural and interior design firm ONG&ONG, the new-concept SilverKris Lounge is thoughtfully designed and modelled after elements of a home, following extensive research that included focus groups with customers.

The new design concept will be progressively introduced to all of SIA's SilverKris Lounges in 15 cities over the next five years at an estimated cost of around $100 million.

Following renovation of the Sydney lounge, which has just been completed, planning work is underway to upgrade lounges at London, Hong Kong and Singapore (Terminal 3) in 2014.

Lounge customers can look forward to distinct personal spaces that provide a sense of ‘being home’, as well as more personalised services from lounge staff and a delectable selection of food and beverages to complement SIA's in-flight offerings.

"Our customers frequently tell us that they have a feeling of ‘home’ as soon as they board our aircraft, and our aim is to extend this experience to the ground. Through our new 'home away from home' concept, the intention is for our customers to experience the feeling of being taken care of at every step of their journey," said Mr Tan Pee Teck, Singapore Airlines’ Senior Vice President Product & Services.

"Each space is thoughtfully designed to create the ambiance of ‘home’ that is familiar and comforting, adding to the warm, authentic and personalised service that Singapore Airlines is well known for."

First introduced in Sydney, the new 'home' concept SilverKris Lounge showcases SIA's unique heritage distinguished by a customised batik design screen in the welcome foyer that customers can recognise from afar.

Inside, the lounge features tastefully selected art pieces, sourced locally and from Singapore.

Customers can make use of personal spaces tailored for different needs, ranging from a living room, kitchen and dining room to intimate coves for rest and relaxation.

Specially designed productivity pods will enable customers to work in privacy and comfort before their flight, while signature SIA armchairs will be a new feature at all refurbished SilverKris Lounges.

A familiar ‘taste of Singapore’ concept will also be progressively introduced at all SilverKris Lounges, with iconic dishes from Singapore such as laksa and mee siam offered alongside delectable food choices from around the world and a wide range of premium wines and spirits.

To complete the ‘home’ experience, Passenger Relations Officers, trained to deliver the personal SIA touch, will be on hand to host each customer and assist with their travel needs.

Singapore Airlines (SIA) is Australia's largest foreign carrier and operates 121 weekly services from the following cities, representing an 18% increase since 2011. The flights have been scheduled to offer seamless connectivity between Australia and the airline’s global network of 107 destinations in 39 countries:

  • Sydney 4 flights daily Airbus A380 and Boeing 777-300 & 777-200ER aircraft
  • Melbourne 4 flights daily Airbus A380 & A330 and Boeing 777-300 & 777-300ER
  • Perth 4 flights daily Airbus A330 and Boeing 777-200
  • Brisbane 3 flights daily Airbus A330
  • Adelaide 12 flights weekly Airbus A330
  • Darwin 4 flights weekly Airbus A320/A319 (operated by SilkAir, the regional wing of SIA)

In 2013, the airline unveiled its US$150m investment in the next generation of First / Business / Economy class seats to be featured on eight new Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, the first of which began service in September. The seats come complete with Panasonic’s new eX3 in-flight entertainment system, of which SIA is the launch customer.

SIA has also unveiled a suite of competitive products to drive greater value for Australian customers, including S$40 vouchers for customers transiting through Changi, an expanded Singapore Stopover Holiday package, as well as regular promotional fares for customers across Australia.

The roll out of the alliance with Virgin Australia continues, with SIA codeshare to 39 domestic destinations and VA codeshare and interline to a total of 89 destinations across the SilkAir/Singapore Airlines network. The airline owns a 19.9% stake in Virgin Australia.

The Group has 197 aircraft on firm order and planned capital expenditure of S$14.25 billion over the next five years. Singapore Airlines operates a modern passenger fleet of 99 aircraft with an average age of 6 years 7 months, SilkAir operates 24 modern aircraft with an average age of 6 years 9 months and Singapore Airlines Cargo operates 9 747-400 freighter aircraft with an average age of 11 years 11 months.



VICTORIA’s peak tourism and events body is eagerly anticipating the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel’s upcoming opening, saying it will provide tourists and locals with a wonderful new way to experience Melbourne.

The Victoria Tourism Industry Council’s (VTIC) comments come as the Star prepares to host its first passengers at 12pm today.

“We’re delighted to see the Star opening as it provides a new perspective on our great city and a wonderful experience for passengers at the vibrant Docklands precinct,” says VTIC Chief Executive Dianne Smith.

“The attraction has something for everyone and appeals to people of all ages and nationalities. With the 1500-person capacity Star Piazza at the Wheel’s base, it is also a drawcard for business events.”

The 21-cabin observation wheel enables views of up to 40 kilometres from the Docklands site.

“The views showcase Melbourne’s diversity, as visitors see the CBD, our expansive parks, Port Phillip Bay and as far as Mount Macedon and the Dandenong Ranges,” Ms Smith says.

“The Star is yet another reason to visit our wonderful city and we expect it will attract both first-time visitors and regular guests who keep coming back to discover more.

“It also provides a valuable opportunity for visitors to learn about other aspects of Melbourne, as there is a pre-boarding display and story panels, as well as cabin audio.

"The Star promotes the history, culture and many other features of modern Melbourne, which will have a significant flow-on effect for the rest of the tourism industry.”

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.



Peak retail industry body the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) and research partner Roy Morgan Research said shoppers were expected to spend $15.1 billion during post-Christmas sales from Boxing Day through to mid January – an estimated two percent rise on last year’s predicted sales of $14.8 billion.

ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman said last year’s post-Christmas predicted sales ($14.8 billion) were almost spot on, with the actual figure confirmed only slightly lower at $14.6 billion.

“Based on the actual figure of 14.6 billion, we now see an even larger percentage growth year on year at 3.8 percent – a positive sign for the retail sector.

“Looking at the actual post-Christmas sales figures for 2012 and this year’s post Christmas predictions, cafes show the highest level of growth at 6.2 percent. Apparel (3.9 percent) and food (3.8 percent) are also set to experience a small but significant jump in post-Christmas sales, indicating that gift buying will be replaced by shoppers splurging on items for themselves, updating their summer wardrobes and dining out.

“It is also great to see all states and territories predicted to experience positive growth this post-Christmas period, ranging from 2 percent (Western Australia) to 6.1 percent (Northern Territory).

“As we know, the festive sales period doesn’t just continue in the stores; there are also many shoppers who will be enjoying the sales from their lounge rooms. Some retailers are expected to start their Boxing Day sales as early as Christmas Eve.

“The decision to leave the cash rate unchanged at 2.5 percent in December is definitely an obstacle for retailers trying to get back on track financially over the Christmas period, and the ARA is looking forward to the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) reassessing the outlook when it meets again in February 2014.

“We believe there is room for further adjustment on the cash rate, and while a favourable decision in February will be too late to encourage Christmas spending, this adjustment would certainly allow retailers to start their new year with confidence,” 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.



Customers tapping into What’sApp, Viber, kik & Instagram

Vodafone says more customers will be tapping into apps like What’sApp, Viber, kik and Instagram this Christmas to send messages using data instead of traditional SMS or MMS.

In a survey by Galaxy Research published today, two-thirds of all customers across all networks say they expected to use more data over the Christmas holiday season. This was even higher among Gen Ys, with almost 75 percent of younger people saying they expect their usage to go up.

Customers said the reasons they’d need more data over Christmas were to keep in touch with friends who are away, to upload more photos and download more videos, on top of using phone app and games more often for entertainment.

"We have seen an extraordinary increase in customers’ appetites for data over the past year and we expect this to jump again this Christmas and New Year’s period," said Chief Marketing Officer Kim Clarke.

"The majority of Australia is out there over the holidays spending time with friends and family, and with more free time, people have the time to share photos, watch videos and play games on their phones."

Customers increasingly using data to send text and photo messages

On Christmas Day in 2012, data usage increased by almost 65% on the previous year. By comparison, the number of SMSes sent was up by just 13% on Christmas Day in 2011, with a trend towards customers using smartphone apps to send messages.

A typical SMS costs about 20c to send, while a MMS (picture message) costs about 50c to send, although most Vodafone postpaid plans include Infinite (unlimited) standard national calls and texts.

By comparison a typical What’sApp message will use about 10KB of data to send a message containing just text, with 300KB-1MB data to send a photo.

"We actually don’t expect to see an increase in the number of SMSs sent this Christmas, for the first time in about 20 years," said Ms Clarke. "There’s a definite trend towards using apps instead, which use data."

"Instagram is also wildly popular at the moment. People are now sharing photos with many – via Instagram – rather than traditional MMS where you share a photo with one or two people," she said.

Vodafone offers double the data

Vodafone launched a double data offer last month which doubles the amount of included data for all month-to-month voice plans of $45 and above, and all 12-and 24-month voice plans of $60 or more – for the full 12- or 24-months of the plan. The offer runs to January 3 and is available to both new and existing customers (who choose to upgrade).



COMMENT by AUSBuy CEO Lynne Wilkinson

IT HAS BEEN a revelation to see the vitriol heaped on Mr Hockey’s decision to stop the sale of Graincorp to ADM (USA), because it has shown that many “observers” in the media have failed to see the exquisite subtlety of the decision and the limitations of their fixed views.

There is little doubt that the Abbott Government has inherited a mess, much of which has been exacerbated since 2007.

Only policies which meet Australia’s “national interest” will get Australian assets and our people working for Australia again, revitalise our economy, and reduce our debt so we can take advantage of the opportunities the Asian century is supposed to promise.

We can only hope that the “intent” of this decision is replicated as we see off-shore bidding for other strategic assets in the food sector.

If ADM owned the assets, then there is no guarantee the farmers would be able to access or use the infrastructure for any other buyer other than ADM.

The majority of our grain exports are still controlled by foreign interests beyond the farm gate. Graincorp and CBH (WA) represent less than 50% of our grain exports. Hardly a duopoly!

Foreign owned Glencore, Dreyfus, among others own our grain exports, and the family owned US company Cargill owns many of our beef and grain exports.

Cargill has not reinvested in grain infrastructure. They use existing infrastructure. So much for successive Governments’ waivers to foreign take over that they will build infrastructure and invest here.

The problem is further exacerbated by our tax laws which favour foreign interests with only 10% withholding tax on declared profits, after they have been siphoned off shore.

Mr Hockey may have found some unexpected “reds” in the bank accounts, and these are just some of the issues which rob is of reinvestment here. Food for thought in the commission of audit.

Mr Hockey has effectively told the Graincorp board to do better than they have done and reinvest in the business.

As they say “if you can’t change the people you change the people”. It seems it is all too easy for Boards to think short term, especially when there is no shortage of keen buyers.

Graincorp was once owned by the farmers. It is now owned largely by institutions who will still look for quick returns to their shareholders, but it also means Australian can invest in the company for the long term if it is controlled here.

The problem is when Australian exports are sold by foreign interests we are no longer control our reputation or the supply chain. Our products are not differentiated in the market place. Our farmers become price takers, not price makers.

It is human nature, supported by their policies, that other countries give priority to their own. This does not make sense in a world hungry to secure its food.

Generations of our farmers have built Australia’s reputation as among the best in the world for quality and productivity, decades of falling income and rising debt has been ignored.

Now Mr Hockey has given the east coast grain growers the assurance that they have some control over their future.

There are lessons to be learned from this. Governments keep talking about Australian businesses being productive and competitive, yet Australia has a handful of businesses competing with countries that have dozens if not hundreds of businesses in particular sectors, and who subsidise their growers.

In the meantime our processors and manufacturers languish, or if foreign owned here have a habit of threatening to leave or do move off shore to source elsewhere and sell back to us.

He has also defined his Party’s “open for business” policy by saying to ADM you can buy up to 24.9%, but cannot control the assets, the profits, decisions.

This new kind of “open for business” means we are not desperate sellers and deal with us on our terms. Just as every other country does that controls and grows it wealth creating assets.

We do hope Mr Robb is listening as he is rushing to sign Free Trade Agreements with China, Japan and Korea – all controlled economies that have bought assets here in the supply chain and now our land.

Perhaps finally we are going to think strategically, identify our sustainable competitive advantages and benefit from assets that are grown and produced in Australia.

Get Australians and our assets working for Australia again. We welcome foreign investment not takeover.

This has been AUSBUY’s position since 1991.



THE PEAK representative body for minerals and energy developers in Queensland has reiterated its commitment to working with the state government for a balanced and productive regional land use plan for Cape York.

Queensland Resources Council Chief Executive Michael Roche said the government’s declaration to ban open cut mining across the entirety of the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve was an unexpected blow to QRC member Cape Alumina, the company’s shareholders and to the confidence of the broader junior resources community.

"However, we must respect the government of the day’s right to make decisions in what they consider to be the state’s interests," he said. "The issue now is where to next – and that’s clearly the draft regional plan for Cape York on which the state government is inviting comment until 25 March next year.

"The resources sector has not strayed from its commitment to working with the state government to deliver the best possible outcomes for Cape York, Far North communities and for the environment.

"Open slather mining is not one of the options on the table and nor should it be.

"Mining has played a positive role in the Cape’s history and can play a similar role in its future with a regional plan that recognises and complements the region’s environmental, agricultural and resources strengths.

"‘Weipa’s celebration this week of 50 years’ continuous bauxite mining is tangible evidence of what that one operation has delivered especially in terms of employment and economic opportunity to local indigenous communities.

"‘The state government is offering Queenslanders a once in a lifetime opportunity to plan for the future of Cape York – a land mass bigger than England. It’s therefore essential that we get it right from the start."

Mr Roche said the state government has been at pains to point out that the plan is a draft and that they are open to hearing persuasive arguments for revisions.

"Over coming weeks the QRC and its member companies will bring to the table the rigorous science and evidence needed to demonstrate that projects currently facing some uncertainty under the draft plan can be delivered without detriment to the environmental values of the Cape," he said.

"Queensland has an extremely comprehensive set of requirements relating to the environmental assessment and management of mining, and these should be fully utilised to assess the merits of proposed resource projects.

"Industry working constructively with government is the surest route to delivering certainty for investors and shareholders and large numbers of well paid jobs in the Cape, especially for indigenous communities experiencing horrendous unemployment levels," he said.



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