SHOPPING TROLLEYS around Australia are beginning to fill up with Easter goodies this week, according to the Australian Retailers Association (ARA), with under two weeks until the Easter holiday period kicks off.

Unlike Christmas, shopping for Easter generally takes place in a shorter period of time, with the bulk of Easter related purchases taking place in the fortnight prior to Good Friday.

ARA Executive Director, Russell Zimmerman, said that despite supermarkets who begin to push the sale of chocolate eggs and hot cross buns from New Year, the majority of sales do not occur until much closer to Easter.

“Spending on gifts and entertaining for Easter really begins to ramp up from now on, with a peak in Easter-related spending expected in the five days prior, from March 20 to 24,” said Mr Zimmerman.

“Hot selling items will of course be chocolate and sweets, hot cross buns, and seafood, and we’ll also see a general spike in sales of food and beverages as consumers make purchases for Easter celebrations with family and friends.

“As stores are unable to trade by law on Good Friday and Easter Sunday, shoppers will be stocking up on all the necessities to tide them over for those days when they aren’t able to get to the shops.”

Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses estimates around 150 million hot cross buns will be consumed by Australians this Easter, while chocolate sales are expected to exceed $200 million.

Fish markets and co-ops will also be preparing for crowds in the days before Good Friday, with many Australians upholding the tradition of giving up meat for the day. Sydney Fish Markets predicts around 55,000 people will walk through its doors on Good Friday, and more than 400 tonnes of seafood will be sold throughout the weekend at the markets, including more than 44 tonnes of prawns.

“Easter is a key sales period for retailers, particularly those in the business of food and groceries, however, stores in other areas are also able to pick up additional sales with targeted offers relevant to Easter.

“We’ve seen innovative retailers grow sales each with the addition of limited edition Easter lines, or non-traditional products, such as chocolate hot cross buns.”

About the Australian Retailers Association:

Founded in 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is the retail industry’s peak representative body representing Australia’s more than $300 billion sector, which employs more than 1.2 million people. The ARA works to ensure retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating and saving money for its 5,000 independent and national retail members throughout Australia. For more information, visit www.retail.org.au or call 1300 368 041.

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TOWNSVILLE Enterprise believes the Federal and State Governments need to take more decisive action on job creation in the wake of the mining downturn and the impact on business and confidence caused by job losses at QNI.

Townsville Enterprise Chair Kevin Gill said the region has faced uncertainty for too long.

“Fast, decisive action by the Federal and State Governments, acting in a coordinated way, is needed now,” Mr Gill said.

“Townsville Enterprise, the Chamber of Commerce and Regional Councils have presented projects that with an injection of Government funds, or more supportive policy settings, can have a direct impact on employment, build confidence and set the foundation for long term economic growth.

“These projects are not new and Governments are well aware of their benefits to the region as job generators.

“The wheels are starting to turn with a clear recognition from Governments that the region is hurting, but it’s vital that the speed dial for action is turned right up.

“If the Governments are serious about the Northern Australia Development Agenda, they will act now to keep jobs in the region and to retain workers that we are at a real risk of losing, by providing targeted funding for key priorities. It just makes good economic sense to keep people employed in the region rather than needing to attract a workforce back to Townsville North Queensland in the future.”

Townsville Enterprise outlined projects that Governments could support right now.

State Government

  • Announce an immediate boost to funding for the Integrated Stadium and Entertainment Centre ($100m already committed to a $380m project)
  • Expedite the mining lease for the Adani Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail project to start activity in the Galilee Basin
  • Fast track the Ergon/Energex merger and relocation to Townsville
  • Boost edutourism funding to take advantage of the development of a new export opportunity
  • Support the development of PNG and Auckland flights to boost tourism, trade and commerce
  • Fund the business case for the Townsville Eastern Access Rail Corridor

Federal Government

  • Match funding with the State Government to complete the $380m Integrated Stadium and Entertainment Centre
  • Base the headquarters of the $5billion Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility in Townsville – the business centre of Northern Australia.
  • Fund road and rail projects to improve supply chains for agribusiness, cattle and mining industries.
  • Announce that the  Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia will be headquartered in TownsvilleAward funding from the $25m National Water Infrastructure Fund to Townsville Enterprise for feasibility studies into raising the Burdekin Dam and the new dam at Hells Gate.

“We acknowledge the efforts of the State Government through the Accelerated Works Program and today’s announcement of the $25M commitment to the Mount Isa to Townsville upgrade.

"We also acknowledge the Federal Government’s commitment of an additional $1.9m to the Structural Adjustment Program, however, these efforts need to be turbocharged if they are going to make a real difference,” Mr Gill said.

Corporate website   |   Destination website   |   Convention Bureau website

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As the inquiry into the role of transport connectivity on stimulating development and economic activity moves to Melbourne on Friday, a key focus will be on how investments in transport assets could be offset by the increase in property value along transport corridors.

Chair of the House of Representatives Infrastructure, Transport and Cities Committee, Mr John Alexander MP, emphasised that transport connectivity was not an end in itself—it was a means of achieving urban renewal and regional development.

“Transport connectivity makes our cities more liveable and our regions more accessible, while also increasing the value of the property along transport corridors and adjacent to transport assets, such as rail and bus stations,” Mr Alexander said.

"Value Capture is about using some of that increased value to pay for the infrastructure that created it, with even modest gains in property value potentially creating a significant funding base. This could be utilised to build transport infrastructure projects from small light rail services to interstate high speed rail connectivity.”

In its submission, the international consulting firm ARUP highlighted the importance of integrated land-use and transport planning. It noted that value capture is predicated on relatively high property prices and the potential for property value uplift. Likewise access to new infrastructure adds value to property appeal and hence property prices.

Hearing details

Date: Friday, 11 March 2016
Time: 9:00 am–4:00 pm

Witnesses:

  • Strategic Intelligence Group (Submission 30)
  • ARUP (Submission 42)
  • Peri Urban Group of Rural Councils (Submission 58)
  • Committee for Geelong (Submission 32)
  • Hon Tim Fischer AC (Submission 52)
  • Mr Peter Knight (Submission 48)
  • City of Port Phillip (Submission 29)
  • City of Melbourne (Submission 62)

Venue: Committee Room G.6, Parliamentary Annex, 55 St Andrews Place, South Melbourne, Parliament of Victoria
The public hearing will be webcast live at http://www.aph.gov.au/live

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WHERE businesses have a high demand for skilled labour but are constrained by lack of resources, then there is a prima facie case for government intervention, according to the Institute of Public Accountants (IPA).

 “We need governments, both Federal and State to immediately address and reform the education system’s ability to increase the stock of knowledge-based workers available for employment,” said IPA’s chief executive officer, Andrew Conway.

“Without a sweeping reform of the education system, Australia will not address the significant skills deficits that are abundantly apparent in the economy.

“We believe that the strongest argument for government intervention relates to the potential for positive spill-over into the wider economy, as highly skilled workers move around employers and disseminate their knowledge.

“One in six businesses in Australia faces a problem involving skills deficiencies.

“Research conducted for the Australian Small Business White Paper indicates that some 64,000 businesses have an identifiable skills deficiency in relation to finance professionals, 55,000 in relation to marketing professionals, and 45,000 businesses are deficient in IT professionals.

“This indicates that while there may be trade skill shortages relating to the construction boom, there is a bigger problem on the horizon with deficiencies in high value added professional services.

“To stem the tide of skills shortages, we are urging governments to consider the inclusion of enterprise training at all levels of the education system from early school years to further and higher education institutions.

"We also recommend the integration of entrepreneurship programs and STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects, at all levels of secondary school, together with appropriate levels of promotion and financial support," said Mr Conway.

 For further discussion refer to the IPA’s pre-Budget submission 2016-17 on the IPA website at http://bit.ly/1PVGJX7

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 with more than 35,000 members and students in over 65 countries.  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.  The IPA was recognised in 2012 as Australia’s most innovative accounting organisation and listed in the top 20 in the 2012 BRW Most Innovative Companies List.  

publicaccountants.org.au

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Innovation and Science Australia chair Bill Ferris AC has told Australia’s university leaders that increasing collaboration for commercialisation of research is both desirable and achievable.

Addressing the Universities Australia’s 2016 Higher Education Conference Mr Ferris said, “Right now, despite a host of recent indicators praising our scientific and creative abilities, we are dead last in the OECD rankings of academia and business collaboration for innovation.

“Our alarming collaboration ranking is a direct contributor to our poor performance at commercialising our discoveries and this cannot continue. The good news is improving collaboration between research and industry is the low hanging fruit for quick wins when it comes to driving innovation.”

Mr Ferris said the Government’s announced changes to criteria for the allocation of research funding to universities are needed to reward engagement with industry.

“New arrangements recommended by Dr Ian Watt and taken up under the Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda would simplify research block grants into two streams and seek to give universities an incentive to achieve greater industry and other end-user engagement, in addition to providing grants on the basis of traditional tests of research excellence,” Mr Ferris said.

“At the same time, I understand we need to continue to excel in fundamental research, I don’t accept that research excellence and clever commercialisation are mutually exclusive.

“Improving the research funding mix is welcome because it will encourage more and more researchers to reach out.

“In the same vein businesses can be encouraged to reach in to universities. I am working with Dr Alan Finkel, Australia’s Chief Scientist, and John Fraser, Secretary of the Treasury, on a review of the R&D Tax Incentive Programme.

“That Review is considering options to better reward businesses that engage with universities and other publicly funded research organisations.”

www.industry.gov.au

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The Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chief Executive Mark Stone: has commended the Victorian Government and Opposition on finally reaching agreement regarding the Port of Melbourne lease legislation.

"Given the importance of this legislation and the fact that both major parties have been supportive of moving this project forward for two years, this is a timely outcome and one that will benefit all Victorians," Mr Stone said.

"The lease of the port will have a significant impact on Victoria’s economic future. The estimated $6 billion to be generated is essential to progress our state’s infrastructure priorities. These projects are vital to the competitiveness and livability of our state, now and in years to come.

"A notable part of the agreement is the benefit it will provide to Victoria’s regions through the commitment of $700 million in port lease proceeds to support regional Victoria," he said.

"Growing Victoria’s regions through infrastructure improvements will support regional trade and investment. This is a key priority of the Victorian Chamber, as reinforced in our Victoria Summit 2015 – Regional Victoria and 2016-17 State Budget submission.

"The port will continue to be a significant piece of infrastructure to Victoria as container throughput is expected to more than double to nearly six million units per annum in the next 15 years.

"Moving forward the Victorian Government must get the best possible price for the port while ensuring there are sensible safeguards for business," Mr Stone said.

"This project has been a long standing priority for the Victorian Chamber, including as a key recommendation in our 2014 state election agenda, Taking Care of Business."

The Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, established in 1851, is the most influential business organisation in Victoria, informing and servicing more than 15,000 members, customers and clients around the state.

victorianchamber.com.au

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THE Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chief Executive Mark Stone met with the Treasurer of Victoria, Tim Pallas, yesterday to put forward  seven key proposals for the 2016-17 State Budget.

“The Treasurer and I had a productive meeting to talk in detail about each of our seven recommendations and the benefit they would bring to Victorian business and the broader community,” said Mr Stone.

“I commend the Treasurer on his willingness to engage with us on our priorities for a pro-business budget that will address the many major challenges facing Victoria. Our recommendations will reduce business costs, deliver infrastructure improvements, build workforce skills and boost international engagement to strengthen Victorian competitiveness through 2016 and beyond.”

The Victorian Chamber will continue to advocate the priorities for Victorian business in the lead up to the release of the budget on 3 May 2016.

Visit the Victorian Chamber website for further details of our budget submission. 

The Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, established in 1851, is the most influential business organisation in Victoria, informing and servicing more than 15,000 members, customers and clients around the state.

victorianchamber.com.au

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THE International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has congratulated the 2016 honourees of the Oslo Business for Peace Award which were announced today in a ceremony held to coincide with International Women’s Day.

ICC applauds Oslo Business for Peace Award Honourees

John Danilovich, ICC Secretary General said: "The Oslo Business for Peace Award is a vital recognition of global business leaders who unlock the positive power of business for the benefit of peace and prosperity.

"By accelerating the development of ethical business practices, this year's honourees clearly show how responsible business conduct can play a central role in improving the state of the world and facilitating the implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals," he added.

By accelerating the development of ethical business practices, this year's honourees clearly show how responsible business conduct can play a central role in improving the state of the world and facilitating the implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

The 2016 Honourees are:

  • Sarah Beydoun, who has built an international accessories business built on unique bags handmade in cooperation with prisoners and ex-prisoners in battle-scarred Lebanon;
  • Dr Jennifer Nkuene Riria from Nairobi, who runs a micro-finance company that has made a significant effort to empower low-income women and their families in Kenya;
  • Tore Lærdal, who through his company, Laerdal Medical, has manufactured modern resuscitation services and solutions that have helped save hundreds of thousands of lives.

During a high-level event held today, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark highlighted the role of female business leaders in driving positive societal change as she announced this year's Business for Peace Honourees.

"This year's winners are exceptional role models who exemplify how ethical and responsible business action can drive positive societal change", said Clark in the press conference taking place at the Oslo City Hall.

The Award Ceremony will take place in Oslo City Hall on May 3 as part of the annual Business for Peace Summit. His Royal Highness Crown Prince Haakon will attend this year's event.

Past Business for Peace awardees include Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever; Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin Group and Ouided Bouchamaoui, Nobel Prize winner and ICC Tunisia Honorary Chairman.

Learn more about the Oslo Business for Peace Award.

 
Follow Oslo Business for Peace on Twitter @Businessworthy and #BfP.
 
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THERE is no justification in prematurely shutting down sand mining on Queensland’s North Stradbroke Island before a thorough economic transition plan has had enough time to offset the impacts on jobs, the economy and the local community, peak resources body AMMA has told a Queensland Government inquiry today.

The Queensland Government is holding an inquiry into its plans to shut down Sibelco’s sand mining on North Stradbroke by 2019, well before the employer’s proposed end date of 2027 that fell well within the previous state government’s proposed deadline of 2035.
 
AMMA argues that with the size and history of North Stradbroke Island, there is no reason why tourism can’t be ramped up over a longer, more sustainable transition period.
 
“North Stradbroke Island has a diversified economy where tourism and sand mining have effectively co-existed for more than 65 years,” says AMMA executive director, policy and public affairs, Scott Barklamb.
 
“The Queensland Government’s plan to reshape the island’s economy to one that relies primarily on tourism within a three-year timeframe and with just $20 million, is unrealistic at best and irresponsible at worst.
 
“Even if the government could attract significant private sector investment into new tourism infrastructure within this tight timeframe, there is no guarantee that visitation would increase dramatically enough to offset  the early shutdown of North Stradbroke’s major industrial sector.
 
“Expanded and higher spending North Stradbroke tourism is far from a sure bet, but what is certain is that forcing Sibelco off the island eight years early would cost at least $70 million and put hundreds of people out of work.”
 
In its detailed submission to the inquiry, AMMA also criticises the notion that long-serving sand mining employees would be able to take up new, yet-to-be created jobs in tourism on the island.
 
“Many of the theorised new tourism jobs are not going to easily translate into new opportunities for former sand mining employees. A chef or hotel manager, for instance, is unlikely to be recruited from Sibelco’s pool of experienced mining workers,” Mr Barklamb continues.
 
“It would appear the state government’s plan is for former mining employees to transition from full-time employment, many earning six figures, to seasonal or casual jobs like waiting tables.
 
“A highly truncated and premature closure date would harm the economy and community of North Stradbroke Island considerably, perhaps irreparably.”
 
AMMA urges the Queensland Government to engage further with industry, government, Indigenous groups and other community representative bodies to map out an agreed, sustainable transition for North Stradbroke’s economy to adjust.
 
“This would reduce reliance on an unrealistic immediate boost in the tourism sector and rather create a sensible, sustainable transition to the island’s long-term future without sand mining,” Mr Barklamb concludes.

AMMA (Australian Mines and Metals Association) is the peak employer group representing the national resource industry.

www.amma.org.au

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NOMINATIONS for the iAwards, Australia’s premier awards programme for innovation in the digital economy will close on March 31, 2016.

These awards recognise the best innovations and innovative projects from start-ups, mid-sized companies, students, government, corporate, research and academia.

The awards honour individuals and institutions that innovate to make a difference to society through solving a simple or complex solution.

Now in its 23rd year, the iAwards will offer over $75,000* in prize money across 11 categories.

Valuable business services and mentoring will also be made available to finalists as part of a renewed focus to support Australian innovation.

According to Rob Fitzpatrick, CEO, Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), the AIIA has focused on building a strong network of business mentors this year to support the finalists throughout the process.

“Australia is full of people who are brimming with great ideas, and who are able to reach out to those who’ve gone before them and are now willing to provide support and guidance to our nominees.

"Mentors contribute world-class experience across a whole range of business practices. AIIA is delighted this year to help our entrants benefit from the commercial and business experience of our mentors and to provide them with knowledge that will continue to support them as their ideas and businesses grow.”

The iAwards provide a great opportunity for smart and innovative Australian companies and individuals to compete on the basis of great ideas across a diverse pool of competitors.

“The iAwards opens up new horizons for emerging Australian innovations. This is the only awards programme that enables entrants to compete across all industry sectors based on the strength of their innovative idea. It’s rare to see a student innovation compete with a government or a large corporate innovation, and this is what makes the iAwards particularly exciting. All innovators are potential winners – regardless of industry."

Nominees must first win at the state award ceremonies to be eligible to compete at the national iAwards held in Melbourne this August.

Winners will be selected by a panel of 100+ high profile industry business professionals, who volunteer their time. All national and state winners will receive a range of business services from Gartner, UTS, Deloitte, Pym’s Technology Lawyers, KPMG and Grant Thornton.

The iAwards is hosted by the AIIA, a non-profit organisation run by members for members driving innovation in the digital industry. 

About the iAwards:

The iAwards honours both companies at the cutting edge of technology innovation as well as leading professionals across the Digital Economy. Most importantly, the iAwards recognises the achievements of home-grown Australian innovators.

http://www.iawards.com.au/

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ON this International Women’s Day, employers across Australia’s male-dominated resource industry now have a practical tool to implement greater flexible work arrangements in their workplaces and thus boost their ability to attract and retain more women within their ranks.

The Australian Women in Resources Alliance (AWRA) has launched its Guide to Flexible Work to help mining, oil and gas and related construction sector employers increase their workforce gender diversity.

“In recent years the Australian resource industry has overhauled its recruitment and human resources practices to diversify the skills and talent mix of its workforces. However, putting flexible work into practice at their operations remains a challenge for many employers,” says AWRA spokesperson Tara Diamond.

“Flexibility can be particularly challenging at resource industry workplaces that involve remote locations, projects operating on a 24-hour basis and often with health and safety rules restricting the practical ability to have multiple rosters or other options for flexible work.

“AWRA’s Guide to Flexible Work helps resource employers think outside the box and consider the broad range of modern flexible work options that may suite their workplaces and appeal to a greater pool of employees – both female and male – to ultimately benefit organisational culture and performance.”

AWRA is an industry initiative facilitated by peak employer group the Australian Mines and Metals Association (AMMA), and since 2011 has worked to increase women’s participation in the resource industry.  Its new Guide to Flexible Work is the latest in a long number of practical initiatives, and includes:

  • Advice on how to make flexibility work in the resource industry;
  • 13 types of flexible work options such as job sharing, teleworking, flexible hours and expanded leave;
  • Example workplace policies and templates;
  • Useful legal tips; and
  • Real case study examples of successful flexible work practices from across the resource industry.

The Australian Government has provided funding support to the AWRA initiative since its inception. Today, Minister for Employment and Minister for Women, Michaelia Cash, says a practical guide to implement flexible work policies will help open doors to women in the resource industry.

“I am delighted to endorse AWRA’s Guide to Flexible Work as an important practical tool to assist in the workplace flexibility practices of Australia’s resource industry employers,” Minister Cash says.

“With the jobs of the future set to be more flexible and agile, the ability for employers in male dominated industries to implement valuable and practical options for workplace flexibility will be vital to their success in attracting and retaining more diverse workforces.

“Through our strategic partnership with AMMA and its AWRA initiative, collectively we are helping remove barriers for women to enter the resource industry, and in particular increase their representation in on-site and operational roles.”

AWRA’s Guide to Flexible Work can be downloaded here.

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