NSW small business owners are encouraged to get on board with a new ‘Single Touch Payroll’ system that came into effect from July 1 for employers with less than 19 employees.

Minister for Finance and Small Business Damien Tudehope said the NSW Government had been helping businesses prepare for Single Touch Payroll with workshops through its Business Connect advisory service network.

“Single Touch Payroll is the new way of automatically reporting tax and super information to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and starts from 1 July 2019 for employers with 19 or less employees," he said.

“Employers will use Single Touch Payroll to electronically report their employees’ salaries and wages, pay as you go withholding tax, and superannuation information directly to the ATO each payday when they run their payrolls.

“Single Touch Payroll will benefit employers by streamlining payroll processes to reduce business costs and provide protections for staff by giving greater visibility to the ATO on unpaid superannuation or late payments.

“The new system will make completing paperwork easier for more than 250,000 businesses across the state by automating much of the payroll process and help them stay on top of their financial affairs. Each time you pay an employee and report through Single Touch Payroll, their tax and super information will be updated on the myGov website.

“The good news is the ATO advises there will be no penalties for mistakes or late reports for the first year, and if you are experiencing hardship or operate in an area with limited internet capabilities, there will be exemptions available,” Mr Tudehope said.

Michelle Smith, the office manager at Orange-based arborist business The Tree Surgeon, attended a workshop with Business Connect provider Central NSW Business HQ, which helped her implement Single Touch Payroll using Xero accounting software. 

“The workshop was very helpful and gave me the information and confidence I needed to implement Single Touch Payroll for our five staff ahead of 1 July,” she said.

Dean Squire, a former grain industry worker, who set up Cootamundra business Desi’s Fabrics and Blinds with his wife, attended a workshop with Business Connect provider BEC Advice South and West.

“Single Touch Payroll will be easier when doing our payroll as currently we manually do our tax and super each week and this will do it in one hit,” he said.

Small businesses that haven’t yet transitioned to Single Touch Payroll can visit ato.gov.au/stp for further information.

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HOSTPLUS and Club Super have jointly announced that they are in discussions in relation to a merger of the two superannuation funds.

The funds have entered into a memorandum of understanding to formally pursue discussions and undertake a comprehensive due diligence process, which is anticipated to lead to the two funds’ trustees signing a successor fund transfer deed approving the merger of Hostplus and Club Super.

As industry funds with a common member profit heritage and history, and focus on serving the hospitality, tourism, recreation and sporting sectors, both funds believe there is a strong alignment between the organisations which when combined are expected to deliver greater benefits and outcomes for their members.

Hostplus’ chief executive, David Elia, said today that this due diligence phase would allow both funds to more formally evaluate the merger proposal.

“We look forward to working with Club Super through this phase during which our funds’ members and their employers will continue to receive the same high-quality service and outcomes they have come to expect of us," he said.

“Along with Hostplus, we are keen to explore how a merger of our funds, based on shared values, our all profit to member philosophy and focus and track record in serving the hospitality, clubs and allied sectors, would better serve our members and stakeholders both here in Queensland and nationally”, Club Super chair, Sharron Caddie said.

Both funds confirmed that their respective members and employers will be kept informed of the outcomes of the funds’ discussions once the opportunity has been fully explored.

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“THE official interest rates for the second month running is to be welcomed and we urge lenders to fully share the reduction, especially for home loan and small business customers,” Master Builders Australia’s chief economist Shane Garrett said. 

“However, interest rates are only one ingredient of the economic growth recipe and progress must also be made in other areas to get the economy growing more quickly.

“We need to see the Parliament pass the Government’s full program of income tax cuts to put more money in people’s pockets and the confidence to spend,” Mr Garrett said. 

“Fast tracking the construction of infrastructure projects would provide a kick start for growth and boost confidence in the construction sector and the wider economy. 

“Small firms are the lifeblood of the Australian economy. To complement the rate cut the Government should continue loosening the burden of red tape and regulation, allowing small business to operate more freely,” Mr Garrett said.

www.masterbuilders.com.au

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THE Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell has welcomed the Prime Minister’s announcement that the Australian Government will take a fresh look at reinvigorating our workplace relations system.

“The Federal Government’s intention to review the workplace relations system is encouraging for the small business sector,” Ms Carnell said.

“The overwhelming view among small businesses is the legislation is far too complicated, particularly for those with less than 20 employees and no expert HR or legal departments.

 “We have already identified a number of simple steps to tackle the overly complex industrial relations system for small businesses that would make a real difference to the sector," she said.

“A key priority should be a review of the Small Business Fair Dismissal Code, to ensure there are adequate provisions to protect small business employers from an unfair dismissal claim when they have made every effort to do the right thing.

“We know that the current protections in place are not doing the job that was originally intended," Ms Carnell said.

“If this and other recommendations are implemented, it will level the playing field for small business who want to do the right thing and empower the Fair Work Ombudsman to deal with businesses that don’t.

“A clear and simple workplace relations system would be more user-friendly and give small business the boost in confidence they need to hire workers.  

 “We look forward to working closely with Attorney-General and Minister for Industrial Relations Christian Porter on the much-needed simplification of Australia’s workplace relations."

www.asbfeo.gov.au

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INDUSTRY superannuation funds stand ready to work with the Federal Government to drive productivity and help solve the nation’s energy crisis.

In a new discussion paper, Modernising electricity sectors, Industry Super Australia chief economist Stephen Anthony highlighted some of the challenges facing Australia’s energy network, and makes the case for industry fund intervention.

“While the climate debate rages on, Australia’s ageing energy infrastructure continues to fall further and further behind the rest of the world. Much of the heavy industry has already gone, costing jobs and driving power costs up even further,” Mr Anthony said.

“The failure to achieve a consensus framework for emissions abatement, coupled with the subsidisation of renewables has seen wholesale prices triple over the decade and volatility reach stratospheric levels.

“If this policy inertia continues, regulatory uncertainty will continue to rise, allowing some investors to capitalise on price movements and maximise public subsidies to game the market. Something has to give and this is where industry super funds come in.”

Industry Super Australia chair Greg Combet said industry super funds have the purpose and the capital to partner with government to drive productivity and develop long-term solutions to otherwise intractable economic problems.

“In the event of continued stand-offs on energy policy making, far-sighted industry super funds can play a role,” Mr Combet said.

“With the best interests of their members at heart, industry super funds have the purpose, and the capital, to work with the government to develop a long-term solution as investment partners.”

Mr Anthony said the consideration for investors and government shouldn’t be one of renewables versus coal, but what the right mix of technology is now, and into the future.

“There is no single simple solution to Australia’s energy trilemma right now. There is no reason to exclude any of the major technological contenders – solar, wind, combined-cycle gas, pumped and even nuclear – from the current or future energy mix,” he said.

“The existing fleet of baseload generators need replacing, while there must be an agreed pathway to progressively phase out coal-fired generators.

“This is where industry funds can contribute. They can pre-empt future government decision-making to fill potholes in grids, replace existing network capacity, or develop innovative financial products that better helps to manage risks both here and overseas,” he said.

“Industry funds stand ready to help – but if action isn’t taken, we risk failing generations of Australians.”

The report can be accessed at https://www.industrysuper.com/assets/deb18ac10c/Modernising-Electricity-Sectors.pdf

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THE RISK of poor demand for high-rise units is increasing as recent major issues in their construction impact the market.

In fact, RiskWise Property Research CEO Doron Peleg said the impact of the current situation with Mascot and Opal towers, combined with the NSW Government’s promise to conduct “the biggest shake-up of the construction industry that this state has ever seen” could be so great it would likely result in a structural change in demand of units in high-rise buildings.

He said as experts believe thousands of high-rise buildings could be at risk of cracking due to systemic issues in the building and construction industry, as well as recent fears of combustible cladding, the effect could be far reaching as investors look for other, safer, opportunities. He added that NSW Government’s plan to employ a building industry commissioner to look at accountability, transparency and the quality of buildings under construction was likely to have a major impact on the cost, and consequently, on the dwelling types, configuration and the target audience.

“Due to cracks showing in high rises such as Sydney’s Mascot and Opal towers, the uncertainty that more will become apparent in other buildings and the need to replace cladding in thousands of buildings, all of which could amount to billions and billions of dollars, its highly likely the demand for units will well and truly drop,” Mr Peleg said.

“Also, these high-profile issues have created a huge ‘reputational damage’ across the entire industry, as the typical buyers often struggle to understand the quality of the development and might chose instead of avoid exposure to such investments.

“If you combine these recent quality issues with financial losses from investment in high-rise units, this could amount to a permanent structural change in this demand for units in high-rise buildings.

“We already have significantly reduced levels of demand due to restrictions on foreign investors, credit restrictions, banks refusing to loan to self-managed super funds and local investors looking elsewhere.

“Add to that the high level of unit oversupply and it’s possible to see how structural changes could occur in a sense that the overall demand for off-the-plan dwellings will shift from units to house-and-land packages.

“Another potential impact could be that other state governments will follow NSW and introduce very high standards and supervising of new dwellings. That might create a situation that in order to have a feasible project, developers might need to build smaller developments, at a materially higher cost per square metre.”

He said developers were already struggling to meet pre-sales and / or sales targets in areas where there were high levels of stock and many had not proceeded to commencement.

Units in the pipeline for the next 24 months Australia-wide equate to 8.4 percent of current stock, while in Sydney, only 6 percent (121 units) of stock sold in the three months to December and in Melbourne, 9 percent (230 units) sold (Urbis).

HIA also reports sales for off-the-plan properties were down by 16.4 percent from last year during the three months to January nationwide.

“Given the existing demand for off-the-plan units in high rises is already low, high-profile events such as those in the Mascot and Opal towers, will only have a further impact,” Mr Peleg said.

“Without demand from investors, and other buyers, you don't have pre-sales or sales and the entire development is at risk. 

“The key message here for developers and construction lenders is that there is greater supply than demand for investment properties, which are mainly aimed at renters, so it follows that the focus should be on properties that are suitable for owner-occupiers and appeal to families.

“Generally, developers are seeking high profitability but that doesn't really work now because the risks are significantly higher, and the losses could be very substantial. So, it is better to focus on smaller unit blocks with larger apartments in areas that are popular amongst families.

“The quality issues and new requirements from the NSW Government that are likely to be copied by the other states, might lead to greater costs and higher risks, particularly for high-rise developments. In addition, it’s likely insurance premiums for developers would also go up.”

He said while it was “a bit early” to determine definitively if there would be a structural change in demand for units in high rises, there remained red flags and risk indicators developers needed to take into consideration before proceeding.

“You cannot simply ignore these risks and, at least in the foreseeable future, the focus should be on family-suitable properties,” he said.

www.riskwiseproperty.com.au

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MTAA Super and Tasplan have entered into a binding Memorandum of Understanding to investigate a merger of the two funds, which if successful would create a national superannuation fund with more than $22 billion in Funds under Management and 328,000 members.

Tasplan is a multi-industry profit-for-members super fund, managing $9.5 billion in assets for members Australia-wide, while MTAA Super is a national industry-based super fund that has served the motor trades and allied industries for 30 years, managing close to $13 billion.

The MOU will allow a potential merger to be thoroughly assessed by all parties, with the best interests of members being the key deciding factor.

Fund Chairs, Naomi Edwards of Tasplan, and John Brumby of MTAA Super, said this was an exciting opportunity to create one fund that would provide services nationally to the combined membership, with priority on providing quality services and outcomes for members.

“We anticipate that the increased scale will deliver efficiencies that can be passed on to members by way of product and service improvement, competitive fees and returns,” Ms Edwards and Mr Brumby said.

“While there is still much work to be done, we are excited by the prospect of building a fund of significant scale, enjoying widespread national membership and offering further improvements in benefits to our members over time.”

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THE NSW Emergency Services Levy Insurance monitor, Allan Fels, has today issued guidelines to insurers to prevent consumers being over-charged Emergency Services Levies.

Emergency Services Levies (ESL) are added to premiums by insurers to recover the contributions they are required to make to help meet the costs of the emergency services providers in NSW.

Professor Fels warned insurers that the Monitor would be closely scrutinising insurers to ensure consumers were not charged excessive amounts.

“The guidelines send a clear warning to insurers that the Monitor will use its statutory information gathering powers to obtain all the data it needs to make these assessments," Prof. Fels said.

“And we will require an auditors’ review report in relation to this data to ensure NSW consumers are not overcharged on their insurance.”

If there is any over-collection, the Monitor will require that refunds are made to policy holders, or if this is impracticable that the over-collection is returned to the Chief Commissioner of State Revenue.

“Whilst over-collection may be inadvertent, this does not relieve insurers of the requirement to make good on any over-collection amount,” Prof. Fels said.

Most insurers are well-aware of the Monitor’s scrutiny of over-collections in the past and have been cautious to avoid collecting more than they are authorised.

However, in 2015-116 and 2016-17 the Monitor identified over $1.6 million in over-collections.

Five smaller insurers were referred to the Chief Commissioner of State revenue for debt recovery action for amounts totalling $29,468.

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MUMS AND DADS at home on parental leave, and other Australians taking a break from the workforce, only have four days left to check if they’re affected by changes to super and insurance coming into effect on 1 July.

Industry Super Australia chief executive Bernie Dean urged Australians to get in touch with their super fund if they were concerned about changes to their insurance and check if they will be affected.

The changes, part of the Federal Government’s Protecting Your Super package, will see the automatic consolidation of all low balance ($6,000 and less), inactive accounts to the ATO, and the cancellation of insurance attached to all super accounts that have been inactive for 16 months or more.

Mr Dean said while the changes should deliver significant boosts to people’s super balances, there were some catches to look out for.

“There are some real positives for people in these changes and we expect to see more money for consumers as multiple accounts are consolidated and insurance on those old accounts cancelled,” Mr Dean said.

“There’s a few catches people should be aware of though, especially the parents or others out there who might have been out of the paid workforce for a while and haven’t had any super contributions.

“Getting insurance through your super can be really cost effective and a good way for people to get covered where they might not otherwise be able to afford it, but it can also see super balances eroded if people are paying for premiums for insurance they don’t need.”

Mr Dean said super funds have been contacting members letting them know about the changes, and how to keep their insurance attached to their account if they want to.

“With only days to go until the changes kick in, this is one of those times people really need to think about their super and not throw the letter from their fund straight in the bin, or mark the email as spam,” he said.

“Straightening it out is easy – if you decide you do want to continue the insurance cover, just let your super fund know.

“If you’re worried or don’t know if you’ll be affected give your super fund a call. With only days to go until 1 July it’s vital people get engaged with their super now and don’t put it off to another day.”

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SUBMISSIONS are open now for the inaugural Trans-Tasman Innovation and Growth Awards, a showcase of emerging businesses in Australia and New Zealand that demonstrate outstanding innovation, growth and impact.

Regional Development Australia is encouraging innovative small-to-medium businesses throughout Australia to enter the awards.

According to RDA, eligible applicants will have:

  • secured investor funding and a market cap under $A100 million
  • established strong roots in Australia and New Zealand
  • a compelling growth story to share.

Four winners will each receive a $20,000 cash prize, media exposure and an exclusive alumni package of corporate support – including funding to participate in two 2020 summits.

Submissions close July 5, 2019.

For more information: https://www.accenture.com/au-en/about/events/trans-tasman-innovation-growth-award

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THURSDAY June 27, is World MSME DAY celebrating the existence of millions of micro and small to medium enterprises around the world and the Institute of Public Accountants (IPA) says we should all celebrate.

According to the data provided by the International Council for Small Business (ICSB), formal and informal micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) make up over 90 percent of all firms and account on average for 60-70 percent of total employment and 50 percent of GDP.

The General Assembly of the United Nations, in recognition of the importance of the sector, declared June 27 the Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Day to raise public awareness of their contribution to the global economy and sustainable development.

“We all know of the critical role that small business plays not just in Australia but across the globe,” said IPA chief executive officer, Andrew Conway.

“With some 75 percent of our members servicing small business or being small businesses in their own right, it is certainly worthy of celebration.

“Our Australian Small Business White Paper aims to create better policy outcomes to strengthen small business productivity which is essential for our economic prosperity and protection of the living standards we currently enjoy,” Mr Conway said.

www.publicaccountants.org.au

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. 

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