The office of Prime Minister Tony Abbott advised Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull to slow the mass resignations from the NBN Co board earlier this week, according to media reports. The revelation follows the mass resignation of NBN Co directors earlier this week, with the Prime Minister’s office urging resignations in an orderly fashion. “I asked for their resignations. We had a discussion with the chairman [Siobhan McKenna] and she was very amenable and understanding that the incoming government would expect to have maximum flexibility in terms of dealing with the board,” Turnbull said. Nine eyes December IPO Nine Entertainment is planning a $3 billion listing before the end of year, as the company completes the purchase of its Perth affiliate from WIN Television. The purchase follows a similar deal to buy the network’s Adelaide affiliate from WIN earlier this year, along with the sale of the company’s magazine arm to German media group Bauer. “Following detailed discussions with WIN proprietor Bruce Gordon and the completion of due diligence requirements, we are now in a position to finalise the contracts on this pivotal deal for the Nine Network,” Nine Entertainment chief executive David Gyngell says. The IPO is set to be conducted by UBS, Morgan Stanley and Macquarie. Peter Anderson to stand aside as ACCI chief Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Peter Anderson has announced he is stepping down from the role in January, after serving with the group for 12 years, including six as its main spokesperson. "I have not sought an alternate role in the public or private sector, nor had one offered," Anderson said. "I have no current plans other than to complete my service on a high note and then ride my bicycle from north to south Thailand for charity in the month after my departure." Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 0.43% to 15334.59. The Aussie dollar is down to US93.89 cents.
The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry today rolled out the next phase of its "Small business too big to ignore" campaign. "The BIG 4 You Can't Ignore" was launched by ACCI chief executive Peter Anderson at the National Press Club in Canberra. The BIG4 campaign calls on the government and Coalition to cut red tape, simplify the tax system, make it easier to employ people and build better infrastructure. Anderson said government regulation is extremely damaging to small businesses and they were at a tipping point. "Our tax and finance systems are impossible for the average small business person to understand and comply with," he said in a statement. Richard Clancy, executive director of the Victorian Employers Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told SmartCompany the campaign articulates what small businesses are saying and allows others join the conversation. "What it does is highlight what small businesses are saying. One of the things that has become obvious is that a lot of small businesses are overworked and they often feel that their issues and concerns aren't being heard," he says. The online campaign advertisements feature real business owners discussing the hardship and concerns the current system presents small businesses. Many of the people complain about penalty rates and how these high rates stop them from being able to open their businesses at peak periods, such as nights and public holidays. Anderson said telling the stories of real people, rather than using actors and models, was integral to the campaign and its mission. "It's a message not built on actors, not set by scripts, but carved out by the authenticity and rawness of real small business people and their stories," he said. The campaign's latest move is an attempt to garner support and attention for the plight of small businesses from the Coalition and the government in the lead up to September's election. Anderson previously told SmartCompany the campaign is giving small businesses the opportunity to have their voices heard in unison. "Small business plays a big part in what's happening...and we want to make sure small business has a voice across the country. That's what the campaign is about – making sure small business is heard in this election campaign." Anderson says getting noticed before the election is not the sole aim of the campaign. "I say to the politicians of all political persuasions, something real is happening in the political landscape, starting in our suburb and towns, and it will go beyond 14th September," he said. The campaign has already attracted public support with 22,121 people signing a petition. Small business owners, employers and those who are concerned about the plight of small businesses in Australia can "add their voice" to the campaign online. This story first appeared on SmartCompany.
The business community has welcomed a new direct currency trading deal between Australia and China, but an entrepreneur says there are still key challenges facing Australian start-ups keen to strike partnerships within the economic powerhouse. Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced the Australian currency will be directly traded and converted with the Chinese currency. Under the agreement, the Australian dollar will be directly convertible into Chinese yuan, easing costs for companies. China only has deals of a similar nature with the United States and Japan. ANZ and Westpac are the first two Australian banks licensed to handle the conversion in China. The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry welcomed the move, with chief executive Peter Anderson saying: "Making it easier to do business often involves a myriad of small steps, of which today's announcement is just one, but an important and welcome one." Speaking at the China Executive Leadership Academy in Shanghai, Gillard said the deal “reflects the rapid growth of our bilateral trade and the value of two-way investment”. Peter Anderson, chief executive of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said in a statement the agreement is a boost to exporting businesses. “Whilst developing commercial and trading relationships in China requires the long-term relationships and business plans, the opportunity for direct currency conversion removes an obstacle,” Anderson said. “There is potential benefit not just to major resource industry investors, but also small and medium enterprises, such as Australian professional services companies.” According to Jim Vrondas, OzForex chief currency and payment strategist for the Asia-Pacific, the agreement could save small businesses thousands of dollars in exchange fees every year. “It would cut costs, due to no longer having two separate conversion fees,” Vrondas said in a statement. “Savings could be somewhere in excess of 1%, so for an Australian importer sending AUD1 million into CNY [yuan] at the moment, it could be a $10k saving.” But Dean Ramler, co-founder of online furniture retailer Milan Direct, which uses Chinese manufacturers to replicate European designs, says there are still challenges facing Australian start-ups in China. Here are Ramler’s top three potential hurdles faced by Aussie start-ups. Changing working conditions “Payment conditions have changed in the last five or six years,” Ramler says. “It used to be a low cost manufacturing base in China but no so anymore. Material costs have gone up, wages have gone up. “At the same time, the Australian market is seeing new competitors in the market every week. “Milan Direct was the first online seller of furniture six years ago. Today there might be 100 competitors… The price point is going down but the cost is going up.” Fewer niche operators “I think China’s caught onto the fact that anything they make, somebody’s going to buy it,” Ramler says. “I’ve seen factories that one week are selling timber furniture and the next week they’re making kitchen products… [They] don’t specialise in anything. “Everyone who quits their day job wants to be an online entrepreneur. They’re starting up online without having any passion for the product and just ordering containers off the internet. “The big shock comes when the consumers are really smart, and demand amazing products at amazing prices. “If start-up entrepreneurs don’t have a background in quality, the customer will be really disappointed, so you have to be careful there.” The slow burn “Chinese businesspeople value relationships first before doing business,” Ramler says. “If you want to be a long-term successful company in Australia, it’s definitely important that you continue speaking to all different factories in Asia every month. “With one factory, we were speaking to them for four years before we placed our first order… You really have to spend the time on the ground in China and Asia, and work together.”
The country's banking regulator has said it will start cracking down on banks if it believes lending standards have become too relaxed, as some reports have indicated, but business leaders say SMEs are still strapped for cash.
Two weeks after his appointment, Chris Bowen has finally spoken up as the country's newest small business minister, but his criticism of the Coalition's small business policies hasn't been wholly accepted by the community he has been chosen to represent.
Business leaders have criticised the federal government's proposal to have workplace bullying complaints heard by the Fair Work Commission, saying the move will increase confusion and encourage "forum shopping".
The federal government has solidified its plans to expand flexible working standards, with Prime Minister Julia Gillard confirming legislation will change to allow victims of domestic abuse to request different working hours.
Small business has expressed its hesitation over the federal government's planned expansion of flexible workplace laws, saying they could threaten the viability of businesses in certain industries and place undue pressure on struggling SMEs.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s surprise announcement about this year’s federal election has been welcomed by the business community for giving “certainty” to small firms.
Businesses are critical of the limited change to unfair dismissal provisions announced by the Federal Government yesterday, claiming unions have been effectively given a "veto right" on reform.
Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten today offered limited relief on unfair dismissal laws to business but the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry says the reforms are unlikely to go far enough.
The peak small business group is calling for changes to workplace rules that would see award rates determined by the size of a business rather than the industry it is in.
A review into the Fair Work industrial relations scheme has been branded “bitterly disappointing” by employers, after an independent panel decided against recommending any major reforms of workplace laws.
Business and industry groups are urging Fair Work Australia to reject a claim for the minimum wage to be lifted by $26 a week, calling for a more “modest” approach to award wages.
Business and industry groups have welcomed the Federal Budget’s return to surplus but have questioned Treasurer Wayne Swan’s long-term vision for enterprise, with the decision to dump the promised company tax cut provoking ire.
The Federal Government’s tax loss carry-back scheme has taken centre stage at the 2012 Federal Budget, but most companies will have to wait until around 2014 in order to cash in.
The Reserve Bank has answered the prayers of the business sector, lowering the cash rate by 50 basis points to 3.75%, but experts aren’t convinced the big banks will pass on the rate cut in full.
Consumer sentiment is at its lowest level since August last year, according to the Westpac-Melbourne Institute of Consumer Sentiment, which recorded a 1.6% fall in consumer sentiment in April to 94.5 index points.
Employers will face a three-pronged pay push in coming months as unions seek pay increases for adult apprentices and other workers, while junior retail workers could also receive a pay rise.
Business groups have welcomed Brendan O’Connor’s appointment as Small Business Minister, but expect the former union official to quickly get to work on meaningful reforms in the sector, especially when it comes to cutting red tape.