Christine Milne


Joe Hockey set to repeal small business tax concessions

10:47AM | Tuesday, 29 October

A suite of business tax measures is to be repealed, but the Coalition government’s move is headed for a hostile Senate and Treasurer Joe Hockey needs ALP support to get his measures passed before July 2014.   The moves will wind back Gillard government changes that increased the threshold for asset write-offs and retrospective tax claims.   And incrementally increased super contributions for all employees will have a two-year pause in their introduction. A government co-contribution to the super of low-income earners will also be scrapped.   The measures were tied to the Minerals Resource Rent Tax, which Hockey has a mandate to scrap.   The Council of Small Business Australia chief executive Peter Strong said COSBOA had advised Hockey prior to the election not to repeal the tax breaks, because they were “good”.   “You don’t want confusion, because that impacts confidence. The best thing they can do is say the MRRT has to go through Parliament, but these measures will stay,” he said.   The reforms introduced in 2012-13 aimed to step-up super contributions from nine per cent to 12% by July 2019. The mandatory contributions have already risen to 9.25% but Hockey’s changes will delay their next step up to 9.5% until 2016.   “Any reductions in businesses’ overall wages bills would lower their operating costs, while employees could also receive more take-home pay in the near term,” the draft document states.   The bill also aims to repeal loss carry-back or the ability for businesses to claim up-to $1 million as a tax deduction on past years when they paid tax. Depending on tax rates and earnings, the move allowed loss-making companies huge rebates.   Another sweetener, which let businesses write-off assets up to $6500 and the first $5000 of vehicles in the financial year they were purchased will be dramatically pared down. Hockey has scrapped the vehicle write-down and made assets worth up-to $1000 deductible in the first financial year. Any others would be depreciated 15% in the first year and 30% each year after that.   Hockey said in a media release yesterday that the suite of changes would save the government $13 billion.   “The former government linked a number of spending measures to the failed MRRT. These came at a significant cost to the budget, to the point where the government is borrowing money to pay for these commitments,” he said.   CPA Australia backed Hockey’s repeals, saying they had been “telegraphed” prior to the election.   "There are certain initiatives that we like and that business likes – such as the $6500 instant asset write off for small business – but given the budget challenges, tough decisions need to be made," a CPA spokesperson said.   The exposure draft of the legislation is open for comment until October 31.   The legislation is to be introduced in federal Parliament in November.   Greens leader Christine Milne has said her party would not support the repeal of the MRRT.   “We should be making the [MRRT] more effective by increasing the rate and fixing up the loopholes created when Labor caved in to the big miners,” she said.   An official at ALP Leader Bill Shorten’s office said the party’s intentions would need to be debated at shadow cabinet, but they were opposed to a cut in the government’s contribution to low-income earner’s super.   This story first appeared on SmartCompany.

Tasmanian businesses running out of time for digital and creative hub: Senator

7:18AM | Monday, 1 July

A digital and creative innovation hub for Launceston, planned since 2010, has become a race against the clock for Tasmanian Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson.   Whish-Wilson told StartupSmart his team were confident in achieving federal funding for the Catalyst program after a series of positive talks, but the leadership spill and uncertain election date have made getting a commitment soon critical.   “We need to move really fast to get the funding because once the government has gone into caretaker mode they can’t approve any new funding. And your guess is good as mine when that election is going to be,” he says.   Whish-Wilson is seeking $3 million in federal funding to renovate and digitally equip a local council-owned space in Launceston, as a way to bring together the creative ICT and innovative companies in Tasmania.   The hub will be a co-working space with education and training programs, as well as mentoring.   “This is giving a face to all these creative businesses in the state that no one knows exist. It’ll be a beacon and a symbol to bring new opportunities,” Whish-Wilson says, adding that he had developed the Catalyst project after consulting with the local ICT industry.   “I asked the ICT industry what they wanted and what they needed. And they were really interested in getting what they called ‘serendipity spaces’ to draw people in for conversations and connection,” Whish-Wilson says.   “We’ve got a lot of really talented people here, but the industry doesn’t really have a face or recognition that it’s a serious contender for funds and creating new jobs and opportunities.”   Whish-Wilson first pitched the policy concept with Greens Leader Christine Milne in 2010. He said Tasmania had struggled to commercialise ideas, and the Catalyst project could play a key role in changing that.   “Christine said we weren’t going to support NBN without money put aside to commercially exploit it, and it’s especially important to do this in Tasmania, which is looking for new directions,” Whish-Wilson says.   Whish-Wilson says giving the creative and ICT industries in Tasmania a place to gather, connect and show off their work will encourage greater innovation and build a better culture for young people.

New start-up has fun with social media criticism from Greens leader

6:32AM | Friday, 21 June

Only a few months old and the trio behind Hate You Cards have gleefully returned fire via social media at Senator Christine Milne, leader of the federal Greens Party.   The exchange started after news of their AngelHack Sydney win was shared on Twitter.     The exchange hasn’t fazed the trio, who are set to fly to Silicon Valley in September for training and pitching opportunities.   David Boulton, one of the founders, told StartupSmart it’s led to an ongoing series of enjoyable Twitter spats for the brand.   “It didn’t bother us at all. Any press is good press right?” says Boulton. “We thought it was hilarious. We assumed she had no idea what our app was and she backed off when we responded.”   Hate You Cards sees users sending “playful abuse” to each other.   While the idea did emerge from a conversation about the lack of easy and technologically advanced ways to send hate mail, the team say it’s all about friendship and the Australian sense of humour.   “We’re not enabling bullying at all. It’s enabling friends to have a laugh together,” says Boulton.   They are working on how to adapt the app for the American market.   “We’re not sure how it’s going to be adopted overseas. From what we’re hearing, Americans are more cheer than sneer, so we’re thinking a more subtle version of the app. We’re planning maybe not the abusive one, maybe cheeky might work over there,” says Boulton.   The web app is currently in public beta, and Boulton says the team will be adding increased functionality to it, and launching the native phone app in the next few weeks.

THE NEWS WRAP: Milne calls on progressive businesses to form alliance

4:19PM | Sunday, 15 April

Newly-elected leader of the Australian Greens, Christine Milne, has declared that the Business Council of Australia and other industry groups are stuck in the last century, and ­progressive businesses must form an alliance to challenge their views on climate.

New Greens leader sets her sights on “progressive business”

4:45AM | Friday, 13 April

Newly elected Australian Greens leader Christine Milne wants to work with “progressive business” to tackle climate change, following the shock resignation of former leader Bob Brown.

Small firms to benefit from R&D changes

6:24AM | Thursday, 16 June

Small businesses will be the main beneficiaries of the Federal Government’s $1.8 billion R&D Tax Credit, thanks to a request by the Greens that small firms receive quarterly cash incentives.

THE NEWS WRAP: Twitter finalises $US40 million purchase of Tweetdeck

5:08AM | Wednesday, 25 May

Twitter is set to finalise its $US40 million purchase of UK-based start-up Tweetdeck, in a cash and shares deal.