Business and Finance

  • corporate training

    Five reasons to move your corporate training online

    Employees are said to be an organisation’s most important asset. Which is why a considerable amount of time and resources is spent training them. But what if there was a more flexible option that increased va... more
  • wellbeing

    Five facts to know before implementing a wellbeing program

    Before businesses start on a new workplace wellbeing program, they should consider five facts to make sure they are helping, not hindering employees. Research from the Workplace Wellbeing report, based on a ... more
  • upskilling

    Millennials say upskilling means more money

    Upskilling keeps you relevant and employable in the face of the Fourth Industrial Revolution’s rapid rate of workplace change, but a survey by recruiting experts Hays shows the majority (71%) of Millennials a... more
  • Trust

    Trust crucial to business success for directors

    Australian directors overwhelmingly believe trust is important for their organisations’ sustainability – over 62 percent believe their board can adequately challenge management on how to respond to issues t... more

Caution to investors looking to uranium

Investor, Modern Energy Expert and Author of ‘My Electrician Drives a Porsche?’, Gianni Kovacevic cautions investors looking to uranium. Mr Kovacevic – speaking ahead of his appearance at Mines and Money Asia in Hong Kong this April – said it is becoming more and more difficult to see serious long-term demand for the commodity. “There are 447 nuclear reactors and investors are always told about the 60 reactors under construction and the some 200 hundred that are ‘proposed’ and ‘planned’,” he said. “What they usually fail to mention, are the 300 reactors, of the 447, that are over 30 years old. Or, the 85 reactors in the USA that were extended, again, to 2034 as the cost to shut them down is so punitive. “India derives 2.1% of their electricity from nuclear and China about 3.0%.  The facts have changed, and they are taking an all options approach, and ... more

New registration requirements for non-licensed electricity providers in Victoria

In November 2017, the Victorian Government published an update to the General Exemption Order1(GEO) which will come into operation on 1 April 20182. The updated GEO changes the regulatory framework in relation to the exemptions which apply to the generation, supply or sale of electricity in Victoria. In addition to changes to the exemptions which apply to such activities, the GEO update also introduced new requirements which apply to those who engage in the supply and sale of electricity, providers under solar power purchase agreements and community energy projects which seek exemption under the GEO (non-licensed electricity providers). One of the key new requirements is that most of the non-licensed electricity providers will be required to register for exempt activities in a new public register which will be established by the Essential Services Commission (ESC). The purpose of t... more

ASIC takes action against mining giant for misleading and deceptive conduct

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has commenced legal proceedings in the Federal Court in Sydney against Rio Tinto Limited (RTL) and its former Chief Executive Officer, Mr Thomas Albanese, and its former Chief Financial Officer, Mr Guy Elliott. The proceedings relate to statements which ASIC alleges were misleading or deceptive contained in the RTL annual report for 2011 which was signed on 5 March 2012 and published on 16 March 2012. In December 2010, RTL announced a takeover offer for Riversdale Mining Limited (ASX:RIV) (Riversdale) which was completed in August 2011 at a total cost of over US$4 billion. Following the acquisition RTL delisted Riversdale and renamed it Rio Tinto Coal Mozambique (RTCM). ASIC alleges that RTL engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct by publishing statements in the 2011 annual report, signed by Mr Albanese and Mr Elliott, ... more

Bill for financial assurance and mine rehabilitation in Queensland

Submissions are being sought on the Mineral and Energy Resources (Financial Provisioning) Bill 2018, reintroduced to Parliament on 15 February 2018, which seeks to establish a new financial assurance system for resources projects in Queensland. The Mineral and Energy Resources (Financial Provisioning) Bill 2017 lapsed on the calling of last year's Queensland election, however, it was reintroduced, with some modifications, to Parliament on 15 February 2018. Brief overview of the Bill The explanatory notes to the Bill identify the following key policy objectives: manage the financial risk to the State if mineral and energy resource tenure holders do not comply with their environmental management and rehabilitation obligations; and ensure that land disturbed by mining activities is rehabilitated to a safe and stable landform that does not cause environmental harm, and can s... more

Oil majors adapt to low oil prices

Oil majors, including Shell, Total and BP, have broadly adapted to oil prices under USD60/bbl thanks to improved spending discipline, cost deflation and lower cash dividends, Fitch Ratings says. The companies all generated neutral-to-positive free cash flows in 2017 (after dividends, before M&A), according to their recently released annual results. Developments in their credit quality will largely depend on their ability to preserve financial flexibility, as oil prices are likely to remain volatile. Despite Brent averaging just USD55/bbl in 2017, free cash flow before working capital changes ranged from minus USD0.5/bbl for BP to USD6.6/bbl for Total, significantly better than in previous years. Oil majors used to burn cash even when oil prices exceeded USD100/bbl, as they were less operationally efficient and more capital-intensive. In 2013, when Brent averaged USD109/bbl, maj... more

Australian Government further tightens FIRB Controls

In early 2016, the Australian Government announced the introduction of new standard tax conditions and appeared to indicate that the conditions would be applied universally to all foreign investment approvals. Later that year, the Government released guidance which clarified that the conditions would not be applied in all cases—the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) would target foreign investors that pose a risk to Australia's revenue.  In January 2017, the Australian Government established the Critical Infrastructure Centre ("Centre") to undertake assessments of critical public and privately owned infrastructure focussing initially on power, ports and water. The Treasurer of Australia has now codified the imposition of further conditions on the electricity sector by announcing that, from 1 February 2018, all future applications for the sale of electricity transmission and dis... more

WA’s iron ore industry sees a lift in sales

Western Australia is the largest iron ore producer and exporter in the world, accounting for 38 per cent of global production and 53 per cent of global seaborne exports in 2016. The Pilbara region accounted for 95 per cent of Australia’s iron ore exports in 2016-17. The iron ore industry is a large part of Western Australia’s economy, accounting for 62 per cent of the value added by its mining industry and 18 per cent of its gross state product in 2016-17. Western Australia exports all of its iron ore production because iron ore is used almost exclusively for steel making and there is no major steel production in Australia. Western Australia’s iron ore producers invested tens of billions of dollars in new mines and associated rail and port infrastructure in response to growth in Chinese steel production over the past decade. As a result, Western Australia’s iron ore production... more

New WA investment to pursue new industries

The New Industries Fund is a $16.7 million fund over four years that will support and accelerate new and emerging businesses to diversify the Western Australian economy and create new WA jobs and industries.  The New Industries Fund was a central part of the Plan for Jobs, and is a $16.7 million fund over four years that will support and accelerate new and emerging businesses to diversify the Western Australian economy and create new WA jobs and industries. The fund will support and grow local jobs by building on Western Australia’s competitive advantages in sectors like agribusiness, life sciences, tourism, resources, education and training, space, defence, digital data and cybersecurity, both in Perth and in the regions. It will support a self-sustaining innovation environment that maximises State and Commonwealth agency collaboration and private sector investment. E... more

Bill to encourage co-existence of landholders and resource companies

Introduced to the Queensland Parliament in August, the Palaszczuk Government's Mineral, Water and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2017 (Bill) had not been passed by the time of November's election. If revived, it will change the rules that govern relationships between landholders and resource companies seeking access to private land. By introducing new mechanisms to encourage resource companies and landholders to reach agreement, the Bill should minimise the number of land access negotiations stalling and being referred to the Land Court. Further, it will give landholders more certainty around the circumstances in which their costs will be paid by the resource company. Unfortunately, it also contains a few surprises detrimental to landholders' interests. Exhausting the possibility of reaching agreement The Bill proposes to introduce a new right for either a landholder or resour... more

It’s time to accelerate a system wide grid plan as the basis for energy market reform

This last week saw two significant milestones achieved in the energy sector. Firstly, the commitment at the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Energy Minister’s meeting in Hobart on 24 November 2017 to progress the design of the National Energy Guarantee (NEG) could be a policy turning point for the nation. There finally appears willingness to at least discuss the disputed and last of the 50 recommendations from the Finkel Review. And of course, the completion milestone at the Tesla/Neoen 100 MW-battery facility in South Australia is remarkable because of the direct link to the security and reliability objectives of the NEG irrespective of how the market manages carbon emission reduction. What makes the 100 MW-facility unique is not just the record-breaking time in which it was conceived and constructed. It isn’t the fact that it’s the largest battery in the world or... more

Processing times for 457 visa applications increasing

A recent industry liaison meeting revealed that processing times for Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (457) applications has now stretched to as much as 5 months due to a combination of staffing restraints, changes to the regulations, and high application volumes. In addition, the Department’s recent approach of requesting more detailed supporting documents to satisfy ‘caveats’ and genuine position criteria has complicated matters. The Department’s approach of issuing wide ranging ‘Requests for Further Information’ which arguably go beyond the scope of the regulations is worsening processing times and creating an additional layer of complexity to applications. For example, the Department’s requests for details of all employees, or a business’ personal details (such as names and citizenship status), are potentially invasive and breach the privacy of employees who are u... more