Business and Finance

  • OECD report highlights low taxes are key to competitiveness

    The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)'s recently released Corporate Tax Statistics report details that Australia’s marginal effective corporate tax rate is on the upper end in co... more
  • battery

    Expanding opportunities for New Energy Minerals in Australia

    The era of electric vehicles (EVs) and other battery-powered technology has also ushered in the age of 'new energy minerals'. The International Energy Agency's 2018 World Energy Outlook, in its core scenario, s... more
  • compliance

    Report shows non-compliant employers continue to offend

    The Fair Work Ombudsman's October 2018 Report (Report) into National compliance reinforces one or two truisms that are unfortunately part of the baggage that continues to burden our industrial relations system.... more
  • Waste

    Trash to treasure: Waste to energy opportunities abound

    A perfect storm of factors has culminated in a tipping point for the waste to energy (WtE) sector in Australia giving it a chance to emerge as a key part of the country's energy and waste management future. ... more

ALP alternative renewables policies to the National Energy Guarantee

The Australian Labor Party (ALP) recently confirmed that, should it win the 2019 Federal election, the ALP will adopt the National Electricity Guarantee (NEG) and increase the NEG's emissions reduction target to 45 per cent by 2030. With the Coalition no longer officially pursuing the NEG, bipartisan agreement to the NEG with an increased emissions reduction target appears doubtful. Accordingly the ALP announced last week a series of alternative renewables policies to sit beside the NEG, including: injecting a further $10 billion in capital over five years into the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (established by the Australian Government to invest in renewable energy, energy efficient projects and low emissions technologies) to fund more projects establishing a $5 billion Energy Security and Modernisation Fund to upgrade transmission and distribution infrastructure across the... more

Sale campaign for assets of Mirabela Nickel is successful

The receivers and managers (the Receivers) of Mirabela Nickel Ltd (In Liquidation) (Receivers and Managers Appointed) (MBN) provide an overview and update of the sale process that they have conducted in relation to the assets of MBN. In late 2015, the Receivers commenced an extensive international sale process for the assets of MBN including MBN's shareholding in Mirabela Mineração do Brasil Ltda (MMB) and its related assets, The sale campaign did not result in any offers for the Assets that were capable of acceptance. Following this, the Receivers engaged in extensive negotiations with an ad hoc group of noteholders of MBN (the Ad Hoc Group) to reach an agreement for the sale or recapitalisation of the Assets. The Ad Hoc Group were ultimately unable to deliver a bid that was capable of implementation. In early 2017, following a rebound in the global demand for Nickel assets, the... more

The National Electricity Guarantee – dead or deadish?

The last few months have been a tumultuous time for the renewables sector. The federal government has recently moved away from the proposed National Electricity Guarantee (NEG) and it is not clear what will replace it in the near future. What was the NEG? The Large-scale Renewable Energy Target (LRET) is intended to incentivise the development of renewable energy though the creation and sale of large-scale generation certificates (LGCs). Recent predictions indicate that, at the current rate of investment, a sufficient number of LGCs will exist to meet the requirements of the LRET by around 2020. The NEG was, amongst other things, intended to help drive renewable investment going forward and to compensate for a future slowing demand for LGCs. The NEG was a long-term outcome of significant consultations by the Energy Security Board and a central policy platform of the Turnbull fed... more

Navigating unlawful interview questions

An interview provides an employer with an opportunity to get to know prospective employees and assess their suitability for employment. Often, there are many questions an employer wants to ask a prospective employee – however care should be taken to avoid questions which can later be relied on by the interviewee to mount legal claims. Under both federal and state legislation, it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a prospective employee based on a protected characteristic. A protected characteristic includes race, sex, sexual orientation, age, disability, marital status, family responsibility, pregnancy, religion, ethnicity and political opinion. Where a prospective employee considers they have been discriminated against, they may bring legal claims asserting breaches of anti-discrimination legislation, or the general protections provisions of the Fair Work Act 20... more

Whistleblower protections to go ahead

South Australians who blow the whistle on corruption or maladministration in the public sector will have greater protections under reforms which have now passed State Parliament. The laws enable people to pass on confidential information to Members of Parliament, and importantly journalists, where it is in the public interest, relates to environmental or public health or involves public administration. Attorney General, Vickie Chapman said the new whistleblower protection laws would strengthen transparency and accountability in government. “If a public servant identifies an issue that should be investigated, they should be able to pass information on to the relevant authorities without fear of reprisal,” Ms Chapman said. “These laws will ensure that whistleblowers will not be subject to liability, as a result of their actions. “If an authority hasn’t responded to... more

Significant mine worker safety and health changes passed – and more to come

The Mines Legislation (Resources Safety) Amendment Bill 2018 (Bill) was passed by the Queensland Parliament on 31 October 2018. The Bill was supported by both the Government and the Opposition. As a result, significant changes to the Coal Mining Safety and Health Act 1999 (Qld) (CMSHA) and the Mining and Quarrying Safety and Health Act 1999 (Qld) (MQSHA) will be made that will affect, among other things, duties of officers, reporting requirements for mine worker diseases, reporting defects and hazards affecting plant and substances, incorporating contractor and service provider plans and increasing penalties and inspector powers. The changes will come into effect on assent from the Governor, with some minor amendments about requirements for ventilation officers to commence on a date to be fixed by proclamation. Arising out of recommendations made by the Education, Employment and... more

FIFO worker engaged as a casual entitled to annual leave

A FIFO worker who was purportedly engaged as a ‘casual’ under an enterprise agreement has successfully claimed an entitlement to annual leave under both the National Employment Standards (NES) and the terms of the enterprise agreement. The full Federal Court decision in WorkPac Pty Ltd v Skene [2018] FCAFC 131 opens the way for further claims by employees who are engaged as casuals but work regular and consistent hours.  Designation as a "casual" and payment of a casual loading are not determinative  In this case, the employee: was engaged by labour-hire company WorkPac as a ‘casual’ in the employment terms and conditions, which included an enterprise agreement; consistently worked 12 hour shifts over an approximately 2 year period on a '7 days on, 7 days off' roster that was set 12 months in advance; was provided with flights and accommodation at no cost un... more

The cost of coming back: a better deal for working mothers

More than 125,000 returning-to-work Australian mums are actually financially worse off by increasing their working days above three days a week, a new report from KPMG Australia, The cost of coming back: achieving a better deal for working mothers, has found. Others – particularly at the lower end of the income scale - gain hardly at all by working more days. KPMG Australia Chairman Alison Kitchen said the report has found that for a couple earning the minimum wage, the mother is effectively working for just $2.50 an hour on the additional days if she increases her working days beyond three a week. "This is a worrying situation." She said this outcome was due to the interaction between the Australian tax, family payments, and childcare subsidy systems creating punishing disincentives for working mothers at all income levels, and exacerbating the effects of wider social biases ... more

Large opportunities to come from Australia-India trade

Strong economic growth in India and increased demand for Australian mineral resources and mining equipment, technology and services (METS) are forecast to generate big opportunities for both countries while presenting significant challenges for doing business. The latest report in the Minerals Council of Australia's (MCA) New Frontiers project based on research by Trading Nation Consulting outlines good prospects for resources trade and solid engagement between Australia and India on mining-related investment - mostly based on METS. Within a decade, India will be the world’s most populous country and by mid-century it could be the world’s second-biggest economy. Australia already has close links with India in several other industries such as trade, tourism and sport, but mining and mining services are key sectors where this relationship can be expanded. According to the repo... more

Investment in Australian startups continues to hit new highs

Australia’s startup sector has yet again enjoyed a quarter of growth in venture capital, according to KPMG’s Venture Pulse Q3 2018. Q3 2018 totalled US$317 million across 27 deals, exceeding every other quarter in the dataset excepting Q2 2014. Key Australian deals involved Judo Capital, Airwallex, Culture Amp, Flare, Gilmour Space Technologies, Simple, AgriWebb and GO1. Software dominated investor interest, with five out of the top eight deals being business productivity, financial or educational software. "Most importantly, that rate of growth, despite sliding volume in terms of total deals closed, indicates the ongoing health of the Australian venture ecosystem," Amanda Price, KPMG Australia’s Head of High Growth Ventures. After a record-shattering Q2’18 led by the US$14 billion raise by Ant Financial, venture capital (VC) investment in Asia dropped back to a more nat... more

Mining SMEs positive about revenue growth

Mining SMEs are more positive about revenue growth, and growth percentage, than all other sectors – just over 56 per cent are expecting revenue increases over the coming six months, at an average of 5.8 per cent growth according to the latest Scottish Pacific SME Growth Index. More businesses are in growth mode than at any time since March 2016. Scottish Pacific senior executive Wayne Smith said one in two (51 per cent) are forecasting positive revenue growth for the next six months. “The average projected revenue increase of 4.5 per ccent is the most positive sentiment since 2016 and reflects a promising rebound in underlying business confidence within the SME sector,” Mr Smith said. In the mining sector, fewer than one-fifth think revenue will decline, by an average 4.2 per cent. "When asked how much additional revenue could have been generated if they had better cash... more