Sunday, 21 January 2018 Sydney

Invest In Australia News::

  • ACCC inquiry into NBN Wholesale service standards

    The ACCC has today announced a public inquiry to determine whether NBN wholesale service standard levels are appropriate, and to consider whether regulation is necessary to improve customer experiences.
    The inquiry will focus on the ability to enforce appropriate service standard levels at a wholesale level, including redress arrangements when consumers seek compensation at a retail level when those wholesale standards are not met.
    “We are very concerned about the high number of complaints from consumers around poor customer experiences, particularly in relation to customers connecting to NBN services and having faults repaired,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

  • ACCC welcomes 5G but flags competition issues

    The ACCC is rethinking the way it approaches spectrum competition issues ahead of the upcoming 5G auction, ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said today.

    At the RadComms conference in Sydney today, Mr Sims also urged government to take a long-term, consumer-centric approach to spectrum allocations.

    “Traditionally, the ACCC has sought to prevent dominance of spectrum by any one licensee in particular bands. However, we are rethinking this approach,” Mr Sims told the conference.

    “Instead, and this is a key point, we want to consider spectrum holdings holistically rather than in particular bands.”

  • Recent new entrants will increase competition at container ports

    The ACCC’s annual Container Stevedoring Monitoring Report has stated that while stevedoring operating profits per TEU have risen by over 25 per cent in 2016-17, competition levels are set to increase as there are now three stevedores competing at the nation’s three largest container ports.

    “Competition has significantly increased in recent years with the introduction of a third stevedore in Sydney and Brisbane, and now we can add Melbourne to that list. As such, we expect to see greater levels of price competition as new entrants and incumbents compete for market share,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

  • ACCC releases updated Media Merger Guidelines

    Following recent reforms to media ownership laws, the ACCC has released its updated Media Merger Guidelines.

    The revised guidelines detail the ACCC’s approach to media merger reviews and outline areas of potential focus, including the role of premium content, diversity in the Australian media landscape, and the impact technological change and innovation is having on the media industry more broadly.

  • ACCC won't oppose proposed Essilor and Luxottica merger

    The ACCC has decided to not oppose the proposed merger between Essilor International (Essilor) and Luxottica Group S.p.A. (Luxottica).

    In Australia, Essilor mainly sells wholesale finished ophthalmic lenses, used to correct visual impairments. Luxottica largely supplies wholesale prescription frames and sunglasses, including such brands as Ray-Ban, Oakley and Prada. Luxottica also has retail outlets, such as OPSM and Laubman & Pank. 

    “As Essilor and Luxottica mostly supply products at different stages of the supply chain, there is minimal direct competitive overlap between the two parties,” ACCC Commissioner Roger Featherston said.

  • ACCC won't oppose Borg, CHH Panels proposed acquisition

    The ACCC will not oppose the Borg Group’s (Borg) proposed acquisition of Carter Holt Harvey Pinepanels’ (CHH Panels) Mount Gambier and Oberon particleboard plants.

    CHH Panels is a significant supplier of raw particleboard, particleboard flooring and value-added particleboard, and supplies competitors to Borg, including various downstream manufacturers, distributors and wholesalers of particleboard products. The Mount Gambier plant produces raw particleboard, particleboard flooring and low pressure melamine (LPM) commodity particleboard. The Oberon plant produces particleboard flooring.

  • New approach for truck drivers to claim their meal expenses

    The ATO has today announced it has reinstated the meal-by-meal approach for truck drivers who claim travel expenses for meals, after consulting closely with industry.

    The meal amounts have been published in a revised Taxation Determination and provide separate amounts for each meal.

    The reasonable amounts are $24.25 for breakfast, $27.65 for lunch and $47.70 for dinner. The amount for each meal is separate and can’t be combined into a single daily amount or moved from one meal to another.

  • Electronic tendering option to help business

    Tasmania’s 36,000 small businesses are the engine room of the State’s economy and employ more than 100,000 people. The Hodgman Liberal Government wants to grow that number by 10%, or 10 000 Tasmanian workers, by 2022.

    One way to do this is to make it easier for Tasmanian businesses to bid for and win government contracts, and a re-elected majority Liberal Government will set a target of 90% of contracts going to Tasmanian-based companies by 2022.

    Our Local Benefits Test is working, with 81% of government contracts now won by Tasmanian-based business – up from 63% when we came to office – but there is more work to do.

  • Two Wells To Whyalla: The First Regional Economic Corridor

    The 340km stretch between Two Wells and Whyalla is South Australia’s first designated Economic Corridor, becoming a focal point for increased employment and investment.

    Regional Development Minister Geoff Brock launched the Two Wells to Whyalla (2W2W) compendium at the 2017 Sustainable Economic Growth for Regional Australia (SEGRA) conference in Port Augusta today.

  • No GST getaway for drivers

    The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is reminding ride-sourcing drivers of the importance of meeting their tax obligations this tax time.

    Assistant Commissioner Tom Wheeler said the ATO is still working to educate ride-sourcing drivers, but now focus is shifting to drivers who are ignoring their obligations.

    “We know that most drivers do the right thing, and we are now focusing attention on the minority of drivers that are not currently meeting their obligations,” he said.

  • ATO clarifies impact of the MAAL

    Commentary today has misrepresented the ATO’s evidence given at Senate Estimates in relation to the Multinational Anti-Avoidance Legislation (MAAL). We wish to confirm the ATO is active in ensuring compliance by multinationals and the corporate tax sector, and the MAAL is effective in bringing multinational taxpayers to the table.

    The facts are:

  • ACCC releases 2016-17 Annual Report

    The ACCC’s Annual Report for 2016–17 has been tabled in Parliament, highlighting a broad range of successes that have promoted competition and fair trade to benefit consumers, businesses and the community.

  • Issues paper for northern Australia insurance inquiry

    The ACCC has today released an issues paper for its inquiry into the supply of residential building, contents, and strata insurance in northern Australia. The Australian Government directed the ACCC to undertake a wide-ranging inquiry due to concerns about affordability and availability of insurance in the region.

    The ACCC will be hosting a series of public forums so consumers can share their concerns directly with the ACCC. The forums will be held in November and December this year in Townsville, Cairns, Darwin, Alice Springs, Karratha, Broome, Rockhampton, and Mackay.

  • Two out of five Australian taxpayers still yet to lodge

    The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is reminding taxpayers that with the 31 October deadline fast approaching, now is a good time to lodge your return or make sure you are on your registered agent’s books.

    Assistant Commissioner Kath Anderson said 63 per cent of Australian taxpayers have beaten the deadline already and lodged their returns either through myTax or with an agent.

    “Over eight million Australian residents have already lodged their returns this tax time, but we know some people are leaving their run pretty late,” Ms Anderson said.

  • Offers Go Out For Final Round Of River Murray Irrigation Grant Program

    Seventy-seven River Murray-based irrigation projects have been offered a share of $38 million in funding under the fourth and final round of the highly successful Irrigation Industry Improvement Program (3IP).

    If all projects accept their offers, it will mean a total of 259 projects will have received funding under the $240 million program since it first opened in 2014.

    Round Four proposals include new solar energy and netting projects, as well as new winegrape plantings and uptake of new food manufacturing technology.

  • Advanced Hair offers part refunds for unfair contracts

    Advanced Hair Studio Pty Ltd (Advanced Hair) will partly refund some customers who purchased the Advanced Laser Therapy Program between April 2015 and June 2017, following ACCC concerns that Advanced Hair’s contract contained terms that were unfair.

    Advanced Hair supplies hair loss treatments and procedures including laser therapy as part of 3-12 month programs.

    One of the cancellation clauses in Advanced Hair’s contracts required customers to pay the entire cost of the program even if they had attended only one or two laser sessions.

  • Statement re penalty rates

    The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman has welcomed the Federal Court’s judgment to uphold the Fair Work Commission decision on penalty rates.

    The Federal Court has found the Fair Work Commission met its legal obligations through the exhaustive two-year process it undertook to reach a decision.

    Comments attributable to Ombudsman Kate Carnell:

    “Small business operators will be relieved at this decision, which levels the playing field in competition against big business.

  • Next step in Freycinet upgrade

    Freycinet is one of Tasmania’s premier tourism hotspots, with locals and visitors flocking to the area in droves to experience the region’s stunning natural areas.

    With visitation up seven per cent to a record 292,000 for 2016-17, Freycinet is still the State's most visited national park and remains vitally important to the East Coast as tourists visit and spend in our local tourism businesses, shops and eateries.

    We want to ensure the area continues to build and attract even more visitors, and I am pleased to announce Emma Riley and Associates have been selected to develop a long-term master plan for the area.

  • Watch out for scammers when going online

    This Stay Smart Online Week, the ACCC is warning the community to watch out for common online scams they might encounter.

    The online sphere – email, the internet, social media and mobile apps – has overtaken telephones as scammers’ preferred tool of the trade to contact potential victims. In 2017, the ACCC’s Scamwatch site has received more than 51,000 reports of scammers trying to con people online. Online scam losses total nearly $37 million so far in 2017, with people aged 45 to 54 most likely to lose money.

  • Protect yourself against SCAMdalous activity

    The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is providing taxpayers with simple ways to protect themselves from scammers as part of Stay Smart Online week.

    Assistant Commissioner Kath Anderson says it’s important for taxpayers to remember to stay vigilant and to help family and friends be wary of emails, phone calls and SMS during tax time that claim to be from the ATO, even if they seem legitimate.

  • Don’t Get The Drift - Think Before You Spray

    Think about neighbours, particularly with vineyards, and don’t underestimate the potential distance of impact before spraying weeds this spring, PIRSA is warning crop producers.

    Actively growing grapevines are highly susceptible to herbicides and were the subject of off-target damage from spray drift or chemical trespass following summer rainfall events early in 2017.

    Certain weather conditions such as inversions, can result in spray drift damage up to tens of kilometres from the application site, so producers must consider sensitive crops that might be some distance away when planning a spray operation.

  • ACCC decision on NBN Co’s SAU variation on hold

    The ACCC today announced it will not make a decision on NBN Co’s proposed variation to its special access undertaking (SAU) until NBN Co further progresses its consultation with customers on its pricing model.

    NBN Co submitted its revised SAU variation in June 2017 to incorporate fibre-to-the-node, fibre-to-the-basement and hybrid fibre coaxial technologies (multi technology mix services) into the SAU, to reflect the current NBN model. This has the effect of extending the current SAU pricing arrangements to these MTM services.

  • Lack of competition driving high Brisbane petrol prices

    The ACCC has today released the findings of its study into the Brisbane petrol market, which shows a lack of competition is causing Brisbane motorists to pay more for petrol than in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth.

    Between 2009–10 and 2016–17, Brisbane motorists paid 3.3 cents per litre (cpl) more for petrol on average than motorists in Australia’s other four largest cities.

    “The ACCC’s report confirms Brisbane drivers’ suspicions that they are paying too much for petrol, and that some local fuel retailers are enjoying high profit margins at their expense,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

  • Fix WestConnex and Sydney will do better

    Lord Mayor Clover Moore will join forces with transport experts, health experts and community representatives at a public meeting next week to call on the NSW Government to rethink WestConnex to deliver a better deal for all Sydneysiders.

    The discussion will explore why WestConnex won’t solve Sydney’s transport needs, why it will increase congestion and how its $50 billion budget could be better spent.