Boris Johnson plans Singapore-style tax-free zones around UK to power post-Brexit economy:The Telegraph

by 5 July 2019

Half a dozen Singapore-style tax-free zones could be established around Britain to drive forward the economy after Brexit under proposals being considered by Boris Johnson.

The Conservative leadership favourite confirmed that creating tax-free zones in ports – where goods can be landed in the UK but not be subject to any duties – was part of his vision for the country after Britain leaves in October.

Mr Johnson also reiterated his support for a £15billion bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland to boost economic links between the two countries.

Ports on the UK’s east coast including Teesside, Aberdeen and Peterhead could become economic zones, considered independent for customs purposes, that charge no taxes or tariffs on imports.

Singapore is considered a tax haven because of its low personal and corporate tax rates and other incentives for foreign investors.

Mr Johnson said: “That’s the sort of thing we can do. But first we’ve got leave the EU. We could do free ports, we could get a massive boost for this economy, but only once we’ve come out.

“I want to have about six of them. We should definitely be doing free ports and tax free zones. They have delivered around the world, there are about 130 countries who have them. We don’t because of our membership of the EU.

“There are plainly areas that would benefit from them. We will build them all over the place, particularly Northern Ireland.”

The proposal – also backed by Mr Johnson’s rival Jeremy Hunt – was welcomed by the Federation of Small Businesses, which said it “would be transformational for this society, whether you are a unionist, nationalist or neither”.

Mr Johnson also reiterated his support for a 14-mile bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland, a project which has long had the support of MPs in the Democratic Unionist Party.

He said: “I’m an enthusiast for that idea. I think it’s a good idea. But, again, that is the kind of project that should be pursued by a dynamic Northern Ireland government, championed by local people, with local consent and interest, backed by local business, and mobilised by the politicians of Northern Ireland.”

At the hustings, Mr Johnson accused the EU of exerting “moral blackmail” over the UK in relation to the Irish backstop.

He said: “The way to protect the Union is to come out the EU whole and entire. Solve the border issues where they belong in the FTA (free trade agreement) we are going to do.”

And he claimed concerns about leaving the EU without a deal were “wildly over-done”. He said: “I think we should be very positive about Brexit, and we should not be terrified of a no-deal Brexit. We should not be terrified of coming out on WTO terms.

“We will make sure we look after the agricultural interest … whatever is necessary to protect farmers.  “We will make sure that just-in-time supply chains are protected, and I think a lot of the negativity about a WTO Brexit has been wildly over-done.”

At the same hustings in Northern Ireland, Mr Hunt said he had privately opposed the backstop when he was in the Cabinet.

He said: “I do recognise that we are never going to have a deal to leave the EU with the backstop. So it has to change or it has to go.

“I was one of the people who argued against accepting the backstop in the cabinet, but I think it is important the prime minister has a loyal foreign secretary so I kept those discussions private.”

Mr Hunt also said that he would keep Karen Bradley as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he becomes Prime Minister.

ScoMo pledges to cut red tape for new mines:Australian Mining, June 25 2019, Vanessa Zhou

by 25 June 2019

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has pushed regulators to improve approval timeframes and reduce regulatory costs instead of ‘making things worse’.

“This in a region where iron ore mining has been taking place for decades and is relatively low risk,” Morrison, in a speech at the Western Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said.

“Take the WA mining industry for example. In 1996, the late Sir Arvi Parbo took the Kambalda nickel mine near Kalgoorlie from discovery to operation in 18 months.

“By contrast, the Roy Hill iron ore mine took around 10 years to complete around 4000 approvals. Delays to the project meant delays to over 5000 construction jobs and 2000 ongoing jobs.”

Morrison promised to renew the focus of regulatory reform, but from a ‘different angle.’

Using the analogy of Trump Administration’s style in cutting red tape, he demanded the government to take the perspective of a business in opening a mine, for example, rather than ‘setting targets’ for departments or government agencies.

This wave of reform could unlock up to $170 billion of resources investment in Australia, according to the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA).

Morrison also slammed the Western Australian Environment Protection Authority (WA EPA) for creating uncertainty over emissions requirements for the resources sector.

“Removing what governments identify as excessive or outdated regulation is one thing. Whether we are really focusing on the barriers that matter to business in getting investments and projects off the ground is another,” he said.

Morrison said his government’s initiative for ‘cutting red tape’ had generated $5.8 billion in savings in 2013.

Complex and duplicative assessment and approvals have generated unnecessary delays, adding years to projects getting off the ground, according to MCA chief executive Tania Constable.

“Today’s reform announcements by the Prime Minister provide a new opportunity to restore community and investor trust by streamlining environmental processes that allows for the sustainable use of Australia’s natural resources,” she says.

Morrison has also appointed Ben Morton as Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister to tackle the full suite of barriers to investment and ultimately create more jobs.

WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry Address:24 June 2019, Prime Minister

by 25 June 2019

Thank you.

I value my engagement with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA.

In the big debates – particularly on the GST, but others as well – the Chamber always comes to the table with well researched views and a case worth hearing.

On election night I said the result was a victory not for the Liberal Party, but for the quiet Australians. Australians who quietly go about their lives, working hard each day, running their businesses, caring for their families, volunteering in their local communities.

There is a champion in every Australian. It is our job to support them to realise that champion within.

The election was a message that Australians wanted their Government to respect their aspirations and back them in as they did everything they could to get ahead and make a better life.

Australians rightly see themselves as being in charge of their own lives and their own destinies.

That is why I have now exhorted my team to respect the outcome of the election by governing humbly, understanding that the election result was not about us, but it was about those quiet Australians and their honest and decent aspirations.

Our job is to ensure that our decisions can simply make the lives of Australians that little bit easier. Australians also said they were are no longer prepared to accept any claim that Governments can solve all your problems just by giving them more of your money or saddling future generations with a mountain of debt.

Australians live within their means and simply expect Governments to do the same and get the job done. The election also confirmed our view that Australians appreciate that the services they rely on depend fundamentally on ensuring we have a strong economy, not higher taxes.

Without a strong economy, all else is in vain. Jobs, funding for schools and hospitals, combatting youth suicide and the NDIS.

And so today, at the start of this new term, I want to speak to you about getting on with the job of building our economy to secure your future.

The Australian economy has shown remarkable resilience over a long period of time.

We are on track to achieve 28 years of uninterrupted economic growth and Australia’s real GDP has grown faster than any G7 economy over that period.

The median age of Australians is around 38 years. These Australians have not known a recession over their entire adult lives.

At 2.9 per cent, jobs growth has been stronger than any of the G7 countries over the past year. The vast majority of the nearly 1,000 jobs a day created over that time have been fulltime positions.

Almost three quarters of Australians aged 15 to 64 have a job – a record high. Female workforce participation is also at a record high. So is the workforce participation of those aged 65 and over.

So the great Australian jobs machine continues to whir away. A great strength. But there’s more to do, which is why our pledge to create 1.25 million new jobs over the next five years is central to our economic plan.

The 2019-20 Budget, only days away, will be in surplus. It’s been a long road back, 12 long years, but we’re almost there. Another great foundational strength for our economy. And our AAA credit rating remains in place, one of only ten nations in the world to achieve this outcome from all key agencies.

That said, we do face some challenges and headwinds.

That’s not news. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and I have been talking about this for some time.

The Treasurer’s reports from his recent trip to the G20 Finance Ministers’ meeting in Japan as well as to London, Berlin and Washington, confirm that international risks have increased over the first half of the year.

Protectionist sentiment and trade conflict, especially between China and the US, is weighing heavily on global confidence and here in Australia as well. The uncertainty regarding Brexit is also not helping, although the impact of this on Australia is quite muted.

The unfolding of all of these events are own goals for the global economy given the broader consensus points that the fundamentals of the global economy are relatively sound.

As a trading nation, this week’s G20 Summit will be an important opportunity for the world’s leading economies to map out the way forward from here.

We are also close to the peak of the global cycle on interest rates – with pressure on European Central Bank and the United States Federal Reserve to lower rates to support their economies.

In the domestic economy, there are challenges too.

We’ve seen the effects of prolonged drought and floods on regional communities – with farm GDP declining by 6.8 per cent over the past year.

A necessary moderation in the housing market has also contributed to softer consumer spending.

Removing Labor’s threat of massive changes to the housing taxation system has erased some of the gloominess from the sector, which combined with interest rate cuts, prudential changes and our forthcoming First Home Loan Deposit Scheme are providing some support to the market.

Credit tightening, post the Banking Royal Commission, has also dimmed economic activity, especially for small business and housing development.

The latest national accounts showed quarterly growth of 0.4 per cent and, while this was a modest increase in growth compared with the previous quarter, it also indicates subdued activity in some parts of the economy – the housing sector, business investment and household consumption.

It’s fair to say that politics has also played a role, with the election weighing on confidence. The bounce back in the business confidence as measured by the NAB Monthly Business Survey following the election, showed the largest monthly increase since the change of government at the 2013 election.

Our job post-election is now very clear – to get Australians off the economic sidelines and on the field again.

The Reserve Bank’s recent cut in the cash rate will put more money in the hands of Australians.

But as Governor Philip Lowe has stated, we must also drive economic growth in the longer term.

The key goal of these policies is job creation. For our Government, it’s always been about jobs.

Our economy has displayed an enormous capacity to absorb record levels of employment growth. The more jobs that are created, the more Australians keep entering the workforce, increasing participation rates also to record levels, forcing economists to now postulate that full employment is now an unemployment rate closer to 4.5% than 5%.

This means that to see larger increases in incomes from wages growth we need to see even more jobs created to reduce unemployment to these levels.

The only way to create more jobs is to increase the levels of investment in our economy. Job creating investments that unlock productivity gains and enable Australians to earn more.

This relies on businesses having the confidence, capability and incentives to back themselves.

Today I want to focus on three elements of our plan to achieve this.

First, how we will get things moving by lowering taxes, sharpening the incentives to work and invest and get infrastructure projects underway.

Secondly, provoking the ‘animal spirits’ in our economy by removing regulatory and bureaucratic barriers to businesses investing and creating more jobs.

And thirdly, boosting the economy’s long-term growth potential by unlocking greater economic dynamism and productivity by lifting our skills capabilities and driving uptake of new digital technologies to promote innovation and competition in our financial system.

Firstly, tax relief.

Australians must keep more of what they earn. In fact at the last election, they demanded it. Next week in parliament we will submit our tax plan to the parliament, just as we presented it to the people.

Labor’s high taxing agenda has now been rejected at two successive elections. Labor’s primary vote at the election last month was their lowest in a hundred years, even lower than when they lost Government in 2013, 1996 and 1975.

Labor’s internal conniptions about supporting the Government’s plan to simply let Australians keep more of what they earn exposes Labor’s deep mistrust of Australians to do what’s best for them with their own money. Labor always think they know best. Australians disagree.

The fact Labor are having to be dragged kicking and screaming, putting up one excuse and ruse after another, shows they simply don’t understand that when you find yourself in a hole, you should stop digging.

Our proposed tax relief doesn’t just have a strong political mandate. It has a compelling policy rationale. The first stage of our tax changes will support economic growth by putting money in people’s pockets that they can use to boost consumption. Worth at least two 25 basis point rate cuts.

This will include immediate tax relief to low- and middle-income earners after they lodge their 2018-19 tax returns.

For middle-income earners, this works out to be over $1,000 dollars for singles, and it’s double that for dual income families.

More than 10 million taxpayers will benefit. Right here in WA, around 1.25 million taxpayers will benefit from our plan.

This first stage is part of our longer-term plan to simplify our tax system and sharpen the incentives to work and invest for the future.

While stage 1 of our tax plan will fast-track and boost tax relief for low and middle income families and support the economy, stages 2 and 3 are more fundamental long term changes to our personal tax system.

We are simplifying the system, more closely aligning the middle tax bracket with corporate tax rates and improving work incentives by tackling the ‘silent thief’ of bracket creep.

As the PEFO statement confirmed prior to the election, the measures are fully incorporated into the medium term projections, which also maintain all spending projections on current profiles.

It still baffles me why Labor can readily sign up to spending schemes that run for decades but cannot do the same to let Australians keep more of their own money.

Under our changes, from 2024-25, 94 per cent of Australians will pay a maximum marginal tax rate of no more than 30 cents in the dollar, compared to only 16 per cent if stages 2 and 3 are not delivered.

Or to put it another way, almost 80 per cent of hard working Australians will keep more of what they earn following stages 2 and 3 of our tax plan.

They will receive greater reward for their efforts, providing an incentive to put in the effort to get a raise or secure a promotion.

Getting these incentives right in the workplace is vital to raising our productivity.

We are also backing small business by reducing their taxes so that they have more money to invest back into their business to support their growth aspirations.

In our April Budget, we increased the instant-asset write-off threshold to $30,000 until 30 June 2020 and expanded access to medium-sized businesses so that around 22,000 additional businesses employing around 1.7 million workers will now be eligible.

This is in addition to fast-tracking the company tax cut for small and medium-sized companies with an annual turnover of less than $50 million.

While lower tax is a centre-piece of our plan for a stronger economy, contrary to most commentary, it is by no means the whole story.

To get things moving, the Deputy PM, Michael McCormack will be ensuring the Government leads by example with a single minded focus on implementing our $100 billion infrastructure investment programme.

This programme increases Commonwealth support for transport infrastructure by about a third by funding nationally significant transport projects across all states and territories, unlocking productivity by decongesting our cities, creating jobs and supporting future population growth to make our cities more liveable.

The immediate focus is for Minister Tudge to work with the St. e congestion busting urban infrastructure projects that can be readily actioned to spur growth, support local jobs and get things moving.

The same will be done by the Deputy PM for regional communities through our building better regions and water infrastructure schemes.

Here in WA we’ve committed more than $13.6 billion since we came to office and we’re getting on with new projects – including further upgrades to the Tonkin Highway, and improvements for the Oats Street, Welshpool Road and Mint Street Level Crossing Removals as part of METRONET.

Since our re-election, I have already met with Premiers in NSW and Victoria to take stock, get a common view on project timetables, priorities and to do lists. While here in WA, I will be meeting with Premier McGowan to do the same.

The last thing we want is project delays leading to more congestion and greater costs.

That’s why infrastructure delivery will be an important item on the COAG agenda for August.

The same process is being followed for our historical investments in defence capability. With more than $200 billion being invested, with generational job creating projects here in WA, as well as South Australia and Queensland.

Ensuring these investments remain on schedule and that we realise the uplift in skills and technological capabilities for our defence industries, will be the strong focus of our new WA Defence Industry Minister, Melissa Price.

To provoke the much needed ‘animal spirits’ in our economy we must also remove regulatory and bureaucratic barriers to businesses investing and creating more jobs.

Congestion is not just on our roads and in our cities.

We also need to bust regulatory congestion, removing obstacles to business investment.

When we came to power in 2013, our Government launched its ‘Cutting Red Tape’ Initiative.

Working across every government department in Canberra, we set ourselves the goal of reducing the burden of regulation on the economy by $1 billion each and every year.

And we succeeded. Between September 2013 and December 2016, this initiative yielded red tape savings of $5.8 billion.

Removing what governments identify as excessive or outdated regulation is one thing. Whether we are really focusing on the barriers that matter to business in getting investments and projects off the ground is another.

Take the WA mining industry for example. In 1966, the late Sir Arvi Parbo took the Kambalda nickel mine near Kalgoorlie from discovery to operation in 18 months.

By contrast, the Roy Hill iron ore mine took around 10 years to complete around 4,000 approvals. Delays to the project meant delays to over 5,000 construction jobs and 2,000 ongoing jobs.

This in a region where iron ore mining has been taking place for decades and is relatively low risk.

There is a clear need to improve approvals timeframes and reduce regulatory costs, but in many cases regulators are making things worse.

Look at the WA Environment Protection Authority and the uncertainty it has created over new emissions requirements for the resources sector. Business will also make valid criticisms of many Commonwealth agencies and departments.

That’s why I’ve asked my colleague Ben Morton – as Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister – to work with me, the Treasurer and other Ministers, to tackle the full suite of barriers to investment in key industries and activities.

This will be a renewed focus on regulatory reform but from a different angle.

Rather than setting targets for departments or government agencies, we’ll be asking the wider question from the perspective of a business looking, say, to open a mine, commercialise a new biomedical innovation, or even start a home-based, family business.

By focusing on regulation from the viewpoint of business, we will identify the regulations and bureaucratic processes that impose the largest costs on key sectors of the economy and the biggest hurdles to letting those investments flow.

What are the barriers, blockages and bottlenecks? How do we get things moving?

I urge the business people in this room and around Australia to engage with this process.

Step one is to get a picture of the regulatory anatomies that apply to key sectoral investments. Step two is to identify the blockages. Step three is to remove them, like cholesterol in the arteries.

While reducing taxes has had a major impact in the United States, it was actually the Trump Administration’s commitment to cutting red tape and transforming the regulatory mind set of the bureaucracy that delivered their first wave of improvement in their economy. You can be assured I have begun this term by making it clear to our public service chiefs that I am expecting a new mindset when it comes to getting investments off the drawing board.

One particular area where it’s essential to get regulation right is to protect investment from the impact of militant unions, that would have been given free reign under a Labor Government if elected six weeks ago.

Events since then with the CFMMEU in full R18 rated technicolour have only underlined the wisdom of the Australian people in rejecting going down that path.

Labor does not run the unions in Australia, the unions – through their money from member’s indentured fees and union super funds, their numbers in their factions and their armies on the ground at elections, run modern Labor.

It is a very far cry from the balanced relationship of the Hawke-Crean-Kelty alliance of the past.

Our Government is committed to enforcing the rule of law on Australian work sites. All Australian businesses have the right to expect that they can go about their work without being subject to bullying and disruption.

When we’re back in Parliament next week, another of our priorities is to introduce laws to give greater powers to deal with registered organisations and officials who regularly break the law, prohibit officials who are not fit and proper persons from holding office, and stop the rorting of worker entitlement funds. All measures Labor resisted during our last parliamentary term.

Like you, our Government believes in cooperative workplaces.

In his new capacity as Minister for Industrial Relations, I am asking Christian Porter to take a fresh look at how the system is operating and where there may be impediments to shared gains for employers and employees.

Any changes in this area must be evidence-based, protect the rights and entitlements of workers and have clear gains for the economy and for working Australians.

We would expect business organisations such as yours to build the evidence for change and help bring the community along with you too.

Just as our economy is growing and changing, our skills system needs to grow and change with it.

Demand for skills is shifting from manufacturing to the services sector and emerging industries like advanced manufacturing, ICT and cyber-security.

Our vocational education system needs an upgrade to ensure it remains world-class, modern and flexible.

That’s what business has told us – you’re not getting enough people walking through your doors with the skills you need.

The Joyce Review we commissioned prior to the election confirms this and will now guide the changes we will seek to make during this term of parliament as a key component of our economic plan.

The Review acknowledges the good work undertaken in the sector so far, but says VET needs to adapt so it can support important and emerging industries and become a first choice for students who want to pursue technical careers.

We believe that learning through a vocational education is just as valuable as a university degree, so we want to transform the way we deliver skills, support employers and fund training.

We’re addressing the findings of the Joyce Review by setting up a National Skills Commission and a new National Careers Institute to give people the information they need to decide their future careers and the best pathways to get them into a job.

We’re simplifying and targeting increases in apprenticeship incentives.

And we’re creating up to 80,000 additional apprentices over five years in priority skill shortage areas through a new apprenticeship incentive.

The Review’s recommendations are wide ranging and responsibilities for the sector are shared.

Vocational education sector is one of my key priorities and I intend to make it a primary focus of discussion with states and territories at COAG.

This work will also be led two Western Australians, Michaelia Cash in Cabinet and Steve Irons as Assistant Minister, a trade qualified electrician and small businessman.

Digital disruption, especially in financial services is changing the way people, businesses and governments interact.

Consultancy firm McKinsey argues that “digitisation could contribute between $140 billion and $250 billion to Australia’s GDP by 2025, based on currently available technology alone.”

I have appointed Senator Jane Hume as Assistant Minister to support the Treasurer to drive the changes we are making in this area.

Our upcoming legislation to introduce Open Banking, through a new Consumer Data Right, will give customers more control over their own data and empower them to compare and switch between products and services, and encourage competition between service providers.

The Consumer Data Right will enable customers to get assistance and tailored support by empowering them to own and share their information as they choose, driving further innovation and competition.

While we are starting with banks, we intend to expand this choice to multiple sectors, for things like phone and internet providers or your energy bill. It will lead to better prices and more innovative products and services.

The New Payments Platform (NPP) makes payments faster and simpler for consumers and businesses and will pave the way for further innovation in the payments system. The challenge is now to encourage economy wide uptake.

The potential gains that are available to businesses, particularly small and family businesses, through the NPP and its ability to reduce payment times are immense.

We will also continue with the establishment of a mandatory comprehensive credit reporting system that will increase competition.

With greater information, new entrants and small lenders, including innovative FinTech firms, will be encouraged to compete for small business and retail customers. The mutuals sector, including customer owned banks and cooperatives, will also be able to compete better with our legislation lifting restrictions on their ability to raise capital being passed just before parliament rose.

More broadly, our Government will continue to advocate strongly for a rules-based and open global trading environment that supports digital trade, builds trust and confidence in the online environment, and reduces barriers. Right now we are seeking to conclude a new benchmark agreement on digital trade with Singapore by the end of the year that I discussed with Prime Minister Lee just a few weeks ago.

We also kick-started negotiations on e-commerce rules in the WTO.

At the upcoming G20 Summit, I’ll continue to advocate for initiatives like these which clear the way for us to do business with the world, while ensuring trust in the online environment, including consumer privacy.

There are of course many other components to our plan to build our economy into the future that we don’t have time to delve into this morning.

Expanding our export markets and lifting the share of our two way trade covered by trade agreements to more than 90% by 2022.

Keeping Government spending and taxes under control, keeping the budget in surplus and eliminating net debt within the decade.

Keep supporting greater investment in innovation and new technology.

Reducing energy costs through market reforms and in continuing to foster increased investment in both renewable and reliable energy infrastructure.

Supporting our drought and flood impacted agricultural sectors and deliver on the national water grid.

We will return to these on other occasions. For now, we will just keep getting on with the job that millions of Australians have entrusted us with to support them to realise their goals and aspirations.


Unless otherwise indicated in this document, it is Copyright of the Commonwealth of Australia and the following applies: Copyright Commonwealth of Australia. This material does not purport to be the official or authorised version. Reproduction and use of this material is subject to a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 


Morrison to cut red tape, reform IR:Andrew Tillett Jun 24, 2019

by 25 June 2019

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has vowed to slash government red tape to unlock investment and opened the door to industrial relations reform, challenging business to make the case for change and to deliver “shared gains” for workers and employers.

In his first major domestic policy speech since winning the election last month, the Prime Minister will rebuff criticism his government lacks a reform agenda, also outlining plans to overhaul the vocational training system and embrace technology to deliver greater competition in banking, insurance and utilities for consumers.

Declaring his task is to get consumers and businesses “off the economic sidelines”, Mr Morrison will also ratchet up pressure on Labor to back the full $158 billion income tax cut package, which would deliver an immediate boost to the economy the equivalent of  two interest rate cuts.

In the wake of pleading from the Reserve Bank that monetary policy alone was not enough to drive growth, Mr Morrison will say that regulatory and bureaucratic barriers that stop businesses investing need to be lifted to “provoke the much needed ‘animal spirits’ in our economy”.

With the Coalition gun-shy on workplace reform since the backlash against WorkChoices in 2007, Mr Morrison will tell the West Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry new Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter will take a “fresh look at how the system is operating and where there may be impediments to shared gains for employers and employees”.

“Any changes in this area must be evidence-based, protect the rights and entitlements of workers and have clear gains for the economy and for working Australians,” Mr Morrison will say,according to speech notes.

“We would expect business organisations such as yours to build the evidence for change and help bring the community along with you too.”

Mr Morrison will also outline a philosophical shift in how the government tackles regulation, empowering business to identify the changes it wants to encourage investment as part of a review led by one of his key confidantes, junior frontbencher Ben Morton.

“Removing what governments identify as excessive or outdated regulation is one thing. Whether we are really focusing on the barriers that matter to business in getting investments and projects off the ground is another,” Mr Morrison will say.

“By focusing on regulation from the viewpoint of business, we will identify the regulations and bureaucratic processes that impose the largest costs on key sectors of the economy and the biggest hurdles to letting those investments flow.

“Step one is to get a picture of the regulatory anatomies that apply to key sectoral investments. Step two is to identify the blockages. Step three is to remove them, like cholesterol in the arteries.”

Mr Morrison will say he has told public service chiefs he wants a new mindset in respect to investment, highlighting how the growth of red tape had resulted in Gina Rinehart’s Roy Hill requiring 10 years to complete 4000 approvals.

“There is a clear need to improve approvals time frames and reduce regulatory costs, but in many cases regulators are making things worse,” he will say.

“While reducing taxes has had a major impact in the United States, it was actually the Trump Administration’s commitment to cutting red tape and transforming the regulatory mind set of the bureaucracy that delivered their first wave of improvement in their economy.”

Mr Morrison will also put the states on notice not to delay infrastructure projects, which he will warn will lead to more congestion and greater costs, saying project delivery will be a focus of COAG in August.

Acknowledging the vocational training sector had not kept up with the skills demands of a changing economy, Mr Morrison will say reform of it will also be a COAG priority.

The Prime Minister will also try to regather lost momentum on the government’s innovation agenda, highlighting the gains from the looming introduction of legislation to introduce Open Banking and creating a Consumer Data Right.

The data right will make it easier for consumers to get tailored support by sharing their financial information with third-party providers.

“More informed customers will put pressure on the financial services sector to become more efficient, affordable, innovative and competitive,” he will say.

“While we are starting with banks, we hope to in time expand this choice to multiple sectors, for things like phone and internet providers, your health and car insurance or your energy bill. It will lead to better prices and more innovative products and services.”

Mr Morrison will say international risks have increased over the first half of the year although the global economy was “relatively sound”.

“Protectionist sentiment and trade conflict, especially between China and the US, is weighing heavily on global confidence and here in Australia as well. The uncertainty regarding Brexit is also not helping, although the impact of this on Australia is quite muted,” he will say.

“The unfolding of all of these events are own goals for the global economy as the broader consensus points to the fundamentals of the global economy being relatively sound, in the post GFC environment.”

Gina Rinehart offers Fitzroy Valley land swap for water:Jenne Brammer The West Australian

by 27 May 2019

Iron ore magnate Gina Rinehart could hand over tens of thousands of hectares of pastoral land in the Fitzroy Valley to the State Government so it can develop a national park, as part of a $285 million plan to supercharge growth in the Kimberley cattle industry and create hundreds of jobs in the region.

But the plan’s success hinges on getting a water licence from the Government.

Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Agriculture portfolio includes the Fossil Downs, Liveringa and Nerrima pastoral stations in the Kimberley.

Mrs Rinehart, whose Hancock Agriculture portfolio includes the Fossil Downs, Liveringa and Nerrima pastoral stations in the Kimberley, has initiated talks that could lead to her handing over tens of thousands of hectares of its pastoral land, most from Fossil Downs in the heart of the Fitzroy Valley.

The land would enable the State Government to meet its election commitments of creating a Fitzroy national park.

The plan requires annual access to 325GL of surface water from the Fitzroy River. A CSIRO report released last year revealed 1700GL of surface water could be conservatively taken from the river each year.

Annual average discharge from the Fitzroy into the ocean is 6600GL a year.

Under Mrs Rinehart’s proposal, water access would focus on off-stream storage that would fill when the river floods.

There are no intentions to build dams. Water could be used to grow 21,200ha of high-protein fodder crops, including sorghum, hay and corn.

Expected to produce about 330,000 tonnes a year, the feed would help to maintain and improve cattle weight (up to 25 per cent heavier) and decrease cattle loss throughout the year. Up to 20,000 more cattle could be run year round on Hancock’s stations.

The cropping and cattle operations could create 105 direct jobs at Hancock Agriculture, plus hundreds of other indirect positions in the Fitzroy River region.

Extra feed could be sold to other pastoralists in the region, helping to also improve their cattle.

Ms Rinehart’s proposal requires tenure of the developed cropping area and water storage facility to be transferred from leasehold to freehold.

Hancock Agriculture has been in open dialogue with traditional owners in the region, with negotiations with the two affected groups, the Bunuba and Gooniyandi continuing, with the aim of achieving a positive outcome for the region and its people.

Pastoralists and Graziers Association president Tony Seabrook said this was a “once-in-a-lifetime proposal” and Mrs Rinehart was not asking the Government to fund any part the development.

“It could be the best thing ever to happen in the Kimberley and Gina Rinehart needs help, rather than bureaucracy and hindrance from Government, to make this happen,” Mr Seabrook said.

Donald Trump’s cuts to regulations boost the USA economy!

by 21 May 2019

The USA advocacy group Americans for Prosperity have released a report that demonstrates Donald Trump’s cuts to regulations in the USA is having a significant positive effect on the economy. Manufacturers are more optimistic and costs have been reduced. This all creates the environment for an improvement in jobs, consumer spending and business activity.

Check out their website for other valuable reports.

On the cruise ship “budget surplus”

by 13 May 2019

New business fund ignores biggest issue: red tape:Daniel Wild Apr 24, 2019

by 3 May 2019

The Australian Business Growth Fund is a short-sighted proposal which ignores red tape and industrial relations as the major constraints on small business growth in Australia.

The fund, announced by the Prime Minister on Tuesday,  would see the federal government partnering with banks to provide small and medium business owners with equity. The assumption is that access to credit is the key constraint on small business growth. However, this is not supported by the best available evidence.

Forty-eight per cent of respondents to a survey published in 2018 by Westpac said regulation was the highest hurdle to business success in Australia. The next highest response was just 14 per cent. And access to credit was not even measured, although “other” rated 2 per cent.

Similarly, the most recent Global Competitiveness Report published by the World Economic Forum found that Australia ranked 77th out of 140 nations for the burden of government regulation, where a higher ranking represents a worse outcome.

The report also found that over the last decade Australia dropped from 75th to 105th for “flexibility in wage determination” and from 46th to 110th for “hiring and firing practices”. New Zealand, meanwhile, improved from 29th to 19th and 103rd to 20th, respectively.

If credit is a constraint on growth, it’s a result of government regulation. Perhaps if the government wanted more credit growth they shouldn’t have implemented the Banking Executive Accountability Regime. Or imposed a new tax on banks. Or provided the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority with $150 million in extra funding in this year’s budget to impose yet more red tape.

The product of misguided public policy is a crisis in business investment. New private business investment in Australia is just 11.5 per cent of GDP, which is lower than it was during the Whitlam years.

Small businesses in particular are struggling. There were 38,000 fewer new businesses created in 2018 compared with a decade earlier, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. And recent research by the Institute of Public Affairs estimated there would be 250,000 more businesses in Australia today if business creation continued at pre-Global Financial Crisis levels.

Besides missing the main causes of small business decline, the Australian Business Growth Fund is itself a questionable undertaking. History is replete with examples of taxpayer subsidised, government-backed finance going wrong, from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac abroad, to Tricontinental and the Victorian Economic Development Corporation at home.

But perhaps the biggest error is that the new fund itself is the institutional opposite to the sector it claims to support. Small businesses are entrepreneurial, risk taking and innovative. Governments are lethargic, risk averse, and subject to cronyism. Only a bureaucracy could think that more bureaucracy could revive a sector which is anathema to bureaucracy.

The only beneficiaries of the new fund will be the major banks who will be “partnering” with government. Small business owners, meanwhile, will have been sold another policy pup as the business investment crisis in Australia worsens.

Daniel Wild is director of research at the Institute of Public Affairs

Government told to reduce SME red tape amid $100m growth fund announcement:The government’s plan to introduce a small business growth fund has been met with mixed responses, with calls to reduce red tape repeated.

by 3 May 2019

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced that, if re-elected, the government will create an Australian Business Growth Fund to help SMEs with annual turnovers between $2 million and $50 million get access to finance.

The $100 million growth fund is expected to assist 30 to 50 businesses each year.

Separately, Mr Morrison has also pledged to create 250,000 new small businesses over the next five years.

“Small business growth in Australia requires less red tape, not another taxpayer-subsidised, government-run scheme,” said Daniel Wild, director of research at think tank the Institute of Public Affairs.

“Red tape and a rigid industrial relations system are the key reasons why new business investment in Australia is just 11.5 per cent, which is lower than it was during the economically hostile Whitlam years.

“The best way to boost small business growth is to cut red tape and reduce government interference.

“Government-backed finance schemes have a history of failure, from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the United States to Tricontinental in Victoria.”

Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO) Kate Carnell welcomed the announcement, noting that it was a recommendation in its recent Affordable Capital for SME Growth Inquiry.

“Our report identified the need to address a critical funding gap for long-term, patient capital to enable our up-and-coming, high-growth potential small to medium enterprises (SMEs) to flourish,” Ms Carnell said.

“We support government investment of $100 million into the Australian Business Growth Fund and a matching commitment by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Australia Bank and HSBC Bank.

“However, we question the absence of commitment by Westpac, ANZ and Australia’s super funds.”

The business growth fund comes after the introduction of a $2 billion government securitisation fund that will provide additional funding to smaller banks and non-bank lenders to on-lend to small businesses on more competitive terms.

Australia’s Richest 250: Anthony Pratt, Gina Rinehart in perfect harmony

by 2 April 2019

It is a sultry Sunday evening in mid-February in Siem Reap, Cambodia, in the historic Art Deco Raffles Grand Hotel D’Angkor. In an otherwise peaceful and hushed bar area frequented over the years by guests such as Charlie Chaplin, Charles De Gaulle and Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Anthony Pratt is singing Beatles songs to Gina Rinehart.


Pratt, as is his habit at many functions, breaks into the first few lines of Abbey Road’s Oh! Darling – “…believe me when I tell you I’ll never do you harm…” – while Rinehart beams in recognition.


Pratt has sung this one before, she explains as the pair sip rum, liqueur and lime Mai Tai cocktails, including at her birthday celebrations last year. He stops and declares that Rinehart is “the biggest star in Australian business”.


It may not be widely known, but Australia’s two wealthiest people, each a successful corporate figure in their own right, have become close friends, supporting each other’s business and philanthropic achievements. The executive chair of cardboard box maker and recycling giant Visy and Pratt Industries, and the chair of miner and agriculture giant Hancock Prospecting, have a few things in common. Both had fathers with larger-than-life personalities, and they share a strong work ethic and a competitive nature that has them relentlessly driving their respective businesses to greater heights.


Pratt is in Cambodia attending a function to celebrate the achievements of the Cambodian Children’s Fund that Rinehart supports, which has so far helped raise close to 2000 orphaned and disadvantaged girls out of poverty and fund their tertiary education by providing scholarships.


Rinehart, meanwhile, animatedly recalls Pratt’s famous $2 billion pledge, aboard USS Intrepid in New York in May 2017, to expand his cardboard box making and recycling empire, Pratt Industries, into the US Midwest. The mining magnate even captured the moment for her friend in a photo showing President Donald Trump leading a three-minute round of applause. Pratt had it framed and hung on the wall of his Melbourne office.


“I felt extremely proud, and every time he achieves something big I try to have a drink with him, or a coffee with him,” says Rinehart. “Sometimes it is not possible to see him as much as I like, but we have had some great times together. One of the things I value above all else is this journey we are travelling with so many remarkable people, and that is the fortune that so many find. That is a quote, and I added my bit: the fortune to find Anthony.”


‘Both are unabashed fans of US President Donald Trump. Pratt joined the President’s luxury Mar-a-Lago private club at West Palm Beach. Rinehart has also become a member.’


Pratt says he first met Rinehart at the Forbes Global CEO conference in Sydney in 2010, where during a gathering of some of the world’s most powerful business and political figures, he noticed that “Gina was so diligent in her note-taking”. The pair struck up a friendship, and while both are well known in business and finance circles, Pratt says he did not notice how widely recognised Rinehart was until they went to a dinner in honour of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in 2014.


“There were all these anti-Modi protestors there. But as soon as they saw Gina get out of the car, they ran up to her and starting getting selfies with her. She’s an Aussie star in that regard; she is an icon. You don’t get many people in business that sort of thing happens to.” Pratt says he witnessed the same phenomenon at last year’s Melbourne Cup.


He points admiringly to his friend’s persistence at the helm of her Hancock Prospecting empire, which includes securing a huge $US7.2 billion debt financial deal in 2014 with 19 banks and five Export Credit Agencies for her giant Roy Hill iron ore mine.


Both are unabashed fans of US president Donald Trump. Pratt famously bet $100,000 on Trump to win the US election, and joined the President’s luxury Mar-a-Lago private club at the billionaire’s enclave of West Palm Beach, in part at least to mix with Trump and his friends and supporters.


Rinehart has also become a member. She admires Trump for his strong leadership traits and discusses in detail the President’s recent State of the Union address. “Anthony introduced me to Mar-a-Lago and we have met a lot of wonderful people there,” she says.


“I have found Gina to be a nice person, warm and kind,” Pratt explains. “We are great mates. She is charismatic as well, and I admire that she thinks big in business. She is a great competitor who has grown her business and has paid more tax than just about anyone. She is also a great philanthropist.”


Pratt says his family’s Pratt Foundation, which has operated since the ’70s, gives away about $15 million to charitable causes annually. And while Rinehart cannot match that longevity, she has made rapid inroads with her Cambodian cause and other philanthropic ventures in Australia.


Later in the Siem Reap evening, Rinehart leads a group of about 30 people – including Thai hotel billionaire Bill Heinecke, Wesfarmers chief executive Rob Scott (Rinehart is an admirer and financial backer of Rowing Australia, which Scott chairs) and Hancock executives including Tad Watroba – to a function at the Prasat Kravan temple on the fringes of the ancient Angkor Wat complex. A light show bathes the temple in bright colours as guests dine under the stars on a mild Cambodian evening, taking in traditional dance performances and enjoying several courses of a Khmer-inspired menu.


Pratt sits at the head table with Rinehart, listening to stories from some of the charity’s alumni explaining how they have graduated from university and gone on to find employment after receiving support from their “Aussie mum” and her charity. Many of the stories are quite harrowing, and Rinehart steps in to comfort and embrace some of the speakers mid-speech. Afterwards she tells the audience how moved she is by the young women she calls her “Cambodian daughters”.


At the end of the evening, as she walks Pratt back to the roadside to depart for the airport and his trip back to Australia, the mining billionaire explains that she thinks highly of someone like Pratt for building a successful outpost in the US.


“I admire very much that he is an Australian who has made it big and great overseas. I admire anyone in a private capacity who is able to sustain their intelligence and hard work so they can employ 13,000 people, as Anthony does. That is a lot of responsibility on Anthony’s shoulders all the time.


“He is a great friend – and I rather like his singing voice.”


The author travelled to Cambodia with Visy

Article by John Stensholt, courtesy of the Australian, 30 March 2019