Blog

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“Removing what governments identify as excessive or outdated regulation is one thing.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.

https://americansforprosperity.org/5-of-americas-most-important-policy-wins-in-2018/

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


National Mining & Related Industries Day Gala Dinner Highlights

by 23 January 2019

National Mining & Related Industries Day Gala Dinner Highlights

From the Parliament in Australia

by 13 December 2018

Click here

National Agriculture & Related Industries Day Gala Dinner Highlights

by 3 December 2018

National Agriculture & Related Industries Day Gala Dinner Highlights