Important News that will impact on us this year

In case you missed it, thought I’d share with you the following News that came out late last year that will have an impact on us all in 2014 and onwards:

NSW Quick Hitch Position Paper Update – the implementation date has been extended to 1st of May, 2014 to allow the industry and market to adapt. Click here for more information.

Mandated Payment Terms – The Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal has from the 1st of May made it Mandatory for trucking companies to pay all owner-drivers and contractors any undisputed amount within 30 days of receiving an invoice. It is part of the new pay structure brought in under the Safety banner related to working hours etc. Whilst ensuring people always get paid in reasonable time frames for work carried out is a good thing, it adds significant red tape, and there will be many parties in Australia that will keep an eye on what impact it has.

Red Tape Reduction – Last year the Qld Government removed 9404 Red Tape Regulations. Depending on the angle you look from, that is a lot. Or perhaps not. It is just 3.55% of the 265,189 STATE regulations we Business people have to stay on top of. We’ll need to add all the Federal and Local Council ones to this total, many of which are contradictory. Gee, it’s so easy to run a business!?!

Workplace Bullying – from the 1st of January, it has now become the role of Employers to control the issues of Bullying in our Society. An employee is not required to discuss an issue with their employer, but can make a claim to the Fair Work Commission. The Commission has two weeks to investigate, and can then order the Employer for the Bullying to stop. Fines imposed can be up to $10,800 for an individual and $51,000 for an Organisation. Don’t get me wrong, bullying is serious. But, the Onus is on the Employer and/or accused Bully to prove if it didn’t happen. Second, most issues between two people is usually due to different opinions about something. This is part of life, whether in the park, sporting field, pub or workplace. Employers can’t discriminate when employing based on a persons’ viewpoints (and diversity in a workplace is an Asset, not a hindrance). So whilst Employers have to “fix” the centuries old Bullying issues immediately, Governments’ assistance to business by comparison is quite cute: less than a month before the Laws take effect, Safe Work Australia has put out a glossy 23 page “Guide for Preventing and Responding to Workplace Bullying”. Most of it is common sense (that maybe isn’t so common any more?), and the Guide carries a big disclaimer that if followed, it “has no automatic evidentiary duty in court”, that is, don’t rely on the Guide, you’ll have to find your own ways of solving this problem.

New Privacy Laws – from March 12, 2014, the Privacy Act has had 13 new Principles added. In essence it means you now need to have in place processes to track ALL contacts with your organisation, from initial contact onwards. If that is not hard enough, you need to ensure nobody uses this information in any other way than the contact requested. How you guarantee that if you for instance were using a Cloud Computing system I don’t know, but I’m sure there will be a further “Guide” written by someone who doesn’t work in the real world a week or two before the Laws take effect.

Economic Information – and in closing, some general Economic Information, not related to anything else, but food for thought:

  • China’s Total Government Debt to GDP has now been estimated for the first time at 54% of GDP. The OECD definition of Hardship is at 60%. 3 Provinces, 99 cities and 3465 Townships have a debt-to-GDP ratio of more than 100%, meaning unable to meet commitments and in the same basket as Spain, Italy etc. Not that I’ve ever understood what GDP has to do with Government Debt – GDP is “the turnover” of the country, whilst “Government Debt” can only be paid out of the Taxes they collect (which is but a fraction of GDP).
  • 47% of all Listed Shares on the Australian Stock Exchange are owned by Offshore Investors. When we talk of being “Open for business” we should clarify this to mean “Open for Trade”. For example, China is already the Worlds’ largest Beef Consumer, and is predicted to double their market by 2018. “Open for Business” seems to mean we sell off the farm, rather than sell the beef. What we need to do is encourage Foreign Investment into Greenfield businesses, that is, start ups.
  • The Return in all Super Funds increased strongly in 2013 by 13.7%, and have averaged over 6% per year over the past 10 years. 31% (and growing) of all Superannuation funds are held by Self Managed Super Funds. These funds are increasingly looking for long term investment areas, which is likely to fuel an interest in constructing more long term Infrastructure Assets.
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