||Throughout the State Election CCIQ promoted its ‘Big 3 for Business’, the business issues that our members said the next State Government must address. The ‘Big 3 For Business’ called for better economic & fiscal management; a reduction in Government costs on business; and a reduction in Government red tape. From the creation of the ‘Big 3 For Business’ report and website, through regional visits, social media campaigns and PR activity, meeting with both Andrew Fraser – then Deputy Premier and Treasurer and Tim Nicholls – then Shadow Treasurer CCIQ has fought to ensure that our members’ voices have been heard loud and clear by all political parties.
As a result of CCIQ lobbying the LNP committed to
- Reduce red tape by 20%.
- Reign in Government expenditure.
- Increase the payroll tax exemption threshold from $1 million to $1.6 million.
- Scrap the commercial waste levy.
This is a great result for business and will result in direct and indirect savings for the vast majority of CCIQ members and Queensland businesses, resulting in greater confidence, opportunity and benefits for the whole of the economy and wider community.
CCIQ in its budget submission did not call for a further improvement in the competitiveness of Queensland’s business operating environment, as we believed that the existing commitments made during the state election campaign will, when delivered, provide a significantly beneficial impact to small business and the wider economy.
However CCIQ publicly and very strenuously articulated its full support for the State Government in its efforts to restore fiscal integrity to the State Budget.
The State Government remains committed to its election promises to deliver a better operating environment for Queensland businesses by stabilising debt levels, returning the budget to surplus and regaining Queensland’s AAA credit rating. The budget delivers $7.016 billion in operational and capital savings and reduces the debt legacy left by the previous government by $4.6 billion by 2014-15.
Debt and reckless spending is beginning to be addressed, and the changes to the payroll tax burden, the removal of the waste levy, the easing of red tape will ensure that Queensland’s economy grows. Importantly, reducing the debt inherited from the previous government will save taxpayers over $1.3 billion in interest payments alone over the coming three years. This creates a cash flow for the government in the coming years which can be used to further cut business costs and invest in important infrastructure. Overall, CCIQ strongly supports the fiscal repair task embarked upon by the Queensland Government as it will lay the foundations for a strong and prosperous state economy.
||CCIQ has lobbied extensively to abolish the $35 levy per tonne on commercial and industrial, construction and demolition and other forms of hazardous business waste.
The LNP State Government have removed the Waste Levy. From 1 July 2012, the Commercial Waste Levy will no longer be imposed on waste at the landfill site and accordingly cannot be collected by waste contractors. CCIQ has written to the Minister to ensure that the repeal is passed on to businesses through reductions in waste charges and disposal fees.
||CCIQ has been working on a number of projects over the past two years to bring the significant issue of red tape to the attention of the Queensland Government including canvassing our members on the impacts of excessive regulation, developing business red tape case studies to identify red tape hot spots and working directly with agencies to address business needs.
CCIQ is working progressively with the State Government to deliver initiatives such as the removal of the environmental declaration for real estate sales, abolition of the code of conduct for textile outworkers, Green tape reduction act and others.
The Office of Best Practice Regulation has adopted all CCIQ recommendations on how to achieve the LNP’s commitment to reduce red tape by 20%.
||CCIQ meets regularly with the Reserve Bank of Australia to provide information on how the Queensland economy is performing. These meetings have directly provided the RBA Board with a Queensland snapshot to aid in their consideration of monetary policy settings. Further to this CCIQ in conjunction with the RBA now hosts a quarterly small business roundtable with the Bank to pass on small business views.
||RBA over the last year has reduced the official \cash rate from 4.5% to 3.25%.
CCIQ has provided two detailed submissions to the Federal Government on the Fair Work Act. Key points raised included businesses remain concerned about the federal industrial relations system eroding flexibility, productivity and profitability. 63% of businesses believe the Government does not have the balance right with the current Act - with the pendulum swinging too far in favour of employees.
CCIQ is listening to Queensland employers and in the near future will release our Workplace Relations Blueprint, which will map out our vision that we share with Queensland employers for a productive, sustainable and competitive workplace relations framework in Queensland and Australia as a whole. We will call on both sides of politics prior to the next federal election to make strong commitments to reform the current system to ensure that Australian businesses can remain competitive in both the domestic and international marketplace.
CCIQ recently met with Senator Eric Abetz, Shadow Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, to discuss the issues confronting Queensland businesses. In particular, we conveyed to Senator Abetz the difficulties Queensland businesses have told us that they are facing under the Fair Work Act 2009, including issues relating to the availability of unfair dismissal and adverse action laws.
Recommendations put forward by CCIQ to be considered include:
- Unfair dismissal Law exemption for small and medium businesses;
- Simplify the Act and employer obligations;
- Allow more flexible arrangements to be negotiated between employers and employees;
- Limit the involvement of third parties;
- Increase support for businesses to enhance compliance and understanding;
- Review overtime and weekend penalty rates for industries trading seven days a week.
We welcomed the opportunity to meet with the Senator, and look forward to hearing more about the Coalition’s workplace relations policies in the lead up to next year’s federal election.
|Annual Wage Review
||CCIQ, on behalf of Queensland businesses, strongly argued to Fair Work Australia for a wage increase of less than $9 per week due to serious concerns regarding the inability of many Queensland businesses to fund a wage increase and/or pass that increase onto their customers. CCIQ highlighted that in the current business environment, jobs are more important than a substantial increase in wages.
||The Fair Work Australia’s Minimum Wage decision was to increase minimum wages by 2.9% which equates to a $17.10 per week increase to the Federal Minimum Wage. The amount was significantly lower than last year and well below the ACTU’s $26 per week claim. However CCIQ believes it is irresponsible of Fair Work Australia to award a substantial increase in minimum wages in an environment where so many businesses are struggling to maintain their current employment levels and maintain their viability for the long term.
||Ongoing representations to the State Government to seek improvements to Queensland’s workers’ compensation scheme to make it the best, most competitive and most financially stable scheme in the country.
CCIQ has appeared before parliament to make the following recommendations:
- The State Government commit to the introduction of a Whole Person Impairment (WPI) threshold to accessing common law damages and a working party be established to determine the appropriate threshold level (0-15 per cent);
- Recognition of efforts and investment by employers in workplace health and safety and injury prevention through lower WorkCover premiums;
- Increased emphasis on worker accountability;
- Strengthening the requirements to prove an injury occurred in the workplace;
- Exclusion of ‘journey to and from work’ in claims for workers’ compensation.
|Harmonisation of Workplace Health and Safety Legislation
||Continuing work with both State Governments to implement a nationally harmonised system of Workplace Health and Safety legislation. CCIQ over the past several years has been working tirelessly towards a national and fairer workplace health and safety system.
||CCIQ has provided detailed feedback to WHS Qld seeking changes in relation to particular matters under the regulations and Codes of Practice that will significantly decrease the regulatory burdens and costs on businesses.
||CCIQ, on behalf of Queensland businesses provided a submission to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education and Employment about the Inquiry into Workplace Bullying. Subsequent to this CCIQ also appeared at the Parliamentary Hearing.
CCIQ put forward three key recommendations to the Inquiry into Workplace Bullying:
- Reduce current regulatory burdens and compliance measures
- Enhance focus on early intervention and preventative measures
- Improve coordination between agencies and stakeholders by preferably developing a single point of entry that deals with and accurately records workplace bullying
CCIQ is pleased that the Standing Committee in their final report into Workplace Bullying adopted all three of CCIQ’s recommendations. In particular no additional regulation has been proposed to address workplace bullying, but rather increased educational support and improved collaboration between government departments has been recommended.
CCIQ raised significant concerns about the impact of dramatic increases in electricity prices brought about by the forced shift to market contracts.
On 30 May the Queensland Minister for Energy and Water Supply announced the appointment of an Independent Review Panel (IRP) to oversee the reform of power delivery by government-owned electricity entities in Queensland. CCIQ has met with the Panel to raise business views on the adequacy of Queensland electricity industry and pricing.
For many small and medium businesses with average electricity usage, the QCA’s recommended tariffs will result in an increase of only 0.9 per cent with some users benefiting from a 0.5-1.0 per cent decrease in annual electricity charges.
This represents a dramatic turnaround on the double digit price increases of the previous several years. Electricity prices across the previous 5 years under the previous methodology have risen by 64 per cent.
Of significant importance to business users with electricity use above the average, who previously were facing possible price increases of between 20% and 100% due to the forced shift to new tariffs and/or market contracts, the QCA has recommended a twelve month transitionary period which will see price increases capped at between 10% and 20% depending on a business’s existing tariffs.
|Skills and Training
||CCIQ has highlighted key issues affecting Queensland businesses, including skills shortages, labour mobility and the quality of traineeships and apprenticeships.
The Queensland Skills and Migration Taskforce released its final report on Tuesday, 6 November 2012. Key CCIQ representations captured in the report include:
- government funding for VET should be provided to those training providers that meet employers' needs;
- decision-making for VET should be decentralised to regional areas;
- TAFEs should be required to operate on a competitive basis and its funding should be made on a contestable basis;
- and that there should be a greater focus on workforce planning and reskilling.
CCIQ lobbied the State Government to move the Labour day public holiday to the first Monday in October to coincide with Labour Day in New South Wales, South Australia and the ACT.
CCIQ is supportive of delivering a move even spread of public holidays throughout the year and national consistency.
|LNP have returned the Queens Birthday holiday to June and moved the Labour Day Public Holiday to the first Monday in October.