May 2012 Newsletter

This newsletter provides business news and events on the programs and activities of Business Development, part of the Economic Development Directorate.

Business Development Strategy - Supporting Canberra Businesses

A new strategy to help guide the future growth of the Territory economy was recently launched by the Minister for Economic Development, Andrew Barr.

Growth, Diversification and Jobs - A Business Development Strategy sets out numerous initiatives to encourage economic growth and diversification of the private sector economy, and contribute to job growth.

Canberra already has many advantages including leading education, research and cultural institutions, a highly skilled and educated workforce, a connected and collaborative business community, and is the hub for a dynamic and growing region. The Strategy builds on these strengths to create the basis of a thriving, knowledge-based economy.

The three key themes for the strategy are:

  • accelerating business innovation;
  • supporting business investment; and
  • fostering the right business environment.

See Growth, diversification and jobs - A Business Development Strategy for the ACT

Important changes in the Business Development team

We've moved!

The Business Development team recently moved its offices from the Canberra Nara Centre in the city, further north to Telstra House, at 490 Northbourne Avenue Dickson.

The move completes the physical transfer to offices that also house Economic Development Directorate staff. The majority of Directorate staff are now located in the Dickson precinct – all within easy walking distance.

You can still reach us on the contact numbers you would have in your files and our postal address is also the same:

Business Development
Economic Development Directorate
GPO Box 158

Welcome to Chris Horsburgh, Investment Facilitation

Business Development will welcome Chris Horsburgh to the team from 24 May 2012. Chris will take up the position of Senior Manager in Investment Facilitation.

Chris' primary role will be to promote new investment in the ACT and work with companies, both inside and outside the ACT, to both attract and support major investment projects. He will also have an across-Directorate role, helping us connect new and potential projects - both government and private - to new investors and sources of funding and expertise. The establishment of a dedicated investment facilitation capability in EDD is a major initiative of the Business Development Strategy.

Chris comes to us directly from Austrade where he has led the trade development effort as regional manager for the ACT and Region. Chris has worked very closely with the ACT Government over this period and is well known and respected across the ACT business community. Chris has also worked with the Queensland Government in a similar role.

Launch of the 2012 ACT Chief Minister's Export Awards

Applications are now open for the 2012 ACT Chief Minister’s Export Awards. The 2012 Awards, officially launched by Minister Barr on 14 May recognise outstanding ACT businesses as innovators in our exporting community, and their achievements in showcasing the ACT to the world.

Exporters are particularly important to our economy, driving the creation of wealth, advancing innovation through the exchange of ideas, and integrating Canberra into global trade flows. A number of speakers at the launch spoke of the enormous marketing value of an export award, as well as the benefit derived from the application process.

See further information on the ACT Chief Minister’s Export Awards External Link - opens in new window, including 2011 Award winners and 2012 online application details.

For further information on ACT exporting visit the ACT Exporters Network External Link - opens in new window.

The 2012 ACT Chief Minister’s Export Awards are a partnership between the ACT Government and the Canberra Business Council.

Boosting tourism in Canberra and the Region

State, Federal and Territory Tourism Ministers, including the ACT’s Minister Andrew Barr, recently attended the Tourism Ministers’ Meeting.  Minister Barr took the opportunity to lobby to continue the work towards streamlining trans-Tasman travel arrangements, which will make the trip between Australia and New Zealand simpler and easier.

The meeting took place shortly after Minister Barr announced establishment of an Aviation Taskforce, which will develop a business case for direct flights from Canberra to New Zealand to put to airlines.

While in Melbourne, the Minister also met with New Zealand’s Associate Tourism Minister, Chris Tremain, to discuss the Taskforce, with particular focus on how we can leverage the business, tourism and community benefits flowing on from direct international services.

The Tourism Access Working Group (TWAG), formed through the Ministerial Council, reported on work undertaken around building improved processes between the two countries, work which will benefit hubs like the Canberra International Airport were a focus.

Discussions at the meeting included:

Harmonising and simplifying trans-Tasman travel requirements
Which has the potential to increase New Zealand visitor expenditure by $16 million per year under a ‘domestic like’ border arrangement, and $370 million per year under a ‘common border’ arrangement.

A communications strategy to promote ‘Australia’s Regional Air Express Packages’
Will help inform foreign governments and international airlines on the potential benefits of regional aviation. This would further assist Canberra’s bid to host direct flights to and from overseas.

Canberra as a focus on tourism working group reforms
The Council agreed to use Canberra airport as a pilot case for many of the tourism working group’s reforms aimed at improving access to airports.

Streamlining approval process and regulations to increase tourism investment
The Ministerial Council’s Investment and Regulatory Reform Working Group (IRRWG) reported on the work to date.

The Ultimate Business, Design and IT Student Challenge

The Business Development and University of Canberra (UC) Ultimate Business, Design and IT Student Challenge was launched earlier this year, allowing students to develop ideas and collateral that may be used to promote Canberra as a business and investment destination.

The first pitching session in April involved eight teams, three of which were social entrepreneurship projects. Five teams were selected by a panel to continue to develop their projects.

The Challenge helped finalists create a variety of ideas to promote Canberra including, an application to promote Canberra’s tourism prospects, a competition held during Floriade involving the design and auction of giant tea cups for charity, and a blog which focuses on Canberra’s creativity. Finalists will have access to a mentor to help them prepare for their final presentations.

Tax Reform - Great news for ACT Businesses

Tax reforms were recently announced by the Federal and ACT Governments which will help businesses to invest and create jobs, and support firms who may be doing it tough.

The week of the Federal Budget, Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan announced an initiative which will allow businesses to use their tax losses now, when it is needed most, rather than in the future when businesses may be performing better.

Businesses are currently able to carry forward their tax losses to offset future profits and reduce future tax liabilities. The new initiative will allow businesses to also ‘carry back’ their losses, to offset past profits and get a refund of tax previously paid on that profit.

See Tax relief for Businesses in our Patchwork Economy External Link - opens in new window.

In addition to this, the ACT Government also announced a cut to payroll tax. The threshold at which businesses will become liable for payroll tax will rise from $1.5m to $1.75m. The changes will be effective from 1 July 2012, and will:

  • Give the ACT the highest payroll tax threshold in the nation,
  • Make the ACT the lowest taxing jurisdiction for businesses with a payroll of up to $4.7 million compared to all other jurisdictions, and
  • Support the ACT economy by removing about 115 local businesses from having to pay payroll tax, and provide a tax cut for about 1865 firms.

Eliminating charges for business

Amendments to the Duties Amendment Bill 2012 (No 2) were recently introduced to eliminate charges when a business is transferred to a new owner.

The amendments abolish duty on short-term subleases, removing a small nuisance tax on the ACT business community, reducing compliance burdens and streamlining the asset transfer processes.

What the amendments mean for ACT businesses

The transfer of a commercial sublease as part of a sale of a business is an accepted practice, it allows a new owner to continue operating the business from the same premises under the existing sublease’s terms and conditions. The transfer of such a sublease normally has a nominal value and attracts minimum duty of $20.

This transfer also results in an anomalous situation where goods transferred with the sale of the business - coffee machines, fridges, ovens etc - which otherwise would not be liable for duty, become liable for duty at ad valorem rates because they are associated with a dutiable transaction.

The Bill amends the Duties Act 1999 by abolishing duty on transfers of short term subleases, and consequentially removes the duty on goods transferred as part of a sale of a business.

Transfers of long term subleases, and associated goods, such as plant and equipment, would still be liable to duty.

Lower Fees and Less Red Tape for Businesses Under National Scheme

Changes were recently made to the Business Names Registration (Transition to Commonwealth) Act 2011, which will allow ACT businesses to register their name only once under an electronic national scheme.

Previously, businesses were required to register in both the ACT and NSW if they operated in both jurisdictions. Under the new Bill, businesses will only be required to register once to trade in both locations.

Businesses will only be required to make one registration and payment, regardless of how many jurisdictions they operate in. Proprietors will benefit from lower registration and renewal fees and will have access to a 24-hour online registry facility.

Consumer protection will also be improved by allowing consumers and traders to use the national register to identify and locate business names.

The Bill follows a COAG agreement to adopt the national business names registration scheme.

The Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) will administer the new business name register which will commence on Monday 28 May 2012.

Learn how the changes can assist businesses by visiting the ASIC business name homepage External Link - opens in new window.

Internationa Students to Sell Canberra

The 2012 International Student Ambassador Program was recently launched by Minister for Economic Development, Andrew Barr, with the ACT’s tertiary institutions selecting 35 international students to represent them and their countries of origin.

The program aims to build a growing number of advocates extolling the benefits for studying, living and working in Canberra, while also ensuring that the international students already here feel welcome.

This year’s program will pilot a social media strategy to help promote the program and sell Canberra abroad. See the ACT International Student Ambassador Facebook page External Link - opens in new window.

A range of official events and educational opportunities are organised for the ambassadors, including business, cultural, sporting and social events and their role includes promoting the opportunities and lifestyle that Canberra offers to fellow students locally and internationally.

The ACT is a world leader in international education, with more than 11,000 international students from about 90 countries studying here.

ScreenACT to expand it's activities

In the context of the Business Development Strategy, the Government has committed to increase its support of ScreenACT, the Territory’s Office of Film, Television and Digital Media.

ScreenACT delivers industry support programs, acts as the voice of the sector at local, national and international forums and provides professional development to local screen practitioners.

The additional support will enable ScreenACT to focus on screen project development activities, thereby creating a healthy flow into the marketplace of high quality projects that are eligible for support by the ACT Screen Investment Fund.

Keep up to date with @ACTScreen, ScreenACT’s Twitter account, updates include upcoming events, initiatives and newsletters.

More information on ScreenACT can be accessed on the ScreenACT website External Link - opens in new window.

Double the funding for CollabIT

As part of the Business Development Strategy, on 30 April 2012, Minister for Economic Development, Andrew Barr, announced that funding provided to CollabIT would be doubled to $100,000, to help small and medium sized enterprises in the ICT Sector.

CollabIT has developed a strong reputation for bringing SMEs, multinational companies, education and research organisations together around collaborative and commercial opportunities in Canberra’s ICT sector.

CollabIT’s vision is to generate $50 million worth of business for Canberra’s ICT SMEs over the next three years. The program aims to achieve this through its collaboration tool and a well-planned program of activities and networking events.

Government reduces Red Tape for local business

Three amendments were recently made to the Government Procurement Act 2001 to improve administrative efficiency by streamlining ACT Government Procurement activities.

The first amendment makes the process of notifying ACT Government contracts more efficient. The change relates to the financial threshold at which "notifiable" contracts entered into by organisations to undertake Government work must be open for public scrutiny, and the way in which that threshold is set.

The second amendment streamlines the reporting of "reportable contracts" to reduce administrative processes. Currently the Act requires the Government to provide the Public Accounts Committee with a report on reportable contracts every six months. The Bill amends the reporting period to every 12 months.

The third amendment corrects an inconsistency in the Procurement Act. The Act currently has one section stating that public text needs to be publicly available for two years, while another section states that public text of a contract only needs to be accessible until the contract ends.

The Bill corrects the inconsistency, clarifying that the public text of notifiable contracts will be publicly accessible for at least two years after the contract ends.

Save the Date - Women in Global Business Speaker Series

The Women in Global Business National 2012 Speaker Series: Growth Markets, will be held in Canberra on Friday 27 July, 2012.

Now in its sixth successful year, the 2012 event will showcase individual experiences about international trade and export, through the eyes of local business women.  Amanda Hodges, Trade Commissioner & Consul-General from Istanbul, will share her insights into what it takes to be a successful woman in growth markets and how to make the most of your business.

Keep an eye on the Women in Global Business website  for the latest information on keynote speakers.

The event will commence and conclude with networking sessions, allowing you to share ideas, learn from and build relationships with other attendees.

Event details:

Date: Friday 27 July 2012
Time: 8.30am – 12 noonVenue: Regatta Point

Who should attend?

  • Business women who are currently exporting or investing internationally
  • Business women contemplating international expansion
  • Corporate business women
  • Expatriate business women
  • Leaders responsible for the development of business women
  • Government representatives responsible for business programs focussing on women
  • Women’s organisations
  • Individuals interested in promoting the development of business women in an international context