WWWalker's Government Legislation Changes

Workcover NSW Workers Compensation Scheme Changes

As of 30/6/06, the NSW State Government has forced small businesses with under $200,000 wages per year to change to a new agency for workers compensation insurance chosen by WorkCover NSW, not the company being insured. After 1 year they can change to one of their own choice. This will introduce a degree of non-competitiveness with fulfilling insurance claims and managing clients instead of rewarding better performing insurers. This will lead to higher overheads in keeping our workers safe and cared for due to bureaucratic choices rather than market driven choices for a company like ours in a very competitive industry.

The massive swapping of small businesses with wages under $200,000 per year to new players in the workers compensation field has caused huge backlogs. In May 2006, the company we deal through was getting 800 calls/day and had to move to bigger premises. Phones were ringing out and not being answered due to the overload.

Who knows how Cambridge Australia (now Xchanging) won the tender when they were so under-resourced? It turns out they were moving premises in April/May and upgrading their computer systems, all with no information to their customers. Email is the best way to get through to them.

This is what happened due to a bulk movement of customers to a new player and no resources being available to cope with the demand. Small businesses are left waiting for hours or days to get through by phone. It would have been wiser to use the Internet to allow customers to update their contact details or upload forms such as wage declarations or pay their workers compensation premium via secure payment over the Internet using BPay, direct transfer or credit card. American outsourcing companies that have entered the NSW workers compensation market are seizing on opportunities to make a quick buck but are not investing in the local economy.

The NSW Minister for Small Business does not have control over this. The NSW Minister for Commerce does but seems to be pushing small businesses through the hoops to recoup costs from workers compensation rorting by tricky workers. Small businesses are paying for bigger companies' inefficiences.

Luckily Campbell resigned from NSW Cabinet in 2010 to free the position up for a better person.

Write to your local paper if this affects you. This does more good than going through politicians or bureaucrats that have vested interests in maintaining the status quo.

On 19 April 2007, we swapped back to QBE after the year expired and how happy we are now! All the dead wood is behind us now and no more badgering by a difficult department like WorkCover NSW to wear us down any more to fit in and put up with a pathetic company like Cambridge because the law said so!! 'The Law is an ass.' Freedom is a great feeling in a business. Cambridge as usual made things difficult by sending requests for actual wages twice due to a computer stuff up. We are glad not to deal any more with Cambridge.

Many others have left Cambridge for a better resourced insurer due to the badly handled tender to Cambridge by WorkCover NSW. WorkCover NSW and Cambridge were very difficult to get any answer from - stoney silence. This is very poor management in my opinion, ignoring the problem and hoping it will go away rather than reacting and overcoming it.

The current ALP NSW Government was not kicked out in the latest election on 24/3/07 but was in March 2011 and this kind of bungling not removed or remedied yet (2011) so it is up to individual businesses to adjust the best they can by changing insurers after the first year of hell. Cambridge did not have the resources for a massive swap and WorkCover NSW did not want to acknowledge the problem so we the little companies suffered. We fight back by moving back to a better resourced company like QBE and stop this nightmare of bungled tenders.

This is the one of the biggest rorts I've seen and smacks of complete arrogance of the NSW State Government over its citizens, the attitude of 'we know better' and 'take your medicine'. No way, not this little brown duck! We believe in choice and a listening ear or we punish the supplier by taking our business elsewhere.

Workcover NSW threshold

From 30.06.2008, Workcover NSW has a $7500 wages threshold for taking out a workers compensation policy. Policies taken out in error cannot get a refund. We are cancelling QBE from December 2009. Minimum premium is $175.

Small Business Commissioner Bill 2013

In March 2012, I met Yasmin King, the new NSW Small Business Commissioner, at Orange at DPI offices - very level-headed government official.

In May 2013, NSW Government has legislated Small Business Commissioner Bill 2013. This forces government and big busineses not to crush small businesses.

For premiums 2013-14, NSW Government also gave incentives for paying Work Cover ontime (5% discount) and keeping injuries down and return to work under 13 weeks (10% discount) and reduced premiums by 7.5% in 2013, all good news! See Premium rate reductions fact sheet 3998.

See letter from Small Business Commissioner, Yasmin King, dated 2 May 2013.

WorkChoices Industrial Relations Changes

On 27/3/06, the Australian Government introduced legislation that will force incorporated entities (Pty Ltd) to:

Following its 2012 Annual Wage Review, Fair Work Australia has increased minimum weekly wages by 2.9%. This increases the national minimum wage to $606.40 per week, or $15.96 per hour for employees not covered by an award or agreement. see more

This will put pressure on small companies like ours to tighten controls through our project management system on bad customers trying to get lower prices, use smarter technology and outsource non-essential jobs. Managing labour costs will be essential to remain competitive.

If you run a company as working director, obviously you cannot make a claim against yourself as it would be self-defeating so this is a special case. The company must be profitable to survive.

Contractors, which is what we are, are special as they work for an amount for a specified result to be delivered at an agreed deadline using their own tools and being required to repair any problems instead of for wages so they can earn large amounts. The trade-off is there are gaps between jobs where the money has to last. As a result hourly rate and hours per week worked are averaged over a year to smooth out the peaks and troughs that come about from such unpredictable work. So there are inherent risks as well as rewards in contracting.

To reduce overheads and risks, we never hired anyone but outsource nearly everything. Australia has such a bad reputation for industrial disputes that I avoided it altogether by not hiring anyone but myself in the company making us very nimble and not bogged down by wage disputes. There are no layoffs in bad times. Being the owner, we never sack ourselves, so there is job security while profitable. We just relocate, change product or service and use technology to cope, making us very nimble, agile and able to survive better.

On 28 March 2008, the Rudd Labor Government rescinded the WorkChoices legislation and stopped further Australian Workplace Agreements from being created (more).

Fair Work Ombudsman

If you are a company, you can have your books inspected to see if you meet the pay/time data requirements. Paying PAYG creates data for pay. Time records are collected from timesheets. It is hard for contractors who work for a set amount and have to monitor their own hours. Often contractors are confused with self-employed people who are sole-traders. A company, even if it has 1 staff and 1 director (the same person), must comply. It is legal to have a company with 1 director. It is a microbusiness. That requires a lot of logging and data entry to collect all the pay/time data and keep it available at the fingertips for sudden government inspection. Bookkeeping is an increasing cost for small businesses and contractors like ourselves. We just do it ourselves to save employing an accountant or bookkeeper but it is tedious and detailed work that pulls us away from doing our job. It must be done though.

"Generally, company directors are not considered employees for the purposes of the Workplace Relations Act 1996 and its Regulations 2006, therefore as an employer you have an obligation to ensure you are complying with the act in relation to those who would (under the Act) be regarded as employees (but not for yourself)." (19/1/07)

This was a complete fizzer.

The Workplace Relations Regulations 2006 repeal and replace the Workplace Relations Regulations 1996 to accommodate the WorkChoices amendments to the Workplace Relations Act 1996 introduced on 27 March 2006.

On 30 May 2011, the then Australian Assistant Treasurer the Hon Bill Shorten MP, Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation, released a Consultation Paper into Reporting of Taxable Payments for Contractors in the Building and Construction Industry (27/6/2011 Master Builders Association). This would create more paperwork for contractors which would require them to modernise and use Web-based accounting systems to remain viable and to comply with ATO tax law re paying tax due, like we did in 2010 due to a computer crash and allows us to do our ATO BAS and Company Tax anywhere there is internet access.

In July 2013, after Rudd coup in June, David Bradbury is now Assistant Treasurer.

Changing Registered Office with ATO Online Saga

Since about 2005, ATO requires businesses to call up with registered office change of address as bp.ato.gov.au does not allow for registered office to be changed online although everything else is able to be changed online. I complained in August 2013 to Ross Vasta MP but ATO rang back asking for details over phone and did not fix problem with Website processes. ATO could update registered office via SBR Web service with ASIC using Auskey authentication but won't. ATO is prehistoric. I contacted ATO SILU and got an email. My local member contacted ATO SILU and I got a phone call saying SBR ELS Gateway would be implemented in 2015.

Government Contracts: Public Liability Outrageous for Small Business

State and Federal Contracts require $10,000,000 public liability cover which costs $7500 to $10,000 per annum, despite if we got the tender or not. This is way out of the reach of a small business like ours.

To afford this, we would have to have $50,000 turnover or more per year, a long way to go. This allows multinationals to blossom and small Australian companies to waste away. Another solution is to form a consortium to group together risks and have one umbrella insurance policy. The amount of administration to achieve these kind of government contracts bogs down our business pushing us away.

AIIA is pushing for limited liability on smaller jobs rather than unlimited liabilitiy which costs so much to insure, to make going for such tenders viable. Our government badly needs overhauling in its dealing with small business contracts.

Small Claims at Local Court and Credit Card Interest Gouging by Banks

If you put in a Statement of Liquidated Claim and the Defendant seeks to pay by instalments, they can pay any amount per week, fortnight or month so it can get down to $25/fortnight for up to 2 years. This will wear the plaintiff down till they give in and enter notice of discontinuance letting the defendant off and the plaintiff paying all the costs - a dead loss - instead of banking endless small cheques to get paid a small amount. Administration kills these kind of claims. Cutting losses stops the rorting and keeps the business still viable instead of being bogged down by administration for little value to the business. We are giving up on country clients as they are generally slow payers and difficult to get to pay and try to do more than they can afford so tend to bring down the creditor who is subcontracting to them unless the creditor kicks the debtor off by writing off the loss.

We decided in January 2008 to not pursue claims against slow payers or bad debtors through the courts as most times the person owing money never pays or gets off on a loophole just holding up valuable resources. So I just ring them up and eventually get money that way. The law is an ass. It pays the government not to close its loopholes as the more debtors there are, the more fees the courts make chasing them down and they get the fees no matter if the money is retrieved or not. The system is a complete failure for small businesses in my opinion. Don't waste your time in the courts pursuing small businesses. It is 99% a waste of time and money.

Credit Law Changes

The Rudd (now Gillard) Labor Government in 2009 is giving more power to the debtor than the creditor by allowing more leniency on repaying bad debts which leaves the creditor scrambling for other sources of income while they wait for the debtor to come good!

Social Security Law saying liability of a company is an income earning asset to director

This ridiculous notion that a company's liabilities are a director's assets made Centrelink deem my company's liabilities as an asset to me earning a few dollars a fortnight in March 2013. This runs in the face of the fact that the money used for the liability was in fact a liability to the director so the so-called money being earned was in fact a loss due to incoming bank interest on the director's loans that fed the company's loans. This is akin to Lehman Brothers bank debacle in USA in 2008 where toxic loans (subprime mortgage crisis) created so-called wealth but when the loans were called in the company collapsed as no-one would bail them out and the loans were not being repaid just going round in circles on minimum monthly repayments with inadequate repayments to get principal down and making borrowers pay off highest interest last causing more to be paid as interest instead of principal perpetuating impossible odds of ever paying off the loans and making the creditors huge profits over many years and impoverishing the debtor who can never catch up and buy assets just service debt.

In 2013, this made it difficult to get a bond loan because the Qld Dept of Communities thought I had cash when it was a liability to the company which was not realised as an asset to me due to cashflow difficulties.

In 2012, the Australian Government forced banks to publish the period of time a credit card loan would take to pay off with minimum monthly repayments and the amount of extra interest paid compared with paying off the loan in 2 years with much higher monthly repayments. It also stopped banks being able to solicit customers to increase their credit card limits.

Working with Children Check (NSW)

In 2010, it cost $80/3 years to have a Working with Children Check via the NSW Police as a one-person business is classified as self-employed, making teaching violin to children on my own unviable. A company of 2 or more staff has a free check. This is way too expensive. Working through a local school requires being hired as a casual teacher.

One Authority for Business Name Registration

Local Government NSW

This group is a source of government IT equipment procurement contracts and industrial relations information.

Dodgy Labour Hire Contractors on Harvest Trail in South Australia

Before 2011, Labour Hire Contractors in Riverland, South Australia were using a loophole on Harvest Trail to list unvetted dodgy jobs where the staff, usually backpackers, were not paid or paid very little plus the dodgy labour hire contractors received Australian Government subsidies for bringing workers into the area. This was shutdown by the Government by vetting all ads on Harvest Trail to make sure the labour hire contractors were legitimate and were paying their staff before allowing ads to be listed. These dodgy labour hire companies were preying on people from outside the area and backpackers and ripping their pay off and not providing group certificates to allow the workers to claim their tax back except through a statutory declaration. The labour hire contractors survived because farmers liked the low rates and did not vet them to see if they were paying their staff or not.

Australian Anti-dumping Law Improvements

In February 2012, Shadow Minister for Agriculture, John Cobb, gives feedback as to why antidumping laws will protect agricultural jobs and the Australian economy from predatory companies offshore who drop prices to get market share then raise them when local companies have gone bust.

The same holds true for cheap IT developers offshore, e.g. in India, who undercut local developers sending them broke or crippling them. Internet development is very competitive and other countries undercut each other to win business using exchange rate, local wages and opensource software and operating systems to reduce costs and be more agile like we do.

Immigrant 457 Visa Streamlined for Permanent Residency

In AFR 10-11 March 2012, the Australian Government streamlined 457 Visa holders seeking permanent residency by not having them resit tests.

This will lead to more immigrants and more competition for jobs. Locals stand to lose unless they rise to the occasion and create their own jobs.

This supports big business who only want to hire but not train new staff. Big business want the ceiling for 457 visas raised to 190,000 per year which would put pressure on local businesses. We are small and have to invest in our training to remain viable.

USA has tougher laws blocking migrants becoming permanent residents to protect jobs. We need to follow USA on this and not bow to big business who want quick profits rather than long term education and building up Australian workers. Australia for too long has cut corners on education and brought immigrant workers in rather than train locals which takes longer but is better for the country.

The alternative is a Banana Repubic where we use our resources to pay for immigrants to service our country. This is not healthy but with Australian Governments not willing to get the education system right, there will be a huge opportunity for skilled immigrants to take well paying jobs from less-trained locals.

Mining Tax

Australian ALP Government got the 30% minerals resource rent tax (MRRT) through Senate in 19 March 2012 which will start on 1 July 2012. Mining companies (BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Xstrata have been making huge profits in the past 2 or 3 years from the huge growth in China of mineral processing plants and middle class economy (cars, houses, gadgets). This will aid small business (under $5M/yr turnover) with company tax of 29% (down %1).

ALP Government is doing strides to help the underdog. Liberal Party blocks anything where money is redistributed to the rest of the economy from a select few very wealthy individuals and companies. As Obama said, the trickle down effect of rich people passing on wealth is a myth. They just hoard the money so government intervention in the form of a resources tax was necessary to make Australia more equitable.

Exetel reducing agents' commissions unilaterally

In March 2012, Exetel Pty Ltd announced it would unilaterally reduce agents' commission from 7.5% to 3% from 1 May 2012. ISP Agents Talk Forum was setup by agents to fight back against the injustice of Exetel underpricing its products so taking an axe to commission to pay for it.

Mention was made of a 1987 High Court decision with NSW Coal Association that showed management could not cut basic rights of a worker:

No doubt our traditional system of industrial conciliation and arbitration has itself contributed to a growing recognition that management and labour have a mutual interest in many aspects of the operation of a business enterprise. Many management decisions, once viewed as the sole prerogative of management, are now correctly seen as directly affecting the relationship of employer and employee and constituting an "industrial matter".

In April 2012, Exetel Pty Ltd made agents get bigger orders and also improved commission for 1 short-term service.

National School Chaplaincy and Student Welfare Program

After much debate in 2011, the National School Chaplaincy and Student Welfare Program is being extended by the ALP Government in 2012. This is a breakthrough for commonsense and will help the mental and social health of teenagers when they are most vulnerable and prevent suicides.

Multi-Level Companies in USA

Multi-level companies that pay commission to agents then feed back money into a common pool to grow company bigger. These companies do not pay their bills on time.

Small Business Unfair Dismissal Code 1 Jul 2009

Cross Media Laws - Convergence Review

In June 2012, newspaper owners like Fairfax are closing paper publication units and going totally online with pay walls to generate revenue to counter falling paper sales. Australian Government is heralding tightening up laws for cross media ownership including digital media making publishers panic that the Government is restricting freedom of speech.

Since about 2005, traditional newspapers have lost heavily in classifieds to Google, other search engines and Facebook social media online advertising.

Amazon Web Services and other cloud providers are heralding a major move to the Web for online publications and ebooks so that small bloggers can compete head on with large newspaper empires for journalistic content.

Since the advent of the Apple iPad in 2010, online newspapers have taken off over paper editions.

Revision of Telecommunications Consumer Protection (TCP) by 1 September 2012 to protect consumers from Telcos bill shocks

Telcos have to warn customers when they are nearing their cap to avoid unaffordable cost blowouts.

Privacy Act enchancements

Asylum Seekers

NSW Government sue ERG for breach of contract for TCard

Because of these problems, NSW Government is not keen to invest in mobile technology. ERG has created the usual fear and loathing about hitech projects.

Two Speed Economy

The mining sector is growing much stronger than manufacturing which needs to replace old staid work practices with agile and lean methodology.

Live Export Trade to Indonesia

In 2011, Australian Government banned live export of cattle from Australia to Indonesia due to cruelty to animals which grossly affected cattle farms' sales forcing them to leave cattle ready for slaughter in Australia losing money as stock died. Greens influenced ALP to block live exports till Indonesia caught up with stunning pre-slaughter.

Local Government Recognition in Australian Constitution

This should lead to Canberra directly funding Local Governments on infrastructure projects but not block state-local government relations. This would be a huge breakthrough as state governments usually favour capital cities and ignore country areas but with Canberra funding local government country and city councils would be supported equally by Canberra not lopsided like currently via state governments who favour where the most votes are and not the obvious need of country areas over city areas.

The 7 September 2013 federal election was held 1 week too early to allow the local government referendum to be held with it so it will be held in 2014 at higher expense with another referendum.

Stolen Generation

Aboriginal issues are going to be central in 2013 election.

Inactive Bank Accounts Taken by Australian Government

Deposit or withdraw small amounts to keep accounts active or Government will take it from May 2013.

Criminal Intelligence Sharing, ISP Data Retention and Data Breach Reporting

Gonski Education Reforms

Super Reform

Caretaker Period of Australian Government

Homesslessness

Inquiry into IT pricing

Manus Island Detention Centre

In July 2013, Australian Government moved to setup 3000 person detention centre on Manus Island to stop people being drowned off Christmas Island. The Australian Government still won't negotiate with originating countries to sort out mess that generates these asylum seekers.

In 2012, I suggested to John Cobb MP to move Christmas Island detention centre to Derby WA as it is remote and has a good aboriginal population to assimilate them but got no response.

This problem has dragged on from 2002.

Brisbane Draft New City Plan 2013

Road traffic accidents in New Cleveland Rd Gumdale need more roundabouts.

RPEQ

In Queensland, only engineers with RPEQ may work. This means software engineers like me with a BSc not a BEE have to be recertified with Engineers Australia at a cost of $600. This makes Queensland engineering a closed shop and anticompetitive. This stopped me tendering for a TMR contract in 2012 where they only wanted professional advice from a civil engineer.

Carbon Tax

eBay favouring seller

In August 2013 when a purchase of a battery went wrong due to payment not going through, the seller would not cancel the order and I had to wait till unpaid ticket expired. eBay terms and conditions are draconian and give all power to the seller. Only payments via PayPal using credit card are OK as direct transfers and PayPal via savings account are too risky or impossible to setup if battery of mobile for Netbank SMS is flat. I had to buy battery from Local Batteries in Capalaba in end at 5 times price to stop hell but still paperwork ground on for another week till unpaid ticket expired because seller would not cancel order.

Seller was from Malaysia with Melbourne shipping address and was as tight as hell and did not allow for error. Malaysia does not charge GST. Malaysian would not provide tax invoice only PayPal receipt making whole mess start as I then asked for the product as I had started PayPal purchase and Malaysian tried to back out because they could not provide tax invoice.

Now I cannot get order cancelled and am in deadlock with seller as they say their PayPal email address was accurate despite me sending it there and them not receiving it as I believe they gave me the wrong email address or they checked the wrong email account. There is english barrier and culture shock here.

Later at my complaint re outstanding open ticket past expiration date, eBay retrieved PayPal transaction ID to prove to seller item had been paid and to get seller to close open unpaid item case and ship item.

The stalled transaction was cancelled by eBay at my persistence and product not shipped. End of hell.

Queensland Open Data Revolution

Energy Regulation

Crazy Domains name taken over by Dreamscape Networks without notification 2011

Casualisation of Jobs

No Science Minister or Funding

We need science and R&D to bring us out of the recession quicker otherwise it will be a slow recovery. Science gives big bang for the buck. Anti-science is very popular.

When I was in Canberra, I heard 18 Sep 2012 Bandt (Greens) (later in 29 October 2012 too) ask the Govt what it was going to do about research spending, with scientists from a conference in the peanut gallery. The Govt cut spending and University of Melbourne asked its graduates for money in 2013 to fill the gap created by moving money from tertiary education to secondary education.

Credit Cards Compromised

Renting in Queensland

Fraud

Infrastructure Australia

Retail Leases

Australia Post

In December 2013 at Brisbane GPO, to move a company post office box, I had to have:

I rang 131318 who had my company documents used in opening the PO Box posted to my address in Brisbane so I could formalise the closure without having to go back down to get the papers or contacting ASIC for a new copy.

This needs to be digital using Web services between ASIC and Australia Post like ATO are doing in 2015.

NBN Access Providers

Only Telcos and access providers who have signed a wholesale agreement with a wholesaler of NBNCo have login access to roll out data on portal sent via email on Telco and Access Provider mailing list. If you are not in that category, unsubscribe from NBNCo Telco and Access Provider mailing list. NBNCo will not provide you with information re this hassle. I worked it out myself.

Translink

Rail flagfall is $10 on Translink gocard. Correct fare will be adjusted when customer tags off. Bus flagfall is $5 till tag off when it is adjusted. I had to work this out myself via calls to Call Centre.


Lack of Bailouts by Federal Govt

Created: 2 May 2006 23:04
Last Updated: 14 Feb 2014 17:31

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