If Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey, not to mention the states, were to pay attention to the OECD, they would raise GST rates and take away incentives to negatively gear and to avoid paying tax on super payouts.
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They would introduce new taxes on land, mining super profits, congestion and death. And at the same time as doing all this, they would reduce company and personal taxes.

The question of which economic and tax policies are best for Australia is, as usual, at odds with the reality of politics. Most of these suggestions are not vote winners.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s two-year Economic Survey of Australia is aimed at dealing with one core issue for Australia – how do we grow and prosper as our resource treasure box keeps dwindling?

“We don’t really have easy solutions,” OECD senior economist Phil Hemmings said.  “We try to make sure policy makers know what the economics say, what direction things should be heading in. There are varying degrees of difficulty in implementation.”

Among the most difficult is lifting the GST, given our leaders have promised repeatedly they won’t. But the OECD says it makes sense. Its report suggested room for a more growth-friendly tax mix that could include broadening the base and raising the rate of the goods and services tax and increasing the use of state-based land taxes. These changes, it suggests, could be combined with a reduction in the company tax rate and personal income taxes.

“With a rate of only 10 per cent and fairly widespread exemptions, GST raises only half the revenues, as a share of GDP, compared with the OECD average and significantly less than the countries making the most use of such tax,” the report said.

While it did not advocate a specific rate, it said New Zealand and Israel had wide bases and rates of 15 per cent and 18 per cent respectively.

Mr Hemmings said somewhere between 15 and 18 per cent would make sense, but would have to be accompanied with compensation to lower-income households. The current system of not having a raft of goods and services taxed was that, despite them being well meaning, they are very inefficient, he said.

“If you’re not charging GST on bread you’re not charging it on bread bought by everybody, including the wealthy,” he said. “It’s far better to have targeted policies that make transfers to low-income households.”

The report also suggested lower personal tax rates, but at the same time stopping those on high incomes claiming concessions to reduce their marginal tax rates. It took particular aim at high-income earners who could lower the tax they paid by salary sacrificing cars, through superannuation concessions and deductions for rental property.

It suggested incentives to negatively gear could be reduced.

“For instance, the Henry tax review recommended a discounting mechanism that would lower the reduction in taxable income from net investment loss.”

Mr Hemmings said those on higher incomes benefited most from rental deductions. He also raised issues with the fact there was no tax on super payouts for over 60s. The report said the current tax treatment of pensions was unusual.

“Making superannuation income tax-free has meant that sizeable sums of public money are implicitly being spent in a way that largely benefits middle and upper income earners,” the report said, adding that for 2013-14 the spend was estimated at about $32 billion, the equivalent to about 2 per cent of GDP.

“There’s room for tax savings on that front,” Mr Hemmings said. “[Australia] is extremely light on tax at the payout of superannuation.”

The report also suggested the Abbott government review the current paid parental leave plan and look at other tax incentives to encourage workforce participation by women. It did not mention tax-deductible child care, but Mr Hemmings said this could be a good option in addition to other forms of support for child care.

In terms of lowering corporate taxes, the report welcomed the Abbott government’s promise to cut the corporate-tax rate. It did not signal a perfect rate but Mr Hemmings said it could go low as 20 to 25 per cent, and be coupled with a tax system that stopped companies profit shifting.

“Campaigns against tax evasion and aggressive avoidance should continue,” the report said.

It also said tax policy should not be a one-way street favouring immediate business interests and called for a tax on miners’ “supernormal profit” despite the Coalition’s big campaign to get rid of the mining tax introduced under the former Labor government.

Some combination of a super profits tax and greater state-based royalties would make sense, Mr Hemmings said.

“With a supernormal profits tax the government only gets revenue when companies are making profits, whereas with royalties they always get revenue, as it’s based on volume. We think a combination of the two would work.”

Other taxes called for in the report included increasing the fuel excise, the introduction of a congestion levy, and a possible new tax on death to stop rich people bequeathing assets to younger generations.

“It’s an issue worth exploring, but one of the problems with death taxation is various forms of avoidance,” Mr Hemmings said. “People start transferring wealth before they die. So you’d also have to look at taxation of gifts. It’s a complicated area.”

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Does the OECD know what it’s talking about? You bet. It might be a committee of Paris-based outsiders, but it works out what to say by talking to Australian bureaucrats. Officials from the Treasury, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Reserve Bank allow it to say in public what they are only allowed to whisper in private.
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The Australian Treasury posts an officer to Paris full time in order to influence the content of OECD reports. It gets a look at (but not the final say over) their wording.

The OECD is concerned that the proposed free market in university fees will not be free at all. If they compete on price it might work, but many of them might not find it in their interest to seem cheap and less attractive.

The OECD says the Abbott government’s plan to pull young Australians off the (already modest) dole will have to be watched to make sure it doesn’t significantly hurt low-income households.  Its plan to increase pensions by only the consumer price index runs the risk of being unsustainable. Eventually the pension will have to be lifted, something not accounted for in the budget’s 10-year projections.

Australia’s superannuation tax concessions are monstrous (2 per cent of GDP) and pretty ineffective. They are directed to high-income Australians who were always going to save and to the compulsory component of super contributions which were always going to be collected.

And our GST is too low. If it was higher and income taxes were lower we’d put in more hours, something the Henry tax review would have told the last government had it not rigged its terms of reference to prevent it.

It’s worth listening to what OECD says. The cone of silence imposed on Australian bureaucrats mean it is one of the few chances we get.

Peter Martin is economics editor of The Age.

Twitter: @1petermartin

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Success? Christopher Pyne’s plan to allow universities to charge more for courses will work only if there is genuine competition, the OECD says. Photo: Alex EllinghausenThe Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has taken aim at a raft of Australian budget measures, describing one as potentially unsustainable and another as requiring close monitoring.
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It has also urged Australia to shake up superannuation tax concessions and to lift sharply the goods and services tax to cut income tax.

The Paris-based organisation’s biennial review of Australia found the balance of risks facing the Australian economy contained more substantial downside than upside.

“External risks, chiefly from commodity markets, combined with speculative activity in the housing sector and uncertainties in the responsiveness of non-resource sectors, could conspire to generate a period of weak macroeconomic activity,” it said.

The Abbott government’s decision to restrict access to Newstart for young Australians might not work as intended, it said.

“The proposals will certainly motivate some to seek and take up work or go into further education.  However, the precise impact of such reform is difficult to predict. Close monitoring, and adjustment as appropriate, is important.”

The report described Australia’s fixed-rate, means-tested Newstart benefit as “modest”. Two years ago it suggested it should be increased.

The report’s lead author, OECD economist Philip Hemmings, told Fairfax Media the Newstart change could have a significant impact on low-income households and had to be watched closely.

The government’s proposed cut to pension indexation was likely to be unsustainable over the long term, he said. Australia’s aged pension replaced only 60 per cent of half Australia’s average wage, which was low by OECD standards.

The government’s plan to remove the link between the age pension and wages would cause its value to drift down in relation to average incomes, Mr Hemmings said. At some point it could “cross socially acceptable limits of adequacy”.

Australia’s tax treatment of superannuation was unusual, the report said.

A Howard government decision to make most superannuation payouts tax free meant sizeable sums of public money were implicitly being spent in a way that largely benefited middle and upper income earners, it said.

The report said Australia’s superannuation tax concessions cost about $32 billion, which is about 2 per cent of GDP.

The government’s plan for fully paid parental leave is expensive and should face a “careful impact assessment” to check that it stacks up against alternative plans that would funnel more money toward child care.

The success of its government’s plan to cut university funding while allowing universities to increase their fees would depend on whether universities competed genuinely on fees. “Monitoring of the reforms will be important to ensure access to higher education is not compromised, particularly for students from disadvantaged backgrounds,” the report said.

Australia’s goods and services tax is low by international standards, raising only half as much of gross domestic product as the OECD average. As a result, Australia’s tax burden falls more on other taxes, including those on labour and business. The report said New Zealand and Israel were good models for Australia, with GST rates of 15 per cent and 18 per cent respectively. To the extent that a boosted GST disproportionately hurt low-income households, the impact could be softened by boosting benefits and carefully designing income tax cuts.

The report backed the Abbott government moves to give the states more control over their hospitals and schools and more direct access to tax. It was critical of Rudd government programs that tied grants to outcomes. Australia’s states had good room to lift their own taxes without help from the Commonwealth, it said.

Excessive exemptions meant only 5 per cent of Australian businesses were eligible for state payroll tax. Local government rates were an exceptionally efficient tax but were underused. Other states should emulate the Australian Capital Territory in boosting local government rates while they lowered stamp duties, the report said.

The decision to replace the carbon tax with direct action grants for businesses that cut emissions could work, having the same effects as a carbon tax at the margin, providing difficulties in establishing baseline emissions and checking the achievement of emissions reductions were overcome, it said.

The report suggested establishing a “secondary market” for direct action grants, which would allow the Abbott government to harness market forces in the same way as Labor’s emissions trading scheme was going to.

While supporting of the government’s plan to spend more on infrastructure, it said the projects approved must be backed with robust and transparent cost-benefit analysis, to ensure economic use of the existing stock and appropriate selection of new infrastructure projects.

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Broken pledge: Joe Hockey. Photo: Alex EllinghausenTreasurer Joe Hockey has broken a pledge to impose tough new tax avoidance rules on multinational companies that shift billions of dollars in profits between Australia and their international subsidiaries.
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The practice of global corporations loading up subsidiaries with debt and then claiming relief from the Australian tax man on the interest paid gives an “unfair competitive advantage” over local rivals, Treasury said in 2013.

“When some taxpayers avoid or minimise their tax in a sustained way, the tax burden eventually falls more heavily on other taxpayers,” a Treasury issues paper found at the time.

The Gillard government announced the abolition of deductions under section 25-90 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 as part of a package to combat tax minimisation by global corporations, at a projected benefit to the taxpayer of $600 million.

In November last year, Mr Hockey and the then Assistant Treasurer, Arthur Sinodinos, announced they would not legislate Labor’s package, saying it would impose “unreasonable compliance costs on Australian companies” with subsidiaries offshore.

The current loophole favours the largest companies operating in Australia. Mining industry sources suggested they include Swiss-based Glencore and Anglo American.

Instead, Mr Hockey – who has trumpeted a global tax crackdown on multinationals through the G20 process – and Mr Sinodinos pledged in November to “introduce a targeted anti‑avoidance provision after detailed consultation with stakeholders”.

But in Monday’s Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook, a single line on page 117 revealed: “The government will not proceed with a targeted anti-avoidance provision to address certain conduit arrangements involving foreign multinational enterprises, first announced in the 2013-14 MYEFO.”

While companies like IKEA and Apple have been in the news for “offshoring” billions of dollars made in Australia, tax experts told Fairfax Media it was Australia-based global players that will benefit the most from the government’s backdown.

Companies with significant operations overseas get a “double bonus” under the existing law, introduced by the Howard government in 2001, because dividends from their international subsidiaries are tax exempt yet the interest on borrowings used to grow overseas operations is tax deductible.

One of the loudest opponents of the plan to abolish deductions was major Liberal Party donor Paul Ramsay, now deceased, who complained it would make it more expensive for his company Ramsay Health Care to use debt to invest in Europe.

On Tuesday, shadow assistant treasurer Andrew Leigh accused Mr Hockey of “sneaking in another giveaway for multinational companies” despite presiding over a near doubling of the deficit in 2014/15.

“Yet again the Treasurer has shown that he is happy to let big companies off the hook while hacking into foreign aid, schools, hospitals and pensions,” Mr Leigh said.

Mr Hockey’s office referred questions to Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, who took on Mr Sinodinos’ portfolio after he stood aside pending upcoming findings by the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption.

In a statement, Mr Cormann insisted “No promise was broken” by the announcement in MYEFO on Monday

“Following consultation with stakeholders and the Australian Taxation Office, it became very clear that a targeted anti-avoidance provision would be ineffective,” he said.

“It is important to remember that the proposed changes to section 25‑90 were never advocated in isolation, but were part of a broader package to address profit shifting by excessive allocation of debt to the Australian operations of multinationals.

“The government has implemented key elements of this package, including tightening the thin capitalisation safe harbour limits and ensuring the foreign non-portfolio dividend exemption for Australian companies only applies to returns on equity.

“As a result of these changes, all debt used to fund Australian operations, including debt used to fund offshore investments which give rise to 25-90 deductions, is now subject to the binding constraint of the thin capitalisation rules, which provide protection against abuse of section 25‑90 deductions.”

John Passant, an outspoken tax expert from the Australian National University, recently wrote about the government’s decision not to abolish section 25-90 deductions.

“It is unfortunate in the extreme that the Treasurer and Treasury have listened to a group of rent seekers being unjustly rewarded by not repealing section 25-90. But since this is a government of the 1% that is not surprising and we can conclude in fact that Hockey’s bluster about addressing tax avoidance by his rich mates is just that – complete and utter bluster,” he wrote.

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Social Services minister Kevin Andrews says it’s not yet possible to tell whether six months is enough time for the government to come up with a revamped paid parental leave package. Photo: Andrew Meares Kevin Andrews Photo: Andrew Meares
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Kevin Andrews Photo: Andrew Meares

Kevin Andrews Photo: Andrew Meares

The federal government’s new paid parental leave scheme may not be ready in time for its scheduled July 1, 2015 start date, Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews has indicated.

Mr Andrews has told Fairfax Media that it was not yet possible to say whether six months would be enough time to come up with the revamped package, after Prime Minister Tony Abbott earlier this month said he would be making further changes to his scheme. Mr Andrews said the government would not know what the timetable is until it had worked on the policy over the summer holidays.

“Until we do that work and know exactly what it looks like and what the parameters are, then we can’t make that assessment.”

Mr Andrews said it was still the government’s “aim” and “aspiration” to meet the July 2015 start date.

“But you have to be realistic about it as well.”

This comes as paid parental leave researcher Marian Baird expressed strong doubts that the government would have enough time to devise the new scheme.

“I can’t see how they can possibly write the new legislation and have it ready by July, unless they continue the current scheme,” the Sydney University professor of employment relations said.

The current scheme, introduced by Labor, provides women with the minimum wage for 16 weeks. One suggestion from PPL critic and Nationals Senator John Williams has been to expand this to 26 weeks and add superannuation.

Mr Abbott has said he remains committed to paying women their “real wage” under his policy. Professor Baird, who is a member of the team evaluating the current PPL scheme, said it would be very complicated to work out what a recipient’s income replacement wage would be.

Earlier this month, Mr Abbott announced that he would be making changes to the paid parental leave scheme that he took to the last two elections over the summer break. While he did not give any specific detail, he said the government would be putting more money into childcare, to come up with a “holistic” families package in the new year.

The Social Services Minister said that the government would be working in a “careful, methodical way” to come up with something “positive”.

He added that childcare had been the issue that voters had been giving him feedback about.

“That’s the issue that people that a lot of people are concerned about. Costs have blown out, it’s difficult for a lot of families,” he said.

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A patient in a seclusion room. Photo: Eamon GallagherThe solitary confinement of mentally ill people is declining in Australia, a new report shows, but advocates say greater efforts are needed to eliminate the outdated technique.
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Data to be released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare on Wednesday show a patient was confined by themselves in about one in 20 occasions in which people were admitted to public hospitals for mental health-related care in 2013-14. The average duration of a seclusion event was six hours.

Nationally, rates of seclusion have declined by an average of 12 per cent per year since 2008-09, when seclusion data was first collected.

Former NSW chief psychiatrist John Allan, who is now Queensland’s chief psychiatrist and the chairman of the Safety and Quality Partnership Standing Committee, said while the decline was “pleasing”, he would like to see the reduction in seclusion accelerated.

He said seclusion was “not really a treatment, but just a way of controlling behaviour”  that could be “quite harmful to the patient”, leaving them feeling “lost and helpless”.

“It isn’t really therapeutic – it might change the person’s behaviour but it doesn’t make them feel better about themselves,” Associate Professor Allan said.

He said it was important to prevent people from becoming so unwell that seclusion was considered necessary.

Reducing or eliminating the use of seclusion has been a priority of Commonwealth, state and territory health ministers for almost a decade.

Despite this, the National Mental Health Commission says the issue is regularly raised with it by individuals and their families as well as service providers and policymakers.

In its national report card on mental health last year, the commission said seclusion was “not therapeutic and not in line with human rights”, and it expressed disappointment that the nation was so far from its target of ending the practice.

The commission plans to issue a position paper on seclusion early next year.

While it is sometimes considered necessary to protect patients and staff, seclusion can also cause distress and trauma.

The NSW Ministry of Health says seclusion, which involves locking patients in a room alone, should be used only as a last resort.

In Victoria, the Office of the Public Advocate had called on the state government to eliminate the use of seclusion in its mental health facilities.

Nationally, there were eight seclusion events in mental health facilities per 1000 bed days in 2013-14, down from 15.5 per 1000 bed days in 2008-09..

Children and adolescents had the highest rate of seclusion, at 9.6 seclusion events per 1000 bed days, with an average duration of 1.3 hours. Older people had the lowest rate – 0.5 seclusion events per 1000 bed days and an average seclusion duration of 3.5 hours.

Forensic services confined patients at a rate of 5.3 seclusion events per 1000 bed days. The average duration of a seclusion event in a forensic service was 64.7 hours.

In NSW, across all public mental health facilities, there were 7.4 seclusion events per 1000 bed days, and the average duration of seclusion was 6 hours. Seclusion occurred in 5.3 per cent of occasions in which a person was admitted to hospital for mental health-related care. Of those occasions that included a seclusion event, the average number of seclusion events was 1.8.

In Victoria, across all public mental health services, there were 9.2 seclusion events per 1000 bed days. The average duration of a seclusion event was 9.5 hours – the highest average duration of any Australian jurisdiction. A patient was confined in 6 per cent of occasions in which a person was admitted to hospital for mental health-related care in the state. Of those episodes that included a seclusion event, the average number of seclusion events was 2.3.

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A luxury $650 million development featuring a five-star hotel has been given approval in Brisbane’s inner-north.
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Australian private property trust Wentworth Equities was given the go-ahead for the four-tower project, by Economic Development Queensland.

The company said the development, known as ICON, would sit on a 7637-square-metre site and become the centrepiece of Northshore Hamilton.

The design was selected after a national competition.

The winning concept, by Australasian design firm Custance, features four distinctive towers and a connective sky-bridge.

The buildings will have 567 residential apartments, an international standard five-star 227-room hotel, a retail and restaurant precinct, an open air public realm and community civic plaza, known as Hamilton Place.

Wentworth Equities executive chairman Sameh Ibrahim said the time was right for significant investment in Brisbane, as it was now growing into a recognisable new world city.

“Brisbane’s diverse economy, growing population base, great employment opportunities, excellent relative housing affordability and availability, climate and natural attributes really make it the place to be,” Mr Ibrahim said.

“The recent G20 Leaders’ Summit further enhanced Brisbane’s international profile and we see only good things for the city’s future. Leveraging this global spotlight, ICON will set a new architectural, lifestyle and economic benchmark for Brisbane, supporting its ongoing transformation into a sophisticated, world-class city.

“As part of Northshore Hamilton, the gateway to Brisbane CBD, ICON will be the jewel in the crown of Australia’s largest waterfront urban renewal project and Brisbane’s premier riverfront precinct, representing a unique lifestyle opportunity for astute buyers looking for style and sophistication.”

The development will be located seven kilometres from the Brisbane airport and also close to the Brisbane cruise ship terminal.

Custance design director Craig Shelsher said ICON’s design was based on four key principles: water, people, place and connectivity.

“Designed to create a visual link to the water, ICON will connect the Brisbane River to Hercules Street Park and onwards to Kingsford Smith Drive, enhancing accessibility to neighbouring developments and throughout the Hamilton northshore precinct,” he said.

“All residences, from studio and one-bedroom apartments, through to three-bedroom luxury villas, will provide views of the river, park or Hamilton Place, which will feature boutique shopping, alfresco dining, a lawn area, subtropical planting and water features.”

Tower one will be 34 storeys and include the 227 five-star hotel rooms. Tower two will be 31 storeys, tower three 11 storeys, and tower four, 18 storeys.

For more information go to http://www.wentworthequities上海龙凤419m.au/portfolio/icon/

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CRS Property has sold 33 Church Street at auction for $5.37 million. A 945-square-metre site opposite Epworth Hospital has sold at auction for $5,200,000.
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CRS Property has sold 33 Church Street at auction for $5.37 million.

A 945-square-metre site opposite Epworth Hospital has sold at auction for $5,200,000.

CRS Property has sold 33 Church Street at auction for $5.37 million.

A 945-square-metre site opposite Epworth Hospital has sold at auction for $5,200,000.

CRS Property has sold 33 Church Street at auction for $5.37 million.

A 945-square-metre site opposite Epworth Hospital has sold at auction for $5,200,000.

SALES

RICHMOND

A 945-square-metre site opposite Epworth Hospital has sold at auction for $5,200,000. Fowler & Co stationery group put 80-82 Bridge Road on the market with vacant possession through Andrew Morley, from Morley Commercial, and it was sold to publicly-listed Primary Health Care.

GLEN WAVERLEY

Ray White Commercial secured the highest commercial sale in Glen Waverley’s “activity centre” this year with the auction of 54 Montclair Avenue for $5.105 million. More than 100 people attended the auction, with 11 registered bidders starting at $2 million and moving in $100,000 increments, commercial manager Ryan Trickey said.

SURREY HILLS

Two adjoining properties at 463-467 Canterbury Road, covered by three titles, with a combined area of 1091 square metres, have sold for $1.83 million. CVA Property Consultants’ Ian Angelico co-ordinated the owners of the two lots to arrange a sale to arboricultural service The Tree Company. The site, on a prominent corner of Canterbury and Robinsons roads, has development potential.

BRIGHTON

CRS Property has sold 33 Church Street at auction for $5.37 million, for a yield of 3.5 per cent. “The sale reflected the strategic nature of the property, for a retailer requiring in excess of 230 square metres to get into this lucrative Church Street market in the next 2-3 years,” Ian Robertson said.

ORMOND

Gross Waddell has sold three office suites for a total of $2.64 million over one week in a series of transactions managed by Benjamin Klein, Jamie Stuart and Alex Ham. A vacant office suite of 300 square metres at Unit 1, 596 North Road, Ormond, went for $830,000; three office suites at 22 Horne Street, Elsternwick, sold in one line on a return of 7 per cent; and an office suite of 252 square metres at 5-7 Compark Circuit, Mulgrave, sold with a lease in place on a return of 8.9 per cent. All three properties were bought by Melbourne-based private investors.

GLEN WAVERLEY

A 161-square-metre shop at 100 Kingsway sold at auction on a 90-day settlement for $3.3 million. The property, in a sought-after retail strip, achieved a yield of 2.23 per cent, Cameron Industrial Commercial’s David Johnson said. In another deal, a 323,700-square-metre block of land at 1005 Frankston Dandenong Road, in Carrum Downs, sold for $4.435 million.

CARLTON

Colliers International’s Ben Baines and Jeremy Gruzewski have sold a small Carlton office development site for $1.25 million, 40 per cent above the vendor’s reserve. The office at 113 Cardigan Street was sold with vacant possession by receiver PWC to a private investor.

LEASES

CBD

287 Collins Street has secured three new tenants after a refurbishment by new owner BGH Group. Kingfisher Recruitment took 392 square metres for five years, Marks and Clerk Lawyers moved into 392 square metres for six years and Fenton Communications has 392 square metres on a 10-year lease in deals negotiated by JLL’s Will McLaughlin and Simon Dick, along with CBRE’s Mark Bolis, Scott McGlone and Milly Stockdale.

PORT MELBOURNE

A 546-square-metre office/warehouse/showroom at 8 Rogers Street has been leased to a marketing company for $80,000 a year net, plus outgoings and GST, by Kliger Wood’s Andrew Thorburn. Mr Thorburn has also leased another factory/office, at 1/37-39 Lexton Road in Box Hill, to the Melbourne Cheer Academy on a five by five-year lease and $90,000 annual net return, plus outgoings and GST.

CBD

Windsor Smith Shoes has walked into a prime shop with a basement in Bourke Street Mall. The shop, vacated by Petra Hair Care, will be refitted on a rent of about $9000 a square metre, said Allard Shelton director Patrick Barnes. Colliers International’s Mike Crittenden and Ben Tremellen were joint agents.

MULGRAVE

Gross Waddell’s Jamie Stuart and Benjamin Klein sold a ground-level strata office suite at 1b/5-7 Compark Circuit to a private investor for $870,000 on a solid 8.8 per cent yield circa. The office had a passing rental of $77,000 a year (net) and was leased to international software company Ascribe on a 3 x 3 x 3 year lease.

DANDENONG SOUTH

Minus 1 Refrigerated Transport has snapped up a surplus hardstand area on a neighbouring Brickworks yard at 53-59 Elliott Road for $80,000 a year on a five by five-year lease in a deal negotiated by Colliers International’s Luke Jesson, Gordon Code and Justin Fried.

PORT MELBOURNE

Mining manufacturer Fenner Dunlop has taken a three-year lease in GPT Group’s Citiport Business Park at 294 Salmon Street. Colliers International’s Vincent Tran declined to comment, but office rents typically fetch about $250-$350 a square metre in the area.

MOVERS

Renowned petro-chemical valuation expert Ronald Newton, owner and founder of Ronald A Newton and Associates, has merged his valuation practice with Opteon Victoria and will head up its newly formed Petroleum division.

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Supermarket chain Coles has no plans to ease up on discounting after admitting its treatment of more than a dozen grocery suppliers was “unacceptable”.
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Coles has put paid to suggestions its offer to settle two major unconscionable-conduct cases brought by the ­Australian Competition and Consumer Commission could bring an end to the grocery price war.

Industry players said Coles’ ­admissions of unconscionable conduct and its offer to refund suppliers who were forced to pay extra rebates to fund a supply chain program could curtail its ability to extract further price ­reductions from suppliers.

However, Coles said its strategy was to continue to reduce prices for ­customers by funding reductions from cost savings, productivity gains and long-term supply agreements.

“We won’t step away from that ­commitment,” a spokesman said on Tuesday as the retailer waited to learn whether Federal Court judge Justice Michelle Gordon would consent to the terms of the proposed settlement.

“That’s our stated target, there are no bones about it – our strategy is to continue lowering prices and improving relationships with suppliers,” he said.

Industry sources have also ­suggested that suppliers beyond the 200 smaller companies involved in the Active Retail Collaboration (ARC) program could take advantage of Coles’ admissions to seek recompense for past wrongs.

As part of undertakings made to the ACCC, the retailer has established a ­formal process that will enable small suppliers to seek recourse if they believe they have not received benefits from the ARC commensurate with the costs.

The process will be led by former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett, who will appoint an independent audit firm to conduct a cost-benefit analysis for each of the 200 small participants. It will be up to each supplier to decide whether to seek reimbursement.

Separate to these undertakings, Coles has established a supplier charter and put in place measures whereby aggrieved suppliers can request an independent review of their dealings with the group. The dispute resolution process, which is also overseen by Mr Kennett, may enable more suppliers to seek refunds.

The Coles/ACCC settlement has ­further convinced analysts that a ­$1 billion profit transfer from grocery suppliers to the major supermarket chains may be coming to an end.

According to Morgan Stanley, supplier profits have fallen from $6.1 billion to $3.7 billion over the past few years, while Coles’ and Woolworths’ profits have risen from $3.1 billion to $4.4 billion. “The profit shift from suppliers to the major supermarkets – Coles and Woolworths – has been a considerable source of profit growth,” said Morgan Stanley analyst Tom Kierath.

“While Coles has been found in violation on this occasion, we understand that the ACCC is investigating similar actions by other grocers,” he said.

“As the Australian Food and Grocery Council implements the grocery code of conduct in 2015, we believe suppliers will have firmer grounds to stand on in dealings with the supermarkets.”

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Nothing holding him back. Vosseler has turned hardship into motivation. Looking sharp…Jesse hits the pads under the watchful eye of his trainer.
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Vosseler had aimed for the Olympics in his youth.

Despite losing his leg to cancer at 16, Brisbane boxer Jesse Vosseler rolled with the punches and has now joined the ranks of Australia’s professional boxing elite.

Vosseler turned professional after defeating competitor Jesse Saavedra at Ipswich’s Big Fight Night competition at the Grand Hotel in Yamanto on November 19.

Becoming professional has proven a long road, after having his leg amputated from the knee down as a result of a cancerous tumour.

Pursuing boxing for “personal strength” at 18, Vosseler eventually grew strong enough to jump in the ring seriously at 24.

And despite admitting he never thought he’d get this far, he has shown no signs of slowing down.

“When I first got back in the ring, I just wanted to get in once and fight and I wanted to prove to myself I could still do it,” he says.

“Now, I’ve had over 20 fights back in the ring and still going.”

The amputation put “a big dint” in Vosseler’s confidence, a passionate pugilist who grew up with Olympic ambitions.

While acknowledging he could have gone “a lot further” with the sport, Jesse is proud of all he has achieved during his comeback.

“I’ve still managed to accomplish some good heights even though I’ve lost my leg and I overcome it to fight for an Australian title in the Australian Amateurs and turn professional,” he says.

For Jesse, boxing is an outlet that alleviates him from his disability. He cites a pure “love of boxing” as the key driver that motivates him to get back in the ring.

“When I’m boxing I don’t feel like I am disabled in there. I feel like a fighter, a warrior. When I’m in there boxing I forget all about my leg. It’s a different world for me, that’s what I love about it,” says Vosseler.

He credits fitness and a healthy lifestyle for helping to re-build his confidence and self esteem during his recovery.

“Even if it isn’t a sport, if your just getting fit again and going to the gym or something like that just to build your confidence up…If you’re fit and healthy even after a loss of limb it’s amazing for your confidence and how you feel about yourself,” he says.

Sean Reynolds, Manager and head trainer at Tuff Technique Boxing and Fitness at Chermside believes Jesse is a “huge influence and inspiration to people and a lot of kids” because of his persistence and dedication to the sport.

Reynolds foresees a prosperous future ahead for the up-and-coming lightweight.

“I’d rate him as a kid who will go very far in boxing,”

Mr Reynolds described Vosselor’s boxing year as “gruelling”, winning 10 fights and wrapping up the year by turning professional.

After taking it easy leading up to Christmas, Reynolds foresees Vesselor stepping back into the ring in March next year.

“He’s a brilliant boxer and yes I’d say people will look out for him because he’s going to go places.”  

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