Welcome to the inaugural Mackellar business newsletter, a quarterly publication that will let you know the latest business events, announcements, and opportunities to support your business.
In this first edition, we seek your feedback on the Federal Government’s proposed workplace relations reforms and how they may impact your business. Read all about the recent visit to Mackellar by Industry and Science Minister Ed Husic MP and how to uncover business grants you may be eligible for. We also provide insight into energy efficiency tools to help save on power bills and free mental health support for small businesses.
Proposed Industrial Relations Laws - Will they impact you?
The Federal Government is looking to introduce amendments to workplace relations legislation, which I have summarised briefly below. I’ve consulted with business and industry groups and would welcome your feedback on how the proposed reforms below may affect you and your business.
Same job, same pay
The Government is proposing that labour hire workers should be paid the same as directly engaged employees doing the same work. The changes will be designed to not affect businesses’ access to labour hire for genuine surges and short-term need, however, some businesses have voiced a concern that the changes will adversely impact sub-contracting relationships.
Employee-like, gig economy regulations
Changes to give the Fair Work Commission power to set minimum protections for workers in ‘employee like’ forms of work (gig workers). The Government says the changes aim to set minimum working standards that reflect workers’ independence and desire for flexibility, while mitigating unintended consequences for workers and businesses. Again, there are concerns that this change may impact independent contractors and the self-employed, increasing supply chain costs and adversely impacting current preferred ways of working within selected industries.
Criminalising wage theft
The Government is proposing to make intentional wage theft a crime and to increase fines for this. The details of the changes, however, need further clarification as mistakes are commonly made because of the complexity of the current system, despite the significant effort and investment that goes into compliance. Increased fines, historically, have not led to reducing claims.
Stronger protections against discrimination
The purpose of this reform is to bring Fair Work Australia’s anti-discrimination laws into alignment with other discrimination laws. One change would see the definition of discrimination altered to include indirect discrimination - where “reasonable adjustments’ could be made to avoid discrimination. This proposal too requires further review to ensure it does not add another layer of complexity or a pathway for more litigation without any corresponding gain.
Please email me at [email protected] with your feedback.
Showcasing Mackellar Innovation!
It was a pleasure to recently host the Hon Ed Husic MP, Minister for Industry and Science, at a roundtable with local businesses to discuss opportunities for investment under the National Reconstruction Fund (NRF). The discussion showcased the incredible breadth of innovation and entrepreneurship we have on the Northern Beaches. The Federal Government’s $15 billion NRF aims to support and invest in Australian innovation, industry and manufacturing so we move beyond the ‘dig it and ship it’ mentality.
The investment will help put Australia in a position to profit from the global energy transition, help create the high-tech, high-value jobs of the future and ensure we have both supply chain and energy security in years to come. We wrapped up the event by taking Minister Husic on a tour of the Ingleside based business BioCarbon. This local business was awarded a grant for almost $300,000 last year to further assist the development of a carbon replacement for coal in the steel making process.
The NRF priority areas are:
- renewables and low emissions technologies
- medical science
- value-add in the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors
- value-add in resources
- defence capability
- enabling capabilities.
For more information on the NRF see here.
Business Grant Opportunities!
There are currently over 800 specific grants and initiatives available for small, medium and large businesses and sole operators. To find out which ones you may be eligible for, register with the Mackellar Grant Finder, a free service that my team and I provide for local businesses and individuals.
You will receive alerts as new grants open that match your criteria and for each grant, there are details on how easy or difficult they are to apply for. You will find grants for free training and assistance with websites, general business, energy subsidies and more.
Free Training - Websites, Social Media and Much More
If you are a small business with 20 or less employees or a sole trader, you may like to utilise this grant - the Australian Small Business Advisory Services (ASBAS) Digital Solutions Program for Businesses. This program offers unlimited attendance at group workshops or webinars and up to four hours of one-on-one tailored support. It works with small businesses to make the most of digital tools and offers broader advice, specific to business needs such as:
- How digital tools can help the small business
- Websites and selling online
- Social media and digital marketing
- Using small business software
- Online security and data privacy
Save on your power bills!
Industrial Energy Tools are a series of tools to help businesses identify the energy efficiency of selected equipment and make improvements to reduce their energy use. The tools ask a series of questions about energy management practices, equipment maintenance and energy efficiency improvements.
A report is generated which provides an assessment of energy maturity and targeted recommendations and identifies opportunities for:
- improving energy management practices
- efficiency upgrades
- optimising equipment, processes and maintenance plans
- researching energy provider rates.
These tools are targeted to the food & beverage industry, refrigeration, road transport, boilers, compressed air dryers and furnaces. For more information see Industrial Energy Tools | energy.gov.au
Upgrade and save
You can access a range of energy savings for your business by upgrading existing appliances and equipment or purchasing new ones. Upgrading your equipment, appliances and system processes will help your business become more energy efficient, cut electricity and gas use and lower the cost of your bills.
These incentives are available through the NSW Government as part of the Energy Savings Scheme. Additional benefits are also available through the Peak Demand Reduction Scheme. Both schemes are part of the Energy Security Safeguard.
Eligible upgrades for small businesses include:
- high efficiency or LED lighting upgrades
- replacing electric or gas water heaters
- installing or replacing existing air conditioners
- replacing windows or doors with thermally efficient windows or doors
- replacing pool pumps with high efficiency pool pumps
- installing efficient showerheads
- draft proofing or sealing windows, doors, chimneys and exhaust fans
- replacing refrigerated cabinets
- installing or replacing certain motors
For more information Business equipment upgrades | NSW Climate and Energy Action
Are you struggling financially? Small Business Debt Helpline
Part of my role as your federal MP is to ensure you have access to the support you need. This program aims to provide free, independent, confidential, and impartial phone-based support to small business owners nationally, regardless of the cause of their financial hardship.
The program can help with:
- Understanding business and personal debts, and personal guarantees and their implications
- Grants and training for small business owners
- Business viability and whether the business can survive.
- Disaster relief for events such as bushfires and COVID-19
- Options for payment arrangements with the Australian Tax Office, creditors, suppliers, and service providers
- Information about closing the business, including bankruptcy and insolvency.
- Where business can access dispute resolution
- Emotional support.
Small business owners can contact the Small Business Debt Helpline by calling 1800 413 828 or via the Small Business Debt Helpline website from 9am to 5:30pm AEST, Monday to Friday.
Mental Health Help
The stress of owning a small business can be significant. The New Access for Small Business Owners Program aims to provide small business owners with up to six structured sessions via telehealth with a trained mental health coach. It is a joint initiative by Beyond Blue and the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman as a response to rising calls for a dedicated mental health support service for small business owners.
Mental health coaches in this program have:
• A small business background - allowing them to better understand the challenges business owners face.
• Twelve months specialised training – including practical learning under specialist clinical supervision.
Business owners can complete the program remotely from anywhere in Australia by phone or video call. No GP referral or mental health treatment plan is required. Eligible applicants include small business owners that must:
• Be 18 years or older.
• Own a small business, or are a sole trader, with 20 employees or fewer.
• Not be currently seeing a psychologist or psychiatrist.
As your Federal Member of Parliament, I can support you by:
• Listening to your needs on issues that matter to you
• Seeking your input on legislation that impacts you
• Raising issues in Parliament
• Voting for initiatives that support you and your business
• Working with the Government to develop the policy that supports business.
Get in touch
If there is an issue you would like to raise with me or something our electorate team can help you with, please email [email protected]. Also don’t forget to follow me on social media via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.