Monday, September 04, 2017

Bernard Salt warns Australia lacks entrepreneurial spirit

Australians are not entrepreneurial and lack long-term vision, according to author and social commentator Bernard Salt.

"The confronting fact is we are not entrepreneurial, we are not enterprising, we don't demonstrate initiative," he told the Family Business Australia conference in Hamilton Island on Thursday. "We need to embrace and admire people who can create businesses."

Salt calculates the top 10 businesses in America today by market capitalisation are Apple, Google, Microsoft, Berkshire Hathaway, Amazon, Facebook, Exxon Mobil, JPMorgan Chase, Johnson & Johnson and Wells Fargo.

"Half of the 10 biggest businesses in America today were formed in a single generation," says Salt. "Here is entrepreneurship writ large."

He calculates the top 10 businesses in Australia today by market capitalisation are BHP Billiton, Commonwealth Bank, Westpac Banking, ANZ, National Australia Bank, Telstra, CSL, Wesfarmers, Woolworths and Macquarie Group.

With the exception of Macquarie, the youngest business in the Australian top 10 is Woolworths formed in 1924. 

"By comparison the Australians look flat-footed, you have to say," Salt says. "You could make the case that 100 years ago we handed out franchises. Here's four banks, here's a telco, here's two retailers and here's a mining company and we ain't moved on."

Salt says while Australia is the third richest country on earth this is not the result of entrepreneurship rather it is due to Australia's natural resources and the scale of the population compared to the size of the continent.

"I would say we have benefited from complacent prosperity," he says. "We are rich enough. There is no fire in our belly. We have cultivated an expectation of prosperity and security. It lulls us into a false sense of security."

"Will there be global disruption from an Amazon or something else coming out of Silicon Valley and sidelining Australian businesses?," he says. "We need to develop a culture of entrepreneurship. The Australian response to business success is 'How did you get to be so rich?'. It is that culture, what we call the tall poppy syndrome that you could argue is a loveable characteristic of the Australian people or I could also make the case it is a fundamental flaw."

It is that culture, what we call the tall poppy syndrome that you could argue is a loveable characteristic of the Australian people or I could also make the case it is a fundamental flaw.

"It is really, really hard to start a business to generate sales to employ people to pay tax and to be a good corporate citizen," he says. "It is hard to do that. We need to shift the way in which the heartland thinks. Instead of 'How did you get to be so rich?' it's 'I admire that quality'. That's the shift."

Salt says this is not an issue for the government. 

"Typically the Australian response is 'What's the government going to do about it?'," he says. "I say, 'What are you going to do about it?'. When you say what is the government going to do about it you abrogate responsibility to someone else. When you say 'What are you going to do?' that means you expect 24 million people to say I admire people who have the guts, the fortitude, the insight, the determination to create a business."

Salt says Australians need to change their mindsets to support and value entrepreneurs and businesses.

"At the core of it is our attitude to entrepreneurship and family business is at the pointy end of that can do attitude," he says.


Australian Christians join Bernardi’s Australian Conservatives

Cory Bernardi’s Australian Conservatives are extending their hold across the country’s conservative political base with more than 500 members of Victoria’s Australian Christians party expected to join them this week.

The Australian Christians Victorian branch will disband on Friday, with the lion’s share of members indicating to director Jeff Reaney that they will join the Australian Conservatives.

About half of Victoria’s Australian Christians’ members participated in a vote earlier this month to disband the branch, following a consensus that Senate voting reforms passed ahead of last year’s federal election had made it near impossible to secure office.

Senator Bernardi had dismissed suggestions of an amalgamation between the two parties, saying instead that he welcomed the new members for the growing Australian Conservatives.

“We’ve merely said we’ll welcome their members into our (fold),” he said.

The move comes less than two months after conservative Victorian upper house member Rachel Carling-Jenkins defected to the Australian Conservatives from the Democratic Labor Party.


Union deals cut Sunday penalties

More than 410,000 workers are covered by union pay deals with big employers that contain zero or below-award Sunday penalty rates in return for higher base pay, according to new analysis that has re­ignited political brawling over workplace relations.

The Department of Employment found unions had 55 agreements with large companies in the fast-food, retail, hospitality and pharmacy sectors that remove­d or cut Sunday penalty rates but paid an above-award rate for ordinary hours worked.

In addition to deals at McDonald’s, Woolworths, Coles, Pizza Hut and KFC, the department said Bunnings, Big W, David Jones, Dan Murphy’s, The Reject Shop, Prouds, IKEA and Priceline were among employers that had deals with the shop assistant­s union paying below-award Sunday penalties.

United Voice also has agreements with the InterContinental hotels in Sydney and Adelaide, the Langham in Melbourne, the Sheraton Mirage on the Gold Coast and three Park Royal hotels­ that do not pay Sunday penalty rates to workers.

Employment Minister Michaelia Cash seized on the analysis to criticise Labor’s attacks on the Fair Work Commission’s decis­ion to cut penalty rates, despite the department acknowledging that each agreement contained higher hourly base rates and that its analysis did not assess hourly rates paid on other days of the week. She said employees who predominantly worked weekends would be “worse off” under many of the deals between the big companies and unions.

“Bill Shorten and the Labor Party pretend to be outraged when the Fair Work Commission adjusts award penalty rates for small business, but have nothing to say about big business paying lower rates under their agreements with unions,’’ Sen­ator Cash said.

“The Labor Party’s silence on these deals can only be explained by the fact they received millions of dollars in donations from the same unions who negotiate these agreements.”

The Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association is one of the Labor Party’s biggest donors, contributing more than $1 million in 2015-16. United Voice gave about $714,000 over the same period.

The opposition’s workplace relations spokesman, Brendan O’Connor, said the agreements were certified by the Fair Work Commission as satisfying the Fair Work Act’s better-off-overall test (BOOT).

“The Department of Employment has itself conceded that the analysis does not ‘compare other terms or conditions in the agreement against the relevant modern award’,’’ Mr O’Connor said.

“Further, the department states that ‘each agreement ­listed that negotiated a lower ­Sunday penalty rate than the relevant award pays a higher hourly rate for ordinary time (base rate of pay) than the award rate’.

“The decision to cut penalty rates, which the Turnbull government supports, is just an unfair straight-up cut to wages — not traded for a better base rate of pay, not negotiated for improved ­conditions.”

ACTU secretary Sally Mc­Manus said Senator Cash’s claims were “politically motivated and based on misleading analysis”.

“This submission is based on a threadbare and deceptive analysis of these agreements,’’ Ms Mc­Manus said. “It ignores the benefits in the EBAs of higher hourly rates, above-award conditions and a range of protections for the impacted workers, all voted up by the workers.”

She said the Fair Work Commission’s penalty rate cuts would see workers’ take-home pay unilaterally cut: “This con job is a polit­ical attempt to point the finger at unions and distract attention from the Turnbull govern­ment’s failed economic theories, where wages are falling and ­inequality is rising.’’

Senator Cash said: “The evidence clearly shows that employees who predominantly work weekends will be worse off under a number of large union agreements than they would be working the same hours under the award. Any higher rates that might apply for weekday work will make no difference.

“The ACTU seems to have no problem with these workers being worse off, simply because a union was involved in the deal.”

As part of its submission to the Senate inquiry into penalty rates, the department analysed 108 agreements, finding that 70 deals covering 431,437 employees had a below-award hourly rate for hours worked on a Sunday. Fifteen­ of the 70 were non-union deals covering almost 18,000 employee­s, including workers at Grill’d, Vodafone, Estee Lauder, the Super Retail Group and RACV Club and ­Resorts.

University of Adelaide law professor Andrew Stewart said it was “hard to draw any firm conclusions­ from this data, because­ in any given agreement there might be sufficient benefits to offset the drop in Sunday rates for the most affected employees”.

“But I think it’s clear enough now from the available evidence that there are a number of agreements in this sector that should not have been approved by the FWC under the current BOOT,’’ Professor Stewart said.

“And this is not because there’s been any change in the appli­cation of the BOOT — there hasn’t — but rather because the FWC seems not to have subjected employer­ and SDA claims about the sufficiency of offsetting benefits to the scrutiny they deserved.”

United Voice national secret­ary Jo-anne Schofield said the penalty rates reductions handed down by the commission were a “pay cut with no other benefit to workers”. “There is an important distinction to make here … that arrangements such as those listed by the Department of Employ­ment are only in place when they have been negotiated by and voted on by the workers themselves and result in other benefits to the workforce,’’ she said.

“All agreements listed were approved by the commission. In many instances there are checks and balances within the agreements, such as limits on the number of Sundays, or internal audit process where employees can ask for a review against the award.”

SDA national secretary Gerard Dwyer said the key factors to consider when comparing awards with enterprise agreements were the weekly take-home pay and the package of conditions that workers received as a result of their agreement.

“A full assessment of the ­benefits that enterprise bargaining entail must include full consideration­ of the practice of rolling up penalty rates into higher­ base rates and superior working conditions, which has delivered strong above-award weekly wages for retail workers,’’ he said. “The rolling up of penalty rates has delivered retail workers weekly wages rates significantly higher than the award.”


'Illegally dumped rubbish': Council removes oBikes blocking Melbourne footpaths

oBikes have been described by Melburnians as clutter, litter, a nuisance and even "visual pollution".

Now the City of Melbourne has officially declared them as such, removing bikes it considers illegally dumped  less than three months after the bike sharing service began swamping the city's streets.

Several pictures emerged on Friday of the infamous yellow bikes wrapped in City of Melbourne tape declaring them "illegally dumped rubbish under investigation".

A City of Melbourne spokeswoman confirmed the council had begun removing some hazardous bikes blocking footpaths.

"We have made it clear to oBike that we need to protect the amenity and safety of the city while balancing the ongoing need to encourage cycling," she said.

"As part of these discussions we have informed oBikes that too much clutter can cause a hazard and that in these instances we will remove the hazard to maintain public access and amenity."

The Singaporean bike share company has been blasted by many Melburnians who describe the bikes as clutter and a tripping hazard. Concerns have also been raised about oBike crowding bike parking.

Melbourne lord mayor Robert Doyle last month told small business operators he was at "the end of his tether", according to a CBD News report.

"We entered these discussions with them in good faith," Cr Doyle said. "They've made promises, including the provision of data and that has not been forthcoming."

"As recently as yesterday, there was real, I would say, anger amongst councillors that they haven't tried to do the right thing."

In an interview with Fairfax Media, Cr Doyle described them as "clutter that must be fixed" and signalled he would ban the dockless share bikes if the problem could not be fixed.

Pictures of the bikes dumped in the Yarra River, in trees, next to tram lines and – as spotted on Friday – on a barge in the middle of Albert Park Lake, have become popular internet fodder.

Councils in Amsterdam and London have banned oBikes in recent weeks, claiming they are a public nuisance.

Wandsworth Council last month confiscated more than 130 bikes and told the company it needed a "drastic re-think" after a flood of complaints, the Evening Standard reported.

Amsterdam city council has also temporarily banned the bikes.

oBike launched in Melbourne in June and trumpeted itself as a high-tech rival to the city's RACV blue bikes thanks to their dockless feature which means they can be parked anywhere.

oBike Australia head of marketing Chethan Rangaswamy acknowledged the company had struggled with "civic awareness" about bike sharing.

"We are actively liaising with local councils to have a sustainable solution to current problems," he said.

oBike says it has an operational team which collects dumped and misplaced bikes.


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

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