Thursday, May 26, 2016

Digital startups thrive in Fishburners Sydney hub

Late last year - well before the election date was called - the Prime Minister unveiled his "innovation statement" to provide more support and opportunities for digital startups.

Malcolm Turnbull wants to drive an "ideas boom" and has set aside a billion dollars to promote research, development and innovation.

But how are those aspirations playing out in the real world of business where the race to commercialise the next big idea is more cut-throat than ever?

I visited the Fishburners startup hub in central Sydney to find out.

Listen to my report here

Read the the story on ABC News Online

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Living standards to fall without budget repair, ACCI warns

A major business lobby group is warning that living standards in Australia are in jeopardy without significant budget repair.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has jumped on research from the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation & Development) which shows Australia has tumbled in a key ranking for global competitiveness.

According to the OECD, Australia slipped from tenth position to 21st over the past decade, coming in behind the tiny European nation of Luxembourg.

ACCI's newly-appointed chief executive James Pearson told the ABC's AM program Australia's demise on the competitiveness scale was "unacceptable" and risked living standards.

"Australia's global competitiveness must improve or we risk sacrificing the high living standards which we, our parents and our children have come to expect," Mr Pearson said.

"We are an economy in transition and a nation at the crossroads. We cannot be complacent."

The Chamber - which represents more than 300,000 businesses - will today unveil a ten point strategy to boost global competitiveness and to boost the path to budget repair.

The plan appears to back the Coalition's economic agenda with a lower company tax rate of 25 percent over ten years, tax reform and the restoration of the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC).

However, James Pearson told AM  the proposal was bipartisan and aimed at protecting Australia against global shocks.

"Whichever party becomes the government after this election has it within their grasp to commit to sensible reform," Mr Pearson said.

"It is also vital that parties throughout this campaign demonstrate economic responsibility. Every dollar of additional tax places a bigger burden on future generations."

Mr Pearson also rejected suggestions that the return of the ABCC was the restoration of Workchoices under a different name.

"Workchoices is a ghost story told by the union movement. It really belongs to the past," he said.

"The Fair Work Act alone has around a thousand sections, over 200, 000 words. That's hardly streamlined system."

Follow Peter Ryan on Twitter @peter_f_ryan and on his Main Street blog

Monday, May 23, 2016

China flags growing demand for Australian dairy products

China has flagged an even greater appetite for Australian dairy products as consumer demand surges for high quality agricultural imports from downunder.

Bank of China executive vice president Gao Yingxin told a conference in Sydney this morning that Australian remains well positioned to feed China given its history of "riding on the sheep's back".

"Australia is endowed with a mild climate, vast farmlands and fertile pastures providing unlimited potential for agricultural development," Mr Yingxin said.

Mr Yingxin said China's appetite for Australian dairy products was a major focus in catering for the appetitie of its rising middle class.

"Between 2005 and 2013, the children's milk market in China great at average of 20 percent. Recently the adoption of a two child policy will create even more business opportunities ," he said.

More than six hundred delegates have travelled from China for a major investment conference hosted by the Bank of China and the Australian Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

Around 240 business - 120 from China - and another 500 attended have gathered by Sydney Harbour for the China-Australia Agribusiness Trade & Investment Conference.

The carefully choreographed event is designed to bring small to medium business from Australia and China together to develop trade opportunities.

Trade between Australia and China is estimated to be worth $150 billion a year.

The Federal Minister for Trade and Investment Steve Ciobo says Australia has to adjust to the changing commodity price landscape to exploit even greater trade opportunities with China.