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Business News

RIC reaches 3,000 farm loan customers

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Pilmore family - RIC 3000th customer

RIC reaches 3,000 farm loan customers

 

Australian Government low-interest farm business lender, RIC (Regional Investment Corporation) has reached a new milestone settling 3,000 farm loans worth more than $3.24 billion since inception on 1 July 2018.

RIC Chief Executive Officer John Howard said reaching 3,000 farm loan customers was a significant milestone and is pleased RIC has supported so many Australian farmers during succession, start-up and through tough financial times.

“We’re proud to support Australian farmers with our low-interest loans to build farm businesses like our 3,000th customer, Earth Eggs, operated by South Australian egg producers, Trudy and Andrew Pilmore,” said Mr Howard.

“Trudy and Andrew have decades of industry experience and it’s great to see them bring this to owning their very own farm business for the first time with help from their RIC AgriStarter Loan.

“Agriculture is a challenging industry to start out and operate in, but RIC exists to provide some financial relief to family-owned farm businesses across Australia.”

Pilmore family - RIC 3000th customer

Pilmore family – RIC 3000th customer

As owners of Earth Eggs in West Range, South Australia, the Pilmores settled their RIC AgriStarter Loan at the end of 2023. This low-interest loan will help to fast-track their business plans after they purchased the egg production business in September 2022, after 22 years’ experience working for others in the industry.

Mr Pilmore said: “We were looking at how we were going to finish off some of the projects to build the business and it was pretty tough with the interest rates – our cash flow was very tight.”

It was the RIC AgriStarter Loan’s 5-year interest-only period that appealed to the Pilmores who have eliminated more expensive farm business finance and are using the money they save to keep the interest repayments on their remaining debt down.

Mrs Pilmore said: “Having a cheaper interest rate means we can keep going and finish those projects, and we buy-in additional pullets about four times a year.

“Our RIC loan also means we can eliminate our equipment finance loan and the extra money we will save will be used to keep the interest on our remaining debt down.

“It was really a grand leap of faith, but I think everybody needs a good egg.”

Earth Eggs is home to 8,000 hens producing up to 4,500 eggs daily. Its product is classed as pastured free range, a type of production which focuses on lower stocking densities and rotational grazing so there is always ground cover and plant species for the hens to eat, in addition to grain.

For more on RIC loans, visit here. For more on Trudy and Andrew Pilmore’s story, visit here.

 

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Business News

What does the supermarket code of conduct actually do?

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Food and Grocery Code of Conduct - What does the supermarket code of conduct actually do?

What does the supermarket code of conduct actually do?

 

By Jeff Gibbs

Public scrutiny of supermarkets has a longstanding history. Nearly a decade preceding the current spotlight on inflated prices and allegations of price gouging, a code of conduct was instituted to address the market disparities between major retailers such as Woolworths and Coles and their suppliers. Fast forward to the present, and it’s evident that issues persist. A 2023 report revealed that over a third of Australian vegetable producers contemplated exiting the industry within a year, citing pressures from retailers on pricing and shrinking profit margins. Consequently, the federal government has commissioned a review of the code of conduct.

So, what precisely is this code, and does it effectively operate? Introduced in 2015, the Food and Grocery Code of Conduct serves as an agreement aimed at enhancing business practices within the supermarket sector, particularly concerning the dynamics among retailers, wholesalers, and suppliers. While suppliers are mandatorily covered by the code, participation by supermarkets remains entirely voluntary. Notably, major players like Woolworths, Coles, Aldi, and Metcalf (parent company of IGA) have all opted in.

Under the code, supermarkets bear several obligations, including the fundamental principle of conducting dealings with suppliers in good faith — be it during negotiations, contract establishment, or dispute resolution. However, the code refrains from explicitly defining the concept of “good faith.” Instead, it delineates various factors to assess good faith, such as acting honestly and without retaliatory or coercive measures. Additionally, supermarkets are required to appoint their own code arbiter to investigate disputes and propose resolutions, though a recent review highlighted supplier concerns regarding the arbiters’ lack of independence, resulting in scant formal complaints.

Should a breach of the code occur, suppliers possess the option to file formal complaints with the designated arbiter. Yet, a central critique of the code emerges here: due to its voluntary nature, supermarkets face no tangible repercussions for non-compliance. This deficiency was acknowledged by Dr. Craig Emerson, tasked with leading a review of the code, who emphasised that instituting penalties within a mandatory code could incentivise greater adherence from supermarkets. Nonetheless, supermarkets argue that the paucity of complaints indicates smooth relations between them and suppliers.

Food and Grocery Code of Conduct - What does the supermarket code of conduct actually do?

The Food and Grocery Code of Conduct serves as an agreement aimed at enhancing business practices within the supermarket sector.

Will the code undergo revision? It remains uncertain. Dr. Emerson is slated to deliver a report on the review by June’s end, which will furnish a recommendation to the federal government on potential amendments — either retaining it as a voluntary pact while modifying certain aspects or overhauling it into mandatory regulation. The government, led by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, asserted a commitment to taking requisite action following the review’s outcome.

This was acknowledged by Dr Craig Emerson, who said proper penalties in a mandatory code would improve supermarket behaviour after he was appointed to lead a review of the code in January.

“Critics point to the weak enforcement powers in a voluntary code,” he said in early February.

“A mandatory code with penalty provisions would likely incentivise greater compliance by supermarkets.

“Enforcement options could include infringement notices and court proceedings to impose financial penalties for non-compliance.”

Supermarkets, however, say the paltry number of complaints shows the relationships between them and suppliers are running smoothly.

Is the code going to change?

It might, but we don’t know for sure yet.

Emerson is due to deliver a report on the review by the end of June.

That will include a recommendation to the federal government on whether to amend the code – that is, keep it as a voluntary agreement but change some other elements – or remake it entirely to turn it into mandatory regulation.

The government will then have to choose whether or not to accept Emerson’s recommendation.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said when the review was launched that he “will not hesitate to take action” if it’s required.

 

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$900K IN FINES HANDED OUT AS SAFEWORK CRACKS DOWN ON FALLS FROM HEIGHTS THREATS

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Working at Heights in Construction campaign from SafeWorks NSW Blitz

$900K IN FINES HANDED OUT AS SAFEWORK CRACKS DOWN ON FALLS FROM HEIGHTS THREATS

 

Almost $1 million in fines have been issued at the halfway point of SafeWork NSW’s 12-month blitz on falls from heights.

The ‘Working at Heights in Construction’ campaign followed a concerning rise in the number of serious injuries and deaths attributed to falls from heights, resulting in 17 people killed between 2018 and 2022.

Since May 2023, SafeWork Inspectors have visited 1,218 worksites resulting in 1,499 Improvement Notices, 727 Prohibition Notices and 352 Penalty Notices amounting to $972,000.

The blitz has seen Inspectors visit several commercial and residential sites across the state, as well as conducting high visibility checks in manufacturing and warehouse industries in addition to inspections in the transport industry leading up to a busy Christmas period.

During their field work, Inspectors gauged that 65 per cent of industry is using the highest form of safety measures as their first choice including the use of fall prevention devices, such as roof guardrails and scaffolding, rather than fall arrest systems such as harnesses.

SafeWork will continue to prioritise the safety of workers at heights in 2024 with continuing inspections, starting off with a blitz on the safe installation of rooftop solar panels this month.

Working at Heights in Construction campaign from SafeWorks NSW Blitz

Almost $1 million in fines have been issued at the halfway point of SafeWork NSW’s 12-month blitz on falls from heights.

Contractors and builders are obligated to protect workers by identifying height risks and taking steps to control these hazards as far as reasonably practical by implementing higher order controls.

Workers who have concerns about workplace health and safety can anonymously contact SafeWork on 13 10 50 or through the ‘Speak Up Save Lives’ app.

More information relating to working from heights can be found via the SafeWork website

Quotes to be attributed to Head of SafeWork NSW Trent Curtin:  

“As we pass the halfway point of SafeWork’s ‘Working at Heights in Construction’ compliance blitz it is important to note that falls from heights is still the number one cause of traumatic fatalities on NSW construction sites.

“While it is encouraging that 65 per cent of industry is using the highest form of safety measures, this means that 35 per cent are not and this needs to change. Otherwise, businesses run the risk of workplace accidents as well as fines and prosecution.

“During one worksite blitz a SafeWork Inspector noted a worker who was not connected to a harness system while working on a roof. When questioned as to why they were not connected, the worker reasoned that they had been roofing for 30 years without an incident.

“Attitudes like this will eventually result in a workplace accident or death. This is simply unacceptable. SafeWork Inspectors will not hesitate to stop work on site, issue fines and consider prosecution against businesses and individuals disregarding the rules.”

 

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Delivering employment pathways for diverse women

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Return to Work Pathways Program

Delivering employment pathways for diverse women

 

Local organisations in the Lismore electorate can now apply for funding for programs that empower women from diverse backgrounds to thrive in the workforce.

The NSW Government’s Return to Work Pathways Program has launched a new round of applications with grants between $100,000 and $250,000 available for organisations to provide training, mentoring and pathways to employment for diverse women.

Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin said the Return to Work Pathways Program was designed to help women from diverse backgrounds overcome barriers to employment.

“I want everyone in my community to enjoy the same opportunities to succeed in their career.

“This program has a proven track record of helping women to overcome barriers and gain a sense of achievement in their chosen work.

“I encourage local organisations with ideas to help women succeed, to apply for this funding.

Since its inception in 2023, the Return to Work Pathways Program has funded 13 successful projects and is supporting more than 1,000 women with their employment goals.

Return to Work Pathways Program

Return to Work Pathways Program

Minister for Women Jodie Harrison said the NSW Government was committed to fostering economic opportunity and boosting female participation in the workforce.

“The Return to Work Pathways program focuses on initiatives that support women who are experiencing persistent barriers to employment.

“Grants awarded through this program have helped women access sustainable employment opportunities through coaching and training, mentorships or local opportunities.

“Creating pathways to employment means women can have financial security and face life’s challenges with confidence.”

The Return to Work Pathways Program will focus on supporting women and girls:

  • From Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
  • Living in regional, rural and remote areas of NSW
  • Of diverse sexualities and genders, including those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex, queer and/or asexual
  • Who are living with disability
  • Who are living with mental illness
  • Who are in contact with the criminal justice system
  • Who are veterans

Return to Work Pathways Program grant applications are now open and close Monday 11 March 2024. For more information on the grant program, eligibility information and how to apply, visit here.

 

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