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RIC reaches 3,000 farm loan customers

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Pilmore family - RIC 3000th customer
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NOTICE OF MEMBERS EXTRAORINDARY LAND DEALING MEETING

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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Australian Energy Commission Signals Major Overhaul of Complex Electricity Pricing Amid Consumer Concerns

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Australian Energy Commission Signals Major Overhaul of Complex Electricity Pricing Amid Consumer Concerns

 

The Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) has announced plans to overhaul electricity pricing rules in response to growing concerns about complex and often punitive tariffs affecting many households.

Key Points:

  • Revamp Announcement: Anna Collyer, Chair of the AEMC, will address these issues in her keynote speech at the Australian Energy Week conference in Melbourne, highlighting the need for new consumer protections amid the rollout of smart meters and changing tariff structures.
  • Consumer Protections: The AEMC will introduce measures to protect consumers from unexpected tariff changes. This includes requiring greater notification and detailed information from retailers about how changes will impact users.

Background:

The AEMC, which sets the rules for retailers in the national electricity market covering about 10 million customers along the eastern seaboard, is addressing concerns about the rapid and radical changes to electricity pricing. Traditionally, households paid a flat rate for electricity, but the introduction of smart meters has enabled more complex tariffs such as time-of-use rates and demand charges. These changes, however, have left many consumers facing higher bills without understanding why.

Collyer’s Perspective:

Ms. Collyer emphasised the critical role of smart meters in transitioning Australia to renewable energy. She noted that these devices allow consumers to better manage their energy use, particularly in homes with rooftop solar systems. However, she acknowledged that not all consumers are willing or able to adjust their energy consumption habits significantly.

“We need to account for all types of consumers, not just those who thrive on more complexity,” Ms. Collyer will say. She also highlighted the importance of smart meters in the broader context of reducing peak demand and infrastructure costs.

Proposed Changes:

  • Greater Transparency and Notification: New rules will ensure that consumers are adequately informed about tariff changes, including more detailed explanations and the elimination of up-front costs for smart meter installations.
  • Review of Tariff Appropriateness: The AEMC will launch a review to assess whether current power charges are fair and effective in reducing peak demand and overall costs.
  • Innovative Approaches: Collyer urged energy companies to innovate with the advent of smart technology, such as electric vehicles and internet-enabled appliances, which can adjust their energy use based on real-time pricing.

Industry Impact:

Collyer’s speech will also include a challenge to power companies to be more like “Uber, not the taxi; Apple, not Kodak,” encouraging them to embrace innovation rather than sticking to outdated practices.

Conclusion:

The AEMC’s proposed overhaul of electricity pricing rules aims to balance the transition to a greener grid with the need for consumer protections and transparency. By addressing the complexities and unexpected costs associated with new tariff structures, the commission hopes to ensure that all consumers benefit from the move towards smarter energy management.

 

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Apple Reaches Record High with New AI Features: ‘AI for the Rest of Us’

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Apple Reaches Record High with New AI Features: ‘AI for the Rest of Us’

 

Apple Inc. shares soared to a record high after unveiling its much-anticipated artificial intelligence (AI) platform, Apple Intelligence, during the Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday. The new technology, designed to offer a personalised and subtle AI experience, aims to enhance user engagement by summarising text, creating original images, and retrieving relevant data.

Key Highlights from the Presentation:

  • Apple Intelligence: The centrepiece of the event, this new AI platform will integrate seamlessly with Apple’s ecosystem, providing users with advanced features such as text summarisation, original image creation, and intelligent data retrieval. A revamped version of Siri will also be included, promising more precise control within apps and better overall functionality.
  • Stock Performance: Apple’s stock surged 7.3% to $207.15, achieving its first record high of the year despite a lukewarm premarket reaction.
  • AI Market Push: Apple is positioning itself to catch up with tech giants like Google and Microsoft in the competitive AI market, leveraging its streamlined interface and dedicated customer base.

Partnership with OpenAI:

Apple formally announced a partnership with OpenAI, allowing users to access ChatGPT via Siri at no extra cost. This collaboration aims to enhance Siri’s capabilities, with additional features available for OpenAI’s paid subscribers. The AI platform will start rolling out later this year, with some features, including multi-language support, expected next year.

New Operating System Features:

  • iOS 18 and iPadOS Enhancements: The latest updates will introduce an upgraded home screen, a new Control Centre, satellite text messaging support, and enriched communication features in the Messages app. Other notable additions include a Passwords app for secure logins and a redesigned Photos app with AI-enhanced editing.
  • MacOS Sequoia: This update will bring the same Apple Intelligence features to Macs, along with new capabilities like interacting with iPhone notifications and organizing application windows as tiles.
  • VisionOS 2: The Vision Pro headset’s new software will include 3D spatial photos, advanced hand gestures, and the ability to AirPlay content from other Apple devices.

Additional Announcements:

  • International Launch of Vision Pro: Preorders for the Vision Pro will begin in China, Hong Kong, Japan, and Singapore on June 13, with sales starting June 28. The rollout will extend to Australia, Canada, France, Germany, and the UK shortly after.
  • AirPods and Apple Watch Updates: New software for AirPods will enhance call clarity by reducing background noise, while the Apple Watch will feature improved health tracking capabilities.

Apple CEO Tim Cook emphasised the transformative potential of AI for the company, stating, “AI will be the next big step for Apple.” Despite recent revenue declines, Apple aims to bolster user loyalty and encourage more frequent upgrades with these new AI-driven features.

 

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How Australian Women Entrepreneurs are Defying the Odds to Build Successful Businesses

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How Australian Women Entrepreneurs are Defying the Odds to Build Successful Businesses

 

One-third of Australian businesses are led by women, and this number is steadily increasing. Women entrepreneurs in Australia are not only more educated than their male counterparts but are also pioneering innovations in social impact and environmental sustainability. However, significant barriers persist, including gaps in opportunities, networks, resources, and investment.

Key Findings from the Women’s Agenda Report

A new report from Women’s Agenda, in partnership with Commonwealth Bank and CommBank Women in Focus, sheds light on the challenges and opportunities for women entrepreneurs in Australia. The report, which surveyed over 1,000 women business owners and startup founders in April 2024, highlights the following:

  1. Optimism and Determination: Despite the challenges, 75% of respondents are focused on expansion, and over half plan to hire new talent within the next year.
  2. Social Impact: A significant 56% of women-led businesses are dedicated to making a positive impact in areas such as care, health, social justice, and combating family violence.
  3. Economic Challenges: Inflation and the cost of living are major hurdles, with 74% citing these as primary challenges to growth. Additionally, over a third of respondents feel that current government policies negatively impact their businesses.
  4. Talent Shortages: More than one in five women entrepreneurs are struggling with finding and retaining talent.
  5. Gender-Based Barriers: Bias from prospective investors and unpaid care obligations are additional burdens for women founders.

Expert Insights and Strategies

Julie Mathers, CEO of Snuggle Hunny, sees current economic challenges as opportunities for entrepreneurs to become more focused on their businesses. She believes that surviving the current “storm” will make businesses stronger and more resilient.

Dr. Elaine Stead, a venture capitalist with Main Sequence, emphasizes the importance of networks. She advises women entrepreneurs to leverage their networks for support and survival during tough economic times. She underscores that the first priority for small business owners should be to survive the immediate challenges before focusing on growth.

Opportunities and Support Networks

The report highlights that access to networks is the top driver of success for female founders. Over 80% of respondents identified their biggest support as a network that includes other women entrepreneurs, stakeholders invested in their success, and supportive personal connections. This finding underscores the importance of relationship-building in business.

Conclusion

Despite facing numerous challenges, Australian women entrepreneurs are demonstrating resilience and optimism. Their commitment to innovation and social impact, combined with their determination to overcome barriers, is driving their businesses forward. The findings from the Women’s Agenda report reveal that with the right support, networks, and resources, women-led businesses can thrive even in challenging economic climates.

 

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