MGA - Your Voice. Representing our industry and your business at federal, state, local and regulator levels. MGA is there, meeting with the decision makers and “making the case” for the sustainability and prosperity of our members' futures.
Summary of Advocacy July 2019 – June 2020
This is a summary and update of advocacy matters and issues MGA has and is currently addressing at Federal and State levels on behalf all members.
MGA summary of Advocacy during Covid-19
During this horror period, most MGA members were fortunately able to keep trading. MGA was able to very quickly establish agreement with the federal, state and territory governments that supermarkets, timber and hardware businesses and packaged liquor retailers should be regarded as essential businesses to stay open for trading to support and serve their local communities.
Early on, in the Covid-19 period – early March – and as businesses began to shut down, including the entire hospitality industry, MGA saw consumers begin to “panic buy” - to levels never seen before in our history.
After 4 months of “shut down” we are now working on the recovery stage – businesses coming out of hibernation.
This will be gradual to ensure the Covid-19 curve stays flat. Part of the small business recovery stage is to ensure all businesses provide Covid-19 SAFE workplaces – MGA/TMA has been party to assisting with this strategy for its members.
The Government and MGA has adopted the next stage as being one to Respond Recover and Reform.
Since early February MGA’s focus temporarily came away from assisting family and privately owned businesses in the Bushfire effected parts of Australia, to becoming heavily involved with many Federal and State Government Minister and Small Business Commissioner led task forces and business recovery groups.
During this time MGA has been very active representing members with the following business recovery groups which have met and continue to meet on a regular basis via video or tele-conferences.
NSW – Treasury NSW Business Stimulus Task Force
NSW – Minister for Transport Andrew Constance – Covid-19 Transport Plan
Victoria – Small Business Ministers Retail Survival Round Table (P’tax Concessions)
Victoria – Small Business Ministers Commercial and Retail Rent Relief Group
Victoria – State Business Recovery Task Force
Queensland – Small Business Commissioner - Small Business Advisory Council
Queensland – Minister Kate Jones – Covid-19 home delivery strategy
Queensland – Minister Grace Grace re revoking Covid-19 Extended Trading Hours
Queensland – Premier’s Business Recovery Group
South Australia – Treasurer – opposing Covid-19 Workers Comp amendments
WA – Minister Saffioti and Minister Papalia – consultations re food, grocery and household goods supply matters to loca, regional and remote independent supermarkets
Federal – National Supermarket Task Force: various sub committees – food, groceries and household goods supply, logistics, home deliveries, safety for staff and customers
Federal – Minister Michaelia Cash & Prime Minister’s Office – consultation - supermarkets, liquor stores and timber and hardware businesses being able to stay open and be regarded as essential.
Federal – ACCC Chairman Rod Sims and Deputy Chairman Mick Keogh re Interim Authorisations and subsequent unfair competition practices by large chains during the pandemic period.
Federal – MGA is a member and Director of Council of Small Business Organisations (COSBOA)
COSBOA meetings included; engaging with Josh Frydenberg – Treasurer, Chris Jordan - ATO Commissioner, Deborah Jenkins - ATO Deputy Commissioner, Sandra Parker - Fair Work Ombudsman, Kate Carnell Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Nev Power – Chairman National Covid Coordination Commission and Senator & Assistant Minister Jane Hume.
Matters - JobKeeper workings and eligibility, JobSeeker, Cashflow Enhancement program (PYG), rental relief, keeping small business open for trade
Covid-19 “Recovery Stage”
The next stage, the “Recovery Stage” will focus on stimulating the reopening of businesses, businesses reengaging their employees, reinvigorating employment growth and driving economic growth. All of this combined with stimulating and reinvigorating the building, home renovation and DIY sectors.
Key themes MGA will pursue include -
Getting the economy going safely
What does a safe workplace look like?
Continue with key messaging – social distancing in the workplace
Small Business Buy Australian & Buy Local
Addressing “Anti Competition” issues (Independents vs Chains) because of shutdown
Identify impediments to doing business - Regulation harmonisation – states and territories - What does the future look like?
Post Covid-19 Industrial Relations Reform
MGA has been advocating the Federal Government strongly for Industrial Relations Reform for the past 10 years.
This is vital for Family Business survival!
1. Minimise Wage Increases (FWC) - gathering of facts, evidence and data for the Annual Wage Review – to remove wages complexity and minimise any future FWC annual wage increases
a. Note: In November 2019, MGA researched, surveyed and engaged with over 350-member store owners around Australia (500 stores) to ascertain the impacts of 3 consecutive FWC wages increases on instore employment – 3.5% in 2017, 3.3% in 2018 & 3% in 2019. These 3 increases (9.8%) have added $450m in wages costs to members.
2. Reform IR Laws - Christian Porter, Federal Minister for Industrial Relations and the Attorney General – provide evidence of members’ barriers to employment, increase flexibility and drive for IR reform. Laws must be changed….
a. Minimise risk of unfair dismissals
b. Strengthen FWC triage process of unfair dismissal claims
c. Replace the Better Off Overall Test (BOOT) with the No Disadvantage Test
i. No flexibility to create an EBA
ii. Cannot get around the award – it is inflexible, complex and stifling
MGA has been appointed to the Minister for Industrial Relations Reform Working Groups.
There are 5 IR Reform Working Groups; Casuals, Award Flexibility, EBA’s, Greenfields and Compliance and Enforcement.
Minister Porter will chair all 5 working groups
MGA will be an active member of the “Award Flexibility” Working group and will participate in other working groups via consultation
All 5 working groups must deliver IR Reform suggestions for the Minister to complete this project by 30th September 2020 and subsequent delivery to the Parliament at this time
Current Federal matters
Fair Merchant Service Payment Fees - Minister for Small Business Michaelia Cash and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg – re MGA members incurring excessive merchant service payment fees and driving the 4 major banks to introduce Least Cost Routing.
Industrial Relations Reform - Minister for Industrial Relations and Attorney General, Christian Porter – remove complexity, enable flexibility and remove the BOOT test to drive employment growth.
Annual Wage Review – MGA lodged a comprehensive submission comprising facts, evidence and data to persuade the FWC to minimise any wage increase effective 1st July 2020. MGA’s recommendation – 0% increase. The submission was lodged in March 2020. MGA appeared before the FWC to support its submission on 10th June 2020. A decision will be brought down in late June 2020.
Illicit / Illegal Tobacco – costing our industry sector $350m in sales per annum – MGA has been engaging at Government and Regulator levels to strengthen Australian Border Force resources to eradicate this phenomenon at street level.
Energy costs – constantly working with the federal government to drive for cheaper energy – also working closely with ACCC (The Australian Energy Regulator)
Mental Health for Family and Private businesses – Seeking support from Government to better understand the plight of family and private business owners and their mental health – especially in times of challenge and stress.
Unfair Contract Terms – strengthen contract terms that better protect family and private businesses – lift the contract value threshold to $1m.
Company Tax reductions – fast track to 25% for businesses with less than $50m sales
Member of ACCC Small Business and Franchise Consultative Council
MGA is a member of the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman’s (ASBFEO), Kate Carnell, working groups
MGA is a Director of the Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia (COSBOA)
Sustainability – Waste Management Solutions, Waste to energy
MGA’s Board of Directors has identified Industry Waste Management as a priority!
Supermarkets generate an enormous amount of waste….tonnes & tonnes and its costly to get rid of!
Organic waste -Vegetables and Produce - Out of code dairy products (yoghurts, dips & cheeses), meats, chicken, bakery, paper toweling, delicatessen items coffee grinds and cooking oil - saw dust in timber outlets etc.
Non-Organic waste- Plastic (pallet shrink wrapping), cardboard, rubber gloves, paper towels, foam vegetable and fruit trays, plastic punnets, foil and hard plastics.
The MGA Board has committed to strongly leading a major industry Waste management project with and for members to create a Circular Economy within their Supermarkets and Liquor stores – and we will be requesting Government assistance to do so.
An extensive research project is currently underway to analyse what the waste problem for members is now, what happens to it, and how much it costs our members to manage waste.
MGA will be contacting members in early 2020 to discuss solutions that will save members significant waste management costs that they currently incur.
State Issues and matters
Planning, zoning and development
Trading Hours issues
Container Deposit Schemes
Debilitating Energy Costs
Small Business Advisory Councils
Planning, zoning and development matters are a major concern.
MGA has been strongly advocating state governments for;
Post Covid-19 – prioritise and focus on high streets and local shopping centres - Council consistency – require and follow state planning and development guidelines to give Family businesses the confidence to invest in their businesses and innovate
Stop unfair crowding out – reducing consumer choice and stifling competition
Kaufland – 4th largest retailer in the world - not to be given “planning and zoning FREE kicks” by state governments – an unfair practice our members could never achieve. In January 2020, Kaufland Germany decided to abandon its expansion plans in Australia!
Trading Hours issues
WA – Christmas and New Year - MGA lodged a submission with WA Attorney General John Quigley - maintained the status Quo for Christmas 2019 and the New Year 2020 – no change from previous year.
MGA has been active to protect current Trading Hours restrictions during Covid-19
Qld – 5 Year Trading Hours Moratorium – commenced August 2017. 2 years remain for MGA and the Palaszczuk Government to seek a solution to “future proof” independents Qld. Part of this strategy is to introduce Qld produced wines, beers and spirits into independent supermarkets to create a point of difference to compete with the chains.
Christmas Public Holiday – In late 2019 the Queensland Government proposed to introduce a Public Holiday on Christmas Eve effective from 6.00pm. This initiative was clearly viewed by MGA and its members as “anti-business”, adding approximately $900,000 in wages costs just to stay open till 9.00pm.
MGA and members engaged with the Minister for Industrial Relations Hon Grace Grace and together voiced our grave concerns on behalf of members that this proposal will either cause MGA members to close their businesses early or significantly cut back staff hours resulting in further driving under employment in Queensland. They simply didn’t want to listen – a totally SDA driven initiative the Labor Government had to comply with!
SA – Christmas and New Year Trading Hours were not changed from last year.
Container Deposit Schemes
Launched December 2017 – very messy system – very little consultation
This is a For Profit Model – costing consumers more than any other state
NSW / Vic Border issues – MGA was able to secure temporary relief support for NSW members along the Border 2 years ago– 37 outlets. This will continue until further notice.
A CDS is likely to be introduced into Victoria sometime in the future. Both sides of the Vic Government cannot do not wish to add more costs and red tape when there is NO major problem with container litter in Victoria. This has caused major VIC – NSW cross border issues.
MGA is a member of the WA CDS taskforce
The WA CDS was scheduled to be launched in June 2020 but owing to Covid-19 was delayed to be launched November 2020
MGA will endeavour to maximise opportunities and minimise costs for members
Launched November 2018 - big improvement and less costly than NSW
This is a Not for Profit model
MGA was a member of the Qld CDS Taskforce - Seems to be working well with little cost or red tape impact on members.
E Vapourisers - MGA has been advocating for uniform and consistent federal and state government policies concerning E vapourisers – MGA members must be able to stock, market and sell Vapourisers!
Together with other Industry Associations MGA has formed a Vaping Industry Association – AVIA – Australian Vaping Industry Association
MGA’s Tobacco Training module – free for members – has been endorsed by state governments and territories.
NT – The Chief Minister Gunner has announced in principle support to legalise E Vapourisers as a legitimate tobacco usage cessation device. This is WIP
NSW - MGA is a member of the NSW Tobacco Control Committee – no imminent changes.
Victoria – MGA is a member of the consultation committee presiding over the Tobacco Control Act – no imminent changes
Qld – MGA engages with the Department of Health (Minister for Health Dr Steven Miles) – there are no imminent changes – particularly nothing new in regard to tobacco licences
WA – MGA advocated against the early 2020 law changes concerning the downsizing of instore Tobacco Product Sign Boards from an A3 size to A4. Highly impractical. The Minster has advised that MGA lodge a submission with the 2020 Tobacco Control Act review, to build a case, with evidence, against this draconian and ill thought of initiative causing MGA members much unnecessary grief with customers.
Tas - A bill to ban the sale of cigarettes to Tasmanians aged under 21 is still "on the table". Independent member for Windermere, Ivan Dean, was expected to introduce the legislation - a first in Australia - to the Upper House in August 2019, but it was withdrawn due to a lack of support. MGA and others lodged submissions “against this silly” Bill.
Debilitating Energy Costs – being addressed with the relevant State Ministers and their departments at every opportunity. Each state has a different system and ownership structure for electricity generation and electricity retailing adding complexity, confusion and costs.
Payroll tax – This is a dumb and a debilitating tax on employment – MGA will continue to advocate strongly to reduce % and increase threshold (also to increase by CPI every year). In July 2019 the NSW Government increased the payroll threshold from $850k to $900k and the Vic Government reduced country and regional payroll tax to 1.22% (25% of Melb rate of 4.85%). See the attached matrix.
MGA has a National Liquor Committee – comprising of members and industry stakeholders representing all national and state brands - see committee members below
State issues include; digital and online disruption, website shop fronts, outdoor signage close to schools, alcohol related signage on public transport, National RSA training, instore signage and continual Liquor Control Act reviews.
NSW – Digital Drivers Licenses – after a thorough trial period - are now acceptable for proof of age purposes
MGA has a strong relationship with the NSW OLGR
ACT – Peter Kakarzis is a member of MGA’s National Liquor Committee. Peter represents MGA Liquor and ACT members on the ACT Liquor Control Advisory Board
Victoria – MGA is a member of the Statutory Liquor Control Advisory Council (LCAC)
MGA and the MGA Liquor committee has a very strong working relationship with the Minister, Marlene Kairouz, her Department and VCGLR
A submission was lodged on 20th December 2019 making comment in regard to proposed Liquor Act amendments concerning online sales of packaged liquor and RSA. This matter was addressed at the LCAC meeting in May 2020.
WA – MGA has formed an Alliance with LSA WA which represents independent packaged liquor stores. An MOU has been signed. Many MGA members have packaged liquor departments next to their supermarkets
Dan Murphy Como WA – ongoing support provided to local groups to oppose the development of a 1600 square metre Dan Murphy store in Como.
NT – Continuous liaison with the NT Government concerning, capping liquor sales to 25% of a supermarkets total sales, the discriminatory regulations that disallow supermarkets from externally advertising liquor and strongly opposing the building of a Dan Murphy store in Darwin which will eliminate packaged liquor competition in this city.
SA – After 8 long years of MGA and local member lobbying, SA supermarkets, as from 18th November 2019, are allowed to stock, market and sell packaged liquor. MGA is currently working with a few retailers to create a model of how it is to be done.
The cost of a packaged liquor licence is quite high at $6k
Queensland - Entrepreneurial Pipeline Project – locally produced Packaged Liquor for Independent supermarkets.
The MGAQ Committee has been liaising and working with the Qld Government for almost 3.5 years to drive for locally produced Queensland wines, beers and spirits to be stocked by MGA members as a part of a whole of meal solution and to help boost Qld made products and increase employment….similar to Tassie model
All Qld Government Ministers and key regulators have supported this initiative that is sponsored by Small Business Minister Shannon Fentiman.
In late 2019 there was been an extensive consultation process conducted by Small Business Qld, including all community, alcohol industry, health and government departments to enable this initiative to go ahead – Legislation will have to be changed!
At a teleconference meeting held on 20th Dec 19 between Debbie Smith, Jos de Bruin and Grant Stidiford, Director, Policy Setting & Strategic Policy with the Department of Employment, Small Business and Training, we were advised that the consultation period has not delivered the results we were all looking for. There was very little support from many Qld agencies and associations to allow local supermarkets to stock locally produced wines, beers and spirits.
It became evident the consultation process was flawed from the outset with self interested parties being able to sway the department and its subsequent report back to the government.
Feedback suggested - There was a great fear from health agencies that alcohol would become even more “normalised” and hence a health and safety risk if stocked in indie supermarkets.
The QWIA had a fear that our sector would engage in discounting and subsequently damage their brands And generally, it was felt that indie supermarkets stocking locally produced alcoholic beverages would not add to a “whole of meal” solution and there were concerns that this initiative would be exclusionary in nature and hence anti-competitive.
The Qld Distillers were not sufficiently consulted
The Qld Boutique Brewers views were not sufficiently captured
On the 27th February 2020 the MGAQ Committee met in Brisbane. A meeting was held between the Minister for Small Business Shannon Fentiman, the Director General for the Department of Small Business Peter McKay and the Small Business Champion (now Commissioner) Maree Adshead, the head of the Brewers Association, David Kitchen and a Qld wine industry representative, Ewen Macpherson from Synmp0hny Hill Wines.
Judging from the very disappointed responses given to this subject, by the Committee back to the Qld Government representatives - Clearly the messaging and consultation we expected the Qld Small Business Department to deliver during the consultation process to get this initiative over the line was not delivered as we would have expected.
MGAQ made a commitment to reengage with all Wine, Distillers and Beer stakeholders to ensure any fears would be allayed and that indeed this would be a great business growth opportunity for all Qld family and private businesses concerned.
MGAQ has engaged with the Brewers, Wine and Distillers Associations and has received favourable responses from all to take back to the government for them to action into a strategy toward bringing to life the entrepreneurial pipeline project
MGA will continue to work closely with the Qld Wine, Brewers and Distillers associations together with the Qld Government and will keep members informed accordingly.
Small Business Advisory Councils
Queensland – Debbie Smith, FoodWorks Toowoomba is a member of the statutory Small, Business Advisory Council
NSW – MGA is a member of the Small Business Commissioner Small Business Round Table.
Victoria – Tony Ingpen, Supa IGA Mount Evelyn is a member of the statutory Small, Business Advisory Council