All posts by Annika Testing

COVID-19 award variations extended

The variation to the Clerks Award extends the operation of Schedule I to 30 September 2020.

The Schedule permits:

  • employees to work ordinary hours from home pursuant to an expanded spread of hours (6am to 10pm);
  • employers to request the taking of annual leave (which employees cannot unreasonably refuse) provided employees retain a balance of two weeks annual leave;
  • a reduction of employee hours by up to 25% for those employers who availed themselves of this provision before 1 July 2020.

These provisions are subject to additional safeguards, including that:

  • any direction or request made under the Schedule cannot be unreasonable in the circumstances;
  • to implement any arrangements under the Schedule, employers must consent to the Commission arbitrating any dispute that might arise about the Schedule’s operation (if a dispute is raised).

Schedule X 

The Commission has extended the operation of Schedule X in many modern Awards for a variety of periods.

Schedule X entitles:

  • any employee to take up to two weeks’ unpaid leave if the employee is required by government or medical authorities or on the advice of a medical practitioner to self-isolate and is consequently prevented from working; and
  • agreement to be reached for an employee taking double annual leave on half pay, provided that the agreement is recorded in writing.

New end dates can be found here.

Fair Work Commission orders 1.75% increase to minimum wage

The Fair Work Commission has handed down their 2020 annual wage review decision, with increases beginning from 1 July for certain industries.

This will be staged between 1 July 2020 and 1 February 2021, with the date it comes into effect being determined by award coverage. This will bring the national minimum wage up to $753.80 per week and $19.84 per hour (a $13 weekly increase).

Through the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, we argued for wages to remain at their current levels, based on the current economic climate which has seen many businesses suffer extreme hardship.

This wage increase will affect all modern awards. Being a member of the Chamber gets you access to the most up to date wage sheets and awards applicable to your business, plus access to the workplace relations advice line for assistance with interpreting modern awards, advice on managing staff, access to policy templates and procedures, and more.

Contact for more information.

World Small Business Day: Canberra business numbers reach a new milestone

On World Small Business Day 2020, Canberra reaches an important milestone. More than 30,000 private sector businesses now operate across the city – an increase of 5% over the past year. The majority of these enterprises are small, but together they employ nearly two-thirds of Canberra’s workforce.

To recognise the importance of small businesses, the United Nations has designated 27 June each year as Micro, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Day. The day recognises and celebrates the important contributions small and microbusinesses around the world make to job opportunities and prosperity in local communities. According to the International Council of Small Business, these companies account for 60% to 70% of total employment and 50% of global GDP.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics’ latest Counts of Australian Business publication shows that the ACT had 30,050 businesses formally operating within its borders during the last financial year.

This is the largest number of private companies we’ve ever had in the city’s history. In fact, during the 2018-19 financial year, the ACT had the highest rate of new business creation in the country! That’s a great achievement to celebrate on World Small Business Day.

Retail turnover in the ACT increased at almost twice the national rate, growing by 4.7% last year; and residential construction growth helped to support our building industry at a critical time when the sector struggled nationwide.

However, this year’s World Small Business Day will be bittersweet as we take the opportunity to recognise that small businesses around the world have been hit hardest by the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. The unprecedented health measures enacted to contain the spread of the virus have resulted in supply chain disruptions and a massive drop in demand.

While we should celebrate the growth of the private sector and ACT economy, our small businesses are facing tough times ahead. The last seven months have been especially difficult as so many were severely affected by bushfires, smoke, hail damage and now COVID-19.

However, we know that small business owners are resilient, and over the past few months we’ve seen them innovate and improvise, against all the odds, to support their people, customers, and communities. This year we need all Canberrans to shop and buy local to help our fellow Territorians in business, as well as seek help for small businesses from the territory and federal governments.

ACT Government and Canberra business must work together

Chief Minister Andrew Barr
Chief Minister Andrew Barr


17 June 2020

ACT Government and Canberra business must work together

Canberra Business Chamber has welcomed the ACT Government’s announcement today of a rate freeze for Canberra households and businesses.

However, the Chamber says there is more work to do on tax reform rates reform, and particularly the controversial commercial rates regime, which are leading to higher rents and reduced property values across the ACT.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr announced the tax reforms and other initiatives at this morning’s Canberra Business Chamber “State of the Territory” Business Address for Chamber members, held virtually.

Chamber CEO, Graham Catt said “We welcome the additional financial support for Canberrans, and the potential for this to flow to local businesses and the ACT economy. Our members will however be looking for further reforms in this area.”

“Commercial rates, and the issue of rates reform is a key issue for our members. We have a real opportunity now for the business community to work with the ACT Government on reforms which will help business, create jobs, stimulate the economy and ensure a sustainable revenue base for the Territory in the long term”, said Mr Catt.

Canberra Business Chamber also supported the Chief Minister’s view that “considered investment” is needed now to provide economic stimulus but cautioned that, in the longer term, a return to a budget surplus is needed.

“The business community agrees that stimulus is needed now. However, we have learned from the impacts our economy has felt over recent months that we should expect the unexpected. We will need to rebuild our fiscal position in order to weather potential future storms”, said Mr Catt.

While the Chamber welcomes the ACT Government’s commitment to jobs for Canberrans, it believes that the private sector will need to lead the growth of jobs.

“Two thirds of Canberrans are employed by the ACT’s 30,000 plus businesses. Full employment is our goal, and reaching it will  depend on business and small business – the engine room of our economy.”


Media Contact:

Graham Catt, CEO, Canberra Business Chamber T: 02 6247 4199 E:

Instant asset write-off extended

On Tuesday, 9 June, the Federal Treasurer and the Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Businesses announced the extension of the instant asset write-off scheme for 6 months until 31 December 2020. The $150,000 instant asset write-off will provides support for business investment, however, come January 2021 the threshold will revert back to $1,000. In their upcoming submission to the October 2020 Budget, ACCI will be arguing for the instant asset write-off to be made permanent. More

ACCI-Westpac Survey of Industrial Trends: Manufacturing conditions slump to historic low


Abstract of media release produced by the Australian Chamber of Commerce & Industry

Australian Chamber-Westpac Survey of Industrial Trends: Manufacturing conditions slump to historic low

Conditions in Australia’s manufacturing sector are the lowest they’ve been since the Australian Chamber-Westpac Survey of Industrial Trends was founded 54 years ago.

The survey’s Actual Composite Index, which indicates business confidence, fell to 24 in the June quarter, the lowest measured since 1966. The index dropped sharply from March and 53 in December 2019.

“The results coming from our joint survey, the oldest of its kind in the country, are very sobering,” ACCI CEO James Pearson said.

“The survey confirms that the COVID-19 global pandemic and measures to combat the virus have had a dramatic impact on the manufacturing sector.

“The historic low underlines the need to help get businesses back on their feet and people back into jobs as soon as it is safe to do so, by easing COVID-19 restrictions and reversing falling demand.”

As a direct result of the shutdown of many sectors of the economy, output (net production) was down sharply to – 55 per cent, from – 2 per cent in the previous quarter, and capacity utilisation also slipped further to -70 per cent, from -21 per cent in March quarter. Similarly, demand (new orders) was also down severely to -64 per cent, from -9 per cent in the March quarter.

The survey’s Labour Market Composite also showed a significant slowing in jobs growth across the economy, with the index dropping sharply, from 45 to 27.

The full report can be found on the Australian Chamber website.

Post-COVID cyber hygiene key for business

cyber security - laptop
cyber security - laptop

Thursday, 11 June 2020


Post-COVID cyber hygiene key for business

ACT businesses are gathering today for a virtual workshop on the critical issue of cyber security, delivered in partnership by the Canberra Business Chamber and AustCyber.

The new business landscape, after a large-scale transition to remote working, incorporates new work practices and greater reliance on digital infrastructure. The importance of maintaining business cyber hygiene, especially in terms of up-skilling staff and data management and protection, is greater than ever.

“As businesses grapple with post-COVID realities, the focus is shifting from access to support and survival to mitigating the risks attached to new business models and ways of working,” said Canberra Business Chamber CEO Graham Catt.

“So many people moved rapidly to working at home, and also to socialising online, often using the same devices and accessing a number of software platforms without formal training” Mr Catt said. “Small to medium businesses are now actively looking for support so that they can better understand and manage their risks.”

AustCyber CEO, Michelle Price said malicious cyber activity is a complex challenge for Australian business and having good cyber security practices is key to manages the risks – and by being a more trusted organisation, business can underscore future growth opportunities.

“Today’s workshop is a practical way for Canberra business to make a start on improving their cyber security and connect with experts in the field. Having the means to manage cyber risks in your organisation, and ensure your suppliers and partners are not exposing you to unnecessary cyber risk, is critical.

“When you have staff working remotely, or in a hybrid arrangement between the office and home, protecting your organisation and people from cyber attack is more important than ever.”

Featuring local expert presenters from Terra Schwartz, FifthDomain, Ionize and Cybermerc, the workshop will provide crucial information and guide businesses through this accelerated digital transformation, whether they operate locally or internationally.

Using virtual breakout room technology, the workshop will feature three streams to give businesses the tools they need to become cyber secure:

  • Cyber Health 101 – Active discussion on what to do to increase your business cyber resilience with simple practical actions
  • Cyber Skills Uplift – How to recognise cyber threats, maintain cyber resilience and upskill your employees
  • Threat Protection – Defensive and offensive strategies for having a more robust, cyber resilient business

Media Contacts:

  • Graham Catt, CEO, Canberra Business Chamber | E: | T: 02 6247 4199
  • Tom Finnigan, Media, Public Relations and Engagement Manager, AustCyber | E: | M: 0408 867 367

Canberra businesses map out a post-COVID future


Tuesday, 9 June 2020


Canberra businesses map out a post-COVID future

Canberra businesses are meeting over the next two weeks to map out the shape of the local economy in the post-COVID era.

The Canberra Business Chamber is convening a series of in-depth forums with the Territory’s other major industry associations – the first one commencing last Friday, 5 June.

“It’s clear that the future recovery of the ACT economy is going to have to be private sector led,” Chamber CEO Graham Catt said today. “Governments around the country are now heavily indebted and have limited capacity to spend their way out in the long term. Many jobs have already been lost. If we want to have full employment in the ACT, it’s now going to have to come from private enterprise.

“To do that, we need to identify both the current blockers and the future engines of growth, and work with the ACT government and industry groups on these. That’s what our forums will be doing,” said Mr Catt

Key issues raised within the first forum included the need for ongoing cashflow for businesses to survive in the post-COVID environment, JobKeeper continuation, ensuring the ACT economy remains competitive, and more support for startups and innovation, as well as the ACT tourism sector. A consistent theme has been the risk for many businesses of “falling off a cliff” when support runs out and they are left without a viable operation.

The results will be collated and presented to the business community and the ACT Government in the coming weeks.

Individual businesses that want to have their say can also email the chamber directly at

Media Contact:

Graham Catt, CEO, Canberra Business Chamber T: 02 6247 4199


First Trans-Tasman flight proposal released

Media Release originally distributed by the Australian Chamber of Commerce & Industry on 4 June 2020

The opening of the Trans-Tasman bubble to allow Australians and New Zealanders to move freely between countries is proposed to begin with a symbolic pilot flight between capital and sisters cities Canberra and Wellington in July.

The Australian Chamber Tourism, Canberra Airport, Wellington Chamber of Commerce, Canberra Business Chamber and Auckland Business Chamber have united to create a proof of concept proposal for the first post-COVID-19 flight.

Keen travellers can now register to be part of the initial concept flights, with the goal to establish regular flights between the two capitals and other routes soon after.

Australian Chamber Tourism chair John Hart said: “The symbolic route will show we have developed a safe and effective method of air travel and encourage the extension of the aviation networks to other destinations across Australia and New Zealand over time.”

“The tourism opportunity for Australia is to tempt more of the 3.1 million New Zealanders that travel overseas to come to Australia this year. Pre-COVID we received around 1.3 million visitors from New Zealand, leaving about 1.8 million holidays up for grabs.

“Furthermore, we need to begin to restore consumer confidence that travel can be safe in a COVID-19 environment and elevate freight opportunities between the two countries.

“The positive impact on our economy would be staggering.”

Stephen Byron, Managing Director, Canberra Airport said that the Canberra and Wellington connection was a logical first step to reinvigorating international air travel and our regional economy.

“Canberra and Wellington have been COVID-19 free now for several weeks, they are also significant hubs for business and tourism, and with such a positive health situation on each side there would be no requirement for post-travel quarantine in either city,” Mr Byron said.

“Not only will this lead to re-employment of thousands in the tourism, accommodation and aviation industries but it will also provide the opportunity to be reunited for thousands of family and friends stuck apart on either side of the Tasman.

“There is already great demand for these flights to begin through what are safe, easy, and quick gateways for travel and we look forward to making this a reality for Canberrans and those in our region as soon as possible.”

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said that the success of Canberra in handling the COVID-19 pandemic means that the city is ideally suited to establish a Trans-Tasman bubble for quarantine free air travel between Australia and New Zealand.

“We have a world-class airport in Canberra and plenty to offer New Zealand residents looking to travel, as well as many Canberrans looking to take a well-deserved break. As one of the safest destinations in Australia, Canberra is ready and willing to accept travellers under a Trans-Tasman arrangement.”

Canberra Business Chamber CEO Graham Catt said there are already strong business linkages between Canberra and Wellington.

“New Zealand will be one of the top international markets for ACT and regional businesses. The synergies between our two economies create opportunities in important industry sectors like education and research, ICT, cyber security, renewable energy, and space science.”

John Milford, Wellington Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive said the bubble needed to be open as safe as it is to do so “for the sake of our small businesses, airport, and events sector.”

“Australians make up around 70 per cent of Wellington’s direct international arrivals – over 150,000 people. These tourists come specifically to spend time in the Wellington region.

“Getting those visitors back visiting our city for our hospitality, events, and shows will be important to helping our local economy recover and thrive once again.

Auckland Business Chamber chief executive Michael Barnett said the proposal was developed to help build momentum and give confidence the countries can get back to business.

“We feed each other and we need each other’s dollars urgently to help with economic recovery. New Zealand needs Aussies back here as our single most important visitors, all 1.5 million of them, supporting our tourism sector, our cafes and events decimated by the enforced shutdown.”

To register your interest for flights on July 1 and July 2, go to Canberra Airport’s dedicated page.

To download the proposal, go to the Australian Chamber’s COVID Business page.

For more information:
Marie Hogg | Australian Chamber of Commerce & Industry | +61 431 299 518
Tim Dawson | Canberra Airport | +61 455 227 711

Chamber Advocacy: Chief Minister Andrew Barr & Senator the Hon Zed Seselja

Chamber board meeting with Chief Minister

The board met last week (27 May) with ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr to discuss the current business environment and ensure that local businesses are given as much support as possible to survive, quickly resume trading and operate sustainably for the longer term. Discussion included easing of restrictions, support for the tourism and international education sectors, the future role of National Cabinet and proposed reforms to the Vocational Education and Training sector. At his suggestion, we will be meeting with the Chief Minister every few weeks in future.

Political Roundtable: Senator the Hon Zed Seselja

At yesterday’s (2 June) Roundtable with Senator Seselja (Assistant Minister for Finance & Charities), discussion focussed on the Federal Government’s plans for Canberra in the post-COVID recovery phase. Topics included the future of JobKeeper, Australia-NZ travel links, support for the tourism industry, industrial relations reform, and assistance to the housing, building and construction sectors.

Our business roundtables provide a unique opportunity for our Corporate and Principal Members to speak directly with key government ministers.

ACT Government announces hotel and hospitality support package

Today (29 May), the ACT Government unveiled a $6.2 million stimulus package to help businesses in the hospitality and hotel industries. Measures will include further rate rebates, accredited infection control training and free permits for small cafes and restaurants.

Hotels, cafés and restaurants

Hotels and serviced apartments will receive a rebate on their water and sewerage fixed charge for the first two quarters of 2020-21.

Cafes and restaurants will receive a one-off rebate of $1,000 on their electricity bills.

On liquor licencees and Off licencees with gross liquor purchase value of $3 million or less in the last reporting year will receive a 12-month waiver of their annual food business registration and liquor licencing fees from 1 April 2020. Outdoor dining fees for 2020-2021 will also be waived.

The application fee for a general liquor licence will be waived for existing on licensees from 22 May 2020 until 31 December 2020.

Innovation within the sector will be supported by a 90 per cent reduction in fees for new micro-producers who produce and sell up to $100,000 of liquor on their licenced premises in the first year of their off licence.

Businesses in the city centre and Braddon

Fifty per cent of the 2020-21 City Centre Marketing and Improvement Levy will be waived for businesses in the city centre and Braddon. The remaining 50 per cent will be delayed by six months until February 2021.

National Infection Control training

New infection control training will soon be available for workers in customer facing roles to help them understand how to minimise the risk of COVID-19 spreading as more businesses start to reopen.

Free accredited training will be available before the end of June and will support a confident and safe return to work for over 1,300 frontline workers in the ACT.

The fund will be supported through a national agreement between the Australian Government and states and territories. The ACT Government will invest $670,000 in the new infection control training fund with the Australian Government to match the funding.

Find out how to access support through the Economic Recovery Package on the ACT Government’s COVID-19 website.

Article credit: ACT Government

Workpac decision a concern for business

Last week (on 21 May), the Federal Court handed down a decision that could have consequences for many businesses already facing uncertain times due to the impacts of COVID and bushfires. The decision means that casuals may be classed as part-time employees and therefore awarded back-payment for entitlements such as leave, whilst also retaining the 25% loading designed to compensate for not accruing those entitlements. Our national body, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), is urging an appeal to the High Court of Australia for the decision to be overturned. Read ACCI’s media release.