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Welcome to our February e-Bulletin.

In this issue ...

 

Gippsland farmhouse producer a big cheese on the international stage

Maffra Cheese Company was one of only a handful of Australian cheese makers to be awarded gold at the 2012 World Cheese Awards held at Birmingham, UK in November last year.

Attracting more than 2,500 entries, this annual cheese competition was judged by 200 international buyers.

Maffra Cheese Company is in the heart of Gippsland's dairy country and its cheeses are handmade to traditional methods, using fresh milk from the farm's own Holstein Friesian cows.

Owner operator Ferial Zekiman's claim that Maffra Cheese Company has a reputation for producing some of Australia's best Cheddar is borne out by recent awards.

Although the factory isn't open to the public, you will find Maffra cheeses at various farmers' markets in Victoria and at retail outlets throughout Australia, including Coles.

 

Find out more about Maffra Cheese Company, and also where you can find the cheeses by visiting the website at:

http://www.maffracheese.com.au/
index.html






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Employers take note: more changes to Fair Work

With the Fair Work Amendment Act 2012 receiving Royal Assent on 4 December 2012, several changes came into effect on 1 January 2013. In addition to renaming Fair Work Australia the Fair Work Commission, there are legislative changes in relation to unfair dismissals, general protections and enterprise agreements. Some of these include:

  • The time limit for lodging unfair dismissal applications will increase from 14 to 21 days.
  • The Commission will be given further powers to dismiss unfair dismissal applications and to make cost orders against parties.
  • The time limit for lodging a general protections dismissal application will be reduced from 60 to 21 days.
  • Enterprise agreements cannot be made with a single employee.
  • A union official cannot act as bargaining representative for an employee unless the union has coverage to represent that employee.
  • Terms allowing an employee to opt out of an enterprise agreement are prohibited.

Aside from legislative change, employers should also be aware of existing laws that are being enforced by the Fair Work Ombudsman through audits and inspections. Recent enforcement involved fines for record keeping and payslip breaches.

 

 

If you are not familiar with the new legislation, or need any assistance with any employee relations issues, please contact us for assistance. Glenn Ingram is our resident employment relations guru or speak to any one of our accounting team.

Ph: 03 5144 4566





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Post-Christmas sales send a mixed message

According to Australian National Retailers Association (ANRA) CEO Margy Osmond, 'The increase in consumer sentiment in January can be taken as a positive for the retail sector, with more optimists than pessimists a good way to start the year ...' and that '... there are some bright spots for the retail sector as we head into a new year.'

However, despite strong post-Christmas sales, it appears that overseas retailers still won a giant share of the retail market for the quarter. Although consumers are happy to spend their money on small items, such as a lipstick, retailers of big ticket items, such as furniture didn't fare so well. Ms Osmond says, '... it's when [consumers] feel confident to make a major retail investment like a new couch that signals real confidence to spend.'

 

For more from the ANRA, visit their media page at: http://www.anra.com.au/news/media-
releases-2012.html


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ATO data-matching targets motor vehicle tax laws, credit card use and property deals

Data matching is an ongoing part of the ATO's compliance program and in November 2012, the ATO announced a motor vehicle data matching program, targeting individuals and businesses that have purchased a motor vehicle costing more than $10,000 in the last two financial years. The purpose is to ensure that FBT, luxury car tax and fuel tax laws have been complied with in relation to these vehicles. In Victoria, this information will be retrieved from VicRoads Licensing and Regulations Operations.

In addition, the ATO will also be data-matching information from banks and credit card companies for offshore bank accounts, credit and debit card sales, and real property transactions in the 2011-12 financial year to identify whether lodgement and payment obligations under taxation laws have been complied with.

With regard to SMEs, the data matching may include checks on lodgement of tax returns and activity statements and whether GST has been correctly collected and recorded.

As for property, the ATO will collect details of individuals and entities transacting with real property from sources such as the State Revenue Office and other government agencies.

Data for this mammoth exercise will be collected from all states and territories - including banks such as Bank of China (Australia) Limited, Citigroup, HSBC, Investec Bank, Rabobank Australia Limited, Citibank and Union Bank of Switzerland - so be aware that interstate transactions and offshore accounts will not escape the taxman's eye!

 

For more information on the ATO's data matching activities, go to: http://www.ato.gov.au/individuals/
pathway.aspx?sid=42&pc=
001/002/073/001&mfp=001&mnu=
45860#001_002_073_001


In the face of this increased ATO activity it has never been a better time to consider AuditAssure – insurance to cover the cost of responding to an audit by the ATO or other government agency.

If you would like to know more about AuditAssure or have any concerns about audit activities please give us a call on 03 5144 4566 or email enquiries@phillipsons.com.au







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Facebook's new 'Graph Search' function: be aware and be prepared

Facebook's new search engine - Graph Search, which allows users to search Facebook friends, pages and connections for data, could be a double-edged sword.

While individuals may have to review their privacy settings if they don't want to be 'tracked down' via their location, interests, favourite restaurants or even something random like the name of a pet, there are definite positives for businesses - but only if your information is up to date.

Graph Search will gather data from all Facebook profiles, pages and information to bring you the information you request, by allowing you to search all your connections, as well as the total Facebook system.

For example, if someone is visiting Gippsland and wants to visit wineries, they may search for 'Gippsland wineries open to the public'. If you are not on Facebook, or don't have your opening hours published, you may miss out on business.

So, for any small to medium business that is keen to take advantage of the social media networking opportunities, the important thing is to have your Facebook Page active and to make sure that the information is current and relative to your business.

 

For more from facebook on how Graph Search will work, go to: https://www.facebook.com/about/
graphsearch

















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Support for victims of bushfires

Along with supporting local charities, Phillipsons will provide support to victims to help with the process for applying for government assistance.  If you have suffered loss or are directly impacted by bushfire, please contact us and we will assist you with these claims.

It is important for businesses to keep accurate records of any losses as some crisis recovery grants from the State Government require particular information.

The ATO has stated that will it be providing extensions for lodgement of monthly and quarterly activity statements for people living in affected areas. The ATO will defer lodgement and payment due dates and limit their correspondence to people in affected areas

Our thoughts and prayers are with our clients and others in the community affected at this time.

Kurt Best
General Manager
Phillipsons.com.au

 

If you were not directly impacted by bushfire but would like to help those that were, the Gippsland Emergency Relief Fund is handling donations.  Go to http://relieffund.org.au/ to find out how you can provide financial support.




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