Tuesday, 13 December 2011

New air links for Darwin

Good news for Darwin -- Singapore Airlines and Virgin Australia have announced new international and domestic routes between Singapore and Darwin.

Singapore Airlines’ regional full service airline, Silk Air, will begin a service between Singapore and Darwin four times weekly beginning March 26 next year; with Virgin Australia complementing these services with daily flights between Darwin and Sydney starting April 2.

Darwin is the gateway to the Northern Territory’s popular tourist destinations and is an increasingly important commercial hub. The new  services offer visitors from Singapore, Asia and Europe the opportunity to visit the Northern Territory and then travel on to Sydney and the East Coast of Australia.

The  services will also be attractive to business travellers who will have the option of a quality business class service from Sydney to Darwin and on to Singapore and beyond.

To accommodate eligible Virgin Australia guests and those of its alliance partners, Virgin Australia also announced that it would open a lounge at Darwin Airport.

Both airlines are expecting to commence codeshare arrangements on each other’s services from early 2012.

Prepared by Bob Woodward & Associates: offering you business consultancy, accounting, payroll administration and ancillary services in Darwin, The Northern Territory, Australia
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Thursday, 10 November 2011

Obama visits Darwin

It’s interesting that President Obama will be visiting Darwin this month during his first visit to Australia as the leader of the United States. The visit is short: the president is making a two-day trip to Australia between attending the APEC trade meeting in Hawaii and the East Asia Summit in Bali. Some might say it is only a logistic stop. But it will focus world attention on the city at a time when the oil and gas industry is front and foremost in the minds of many businesses.

The oil and gas industry is what will drive the NorthenTerritory economy in the foreseeable future according to analysts, with hundreds of millions of dollars worth of work from servicing the industry being mentioned

It was announced not long ago that the Northern Territory government has chosen a consortium called ShoreASCO as its preferred bidder to build, own and operate a huge oil and gas support base alongside East Arm Wharf.

The consortium includes several giant companies, such as ASCO Holdings, Capella Capital and Macmahon Contractors.

The base will be open to all companies servicing the oil and gas industry; and is expected to offer important benefits in skilled jobs, good wages and work for Territory businesses.Eight floating gas platforms are expected to be operating off the Territory coast within the next decade, say some analysts.

Shell has confirmed that it will use Darwin as the maintenance centre for the floating Prelude platform. And Darwin is almost certain to service the GDF Suez and Advent fields in the Joseph Bonaparte Gulf.

Prepared by Bob Woodward & Associates: offering you business consultancy, accounting, payroll administration and ancillary services in Darwin, The Northern Territory, Australia
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Sunday, 25 September 2011

Darwin's gas and oil future

A consortium led by Asco Holdings; a company registered in Scotland,  will construct, own and operate a marine supply base in Darwin in a project designed to establish the city as an oil and gas hub.

The deal comes following the recent Aberdeen-based Asco buy-out of the Australian logistics support company ShoreBase from the Shorelands Group, leading it to take on the ShoreAsco name.

ShoreAsco joined with Shorelands, Macmahon Contractors and Capella Capital among other groups to form the ShoreAsco consortium, named as the preferred bidder for the Territory contract .

The Northen Territory government is now conducting negotiations with the consortium with a view to finalising contracts by the end of 2011.

To be built next to East Arm Wharf, the base will service rig tender vessels, supplying everything from food and water to fuel and drilling equipment. Construction is expected to be completed by the end of 2013.

Darwin has already been named as the preferred site for Japanese company Inpex to build an LNG plant and the city is eager to attract further oil and gas investment.

Meanwhile, NT government officials this month attended a jobs expo in Dublin to recruit Irish construction and oil industry professionals to fill some of the 20,000 jobs that the government anticipates in the next five years with the development of major oil and gas operations.

If things continue to plan, it is expected that Darwin will witness a new housing boom, among other things.

Prepared by Bob Woodward & Associates: offering you business consultancy, accounting, payroll administration and ancillary services in Darwin, The Northern Territory, Australia
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Monday, 5 September 2011

Retirement incomes under a cloud

Remember the days when an employee was guaranteed a certain pension from an employer when he or she reached retirement age? You knew exactly where you stood. That all ended two decades ago, when workers found themselved faced with ‘ a new pension system, one of ‘accumulation funds, by which retirement incomes depended on what the markets and  fund managers gave you. Undefined, and sometimes messy.

The first fifteen years following the Superannuation Guarantee (SG) legislation being introduced in 1992 went well, with a compound annual rate of return provided by the share market at 15.5 per cent. The power of compound interest plus mandatory contributions starting at 3 per cent and rising to 9 per cent would have seen retirement accounts increase up to tenfold 10-fold in that period.

Things have changed, however, not least the unpredictable world economy. The market has been fruitless now for five years. After the 20 per cent correction between April 11 and August 8, the ASX 200 accumulation index (capital return plus dividends) has produced zero five-year return. And the 10-year return is not the brightest at just 6.6 per cent, while the 20-year total return is now below 10 per cent..

Added to this is the painful fact that fund managing fees now account for a much larger percentage of the long-term return.

With both the Europe (Eurozone and the UK) and the US  heavily in debt it  is unlikely that the markets will turn around soon – and as people become disillusioned with the.returns being generated by the pensions industry.there will doubtless be a marked increase in self-managed supers

If we have learned one thing over the past decade or so, it is is that there are no easy answers for funding retirement.

Prepared by Bob Woodward & Associates: offering you business consultancy, accounting, payroll administration and ancillary services in Darwin, The Northern Territory, Australia
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Monday, 25 July 2011

A mixed bag for Territory economy

Commsec's State of the States report for the March quarter indicates the economic performance of the Northern Territory was again a mixed bag.

The report is produced by the Commonweaalth Bank and gives a detailed analysis of each state's economic performance based on eight key indicators.

The report shows the Northern Territory economy is being carried along by consumer spending and a strong jobs market.

Retail spending which continues to buoy the economy in the Northern Territory was 22 per cent above decade-average levels -- higher than anywhere in Australia.

Spending has been supported by the strongest employment market in Australia. The Northern Territory’ unemployment stands at only 3.1%

On the down side, the Northern Territory is the only place in Australia where construction work is not substantially higher than the decade average.

In fact, it is down 28 per cent on the ten year average. It is also two per cent lower than this time last year, says the report.

The report reveals also that the Northern Territory currently has the weakest economy in Australia when it comes to housing finance.

Another point made in the report is that population growth in the Northern Territory was the slowest in seven years.

Prepared by Bob Woodward & Associates: offering you business consultancy, accounting, payroll administration and ancillary services in Darwin, The Northern Territory, Australia
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Thursday, 7 July 2011

Cattle export ban lifted

The Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association has applauded the federal government’s  decision to lift the live cattle trade suspension, but has cautioned that the cash flow crisis facing producers in the Territory may take more than a year to overcome.

The Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association is the peak primary industry group in the Territory and represents more than 90 per cent of the region’s cattle herd.

The NTCA president, Rohan Sullivan, who has just returned from Indonesia as part of a joint NT Government and industry delegation, says the reality is that there is a great deal of work that needs to be done in Indonesia before the trade returns to some kind of normality.

Cattle numbers leaving Darwin for Indonesia will be restricted for some time, which translates to continuing financial stress for producers waiting for cattle sales – and there is no financial quick fix, says the NTCA. Live cattle exports are of critical importance to the northern pastoral industry and the northern Territory economy as a whole.

The pastoral industry is the Northern Territory’s third largest GDP earner, accounting for more than 50 per cent of the Territory’s primary production and generating over A$400 million in direct income – statistics that highlight the the type of problems that would arise with a continued ban.

With more than 220 pastoral leases, the Territory industry manages a landmass in excess of 620,000 square kilometres and a herd of over two million head. In 2010, more than 300,000 cattle were exported live through the Port of Darwin.

Prepared by Bob Woodward & Associates: offering you business consultancy, accounting, payroll administration and ancillary services in Darwin, The Northern Territory, Australia
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Thursday, 23 June 2011

Companies to increase hiring

A new survey from Manpower Employment indicates that 35 per cent of Northern Territory companies expect to increase hiring. Only 11 per cent plan a decrease in the number of staff taken on.

As a large proportion of the Territory workforce is transient, so employers are consistently looking to take on new  workers, says the employment company.

One of the biggest concerns facing Northern Territory employers at present is retention, it claims.

The large oil and gas projects starting up in the Territory over the next few months should help to prevent an exodus of skilled trade workers. The projects will require thousands of workers in the construction phase alone .

Unemployment in the  Northern Territory rose slightly last month, but is still only a little above 3 per cent - a level that experts consider to be, in effect, full employment.

Prepared by Bob Woodward & Associates: offering you business consultancy, accounting, payroll administration and ancillary services in Darwin, The Northern Territory, Australia
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Friday, 17 June 2011

Watch out for tax scammers


A word of warning that is worth passing on. Phone and e-mail scammers claiming to be from the Australian Tax Office are offering a "A$7000 grant" in return for a A$200 payment.

During the busy tax season, scammers will try to catch people off guard using phone calls, letters, text messages, emails, bogus websites and even false job advertisements to trick people into providing their personal details and pay money.

The crooks operating the scam claim to be from the ATO or Taxation Department.They even try to appear more legitimate by providing people with a case number and a telephone number to call back on, warns the ATO

Anyone receiving these types of calls should treat them with utmost caution and not provide any personal details or money. The ATO will never ask you to pay money to receive your refund.

Reported scam attempts are investigated by the ATO and other government agencies as appropriate, including the Australian Federal Police.

The ATO has warned taxpayers also to steer clear of tax avoidance schemes as they prepare to lodge their 2011 tax returns. If you're considering entering into an arrangement that will affect your tax liabilities -- including shares, real estate or other financial products -- it's important to carefully investigate and understand the tax consequences before making your investment decision.

Prepared by Bob Woodward & Associates: offering you business consultancy, accounting, payroll administration and ancillary services in Darwin; The Northern Territory, Australia
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Thursday, 9 June 2011

New minimum rates of pay in July

Increases to minimum rates of pay have been introduced by Fair Work Australia, the regulatory body responsible for managing the National Minimum Wage.

Minimum weekly wages as contained in modern awards are increased by 3.4 per cent. Hourly rates of pay will be adjusted to reflect the percentage increase to weekly rates.

The increases flow on at the appropriate percentage to junior employees, employees to whom training arrangements apply, employees with disabilities and basic piece rates of pay.

The increases will apply from the first pay period commencing on or after July 1, 2011, as opposed to a singular effective date.

In effect, the national minimum wage order will be A$589.30 per week or A$15.51 per hour;

The Fair Work Australia announcement applies to all employers in the Northern Territory

Meanwhile, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has produced a fascinating document containing  the results of a survey on how employers dealt with the A$26-a-week minimum wage increase granted by Fair Work Australia in last year's review.

The national survey, which was conducted online, involved 923 small to medium Australian businesses, most of them employing fewer than a hundred staff. It shows that after last year’s rise:

65.9 per cent of employers reported decreased profitability;

54.6 per cent reported a reduction in cash flow;

39.1 per cent reported that they had reduced the total number of working hours offered to employees; and

24.2 per cent reported that they had cut the number of casual employees, while 18.6 per cent had cut back on full-time employees.

A key finding was that 44.9 per cent of employers reported a direct impact on new hiring intentions.

And 42.7 per cent of businesses owners said they were working more hours


Prepared by Bob Woodward & Associates: offering you business consultancy, accounting, payroll administration and ancillary services in Darwin; The Northern Territory, Australia
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Monday, 6 June 2011

The Northern Territory defies job trends

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A private survey by the ANZ bank group shows the number of jobs being advertised fell sharply in May across most of Australia, but the Northern Territory has bucked the trend.

The ANZ job advertisement series measures the number of jobs advertised in the major daily newspapers and Internet sites covering the capital cities each month.

It has historically proved to be a very good indicator of future labour market conditions and thus, is extensively relied upon for forecasting employment growth.

The survey shows the number of job advertisements in newspapers and online in May posted their largest monthly fall in almost three years, dragged down by non-mining states.

The ANZ Job Advertisements Series shows the number of jobs on offer contracted by 6.5 per cent in the month.

The number of roles listed on the internet fell 6.7 per cent, with a smaller fall in newspaper ads.

But while New South Wales and Victoria saw some sizeable falls in newspaper job ads over the last month, they grew in the Northen Territory, as well as South Australia and the ACT.

The ANZ says it expects official employment data this week to show 14,000 jobs were added to the national workforce in May.
It is forecasting the unemployment rate could go as low as 4.7 per cent in the next few months.

Prepared by Bob Woodward & Associates: offering you business consultancy, accounting, payroll administration and ancillary services in Darwin; The Northern Territory, Australia

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

A major tourism event for Darwin

Three hundred qualified Aussie Specialists converge on Darwin this week to take part in Corroboree 2011, a trade event organised by Tourism Australia and Tourism NT to train international travel agents who are dedicated to selling holidays in Australia.


It is the largest  travel trade event ever to have been staged in the Territory. The NT government has invested A$274,000 in Corroboree 2011 with Tourism Australia putting in A$568,000.

This important travel gathering takes place from June 2 to 5.

The participants will be coming from Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland; the UK and South Africa, and while in Darwin they will be taking part in a series of training worshops – one of the best opportunities the Territory has to promote itself as a vibrant, exciting destination to a key industry audience.

Each of the agents has undergone a lengthy training programme, devised by Tourism Australia and State and Territory tourism organisations, to give them expertise in promoting Australia to their local markets.

Apart from the Darwin workshops, agents will also experience other regions of the Territory while in the Top End, with visits Litchfield, Kakadu and Nitmiluk national parks.

Other activities will include an Aboriginal welcoming ceremory at Cullen Bay and the chance to get to know the locals at the Mindil Beach Markets - where agents will be issued with ‘Mindil Beach Money’ to spend

Prepared by Bob Woodward & Associates: offering you business consultancy, accounting, payroll administration and ancillary services in Darwin; The Northern Territory, Australia
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Thursday, 26 May 2011

Why not an Australian to head the IMF?

It's a pity that the top IMF job seems such a closed shop. As Australia has one of the  wrorld’s most successful economies, and with one of the safest banking systems, I would have thought our most successful former Federal Treasurer, Peter Costello, was an excellent choice for the job.

Costello has years more experience than the front-running French candidate and would, in my opinion, give the IMF a fresh new face from outside Europe.

For those who may not know Costello’s background, he is a 54-year old Melbourne-born lawyer and former member of the Australian House of Representatives. He served as Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party of Australia from 1994 to 2007, and was Federal Treasurer of Australia from 1996 to 2007, making him the longest serving treasurer in Australian history.

In 2008, Costello was appointed to the World Bank’s new Independent Advisory Board (IAB), set up to provide advice on anti-corruption measures.

He resigned from parliament in late 2009 .

Costello is a director of the Australian Government Future Fund’s Board of Guardians,  a role he commenced shortly after leaving parliament.  He is also a managing partner of BKK Partners, a corporate advisory firm run by former Goldman Sachs JBWere managers.

Surely such a track record makes him a serious contender.

Prepared by Bob Woodward & Associates: offering you business consultancy, accounting, payroll administration and ancillary services in Darwin; The Northern Territory, Australia
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Friday, 20 May 2011

Darwin property market takes a dip

The latest statistics show that house prices in Darwin and Palmerston fell in the first three months of this year.

A total of 199 houses were sold in the period for a median price of A$550,00, a decreasel of 1.7 per cent on the previous quarter and a drop of 0.5 per cent over the year.

The only other drops in the median houses prices during the ten years were in June and September 2000, June 2003 and December 2006.

The number of houses sold in the first three months this year was down 15.7 per cent on the previous quarter and 26 per cent on the same time last year.

There was a 24.7 per cent drop in the number of sales for the first quarter in Palmerston with 73 sold at a median price of A$465,000, representing an 8.8 per cent drop.

The prospect of further interest rate rises over the next 12 months will not help

Prepared by Bob Woodward & Associates: offering you business consultancy, accounting, payroll administration and ancillary services in Darwin; The Northern Territory, Australia

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

The sky's the limit for SkyCity

Darwin’s SkyCity hotel-casino is to spend close to A$100 million to create a five-star resort with A$2000-a-night villas. The company has said it will also invest in a A$15 million jet to fly high-rollers from Hong Kong and Singapore to the Northern Territory.

The move comes as a result of the success of the company's thriving casino property across the Tasman Sea in Auckland.

Four elegant villas and 32 luxury rooms, built around a lagoon at at an estimated cost of A$36 million, is the next stage in the SkyCity development.

The work has been contracted and will start in July. The resort is expected to open in the middle of the next dry season and will be geared at competing with Singapore and Macau.
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The construction process will likely create some 200 jobs, while about 100 additional workers would be needed when the resort is fully operational, the management have said.

Prepared by Bob Woodward & Associates: offering you business consultancy, accounting, payroll administration and ancillary services in Darwin, The Northern Territory, Australia.
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Monday, 16 May 2011

Resort re-opens on the Coburg Peninsula

For anybody looking for a great place to relax, Seven Spirit Bay Eco-Wilderness Resort has just re-opened with a choice of motel-style rooms and luxury 'habitats'.

The resort, which was formerly known as Peppers Seven Spirit Bay, has undergone a top-to-bottom facelift over the past year and a half. The introduction of motel-style rooms means that the resort can now offer a less expensive get-away.

Guests can enjoy the remote surroundings of the Cobourg Peninsula, and the resort is just a short walk from the shores of the Arafura Sea.

Outdoor activities on offer at Seven Spirit Bay include turtle tracking, quad biking, night croc-spotting billabong cruises, stargazing and bird watching.

Prepared by Bob Woodward & Associates: offering you business consultancy, accounting, payroll administration and ancillary services in Darwin, The Northern Territory, Australia
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Sunday, 8 May 2011

Cattle station changes hands

One of Australia's best-known pastoral companies has sold part of a Northern Territory cattle station to an Indigenous group.

S. Kidman & Co subdivided Banka Banka Station, 100 kilometres north of Tennant Creek, and has sold a 1,400 square kilometre pastoral lease to the Indigenous Land Corporation.

The ILC has said that the land contains several significant Aboriginal cultural and burial sites.

The property will continue to operate a small scale pastoral operation as well as keep up its involvement in tourism, in order to provide employment opportunities and training opportunities for Indigenous people.

Prepared by Bob Woodward & Associates: offering you business consultancy, accounting, payroll administration and ancillary services in Darwin, The Northern Territory, Australia
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Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Changes to payroll tax

Payroll tax has been cut in the latest Northern Territory Budget. Treasurer Delia Lawrie says lowering the rate from 5.9 per cent to 5.5 will save Territory business A$6.6 million a year.

The tax-free threshold was also put up from A$1.25 million to A$1.5 million and the tax threshold altered to an annual deduction reducing by $1 for every $4 in wages paid over the limit.

Also in the new Budget, stamp duty for property transfers over A$3 million has been increased from 4.95 per cent to 5.45 per cent.

Meanwhile it has been announced also that A$9.8 million is to be set aside for the expansion of the Darwin Business Park.


Prepared by Bob Woodward & Associates: offering you business consultancy, accounting, payroll administration and ancillary services in Darwin, The Northern Territory, Australia
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Thursday, 28 April 2011

Stepping up the gas

A Northern Territory oil and gas supply industry worth hundreds of millions of dollars a year within ten years – that’s the picture being painted by Chief Minister, Paul Henderson. The business is currently worth about A$150 million a year.

And another bit of crystal balling comes from Access Economics who say that the Territory's economy will grow by 3.2 per cent this financial year. It would then would speed up next year and reach 5 per cent; and then run at 4.1 per cent until 2015 equal to Western Australia.

The boost will be primarily be driven by strong growth in engineering and construction activity through major projects, housing construction and international exports, says Northern Territory Treasurer, Delia Lawrie.

Access Economics argues that the Northern Territory economy is "all revved up with nowhere to go," because it is between major projects. Among the big projects waiting to get under way is the Kitan oil field off the Northern Territory coast.

Chief Minister Henderson says that up to ten floating gas platforms could be operational within a decade. A key element of preparing for the gas-fired economic revolution is the setting up of the Marine Supply Base at East Arm.

The NT Government has earmarked  A$5 million towards the base in the upcoming Budget, which will partly be used to assess tenders by three big consortiums to establish and operate the base.

Prepared by Bob Woodward & Associates: offering you business consultancy, accounting, payroll administration and ancillary services in Darwin; The Northern Territory, Australia
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Darwin residential property – has it peaked?

Are residential property prices weakening in Darwin? That’s the opinion of some real estate dealers. But others are pointing out that Darwin prices are still high when compared with the median price of homes in other capital cities around Australia.

The current median price for a house in Darwin stands at A$461,000, while for a unit it is A$385,000.

Darwin’s residential housing market enjoyed growth from the start of this century and continued through until until late 2009,  but there are currently all the signs of the city’s boom-time house prices making a correction.

The growth in prices had been caused partly by high local construction costs, land shortage, a strong economy in the Top End and low interest rates.

But new subdivisions of Johnston, Bellamack, Zuccoli and Mitchell in Palmerston are set to add an additional 3,700 new allotments to the market – which some say will lower some house values in the area. Houses in Rosebery that were selling for $650,000 a year ago are now being put on the market at around $600,000.

The NT Government has stated that around 15 per cent of the Bellamack lots, with a mixture of single dwelling and medium-density lots, will be retained for affordable and social housing.

So has Darwin become a buyers' market? Some sellers argue that the Darwin residential real estate market has peaked. In some areas, maybe. But property on the fringe of Darwin CBD is still fetching good prices.
And a footnote to all this is that three Top End homes have made it in to the top 25 most expensive homes sold in Australia, according to RP Data.

The Northern Territory's most expensive house, located in Larrakeyah, sold last July for just over $3.3 million. Another Larrakeyah home went for for $2.9 million last September, and a house in Knuckey Lagoon sold for $2.6m in April.

Prepared by Bob Woodward & Associates: offering you business consultancy, accounting,payroll administration and ancillary services in Darwin; The Northern Territory, Australia