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Business news, business advice and information for Australian SMEs | SmartCompany

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    A retail franchise found to have underpaid young workers on more than one occasion has entered into an enforceable undertaking with the Fair Work Ombudsman that will see it place an ad in Melbourne’s Herald Sun newspaper, explaining its contravention of the law and promising not to do it again.

    Daiso Australia and Mei King Hii, the director of Melbourne’s Midtown Plaza Daiso franchise, have also agreed to donate $5000 to a young person legal rights centre called Youthlaw, back-pay all outstanding entitlements and take steps to locate and reimburse former employees.

    Daiso is a Japanese retail franchise that sells every item in store for $2.80 and operates five stores in Melbourne.

    The ombudsman found the Midtown Plaza franchise had underpaid 27 staff almost $40,000 in just three months.

    Most of the workers were Vietnamese, Korean, Chinese and Japanese students or backpackers on 417 working holiday visas, aged between 19 and 26.

    The store had first come to the watchdog’s attention in 2012, after three employees complained they were underpaid and a resulting investigation found they had been short-changed almost $12,000.

    Fair Work inspectors and union representatives had met with King Hii at the time to discuss her obligations under workplace laws.

    However, the ombudsman continued to receive complaints from workers and a follow-up investigation revealed 27 further staff had been underpaid a total of $37,983 between September and November 2012.

    They were underpaid their minimum hourly rates, penalty rates, annual leave loading and double-time when rest breaks between shifts were less than 12 hours.

    King Hii and Daiso Australia entered into the enforceable undertaking as an alternative to litigation.

    In addition to the repayments, the Herald Sun ad and the donation, both agreed to provide a report for the ombudsman on steps taken to ensure they will in future meet their obligations and post a notice in the Midtown Plaza shop advising other employees of its contraventions and giving a commitment such behaviour would not happen again.

    Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said in statement when employers with contraventions are given advice and assistance, they are expected to follow it.

    “Obviously we frown upon employers who refuse to fix problems or continually ignore advice so they have a competitive advantage over others doing the right thing,” said James.

    TressCox partner Rachel Drew told SmartCompany there are advantages to entering into an enforceable undertaking with the Fair Work Ombudsman, including avoiding further penalties and a court record of the breach of workplace law.

    “They are not easy to get,” says Drew, pointing out enforceable undertakings require a great deal of negotiation between the employer and the Ombudsman.

    Drew says while some of the agreements in this case were slightly unusual, especially the newspaper ad, every enforceable undertaking is different and tailored to the workplace and the contraventions.

    “The public humiliation is a little bit unusual,” says Drew.

    “Given Fair Work publishes the details on their own website, requiring someone to put in ad in the newspaper is a bit unusual.”

    But Drew says the ad may be to aid in locating employees who were underpaid.

    She says donations are a typical agreement in an enforceable undertaking and, in the case, the donation to a youth law program was applicable because the contraventions were against young people.

    Daiso was contacted for comment but SmartCompany did not receive a response prior to publication.

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    Many startups and small business owners are unsure about whether they need insurance, and if they do, what sort. It’s a good question which comes up quite often.

    If you had a bricks-and-mortar shop, you would have insurance to protect the goods you are selling against theft, fire and similar damage. You would also have insurance for ‘slip fall’ claims in the event a customer entered your shop and fell or was injured. These insurances, among others, are a requirement for physical shop fronts but what about your online shop?

    What are your potential liabilities?

    If you have an e-commerce business, you may be liable for damages for injuries caused by the sale of your jewellery, baby clothes, razors, or claims for food poisoning and allergies to your products. There are a number of things they may try to sue you for, even if you have not manufactured the products yourself.

    If you sell goods under your business name, or for example, if you have repaired or refurbished the goods you sell, or if the manufacturer is overseas, you may be held responsible for any of the products sold by you.

    Other potential losses to your business may arise from such things as data loss, your website being down/unavailable for a period of time, hacking, and even loss of stock in your warehouse

    Is insurance worth it?

    Specialist insurance cover for e-commerce website businesses is difficult to find. Many insurance companies refuse to insure online businesses and do not have suitable products available.

    Even general business continuation insurance which may protect for some instances of interruption usually requires a minimum number of days of interruption before you can claim, so you may not qualify to ever make a claim. Or it may not be worth it.

    Then there are the usual non-online specific business insurances such as workers compensation, professional indemnity insurance and similar, but some are not relevant to your specific type of business.

    Insurance can be expensive also. And very difficult to claim. If you do decide to go that route, ensure you read the policy carefully. Very carefully. And ask a lot of questions.

    Here are the best ways to protect yourself, your assets and your business without insurance:

    1. Have good terms and conditions on your website

    Well-drafted terms with a limitation of liability clause will go a long way to protecting you, your assets and your business.

    2. End User License Agreements

    Have strong End User License Agreement (EULA)/Service Level Agreements with good providers for your website business.

    If you cannot access your service providers easily, if they are unavailable or not responsive, it could cost you a lot of money in lost sales and revenue.


    Consider setting up a Pty Ltd company. The benefits are not just to protect your personal assets.

    You can also claim tax deductions for home office when you work from home, business running expenses and you have more flexibility to structure your own income and business income.

    The tax rate is attractive as well as making capital raising easier since you can issue shares and structure your business with investors more easily.

    4. Intellectual property

    Protect your intellectual property and company by registering your business name and logo.

    If you only have a registered business or company, or a domain name, someone may come along, trademark your business or company and conduct the same business out from under you. You will have difficulty defending it and you may have to start from scratch.

    Don’t risk your personal assets and your business. You spent a lot of time and effort to acquire assets and set your business up, so make sure you protect them.

    This article first appeared on StartupSmart.

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    Three Charterhill entities owe creditors a combined $11.5 million, according to the latest presentation of accounts.

    The Adelaide-based group offered a range of services including SMSF advice, mortgage broking, real estate marketing, property management along with contract negotiation.

    Charterhill Group entered insolvency in January, with many clients now caught in the wreckage of chartered accountant George Nowak’s empire.

    Some related Charterhill entities are among the unsecured creditors, with about 110 clients having been caught up in the collapse having paid deposits for property purchases, previous reports suggested.

    The three of the Charterhill companies have collected just the $25,000 in payments, according to their six-month presentation of accounts, The Advisor said.

    The companies are under the control of the receiver, Michael Basedow of Pitcher Partners or under the control of the liquidator, Andrew Heard of Heard Phillips.

    The Charterhill Group operated as a “one-stop shop”, providing advice to clients on the establishment of self-managed superannuation funds, rollover of existing super funds into an SMSF, sourcing and purchase of investment properties, property management, insurance and taxation.

    It companies included, Nova Real Estate — in administration; Lending Solutions International — in liquidation; EJ Property Developments (EJPD) (formerly known as Charterhill Group and Bentley Capital) — in receivership and Financial Wellness (trading as EZ Residential) — in receivership.

    This article first appeared on Property Observer.

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    A Perth go-kart company and its director have been fined $30,250 after a young customer had her hair entangled in the cart’s axle.

    Wanneroo Kart Hire, which is no longer trading, and its previous director appeared in Joondalup Magistrates Court yesterday over the 2011 incident, according to Perth Now.

    The court heard staff had offered a 13-year-old girl a hair net to wear for hygiene purposes, which she was not wearing at the time of the accident, but had failed to advise her to tie her hair back when driving the go-carts.

    The girl was driving when her hair became caught in the rear axle of the cart, pulling her back over the seat.

    Her helmet was pulled against the brakes on the axle, causing the chin strap to cut into her neck and restrict her breathing.

    She passed out, but was quickly cut free, allowing her to regain consciousness.

    According to Perth Now, WorkSafe WA commissioner Lex McCulloch said it was pure luck the girl did not suffer lasting injuries and the potential outcomes from that type of accident were horrendous.

    After the incident, all go-karts at Wanneroo Kart Hire were fitted with guards between the seats and the ends of the vehicles to prevent loose clothing and hair coming into contact with rear axles.

    M+K Lawyers partner Andrew Douglas told SmartCompany under all safety legislation in Australia there is an obligation for a business to provide a safe place for people who enter the premise.

    “The standard duty of care is to do everything reasonably practical to avoid a hazard,” says Douglas.

    Douglas says businesses have to be able to identify hazards and ascertain risks, measuring both the likelihood of an incident and how serious it would be if it occurred.

    He says the law requires business to allocate resources to prevent the risk from occurring.

    “You can’t say it’s too expensive,” says Douglas.

    “Businesses can’t escape liability because of ignorance. The reasonable test is not based on what you know, but what you ought to have known.”

    Douglas says if a likely risk is too high and too serious and a business cannot afford to put resources in to eliminate the risk, then a business should close.

    Safety law is established on a “hierarchy of controls”, according to Douglas.

    The first level of control is to eliminate the risk. In this case, that would be to remove the use of go-karts.

    If that can’t be done, the second level of control is physically or otherwise guarding against the risk, or in this case, fitting the go-kart seats with physical guards.

    The bottom level of control is administrative: in this case telling the girl to tie her hair back.

    “Each step you go down requires a higher level of supervision,” says Douglas.

    He says the answer for businesses is to allocate money for supervision of risks and other levels of control.

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    Tension is escalating between Pizza Hut franchisees and their parent company Yum! Restaurants, with a high-profile franchisee launching a class action against Yum! in the federal court this month.

    The class action follows a failed bid by 80 Pizza Hut franchisees in June to stop Yum’s latest price strategy, which has seen the Pizza Hut chain go head-to-head in a discount price war with rival Domino’s, offering pizzas for as little as $4.95.

    Diab Pty Ltd, a company owned by Sydney Pizza Hut franchisee Danny Diab, initiated legal proceedings against Yum! in the Federal Court on August 12.

    Justice Annabelle Bennett scheduled a directions hearing for October 3 and in a court order gave applicant group members until October 28 to opt out of the action.

    Fairfax reports the franchisees, the number of which is unclear at this point, are seeking damages from Yum! to cover the profits they have lost since the discount price strategy was introduced on July 1.

    The franchisees are reportedly attempting to find out if Yum! breached its franchise agreements with its stores and engaged in unconscionable conduct by lowering prices.

    An unnamed franchisee told Fairfax they are struggling to keep their business going and hopes the legal action will make Yum! “just listen to us for once”.

    “Everyone’s struggling, it’s a financial nightmare,” they said.

    “It’s been ongoing since the price cuts, this just puts the final nail in the coffin.”

    SmartCompany contacted Pizza Hut but the head office declined to comment as the case is before the courts.

    SmartCompany also contacted Jim Kartsounis, president of the Australasian Pizza Association and solicitor for the franchisees, but did not receive a response prior to publication.

    Jason Gehrke, director of the Franchise Advisory Council, told SmartCompany the class action “certainly signals a growing level of unrest” between the two parties.

    Gehrke says while this is not the first time a group of franchisees have banded together to launch a class action against a franchisor, “this is probably the first time in recent memory a class action has been unleashed over a pricing issue”.

    He says the case “illustrates the danger of a discounting strategy” and given the directions hearing will not take place until early October, “it’s a long time to wait for franchisees who are hurting already”.

    He says it appears Pizza Hut “has been a little flat footed” in moving to match the low prices offered by Domino’s, which as the chain to drop their prices to $4.95, likely had time to plan their strategy and improve their in-store efficiencies to cope with the lower margins.

    But by “playing catch-up”, Pizza Hut franchisees have not had the same time to prepare in-store and supply chain efficiencies, says Gehrke.

    “They haven’t brought the franchisees on the same journey,” he says.

    Gehrke says it is highly unlikely Yum’s agreements with its franchisees would contain a duty of care for the franchisees to be profitable, which is essentially what the class action will rest on.

    “There is usually nothing in a franchise agreement about profitability,” he says. “There is no legal obligation.”

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    A court has ordered a Penrith-based transport operator to pay a near-maximum penalty after it heard he sacked a driver for taking carer's leave and then “abused and threatened to harm” him.

    Matthew Atkins, who trades as M.L.A. Transport, was hit with fines totalling $20,000 – close to the maximum penalty for an individual in an unlawful adverse action claim.

    Judge Rolf Driver ordered Atkins pay $10,000 to the driver Michael Vella for non-economic loss, and a further $10,000 in punitive damages to the Transport Workers Union, which brought the case on Vella’s behalf.

    The Federal Circuit Court heard that on August 6, 2013, Vella had told Atkins he had to take his daughter to a medical appointment on August 9 and would not be able to come into work on that particular day.

    The court heard Atkins denied Vella’s request for leave and informed Vella he expected him to work.

    The night before his shift, Atkins sent Vella a text message outlining his work for the next day.

    Vella informed Atkins he would not be attending work due to his carer’s responsibilities. Atkins then told Vella if he did not attend work, his employment would be terminated.

    Judge Driver said Atkins had initially refused to participate in the case, having previously ordered him to pay Vella $7770 for outstanding wages in February. Vella told the court Atkins had not yet paid that sum.

    Vella also told the court Atkins had continued to abuse and threaten him and his family after the dismissal and did "burnouts" outside his house.

    Atkins admitted threatening Vella and apologised for it, but denied doing “burnouts” outside Vella’s residence.

    “The conduct was blatant and disgraceful,” Driver found.

    “I have decided to award compensation to Mr Vella for his pain, suffering, hurt, distress and humiliation in the sum of $10,000.”

    SmartCompany spoke to Atkins, who says he will be appealing the decision.

    M+K Lawyers partner Andrew Douglas told SmartCompany the penalty was at the top end of the range.

    “It’s a big fine,” said Douglas.

    Douglas says in an adverse action claim, there is a reverse onus on an employer to show the action taken to terminate the employee is not against their workplace rights – in this case, Vella’s carer’s leave.

    “There are a whole lot of lessons from this case,” says Douglas.

    “The apparent bad behaviours that followed can never really be explained, but businesses must be aware of workplace rights.”

    Douglas says employers are often driven by operational needs of their business and unaware a worker’s responsibility to their family actually gives rise to a workplace right.

    “For a lot of people this is a relatively new idea… and it’s not communicated well,” he says.

    Wayne Forno, TWU NSW State Secretary, told SmartCompany the courts had tuaght MLA Transport a very expensive lesson.

    “The TWU has a zero tolerance approach to employers who try to bully, harass or rip off their workers," says Forno.

    "This case is a classic example of a bully employer abusing his power. What he did was in direct contravention of the Fair Work Act, even before you include the abuse and stress caused to Michael and his family."

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    Chris and Marie’s Plant Farms, famous for owner Chris Lucas’s “Hello, hello” catchphrase and pink tutu and wand, is embroiled in a Supreme Court legal battle over the removal of assets from the collapsed business.

    Chris and Marie’s Plant Farms went into administration in 2011 and a Deed of Company Arrangement required payment of $632,000 over four years.

    But the business has failed to pay employee entitlements and owes over $200,000 to the Tax Office. 

    This hasn’t stopped Lucas opening a new business “Hello Hello Plants & Garden Supplies” in Melbourne’s Ascot Vale two weeks ago.

    Lucas’ Hello Hello website announces “Ready for Spring, Chris and family are opening a new nursery under the Hello Hello banner at 448 Mt Alexander Rd Ascot Vale. We’re very exited to be back in the Essendon area since our heyday of wild plant sales at Essendon Fields and the Melbourne Showgrounds.”

    In a judgment handed down in the Supreme Court on Friday, Justice Sifris found there had been a “material contravention” of the DOCA which facilitated the administration.

    “The evidence also discloses and clearly establishes the systematic removal and transfer of assets out of the companies subject to the DOCA to another newly incorporated entity called Tuscan Australia Pty Ltd,” Justice Sifris found.

    Justice Sifris terminated the DOCA and placed Chris and Marie’s Plant Farms under the control of court appointed liquidators, Andrew Yeo and Gess Rambaldi of Pitcher Partners. 

    The number listed on the Hello Hello website for Lucas just connects to Chris and Marie’s Plant Farm in Campbellfield.

    There is no telephone number for the new Ascot Vale business and SmartCompany was unable to contact Lucas.

    SmartCompany spoke to one of the three remaining employees in Campbellfield.

    “We are the poor people; there are workers here who have lost all their entitlements,” the employee says.

    “[Lucas] is still taking money off the internet, he is still selling plants through the website and customers call here asking when they get their deliveries of plants.”  

    Yeo told SmartCompany the liquidators have assumed control of the Hello Hello Group’s businesses in Monbulk and Campbellfield and have taken control of stock at the new Ascot Vale nursery.

    “We are doing everything we can to stop them,” he says.

    The liquidators will continue to trade the business “indefinitely” with a view to selling it.

    “There is a stack of stock but you just won’t have someone wearing a tutu selling it,” Yeo says.

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    Small businesses around the country are hurting from the growing duopoly of the big two supermarkets, Coles and Woolworths.

    Accusations of land banking, intimidation of competitors and coercion of suppliers continue to be made.

    But instead of focusing on these claims, or the myriad of competition issues which face small businesses, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission set its sights on Australian food icon Maggie Beer.

    Last week the cook, restaurateur, philanthropist, former Senior Australian of the Year and small business woman issued a groveling apology to the competition watchdog and Maggie Beer Product customers.

    What was her horrendous crime?

    It turns out Beer labels Maggie Beer Products with the phrase “Barossa Food Tradition” and includes the address of her business in the Barossa Valley, South Australia on all Maggie Beer Product labels. 

    Beer does this as four out of the 200 or so Maggie Beer Products are made in Victoria and Queensland rather than in South Australia. 

    The ACCC claims this is misleading and deceptive and extracted an apology and correction from Beer. 

    Yes the words “Barossa Food Tradition” could be interpreted as meaning the product was made in the Barossa but they could also mean the products were made using the same styles and techniques in the Barossa.

    The ACCC also had an issue with the words “made in Australia” which is a little confusing given even the four offending products were still made in Australia rather than offshore. 

    The ACCC pointed to the inclusion of Beer’s address on the labels even though it’s not entirely unreasonable to expect the address would refer to Beer’s head office rather than the place of manufacture.

    Intellectual property law expert Natalie Hickey goes through these details and more in a comprehensive legal analysis concluding the ACCC’s case against Beer looks “no more than arguable”.

    “A judge might well have gone the other way,” she says. 

    And guess who was one of the businesses which provided evidence against Beer?

    The ACCC cited evidence Maggie Beer Products made representations at a fair event at a Woolworths store and in correspondence with Woolworths that the four products were made in South Australia or were otherwise “local” products.

    The same Beer who was brave enough to criticise the dominance of the two supermarkets two years ago. 

    Poor old Woolworths deceived by nasty Beer. 

    It really breaks your heart doesn’t it?

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    Contractors who engage in phoenix activity in the construction industry are expected to face charges soon as a result of a joint investigation by Australia’s corporate regulator and the Australian Tax Office.

    The Australian Securities and Investments Commission is working with the ATO and the Fair Work Building and Construction inspectorate to investigate eight of the nation’s largest big construction projects to take action against contractors believed to be operating phoenix scams.

    As part of the investigation, a number of large construction firms have agreed to provide the ATO with financial information and documents about their contractors in order to help identify sub-contractors engaging in phoenix activity.

    Fairfax reports the ATO is compiling evidence for the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, which will make the final call on whether company directors will be charged.

    Tax Office assistant deputy commissioner Bruce Collins told SmartCompany this morning the ATO has “a number of significant ongoing investigations underway at the moment” and “expect[s] further charges to be laid in relation to illegal phoenix activities in the near future”.

    Collins says phoenix activity describes a situation where a company is deliberately liquidated to “avoid financial obligations such as PAYG withholding, income tax, GST and super liabilities, without risking the operator’s assets, and with the intention of resuming business through a new entity”.

    He says this kind of fraudulent phoenix activity “is widespread among labour intensive industries, especially in the property and construction industry”.

    “We are currently liaising with head contractors from the property and construction industry to help deal with the risks associated with phoenix operators,” says Collins.

    “This includes engaging with them on how phoenix activities could be occurring within their sub-contractor supply chain.”

    A spokesperson for ASIC also told SmartCompany this morning the corporate watchdog is currently undertaking a “surveillance campaign focusing on directors who have a history of being involved in alleged illegal phoenix activity to try to prevent any illegal future behaviour”.

    The spokesperson says ASIC has examined 208 possible cases of phoenix companies since July 2013, and of those cases, “six or seven are being investigated further”.

    The spokesperson says ASIC is particularly concerned about “the use of false statutory declaration by subcontractors as a means of being paid (by the head contractor) for services undertaken during the construction of major building projects”.

    “A disproportionately high number of corporate failures where illegal phoenix activity is alleged, occur in the industries of construction, labour hire, transport security and cleaning,” says the spokesperson.

    “To combat this, ASIC has implemented a new and innovative strategy specifically focused on the building and construction industry.”

    Both ASIC and the ATO have not identified which companies are providing information about their contractors, but Fairfax suggest the eight companies are likely to include construction giants Lend Lease and Leighton.

    A spokesperson for Lend Lease told Fairfax the company is “aware that the ATO and ASIC are investigating the issue of phoenix companies” and Lend Lease will “work with the regulators as required”.

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    The former chief executive of Sydney Ferries has been handed a three year jail sentence after racking up hundreds of thousands of dollars on the company’s credits cards.

    Geoffrey Smith, who was also a former deputy chief of the Royal Australian Navy, pleaded guilty to one charge of cheating or defrauding Sydney Ferries in the Sydney District Court, reports News Corp.

    He was accused of using his company credit card from the time he was hired by Sydney Ferries in 2006 to pay for a lavish lifestyle, which included the lease on two BMW cars, family holidays, repayments on a $2 million home in North Sydney, and expensive renovations on the home, including the installation of a swimming pool.

    The court heard Smith, who had signed a document agreeing not to use the corporate credit card for personal use, defrauded Sydney Ferries of more than $128,000 between September 2006 and May 2008, but paid back all but $23 of that amount.

    However, he went on to spend a further $111,649 on his company credit card.

    Smith’s employment was terminated in 2009 after his fraudulent activity was discovered in an investigation by the Independent Commission Against Corruption in New South Wales.

    This week, Judge Michael Finnane sentenced Smith to three years and four months in jail, with a non-parole period of 18 months.

    Finnane said prior to joining Sydney Ferries, Smith was a man of “exemplary good character”, having received a number of military decorations and being made an Officer of the Order of Australia.

    “In every sense it is a tragedy that such a distinguished man should find himself facing sentence for fraud charges,” said Finnane.

    “Clearly his lifestyle far exceeded his income and he chose from May 2008 onwards to engage in active fraud of Sydney Ferries.”

    SmartCompany contacted the New South Wales Department of Transport but did not receive a response prior to publication.

    Brett Warfield, chief executive of forensic accounting firm Warfield & Associates, told SmartCompany this is one of the “worst cases” of employee fraud he has seen where a senior executive has been approached by various people in the organisation about their credit card usage and had signed a document agreeing not to use a corporate card for personal spending.

    Warfield says it is not difficult to detect credit card fraud within an organisation, as long as there is an independent review system in place.

    “At that level, [credit card use] should be reviewed by an independent board member before being approved and sent to accounts,” says Warfield.

    Warfield says while there is “a large element of trust that comes into play” and chief executives are often expected to “lead by example”, the importance of having a senior member of the organisation review credit card usage should not be underestimated.

    An avenue for whistle blowers to speak up about the misuse of company credit cards is also important, says Warfield.

    “The people who are processing the accounts might say ‘that’s not right, how is he paying for that’ but they might be frightened to tell someone,” he says.

    “They should be able to report it directly to the board or to general counsel, or someone very similar.”

    Warfield says there are two important steps any business with corporate credit cards should take.

    “Number one, look at how many credit cards are on issue [and] who really needs a card,” he says.

    “And number two is restricting what they can be spent on. You need good policies and tell staff about them.”

    Warfield also recommends asking an employee to sign an agreement when they are issued with a company card, indicating they agree not to use the card for personal expenditure.

    “That should be copied and retained in hard copy,” he says.

    KPMG forensic accounting partner David Luijerink told SmartCompany there are three ways in which businesses can manage the risk of fraud: preventing the fraud from happening in the first place, detecting fraud when it does occur, and responding to fraud in an appropriate way.

    Luijerink says preventative measures should involve segregating employee’s duties to ensure the same people are not responsible for initiating payments and approving the same payments, as well as training employees.

    “Tell them the business has zero tolerance for fraud and if they see something, what they should do and who they can tell,” he says.

    Like Warfield, Luijerink says methods to detect fraud should include an anonymous and confidential whistleblowing line, which he says is particularly “powerful” when the fraud is taking placing internally.

    He says KPMG is also increasing using data analytics to help clients detect fraud, while comparing the performance of a business over different time frames on a regular basis can also help uncover abnormalities.

    Luijerink says businesses should also have clear policies about how to respond in the event a fraud is detected. This includes determining how to assess and retain evidence of the fraud, as well as deciding whether professional support should be called upon.

    “Many businesses would have an anti-fraud policy, but this should also be linked to other policies about expense claims, conflict of interest and HR policies,” he says.

    Luijerink says three elements are need for fraud to occur—opportunity, motivation and rationale—and businesses will have the most success in addressing fraudulent behaviour by focusing on employee opportunity and motivation. 

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    A Canberra worker has failed in his bid to receive further compensation from national government insurer Comcare for an injury he sustained while participating in a potato sack race during a work Christmas party.

    Christopher Odell worked for Indigenous Business Australia when he fractured his left leg in multiple spots at a work Christmas party in December 2010. His injury required surgery and Comcare initially granted Odell an unspecified amount of compensation.

    However, Odell, who stopped working for the government department in June 2012 when his contract was finished and is now self-employed as a landscape gardener, applied for more compensation on the grounds he is still suffering from the permanent injury.

    In a ruling delivered this week, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal found while Odell did have a permanent injury, he did not have a 10% impairment, which proof is needed of to warrant further compensation.

    Odell argued he was forced to regularly take days off work and is restricted from kneeling, cycling, jogging and walking on uneven ground as a result of the injury.

    But the tribunal said the medical evidence provided did not support Odell’s claim that he cannot walk longer than 500 metres without a walking aid or personal assistant.

    “He gave us evidence that he can no longer walk up Mt Ainslie with his children. However, that assertion was not tested by either of the medical specialists, walking up Mt Ainslie is not walking on level ground, and the tribunal cannot be satisfied that he meets that criteria,” said the tribunal.

    Employment lawyer Peter Vitale told SmartCompany the case raises a number of important issues employers should be mindful of.

    “The first thing to note is that this is another example of the definition of a workplace, for the purposes of not just workers’ compensation but also anti-discrimination legislation, being extended to cover work-related functions that might take place outside of the actual physical workplace,” says Vitale.

    Vitale says the tribunal’s decision was “essentially decided on the basis of the medical evidence”, which highlights the importance of both objective medical evidence of workplace injuries, as well as the continual monitoring of the evidence provided in ongoing claims.

    Vitale also says it is important for employers to manage the longer term impact on their workplace insurance premiums from continued claims from employees who may have left the organisation but are still suffering from an injury obtained in that workplace.

    “Part of that is ensuring that the employee’s condition and claims are properly managed from the outset,” he says.

    SmartCompany contacted Indigenous Business Australia but did not receive a response prior to publication.

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    A Fair Work Ombudsman investigation has found more than 3000 Red Rooster employees have been underpaid close to $650,000.

    The Ombudsman’s office today released the results of its proactive compliance deed with the fast food chain, which is owned by Quick Service Restaurant Holdings and employs more than 7000 people nationally.

    Red Rooster entered into the deed with the employment watchdog in February 2012 after a number of complaints by Red Rooster franchise employees in 2011 led the Ombudsman to discover pay rates in the company’s employment agreement were below those contained in the Fast Food Industry Award 2010.

    The Ombudsman previously proposed a compliance deed to Red Rooster after identifying a problem with the interpretation of its workplace agreement, the Red Rooster Agreement 2009, which was negotiated by the company with the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association on behalf of most Red Rooster franchises.

    As part of the compliance deed, Red Rooster audited the pay of 3140 franchise employees across 106 stores, finding the employees were underpaid a combined total of $645,253.

    Audits of a further 23 franchise stores were not completed because the stores being placed in liquidation during the time period.

    According to the Ombudsman’s report, 1206 employees have already been back paid $346,285, while Red Rooster is the process of back paying the remaining 1934 employees a total of $298,698.

    While the deed originally specified the back payments were to be made by the end of September 2012, the Ombudsman said the timeframes have been extended in cases where the “trading conditions for some outlets have been tough due to a number of regional and economic influences”.

    A spokesperson for Red Rooster told SmartCompany the company and its franchisees "immediately put in place a program to ensure any errors were rectified" as soon as they were advised of the audit findings. 

    "We continue to work collaboratively with the Fair Work Ombudsman to ensure this matter is promptly finalised," says the spokesperson. 

    Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said in a statement the compliance deed has made a difference to thousands of young and casual workers.

    “Many of the young people working in Red Rooster franchises would have had little, or no previous work experience, and little knowledge or their lawful entitlements,” said James.

    Fair Work commended Red Rooster and its franchisees’ cooperation and said Red Rooster’s commitment to ensuring employees receive their correct entitlements “has been a great example of corporate leadership”.

    TressCox partner Rachel Drew told SmartCompany a proactive compliance deed is one of the options available to the Fair Work Ombudsman when investigating a company’s compliance with workplace laws.

    However, Drew says compliance deeds, which usually involve some form of audit of the company’s records, are not common.

    “Usually the Fair Work Ombudsman’s choices are that a matter is worth prosecuting or the matter is worth issuing an infringement notice,” says Drew.

    “A compliance deed is a parallel path to those actions. There may be an issue with employee entitlements but it is not sufficiently significant to prosecute or discovered through self-discovery by the employer.”

    While the case involving Red Rooster was complex given concerns the company misinterpreted its own agreements with employees, Drew says the complexity of a case would not ordinarily lead to the Ombudsman opting not to prosecute a matter.

    “The Fair Work Ombudsman doesn’t shy away from complicated matters,” says Drew.

    Drew says it is very common for a master franchisor to enter into an industrial award that covers all of the company’s operations and equally as common for franchisees to “rely on the master franchisor for interpretation of the award”.

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    The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s latest foray into the difficult and politically charged arena of petrol pricing is just the latest in a long running saga that is unlikely to be resolved by the regulator’s Federal Court move last weekon industry pricing website, Informed Sources.

    The ACCC is alleging the website, on which petrol retailers share their prices, has the effect of substantially lessening competition.

    The saga is in part about petrol prices and the consumer hip pocket. But it is just as much, if not more, about whether it should be illegal for competitors generally to share information – information about future prices especially.

    Long battle

    The ACCC’s concerns about collusion in the petrol sector are longstanding. It has brought several proceedings alleging price fixing against petrol retailers over the years and has generally failed to convince the courts of its case.

    Following high profile losses against independent service stations in Ballarat and Geelong in 2007, the ACCC tried to convince the government to change the law to make it easier to prove a cartel. While the Commission’s concerns were legitimate, the changes it suggested were not well formulated, and it failed to persuade the politicians.

    Some years later, inspired by politics surrounding competition in the banking sector, the law was amended to ban bank executives from disclosing price and other commercially sensitive information to each other. That law has been heavily criticised, not least because of its single sector focus, and the ACCC has been trying to get the government to extend it economy-wide. It is an issue that will occupy the minds of the Competition Policy Review review panel, headed by Ian Harper.

    The nub of the problem is that those setting out to collude and fix prices need no longer meet in smoke-filled rooms or talk in code on pre-paid mobile phones, and competition authorities do not need to use covert listening devices or wire taps to catch them in the act. There are many and varied ways in which businesses can coordinate their behaviour, and reduce the uncertainty of competition, including through the exchange of information. And, as illustrated by subscription websites of the kind used by Informed Sources, technology is making this even easier.

    Testing legal boundaries

    In other parts of the world, such as the European Union, information sharing between competitors is known as a “concerted practice”. In certain circumstances such practices are against the law and attract severe penalties. Competition authorities do not need to prove that the information exchange is anti-competitive. It is generally assumed to be so.

    But in Australia, unless you are a bank executive, communicating with a competitor without actually committing to raise prices is perfectly legal. The only exception is where the ACCC can prove that there was an information sharing arrangement and it had the purpose, effect or likely effect of substantially lessening competition. That is what the ACCC is setting out to do in the Informed Sources case and, in legal terms, it is a tall order.

    When he was appointed, ACCC Chairman Rod Sims promised that he would bring difficult cases that would test the boundaries of the law. He is doing that with this case. The ACCC litigation launched earlier this year alleging unconscionable conduct by Coles in its treatment of 200 suppliers is another example. Any attempt by the ACCC to clarify the many grey areas of competition law and assist businesses in complying with their legal obligations should be welcomed. However, the petrol case should also prompt policymakers to revisit the general issue of how collusion is defined and whether Australia should follow the European lead in broadening the definition of a cartel.

    Rethink Fuelwatch scheme

    The case should also prompt a rethink of the national Fuelwatch scheme that was proposed but abandoned in 2008. The national scheme was to be modelled on the scheme that operates in Western Australia. The WA policy requires petrol stations to report their prices to the state government 24 hours in advance of when they are set. The government then publishes these station-level prices online. In addition, stations are required to keep their prices at their reported levels for 24 hours until they report their next daily price to the government.

    Preliminary results of ground breaking research at the University of Melbourne show that WA Fuelwatch is having a positive impact on competition and consumers are benefiting from lower prices at the fuel pump. The website information is enabling consumers to search actively for the lowest price on any given day and to stock up on low priced fuel when it is available.

    What’s more, contrary to concerns that jettisoned the national scheme, the early research results show that WA’s petrol prices have not increased as a result of the scheme. They are in fact lower than prices in other states where Fuelwatch does not operate. This finding contradicts the concern voiced in relation to the national scheme that forcing petrol stations to keep prices constant for 24 hour periods would lead to consumers paying more.

    The research highlights the importance of considering dynamics on both the demand and supply sides of a market in regulating its competitiveness. It also shows that enhanced information sharing through the use of technology need not have anti-competitive effects. Technology can also be harnessed to improve competitiveness, by using it to provide consumers as well as suppliers with more information.

    In short, sometimes the more effective and less expensive way to activate competition is to empower consumers rather than to sue suppliers. This will come as no surprise to the ACCC.

    Image credit: Flickr/smemon


    The Conversation

    The Fuelwatch research referred to in the piece is being funded by the University of Melbourne School of Government.

    David Byrne receives funding from the Australian Research Council.

    This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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    The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has initiated proceedings against international shopping community Lyoness, alleging the business operates a pyramid scheme and engages in referral selling.

    The consumer watchdog alleges Lyoness offers commissions to existing members who recruit new members, who then make a down-payment on future purchases.

    ACCC chairman Rod Sims said in a statement pyramid schemes are often sophisticated and can be operated under the guise of a legitimate business.

    “The concern with pyramid schemes is that the financial benefits held out to induce potential members to join up rely substantially on the recruitment of further new members into the scheme,” said Sims. 

    “For these schemes to work so that everyone can make a profit, there would need to be an endless supply of new members.”

    In a statement, Lyoness said it rejects the consumer watchdog’s allegations and will “vigorously defend” the court action.

    “Benefits are exclusively generated by shopping activities within the Lyoness community,” said Lyoness.

    “Members receive benefits when they shop, whether they introduce other members or not. Lyoness members may introduce members and receive benefits when the new member shops in the Lyoness community, but no benefits come from the introduction alone.”

    The company also pointed to its track record, stating it has been active for 10 years.

    “In none of the 46 markets in which it is active has Lyoness been found guilty of or convicted for operating a pyramid scheme,” said the company.

    “Lyoness is committed to full compliance with the law and to dealing honestly with Australian consumers.”

    Melissa Monks, special counsel at King & Wood Mallesons, told SmartCompany it is illegal under Australian Consumer Law to establish, promote or take part in a pyramid scheme.

    “Pyramid selling schemes are illegal in Australia because they inevitably fail and can leave large numbers of consumers suffering significant financial losses,” says Monks.

    “They generally involve a promoter at the top of the pyramid inducing or recruiting others to join the scheme, usually by payment of a fee and the promise that they will receive a benefit by recruiting others.”

    Monks says the only way members can get their money back is by convincing others to join, creating an endless cycle.

    “The chance of finding new recruits and making money eventually becomes reduced until ultimately there are no new recruits to invest and the pyramid collapses,” says Monks.  

    “The only winners are those at the top of the pyramid, who get in first and pocket the payments made by those who joined under them.”

    Monks says the key difference between a pyramid selling scheme and a legitimate business is a pyramid scheme makes money on the recruitment of members rather than the marketing and sale of genuine goods and services.

    The ACCC is seeking declarations, penalties and an injunction from Lyoness. The first directions hearing is scheduled to take place in September 16 in Sydney.

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    Australia’s consumer watchdog is flexing its muscles by hauling a US provider of computer games to court over alleged false and misleading representations made to Australian gamers.

    While Valve Corporation does not have a physical presence in Australia, as it provides online computer games to Australians through its Stream distribution platform, it is subject to Australian Consumer Law.

    The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission launched legal action against Valve on August 29, alleging it made a number of false and misleading representations to Australian consumers, including that consumers were not entitled to refunds on games sold through Stream; that Valve had excluded, restricted or modified statutory guarantees or warranties relating to product quality; that Valve was not obliged to repair, replace or provide a refund if the consumer had not attempted to resolve an issue with Valve; and that statutory consumer guarantees did not apply to the games sold by Valve.

    ACCC chairman Rod Sims said in a statement Australian consumers are protected by Australian Consumer Law, regardless of where the company selling to them is based.

    “The Australian Consumer Law applies to any business providing goods or services within Australia,” said Sims.

    “Valve may be an American-based company with no physical presence in Australia, but it is carrying on business in Australia by selling to Australian consumers, who are protected by the Australian Consumer Law.”

    Sims said the guarantees provided by Australian Consumer Law cannot be excluded, restricted or modified by individual companies.

    “It is a breach of the Australian Consumer Law for businesses to state that they do not give refunds under any circumstances, including for gifts and during sales,” said ACCC chairman Rod Sims in a statement.

    “Under the Australian Consumers Law, consumers can insist on a refund or replacement at their option if a product has a major fault.”

    SmartCompany contacted Valve Corporation but did not receive a response prior to publication.

    However, Doug Lombardi, Valve’s vice president of marketing, told Kotaku the company is cooperating with the consumer watchdog.

    “We are making every effort to cooperate with the Australian officials on this matter while continuing to provide Steam services to our customers across the world, including Australian gamers,” said Lombardi.

    TressCox partner Alistair Little told SmartCompany while it is not unusual for the ACCC to take action against international companies, the normal circumstances would be for the action to be taken against the Australian operations of such companies, such as the recent action taken against international online shopping community Lyoness.

    In the absence of an Australian operation, Little says there could be “issues in terms of enforcing the types of judgment the ACCC will be seeking”.

    “At the end of the day, it is not easy to enforce a judgment on an overseas company,” says Little.

    While Little says there are means of enforcing judgments in overseas jurisdictions in civil lawsuits, overseas courts generally won’t recognise a foreign entity’s ability to enforce a penalty.

    Little says the ACCC will be hoping Valve chooses to comply with any order in relation to its treatment of Australian consumers, but if it doesn’t, the regulator may be forced to pursue other avenues for relief, including contempt of court actions.

    The fact that Valve is an online business also makes the ACCC’s task difficult, says Little.

    “It is very difficult to stop a website operating,” says Little.

    Little says online businesses will also often attempt to use one set of consumer trading conditions across multiple countries and therefore it is extremely likely the terms “will collide with someone’s consumer protection laws”. In these cases, the terms should be modified for different territories.

    “What they should have done is say, ‘Australian consumers, please note’”, says Little.

    He says it’s a lesson for Australian businesses selling in other countries.

    “Don’t assume what works in Australian will work overseas,” says Little.

    “If you are trading in other jurisdictions it would be very worthwhile to make use of local lawyers to ensure your terms apply with local consumer protections.”

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    Have you received a call or email out of the blue from someone claiming to be from a government department or business such as an energy provider?

    Did the caller or sender claim that, because of the carbon tax repeal, you are now entitled to a tax rebate or a refund on your previous bill?

    Watch out.  The competition watchdog says this call or email is likely to be from a scammer trying to take advantage of the carbon tax repeal to steal your money.

    The Australian Consumer and Competition Commission has issued a warning on its Scamwatch website that scammers may call or email small businesses with false claims that they are entitled to money upfront.  

    “Scammers often use major government programs or announcements like the carbon tax repeal to trick people into handing over their money or personal banking details,” the Scamwatch website warns.

    “Scammers pretend to be from a government department or agency, or from a business such as an energy provider, to sound legitimate.”

    The ACCC says scammers may spin a range of stories to make their story sound real, such as claiming that there is money due because of a tax refund, tax concession, one-off payment, discount, return or even a bonus.

    Things to watch out for include a request for money to be sent via wire transfer as it’s nearly impossible to recover money sent this way.

    How the scams work:

    • You receive a call or email out of the blue from someone claiming to be from a government department or business such as an energy provider.
    • The caller or sender will claim that, because of the carbon tax repeal, you are now entitled to a tax rebate or a refund on your previous bill.
    • In order to receive the refund/payment you have to pay an administration fee or other fee upfront.
    • The caller or sender will direct you to make the payment via a wire transfer services or credit card payment.
    • Alternatively, you may be asked to provide your bank account details or other personal information so they can deposit the refund in your account.

    The watchdog says if you get this call or email you need to be cautious.

    “If you have any doubts about the identity of any caller who claims to represent a business, organisation or government department, contact the body directly,” the Scamwatch website says.

    “Don’t rely on numbers, email addresses or websites provided by the caller – find them through an independent source such as a phone book or online search.”

    Peter Strong, executive director of the Council of Small Business of Australia, told SmartCompany COSBOA members have not complained about the scam at this stage.

    “No business should be handing out personal details to anyone unless they know that person or they have a formal contact,” he says.

    Strong says small businesses are often a target of scammers because there are so many small businesses out there.

    In general Strong says most small business people don’t fall prey to scams.

    “The problem for small business is to make sure staff members don’t give out those details,” he says.

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    Nine groups have lodged objections with IP Australia to REA Group's application to trademark the name ''.

    The time frame to lodge objections has passed.

    The Real Estate Institute of Australia spoke out against the trademark application, saying that the term ‘real estate’ is widely used by other industry groups and businesses.

    REIA CEO Amanda Lynch said that everyone should be able to accurately identify the types of goods and services that they sell and that ‘real estate’ is a generic term of common useage.

    “To allow a single company to claim trademark rights to a generic term would impoverish the language and unfairly hamper competition,” said Lynch.

    She noted that one of the objections was from ABC Real Estate and said it’s clear why they’ve lodged a formal objection.

    “Their situation is not a unique one and if this trademark is approved then it could harm or negatively impact on other businesses,” she said.

    "It is a totally unnecessary move by REA Group that not only does nothing to instil sector confidence in the REA Group but also results in businesses having to waste time on lodgement fees with IP Australia as well as lawyers.”

    When Property Observer asked readers where REA Group should be allowed to trademark the term, the majority said ‘yes’.

    This story first appeared on Property Observer.

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    The assets of a Sydney-based cleaning company have been frozen by the Federal Court, after the Fair Work Ombudsman alleged the business had underpaid workers more than $300,000.

    The Fair Work Ombudsman has recently taken action against a string of underpayment cases in the cleaning industry, but the move to freeze company assets is a rare strike for the watchdog.

    The ombudsman sought the court order to freeze the assets of Grouped Property Services following legal proceedings against the company which commenced in July.

    Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said in statement the order would prevent Grouped Property Services from being stripped of assets or placed into liquidation, which would have frustrated any back-payment orders against the company.

    “We have received more than 200 complaints against Grouped Property Services and associated companies over a number of years and we are concerned that the company’s alleged business practices have led to employees being denied their lawful minimum entitlements,” James said.

    Grouped Property Services allegedly underpaid 51 workers, most of who were engaged as cleaners, $308,000.

    The company also allegedly breached adverse action and sham contracting laws, when it claimed to have outsourced the employment of the workers to a labour hire company that was controlled by Grouped Property Services.

    The company faces maximum penalties of up to $51,000 per breach, while the company’s former owner and sole director, Rosario Pucci, and his brother Enrico Pucci, the company’s current owner and sole director, each face $10,200 per breach.

    The watchdog is seeking all underpayments to be rectified in full.

    It is also alleged Grouped Property Services had previously registered three other labour hire companies at its address, which had previously gone into liquidation, leaving no assets to pay employees.

    Rosario Pucci had previously received $4400 in penalties for underpaying employees from one of those companies, Wash and Go, which was placed into liquidation preventing the ombudsman from securing that penalty.

    TressCox partner Rachel Drew told SmartCompany it is extremely difficult to obtain courts orders to freeze or control assets, and this case must have presented serious concerns about the company’s ability to repay its underpayments.

    “It is extremely rare in general law, and it’s even rarer in industrial matters,” says Drew.

    “The Fair Work Ombudsman must have presented the Federal Court with very good evidence.”

    Drew says the ombudsman has placed a focus on non-genuine labour hire arrangements, which are used by employers to avoid employment obligations.

     “It very easy to get it wrong, especially with these sorts of parallel companies, employers need to be very careful to know what their obligations are.”

    She says labour hire companies can breach sham contracting laws by attempting to treat a worker as though they are an independent contractor to avoid employment obligations, when in fact the nature of the legal relationship is that of an employee.

    SmartCompany contacted Grouped Property Services, but did not receive a response prior to publication.

    0 0

    Federal Employment Minister Eric Abetz is pushing ahead with plans to introduce an independent appeals body for the Fair Work Commission, with the move criticised by both the federal opposition and the Law Council of Australia.

    The news follows a string of recent unfair dismissal cases won by employees due, in part, to the Fair Work Commission finding business owners failed to adequately implement or document a procedure for terminating staff.

    The cases have included a truck driver who urinated on a Woolworths warehouse, a marijuana smoking ferry driver, a childcare worker accused of smacking a two-year-old child and Qantas flight attendants who allegedly misused their Cabcharge cards.

    In a policy document issued before the last election, the Coalition promised to “keep and improve the Fair Work laws – including the independent umpire”, but stated it would “continue the improvement of the Fair Work Commission”.

    “We believe it is crucial that our workplace relations system is supported by an efficient and modern tribunal which promptly provides effective and consistent decision-making. This will include giving active consideration to the creation of an independent appeal jurisdiction,” the policy stated.

    In a statement to SmartCompany, a spokesman for Minister Abetz confirmed the government is still committed to creating the appeals jurisdiction.

    “The government committed in its Policy to Improve the Fair Work Laws to give active consideration to the establishment of an appeals jurisdiction. The government is carefully considering this matter, consistent with its election commitment,” the spokesman said.

    However, the proposal has been attacked by shadow employment and workplace relations minister Brendan O’Connor, who told SmartCompany the move would end the independence of the Fair Work Commission and create a new layer of bureaucracy.

    “By creating and appointing its own appeals body with the power to overturn full-bench decisions of the Fair Work Commission, the Abbott government would turn the independent umpire into a partisan body,” says O’Connor.

    “There is already a strong appeals process for decisions made by the Fair Work Commission, including a full-bench review, the Federal Court of Australia and, in rare circumstances, the High Court.”

    “This proposed change is nothing more than another crude attempt by the Abbott Government to attack workers’ rights and entitlements.”

    The criticism has been echoed by Law Council of Australia industrial law committee chairman Ingmar Thornton in advice provided to Abetz and republished by Fairfax Media, saying the move could “undermine the standing of the commission”.

    “Such action could reasonably be portrayed as being taken to enable parliament or the executive to appoint tribunal members that they prefer to favour a particular outcome or ideological position,” Thornton said.

    0 0

    A Queensland real estate agent faced court on Tuesday on drugs-related charges after police busted an alleged Redlands methamphetamines ring.

    LJ Hooker agent Ryan Patrick McCann, of Cleveland, was one of five men charged after police raided six properties on Monday.

    McCann, 36, faces 34 drugs-related charges. Last year he sold more than $40 million of property, but his LJH web page quickly came down overnight.

    McCann was detained for questioning on Monday in relation to allegedly trafficking dangerous drugs, supplying and possession, according to the Redland City Bulletin.
    The Queensland papers reported the estate agent, who appeared in the dock wearing a Scooby Doo T-shirt in court, repeatedly interrupted proceedings, denying he was an addict and was told to sit down and be quiet when he tried to interject.

    Defence lawyer David Spiro said McCann was a successful real estate agent who made $100,000 in commissions last month.

    He also told the court his client was a drug addict who had only "received commercial recompense" from drugs once, when he had some carpentry work done in return for drugs.

    Spiro said the alleged large-scale drug trafficking was “fanciful”.

    “There’s only one allegation from the affidavit that my client received commercial recompense for an alleged supply, and that’s the person who provided carpentry services,” he said. “This idea that my client is running a large-scale operation in supply in my submission is fanciful.”

    McCann's father, Patrick, a retired real estate agent, who watched proceedings, said he was devastated as his son had worked hard to achieve in the real estate industry.

    McCann was remanded in custody until 27 October when he is due to reappear in Wynnum Magistrates court for a committal mention.

    Cleveland CIB officers raided a real estate office in Queen Street, Cleveland, before arresting the estate agent at his Raby Bay home.
    Forensic search team officers claim they discovered the drug 'ice' hidden inside walls at his bayside home, Seven News reported. Staff at the Cleveland real estate agent's office were locked out of their building while police searched the office.

    Magistrate Zac Sarra refused bail on the grounds that McCann was at risk of reoffending.

    The court heard McCann, from Raby Bay, had a history of drug taking dating back to 2009 when he was intercepted for drug-related activities while driving. The court heard police had been listening in to McCann's private and business phone calls since 2012.

    The LJH real estate agency website said was a 'life member' of the Multi-Million Dollar Captains Club. The Life Member of the Multi Million Dollar Captains Club recognises the top 3% of real estate agents within the LJ Hooker network.

    He qualified in the shortest possible time, after he joined LJ Hooker in 2007. He was also listed as a 2013 Queensland A List agent.

    Ryan McCann. Photo courtesy of

    Ryan McCann was billed on his homepage website profile as one of Brisbane’s highest profile agents - with endless success stories.

    He joined LJ Hooker over three years ago and together this powerful marketing machine has dominated the bayside market with over 70 individual sales last calendar year. McCann sold over $40million of real estate in just 12 months; these figures saw Ryan awarded the runner-up prize at LJ Hooker Queensland State Awards beaten only by the Land and Marketing Division.

    His results also placed him in the company’s top 10 performing agents within the country.

    Some 92% of MCann’s record sales were repeat or referral based clientele.

    As ranked by independent source The Market Tracker, Ryan was ranked the number one agent in the bayside for a record 48 weeks out of 52 for the number of properties under contract and he was placed in the top three for the number of listings, proving that consistency is achievable in sales despite the variation in market conditions.

    This article first appeared on Property Observer.

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