11 June 2024 MEDIA RELEASE: State Budget

Cost of doing business crisis  The Townsville Chamber of Commerce CEO Heidi Turner, today acknowledged that the budget focus on the cost of living crisis but emphasised the immediate need to address the cost of doing business crisis. Turner called for long-term strategies to address the financial pressures faced by businesses and highlighted several critical issues impacting the business community in North Queensland. "We need a long-term strategy to ease daily financial pressures. Businesses need equitable costs and the ability to plan and invest for the future. Subsidies and grants don’t provide that certainty or boost business confidence,” said Turner. Turner pointed out the double taxation burden on businesses. "Currently, we are paying tax on a tax and the state is double dipping with stamp duty with most of the GST reallocated to state coffers due to horizontal fiscal equalisation. When GST was introduced in 2000, the intention was that stamp duty would be abolished, but it is still applied,” Highlighting the significant impact of insurance costs and taxation especially for Northern Queenslanders she added, "Insurance is one of the highest costs for business and premiums continue to increase, we pay 19% in tax on top of our premiums. But insurance is an essential service—we have to have it for loans, mortgages, and to do business, so why are we taxed on it at all. “In the north of Queensland we have higher premiums so this means we also pay significantly more in tax on those high premiums than in the South East.  Removing stamp duty is an immediate lever that can be pulled by the state government, reducing premiums by 9% for all Queenslanders." Turner also addressed the recent budget allocation for disaster resilience and mitigation, explaining why it won't effectively reduce insurance premiums. "The $100 million in the budget for disaster resilience and mitigation will not reduce the cost of insurance premiums as insurers don’t drill down to individual property risk,” "The cost-of-living crisis has had a dual impact on businesses increase in operational costs and a decrease in income.  Some of our members have seen a 30% increase in energy costs over the last 12 months. This, combined with the highest wages in history and increasing insurance premiums, is creating immense pressure. These issues are further compounded by low productivity and decreased consumer spending.” Turner warned of the broader economic consequences if these issues are not addressed. "Business owners cannot absorb these escalating costs indefinitely. This will inevitably lead to further increases in costs for consumers, and continued growth in the number of insolvencies which are already at a decade high across the country.”

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Meeting with the Reserve Bank Deputy Governor
7 June 2024 Meeting with the Reserve Bank Deputy Governor

Chamber Round-table with RBA Deputy Governor The Chamber of Commerce hosted a round-table with the Reserve Bank of Australia yesterday to discuss  pressing economic challenges in our region, including rising insurance costs and labour availability. The meeting, attended by the new RBA Deputy Governor Andrew Hauser, and a range of Chamber members provided a platform for direct dialogue about the economic conditions affecting our community. Chamber President Miranda Mears emphasised the importance of the discussions : “There were a number of opportunities and challenges presented, with businesses in attendance expressing optimism about a solid pipeline of projects, strong growth in property prices, and low vacancy rates in commercial properties, which is welcome news for the region,” Ms Mears said. “However, concerns were raised about labour affordability and availability, insurance costs, stamp duty, and equitable accessibility for regional businesses. “It is critical to ensure that government decisions are made in consultation with an understanding of their impact on industry.” "The Chamber values the RBA's efforts to understand the local economic landscape, acknowledging that no single agency can address all issues alone. We need to allocate funding for outcomes, not just delegations,” she added. The New Deputy Governor of the RBA Mr Hauser expressed his appreciation for the opportunity to engage directly with local businesses and community representatives: “Getting out and about in this way is a really vital part of ensuring we set monetary policy for all Australians, and draw directly on people’s experience as well as the aggregate economic statistics – and of course for me as a relative newcomer to the role, it’s a vital part of my wider education about how all parts of the Australian economy work,” Mr Hauser said. “We had a really rich discussion … hearing about the huge opportunities in the region, but also the challenges, including those around labour supply, housing, costs, and inflation.”

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Innovation for Impact
31 May 2024 Innovation for Impact

Innovation for Impact In today's rapidly changing business environment, it's crucial for business owners to take time out of their busy schedules to look out and up. Staying informed about emerging themes, opportunities, and challenges allows us to remain competitive and adaptive.  At the Chamber, this has been a central theme in our strategic planning. We are actively engaging with new ideas and innovations this year, and we hope you feel the energy and momentum we're aiming for with our Connect Townsville this week and Raising Regions Conference in August, which will run alongside our long-standing Business Awards tradition. The Chamber has always been, and will continue to be, an independent voice and place for all businesses, regardless of size or industry. Our role is to connect, inform, and advocate, but like all businesses, we need to adapt to the future of industry. This week, I am in Brisbane attending the Queensland Government Public Service Biig Conference and the ACS Tech Summit for my own business. I am certain that the insights from the Tech Summit today will include the need to augment traditional careers with emerging digital skills along with AI and Cyber Security and Governance and I will look to share any insights with members in due course. However, I had so many insights from the Biig Conference yesterday to reflect on the parallels between the insights and the challenges faced by regional Queensland businesses that I would like to share with you. PRESIDENT'S KEY TAKEAWAYS: Queensland Government Public Service Biig Conference #1: Digital Skills are the equaliser and enabler for businesses of the future. Chris McLaren, Chief Customer and Digital Officer for the Queensland Government, brings considerable private sector insights into public service. He emphasised that digital equity is a human right, providing people with the tools to improve their lives. This is especially critical in regional Queensland, where accessibility and skills, particularly in remote and rural areas, are significantly lower than the national average. I have been fortunate to be part of several initiatives addressing the challenge of connectivity and its role in building resilient communities. If you would like to share your experiences with connectivity, I would love your feedback via this survey 2# There is an emerging Future and there is a tension between the future and the innovation and current reality that we find ourselves today. Townsville and North Queensland have significant, once-in-a-decade opportunities that can propel our region into the future. Townsville and North Queensland have some significant once in a decade opportunities that can propel our region into the future in a powerful way. Yet the tension, in the current reality is that there are some issues - housing, crime, insurance, cost of living that need to be fixed and its not going to be fixed if industry, community groups and all three levels of government are rowing in the same direction. Too many cox’s and seat 1’s does not make a smooth boat. We need to be going in the same direction at the same speed. Too many leaders and not enough coordination or doers hinders progress. #3 The future is not a destination that we are hurtling towards - it’s the change that we are making to the way things we are doing now Whether you are talking about big once in a decade pipeline of projects or uplifting business capability to address emerging technologies, cyber security and governance a Three Horizon view is necessary to propel us to that future. There are amazing folk and organisations solving huge problems that are probably not connected in with those that are able to hit the headlines on the regular. At Chamber we are embracing transdisciplinary Innovation and what we can learn by listening to and seeing what other industries are doing. We are currently taking submissions for presenters (as well as sponsors) and are excited to uncover some hidden gems of wisdom. If you would like to share your insights we would love to hear from you.  More about the Raising Regions Conference   #4 No problem worth solving fits neatly into the box of any agency responsibility . We need to allocate funding for outcomes not delegations Frustrations arise when civic leaders and elected officials make unilateral decisions impacting businesses without business input. While I don't have all the answers, I hope that businesses are given the opportunity to participate in decision-making processes that affect them. I want to give a shout-out to our regional State Development Team, including James Doyle, Amy Lever, and Erin Kiernan, and Trade Investment Queensland's Mitch Rawlings. They are incredible at looking at the big picture for Townsville. If you haven't reached out or attended one of their events, please do so. 5: Collaboration is Key I always say, "If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together." This philosophy is gaining traction locally. It's why I was keen on the Connect Townsville event, and why I was so disappointed to miss what looked like a magical evening. As more people move to the region with their partners and families, it's crucial for Townsville to ensure they build strong bonds with our community. A sense of belonging, attachment, and satisfaction will encourage people to stay and grow in the region. We aim to provide a platform for connecting jobs, business opportunities, and partnerships. 6: Shaping the Future Together As we navigate this exciting journey, I encourage each of you to embrace innovation and collaboration. Together, we can shape a bright future for Townsville, where every business thrives, every individual has the opportunity to succeed, and our community stands as a beacon of progress and inclusivity. As we hurdle towards a new financial year and budget period lets make it an impactful year of  innovation and collective growth #ASKCHAMBER The team have launched #askchamber a new initiative where members can email ask@townsvillechamber any business question and if our team don't know the answer someone within our membership will. Together, we are stronger, and together, we will elevate Townsville to new heights. Thank you for being part of this vibrant community. Have a great weekend  Miranda President Townsville Chamber of Commerce 

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MEDIA RELEASE: Intensifying advocacy for lower insurance premiums
31 March 2024 MEDIA RELEASE: Intensifying advocacy for lower insurance premiums

MEDIA RELEASE Townsville Chamber Intensifies Advocacy for Fair Insurance in Northern Australia Tired of seeing North Queensland businesses and residents get a raw deal from the failed insurance market, the Townsville Chamber of Commerce is intensifying its advocacy for federal intervention. Backed by Chambers of Commerce from across Northern Australia, the call for a fairer insurance market continues to gain momentum. The push for equitable insurance is not new for the Chamber, which first lodged a submission with the federal government in 2021, outlining four recommendations to reduce insurance premiums in cyclone-impacted areas. Among these was the Re-insurance Pool for Cyclone and Flood Related Damage (RPCFRD), a recommendation that has since seen some progress. With continued market failures in insurance across the north, the Chamber’s new Chief Executive, Heidi Turner, has rallied support from northern chambers and industry groups. “Our Federal Budget Submission is backed by 19 chambers of commerce from WA, Northern Territory and Queensland, spanning from Rockhampton to Exmouth in WA,” said Turner. “The cost of insurance is being heavily felt by businesses across Northern Australia, not just in Townsville.” Mrs. Turner highlighted that while the reinsurance pool was announced three years ago, additional costs continue to burden businesses, with insurance premiums being a significant part of these increasing costs. “Unaffordable insurance is forcing businesses to take their chances with reduced or no coverage, creating anxiety, especially during events like Tropical Cyclone Kirrily in January,” she said. “Imagine having a grown man crying on the phone, worried about an approaching cyclone without insurance for his business. That really spurs you on.” The Chamber has called for an interim review of the RPCFRD ahead of the legislated full review in July 2025, to ensure it effectively reduces premiums. Other recommendations include: Insurers should provide products to all Australians, not just the most profitable areas. The government should create a national insurer to provide a baseline of insurance. Abolish taxes on insurance, recognising it as an essential service. “We're already punished by higher premiums than our southern counterparts, compounded by GST and Stamp Duty. It's extremely unfair that we pay more tax for the same level of cover,” Turner said. “With horizontal fiscal equalisation, it is effectively double-dipping from the state.” Turner met with the ACCC, requesting they include data on insured and underinsured properties in their annual insurance monitoring report. “We need clear data on the impact of these unsustainable premiums. If people don’t have enough cover, the government will end up supporting businesses and communities to rebuild, as seen in Cairns, at a cost to us all,” said Turner. “With rising premium costs comes less people taking insurance and that is a bigger problem that will continue to undermine the principal insurance.  It is a very old simple concept - many people pay a little money to create a bigger pool of money so that anyone who is unfortunate enough to suffer a loss is reimbursed financially for that loss.  Less people paying in means less money in the pool." “Mitigation isn't an instant remedy for the long-standing market failure. We urgently require premium reductions, and tax adjustments are a lever that both federal and state governments can employ.” For media enquiries, please contact: 07 4771 2729

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Is the Townsville market Showing early signs of strain?
15 March 2024 Is the Townsville market Showing early signs of strain?

MEDIA RELEASE: Is the Townsville Market Showing Early Signs of Strain? The Northern Eye reports on the macro economy downturn and what we are seeing on the ground in Townsville and explores what can be done to ensure a strong short- and long-term outlook. Townsville, Queensland, Thursday 14th March 2024: The March quarter Northern Eye reports a turn in our labour market recording an increase in unemployment, population and cost of living predicted in 2024. Townsville and the broader national economy appear to be at tipping point, with higher operating and borrowing costs catching up to the post-COVID growth period. Townsville, however, remains (comparatively) highly affordable, with both houses and units remaining well below the price of new construction. Our relative financial strength and high local incomes give us confidence that the local economy can weather the impending economic slowdown. Matthew Kelly, Principal Economist at Regional Economic Advisory in Townsville, and author of the report comments, “On the one hand, increased business closures and relocations are impacting the commercial property market as businesses battle with labour shortages, cost pressures, and the flow-on effects of the COVID working from home revolution as employers reassess their space requirements. On the other hand, the demand side of the economic equation remains robust, with full flights, restaurants, schools, and a buoyant residential property market all pointing to one thing: Townsville is growing”. Townsville will not escape the 2024/25 downturn unscathed with significant economic links to world trade and commodity markets, with several major economies already in recession. However, it remains well-positioned for long-term growth. Keys to unlocking this growth include economically viable higher density housing options and catching the lagging perception up to the reality of Townsville as a top regional destination to live, work and invest after the difficult social and economic years leading up to COVID. Townsville Chamber of Commerce CEO Heidi Turner commented on the report, “It is heartening to read in the Northern Eye report that the future is bright for our region. We are seeing many businesses caught between increasing costs of doing business, and lower consumer spending. "At Townsville Chamber of Commerce, we will be holding a mirror up to our three levels of government to address our key advocacy areas to reduce red tape and the cost of doing business, reduce crime and ensure we are well positioned to maximise upon future opportunities to raise the region." Read the Northern Eye Report

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Green methanol agreement could see Townsville join global green shipping network
14 March 2024 Green methanol agreement could see Townsville join global green shipping network

Townsville stands to become a global leader in the production, export and supply of green methanol, following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between ABEL Energy and Port of Townsville. The MoU underpins ABEL Energy’s plans to produce and export green methanol from a new $1.7 billion manufacturing facility in Townsville. The partnership will also explore opportunities for establishing marine bunkering facilities at the Townsville Port, making Townsville a critical pitstop in the emerging green shipping network. ABEL Energy CEO Michael van Baarle said the Townsville project would seek to replicate the company’s flagship project, Bell Bay Powerfuels in Tasmania —and would produce 300,000 tonnes per annum of green methanol for the shipping and aviation sectors. “ABEL’s green methanol production process uses 100 per cent renewable power, fresh water and biomass residues. Our production site in Bell Bay – and the one planned for Townsville – is clean in operation with virtually zero greenhouse gas emissions, water emissions or waste discharge,” Mr van Baarle said. “Townsville poses an ideal location for our second green methanol production facility due to the availability of wind and solar energy, along with the large amount of readily available biomass in the forms of sugar cane waste, invasive pest species, prickly acacia and woodchip.” Port of Townsville CEO Ranee Crosby said the proposed project presents benefits for the region that expand beyond ABEL’s direct investment, trade and employment opportunities. “This initiative aligns with Port of Townsville’s commitment to supporting sustainable energy projects and reinforces our position as a key facilitator of trade and economic growth,” Ms Crosby said. “The world’s shipping industry is facing enormous change as it seeks to decarbonise fleets globally to meet IMO’s long-term GHG reduction ambitions. “ABEL Energy’s project presents an exciting opportunity to provide green methanol marine bunkering facilities at the Port of Townsville, as well as exporting renewable energy to global markets.” The MoU outlines a collaborative effort between the Port of Townsville and ABEL Energy to undertake comprehensive investigations to assess the feasibility of the proposed project. Early investigation will include market assessment and analysis, identifying infrastructure and logistic requirements and working cooperatively to advance the project. ABEL Energy joins a growing list of proponents seeking to export renewable energy through the Port of Townsville, including Edify Energy, Origin Energy and Ark Energy Corporation.

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Young Chamber Mentoring
14 March 2024 Young Chamber Mentoring

Townsville Chamber of Commerce - JCU College of Business Law and Governance Mentoring Program 2024 For the past three years, Townsville Chamber of Commerce (TCoC) are proud to have partnered with James Cook University’s (JCU) College of Business Law and Governance (CBLG) to mentor students who are nearing completion of their degree to help them transition into the workforce. The TCoC-JCU Mentoring Program aims to build the skills and career development opportunities of JCU Business/Commerce/Law Students by connecting them to industry professionals for a shared learning experience.  Mentees can learn from an industry mentor, and mentors can develop their leadership and coaching skills by providing guidance to ambitious students who are at the start of their career journey. WHY BECOME A MENTOR? Do you remember what it was like transitioning from uni life to your career? Getting your first job and navigating the work environment? Becoming a mentor is a great way to give back and help guide the next generation of business professionals. It will also give you opportunity to develop personal skills in leadership, talent identification, addressing corporate social responsibility as well as improving your professional profile and the profile of your organisation. Mentoring will involve six one-on-one mentoring sessions, virtual check-ins and mentoring and networking events. Previous mentors of the program told us: “My career has benefited from the expertise and insight of many mentors over the years and this program has been an excellent opportunity to support and encourage the growth of an emerging professional in my field of expertise." "It has been a fantastic opportunity to use my experience to guide a young person and see their confidence grow." "I thought this would be about giving but I gained so much too." To find out more about becoming a mentor or mentee click HERE. WHY BECOME A MENTEE As a mentee, you can learn from an industry mentor who will provide guidance to you to help you at the start of your career journey.  Mentors will be JCU Alumni or Townsville Chamber of Commerce members who are in a similar industry or who have travelled a similar career path to you.  They will provide guidance relating to career planning, skill development, networking and job search techniques. This mentoring will help strengthen and build your network and gain the skills and confidence necessary to excel. Mentoring will involve a set number of one-on-one mentoring sessions, virtual check-ins and mentoring and networking events. Previous participants of the program told us:  “My mentor had been in my shoes not too long ago so they were really helpful in terms of being a relatable figure that I could easily contact and ask for help if needed.” “The mentor program allowed me to establish a network within the profession that provided valuable insights and knowledge.” “It really helped to build my confidence.” Program Overview: 1.     Submit your expression of interest before 5 April, 2024.  Apply here. 2.     Acceptance notifications by 5 April, 2024. 3.     5.30 pm, Wednesday 10 April, 2024. Induction session  4.     Mentors and mentees will participate in a minimum of six one on one mentoring sessions to be completed by end of September. 5.     Students will record meeting outcomes in a PebblePad workbook for feedback and verification by mentor. 6.     Mentors and mentees will have free access to Young Chamber Professional Development and networking sessions. 7.     Mid October - Final celebration event and program evaluation. To find out more about becoming a mentor or mentee click HERE. If you have any questions about the program please contact Natasha Buttler, JCU Marketing Lecturer.

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