Message From The Chair 2020

Message from the Chair, Janelle Hopkins

 

Dear Members,

In the last few days we have seen announcements from the Federal Government that have major implications for Australian business.

Resetting the economy

At the National Press Club on Tuesday, the Prime Minister outlined the path the Federal Government sees to reset the economy.  The Prime Minister outlined a three-stage plan that would enable the restrictions put in place to manage the pandemic to be lifted.

The Prime Minister predicted that 850,000 jobs could return as a result of this staged roadmap.  However, he warned that the economic recovery from the pandemic could take years.

While the details were not released, the Prime Minister said he would be formulating a JobMaker plan which would boost employment to assist dealing with the economic downturn caused by the pandemic.

The Prime Minister has targeted industrial relations reform and overhauling the skills and training sector as keys to the JobMaker scheme.  He announced the proposed laws dealing with union activism, “Ensuring Integrity Bill”, would be dropped as the Federal Government sought to work constructively with both employers and the union movement.

The Prime Minister announced a series of working groups would hold meetings from now until September looking at different policy areas.  There will be five working groups looking at:

  • Award simplification;
  • Enterprise agreement making;
  • Casuals and fixed-term employees;
  • Compliance and enforcement; and
  • Greenfields agreements for new enterprises.

Each group will include employer and union representatives, as well as individuals chosen based on their experience and expertise.  Each group will be chaired by the Attorney‑General and Minister for Industrial Relations Minister, the Hon Christian Porter MP.

The groups will have until September to negotiate ways to resolve systemic industrial relations issues, ahead of the October budget.

The G100 has already had discussions with the Attorney-General’s Department offering assistance.  We will be asking for comments on the five policy areas as soon as we have more detail as the G100 plans to participate with submissions where appropriate.

Class actions

Members will be aware the Treasurer, the Hon Josh Frydenberg MP, announced temporary amendments to the continuous disclosure provisions of the Corporations Act earlier this week.  The change means companies and officers will only be liable if there has been “knowledge, recklessness or negligence” with respect to updates on price sensitive information to the market.

The changes were made under the Treasurer’s emergency instrument-making power (legislated in response to the COVID-19 crisis) and came into effect on Tuesday 26 May, they will remain in place for six months.  The Federal Government has made this change due to the difficult environment in which we find ourselves which has left companies open to the “threat of opportunistic class actions”.

The G100 has been working with the Government, and other like-minded organisations, on this matter for some time and we are very pleased the Government has acted.  We have already notified the Treasurer and other Government leaders that we will be advocating for permanent reform along these lines.

All members are aware of the pressure unwarranted class actions have had on companies, particularly in the area of D&O insurance which has risen ~500% in recent years.  The Government has announced an inquiry into class actions, the G100 will be preparing a submission and will make this available to members when it is complete.

Reporting Webinar/Webcast

Following the very successful webinar/webcast the G100 held with EY last month, I am pleased to announce that the next in our series will be hosted by KPMG on 19 June.

This will be a little different to the last one, a panel will look at all the issues being faced by members this reporting season.  It will be made up of Doug Niven (ASIC Senior Executive Leader, Financial Reporting and Audit); Martyn Roberts (Dep Chair G100 & Group CFO Ramsay Health Group); and Kim Heng (Partner KPMG Financial Reporting Group).  The panel will take questions from members as they discuss what ASIC is looking for and how they plan to treat the many complex reporting issues being thrown up by COVID-19.

A formal invitation to the webinar will be sent out early next week.  The session is for member company CFOs and their teams.

Survey of Members

As part of ensuring that the G100 is focused on issues that matter most to members and their teams, we will survey current and former members over the coming weeks.

A survey form will be emailed to you in the next few days.  The survey will only take a few minutes to complete.

Board meetings & Events:

Our next board meeting is on Wednesday 17 June at 9am, rather than being held in Canberra as originally planned, it will now be via Zoom.  As always, members are invited to attend.  This meeting was to coincide with the Parliamentary Engagement Day, as mentioned previously, this has been postponed to later in the year.

The CFO Live Event scheduled for 29 October is still going ahead at this stage, we will keep you updated should this also need to change.

Submission Process

We are changing the way we share submissions with members and seek comments before they are submitted.  Each time a submission is prepared, it will be circulated to members for comment.  A week later, comments will be taken into account before the submission is released to the relevant committee.  After the committee has accepted the submission and published on the Parliamentary website, it will also appear on the G100 website.

CFOs senior managers

The G100 takes its role of preparing future CFOs very seriously, it is one of reasons we run the G100/EY First 100 Day program, we have now put 66 people through this program.  It is also the reason why we encourage CFOs to bring a senior member of their team to our networking functions and events.  To ensure your senior managers are also aware of what is happening, please make sure we have their contact details by forwarding these through to the G100’s Communication and Membership Manager, Andreea Sfarlea at andreeas@group100.com.au

As always, if you have any issues you would like to discuss, please don’t hesitate to contact our CEO, Stephen Woodhill, at swoodhill@group100.com.au or by phone +61 413 318 455, or contact me, my details are below.

 

Kind regards,

 

 

 

Janelle Hopkins
Chair Group of 100