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Briefcase: Business snippets from around South Australia

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In this week’s briefcase, a fund to help further the professional development of SA business leaders braces for a boost, Rex Airlines prepares to begin flights between Adelaide and Melbourne and Santos resumes oil production off the WA coast.

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Leaders’ fund braces for post-COVID boost

An industry fund that awards grants to allow South Australian business leaders to further their professional educations at some of the world’s top institutions is expecting a record number of applications this year.

In its 12th year, the South Australian Industry Leaders Fund (ILF) has granted $2.36 million to SA business leaders to attend programs offered by Harvard Business School in the United States, INSEAD in Switzerland and Singapore, Oxford’s Said Business School in the UK as well as prestigious Australian institutions.

Successful 2021 applicants will join more than 30 recipients from 2020 and 2019 who delayed their study as the ILF extended an 18-month deadline to complete their courses.

ILF chief executive Geoff Vogt forecast a 25 per cent increase in applications this year to 60, prompted by expectations of easing travel restrictions and leaders recognising they must adapt for change, stay ahead of competitors and plan for succession.

He said some potential applicants deferred from 2020 to manage their businesses through the COVID-19 environment but there is an increasing recognition of the value of strong agile leadership, built with appropriate training, in these unpredictable times.

“Most leading business schools have switched to virtual classrooms, but this option is not popular with Scholars who have stated their belief that the significant value of networking with other leaders by attending these courses in person can be worth up to 50 per cent of the total benefit they gain from even the best recognised courses,’’ Vogt said.

“Good business leaders can contribute enormously to the economic growth of the State and we currently have a network of 199 scholars who have combined to help generate 3830 jobs in Australia and 2632 in South Australia since the scheme began.”

Successful applicants and Scholars will also have the opportunity to access the prestigious Colin J Peters Memorial Award, set up in 2020 to recognise the inaugural ILF president.

It is awarded to an ILF Scholar who exhibits qualities such as investing time and resources in developing leadership talents of younger members of the workforce, volunteering in industry associations or has overcome adversity or disadvantage to reach a position of leadership.

Last year’s Award winner was REDARC founder Anthony Kittel.

Applications for 2021 close on Monday, May 31.

PwC to establish new Adelaide centre

PwC Australia is expanding its presence in South Australia and today announced plans to open a new onshore delivery centre in Adelaide which will create 300 jobs within 18 months.

The centre aims to give local university students the opportunity to ‘work while they study’ in a field directly related to future employment.

Due to open in July 2021, the centre will provide onshore delivery capabilities in cybersecurity, cloud and financial audit services.

PwC Australia’s onshore delivery centre will include appropriate training in the vocational and tertiary system to feed the centre with the skills required. The aim is to move into new skills and capabilities with a view to develop ‘homegrown’ talent to drive growth in high demand areas – to build the talent of the future for the Australian market as well as supporting PwC Australia’s clients.

PwC Australia CEO Tom Seymour the plan to open a new onshore delivery centre in Adelaide demonstrated its ongoing commitment to investing in Australian skills.

“University students in Adelaide can gain a real edge by taking this opportunity while they pursue their studies. Skilled workers from around Australia will also have the chance to join a dynamic team at the centre and experience the innovation that PwC and the vibrant city of Adelaide have to offer.

“As part of PwC Australia’s digital transformation strategy, we are making a significant investment in growth to meet the rising demand for skills in cyber, cloud and assurance services, plus increasing our capacity onshore to address data sovereignty and security concerns.

“The initial focus of the centre is on cyber, cloud and financial audit services and this is a reflection of the high market need due to the skills shortage exacerbated by border closures. We expect to see significant growth over the first 3-5 years of the centre with a blend of experienced technical and managerial staff as well as a strong pipeline of junior staff with relevant technical qualifications.”

Rex Airlines to begin Adelaide to Melbourne flights this week

Rex Airlines will launch its inaugural domestic service from Adelaide to Melbourne on Wednesday when its first flight takes off from Adelaide Airport.

Previously known primarily for its regional routes, the airline has added the Gold Coast and Adelaide to its city to city schedule, which also includes flights between Sydney and Melbourne.

With prices from as low as $69, the Adelaide to Melbourne service is expected to drive prices for the route down through increased competition with Qantas, JetStar and Virgin.

The first Adelaide to Melbourne flight will depart at 11am on March 31 in a Boeing 737.

Rex will run two services a day on the route.

Rex is Australia’s largest independent regional and domestic airline operating a fleet of 60 Saab 340 and four Boeing 737-800 NG aircraft to 61 destinations throughout all states in Australia.

The airline has a legacy dating back almost 70 years to Hazleton Airlines (1953) and Kendell Airlines (founded in 1967) and has been servicing regional Australia since 2002.

TWE confirms China wine taxes of 175.6 per cent

Treasury Wine Estates is the latest industry player to acknowledge China’s extension of tariffs on Australian wines.

China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) announced the final determination in its anti-dumping and countervailing investigations into bottled Australian wine exports to China on Friday afternoon with the extended time frame beginning yesterday (March 28).

Interim tariffs of between 116 and 218 per cent were introduced in November and are now in place for at least five years.

TWE told the Australian Securities Exchange this morning that a combined anti-dumping and counterveiling rate of 175.6 per cent would be applied to its wine in containers of two litres or less.

“As previously announced as part of its half year results release, TWE is executing a detailed response plan to maintain the long-term strength of its business model and brands, with benefits expected to progressively reach their full potential over a two to three-year period,” the company said in its statement to the ASX.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said China was putting up the price of Australian wine in “retaliation” for Australia standing up for its values and that was “not OK”.

“By their own admission, publicly, (this is) some form of retaliation for Australians standing up for our values,” he told reporters.

“That is not OK.”

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan earlier called the decision “extremely disappointing and completely unjustifiable”, pledging to do everything he could to reverse it.

Tariffs of between 116 and 218 per cent mean it will be “basically impossible” for Australian wine to compete in the Chinese market, Tehan said.

Beijing has launched trade strikes against a range of Australian products including coal, barley, beef, lobster and timber.

Tehan said such decisions “make it hard” to continue to work with the Chinese government to develop the economic relationship between the two countries.

He said he’d spoken with the Australian wine industry and was looking at taking the issue to the World Trade Organisation.

Santos resumes offshore WA oil production

Santos has restarted offshore oil production in Western Australia following scheduled maintenance in Singapore.

The Ningaloo Vision Floating Production Storage and Offloading vessel, which ties in the Van Gogh, Coniston and Novara oil fields offshore Western Australia, has now commenced ramping-up its production again and is expected to achieve 10,000 barrels per day in the coming weeks.

Santos Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Kevin Gallagher said the resumption of production comes as the company prepares for a second phase of infill drilling in the Van Gogh field, due to begin in the second quarter this year.

“Van Gogh Infill Phase Two is targeting around 10 million barrels gross reserves, with first oil scheduled in the fourth quarter this year,” Gallagher said in a statement to the ASX on Friday.

“Preparations for the three-well campaign, using the Valaris MS1 mobile offshore drilling unit, are tracking well, with drilling expected to start within weeks.

“I am pleased to report that the Ningaloo Vision is back on location and producing again, following a challenging dry dock campaign last year when it arrived in Singapore just as the nation was going into three months of lockdown and the maintenance workforce being among the hardest hit by a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

Production from Van Gogh (WA-35-L) began in 2010, with the nearby Coniston and Novara oil fields tied back to the Ningaloo Vision in 2015 and 2016 respectively.

Santos has a 52.5 per cent interest in the Van Gogh-Coniston-Novara project, which it operates. The remaining interest is owned by INPEX.

Meanwhile, the SA-based oil and gas giant also last week announced the award of the project’s major contract for the construction, connection and operation of the Floating Production, Storage and Offloading vessel (FPSO) for its proposed Barossa joint venture.

The FPSO services contract awarded to international vessel builder and operator BW Offshore (BWO) is subject to a final investment decision (FID) on Barossa and represents the largest capital expenditure component of the approximately US$3.6 billion Barossa offshore gas and condensate project to backfill Darwin LNG.

Santos is expected to make a final investment decision on the Barossa project in the first half of this year.

Queensland projects boost for aerial mapper

Adelaide aerial mapper Aerometrex has been awarded four Queensland Government projects totalling $1.1 million, which it will begin next month.

The projects are part of the Queensland Government’s Spatial Imagery Subscription Program and include an 11,956sq km area of South East Queensland from Noosa Heads to the NSW border at a high resolution of 10cm pixel size.

It will also map Galilee Basin East, which covers 111,126sq km, more than 3.6x the size of Belgium, a North Queensland regional survey covering an area of 50,668sq km and detailed imagery of four scenic rim towns.

The 2021 projects awarded to Aerometrex represent a 10 per cent increase on last year’s program.

Aerometrex managing director Mark Deuter said the partnership with the Queensland Government dated back to 2009.

“We are especially pleased to have been awarded the majority of the SISP contract this year. The result endorses our commitment to capturing high-quality imagery, to generate outstanding data products and to exceed expectations of delivery timelines.”

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