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National Infrastructure Awards winners announced

Infrastructure Partnerships Australia (IPA) has announced the winners of the 2019 National Infrastructure Awards.

Convened annually, the Awards recognise excellence in public administration and business, across major projects.

The Awards were overseen by an independent judging panel, comprising:

  • Ms Leilani Frew, Chief Executive Officer, Infrastructure Project and Financing Agency (Chair)
  • Ms Kim Curtain, Interim Deputy Secretary, Trade, Tourism, Investment and Precincts, NSW Treasury
  • Dr Steven Kennedy PSM, Secretary, Federal Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development
  • Mr Jason Loos, Director, Department of Treasury and Finance, Victoria
  • Mr Neil Scales, Director-General, Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads

The winners and finalists for each category in the 2019 Awards are as follows:

Project of the Year: Westconnex

Winner/s: NSW Treasury and Transport for NSW (Roads and Maritime Services) and their advisors Allens, Ashurst, BIS Oxford Economics, Clayton Utz, GHD, Goldman Sachs, Newgate Australia, Turner & Townsend, and PwC. Sydney Transport Partners (Transurban, AustralianSuper, Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board, and Tawreed Investments) and their advisors; Advisian, Aquasia, Clifford Chance, EY, E3 Advisory, Greenwoods & Herbert Smith Freehills, King & Wood Mallesons, KPMG, Macquarie Capital, Morgan Stanley, UBS, and WSP.

Finalists:

  • Canberra Light Rail – ACT Government (Transport Canberra) and their advisors; Arup, Clayton Utz, EY, HASSEL Studio, RPS Group, Sparke Helmore, Turner & Townsend, and WSP. Canberra Metro Consortium (Aberdeen Infrastructure Investments, CPB Contractors, John Holland, Mitsubishi Corporation, MUFG, Pacific Partnerships and UGL) and their advisors; AECOM, Architectus, CAF, Herbert Smith Freehills, R-Co, and SMEC.
  • Caulfield to Dandenong Level Crossing Removal Project – The Alliance (comprising of Aurecon, CPB Contractors, Lendlease, Metro Trains Melbourne, WSP), Arcadis, Level Crossing Removal Project, and Major Transport Infrastructure Program.
  • Wentworth to Broken Hill Pipeline – GHD, Jacobs, John Holland, MPC Kinetic, TRILITY, and WaterNSW

Advisory Excellence Award: Sydney Metro Martin Place integrated development

Winner/s: Advisors to Transport for NSW; Ashurst, CBRE, KPMG. Advisors to Macquarie Group; Herbert Smith Freehills, Macquarie Capital, MinterEllison, PwC, and Arup.

Finalists:

  • Infrastructure Victoria’s Advice on Automated and Zero Emissions Vehicles Infrastructure – Infrastructure Victoria
  • Sydney Metro Northwest OTS – Turner and Townsend
  • WestConnex Transaction – Advisors to the NSW Government; Allens, Ashurst, BIS Oxford Economics, Clayton Utz, GHD, Newgate Australia, PwC, and Turner & Townsend. Advisors to Sydney Transport Partners; Advisian, Clifford Chance, EY, E3 Advisory, Greenwoods & Herbert Smith Freehills, King & Wood Mallesons, KPMG, and WSP

Financial Excellence Award: Westconnex transaction

Winner/s: Financial Advisors to the NSW Government; Goldman Sachs, and NSW Treasury. Financial Advisors to Sydney Transport Partners; Aquasia, Macquarie Capital, Morgan Stanley, and UBS.

Finalists:

  • Agribo, Centre for Agribioscience Refinancing – Plenary Group
  • for Darling Harbour Live Refinancing – Capella Capital
  • Kwinana Waste to Energy – Macquarie Capital

Government Partnership Excellence Award: The Caulfield to Dandenong Level Crossing Removal Project

Winner/s: The Alliance (comprising of Aurecon, CPB Contractors, Lendlease, Metro Trains Melbourne, WSP), Level Crossing Removal Project, and Major Transport Infrastructure Program.

Finalists:

  • Canberra Light Rail – ACT Government (Transport Canberra), and Canberra Metro Consortium (Aberdeen Infrastructure Investments, CPB Contractors, John Holland, Mitsubishi Corporation, MUFG, Pacific Partnerships and UGL)
  • Metro Tunnel Project: Rail Projects Victoria and PwC Indigenous Consulting Partnership – PwC’s Indigenous Consulting and Rail Projects Victoria
  • Sydney Metro Martin Place Integrated Station Development – Macquarie Group, Sydney Metro, Transport for NSW

Contractor Excellence Award: Wentworth to Broken Hill pipeline

Winner/s: John Holland and MPC Kinetic

Finalists:

  • Bruce Highway Boundary Road Interchange – BMD Constructions
  • Caulfield to Dandenong Level Crossing Removal Project – CPB Contractors and Lendlease
  • M80 Ring Road Upgrade: Sunshine Avenue to Calder Freeway – Fulton Hogan

Operator and Service Provider Excellence Award: TasWater for the Regional Towns Water Supply Program – Stages 2 and 3

Winner/s: KBR, TasWater, and TRILITY

Finalists:

  • Queensland Schools Project – Plenary Schools Consortium (Plenary Group, DeltaFM and Watpac) and Queensland Department of Education
  • Incident Management Response – Transurban and Ventia

Innovation Excellence Award: uninterruptible power supply for Melbourne’s railway signalling network

Winner/s: AECOM, AEG, Metro Trains Melbourne, Public Transport Victoria, and Thycon

Finalists:

  • Dynamic Speed Management Trial – Transurban and VicRoads
  • Kwinana Waste to Energy – Acciona, Dutch Infrastructure Fund, Keppel-Seghers, Macquarie Capital, Phoenix Energy Australia, and Veolia
  • M80 Ring Road Upgrade: Sunshine Avenue to Calder Freeway – Cowri and Fulton Hogan

In addition, John Holland’s Simon Lehman won the Future Infrastructure Leader of the Year Award. Infrastructure Partnerships Australia said that Mr Lehmans’ profile stood out to the judging panel amongst all the other entries because of his extraordinary commitment to the infrastructure sector.

The judges found that Mr Lehman has proven to be a major asset and path-breaking engineer for the John Holland rail team. His on-the-job mentoring of younger team members and his exceptional work at the forefront of infrastructure delivery was exemplary.

Moreover, Major Road Project Victoria’s Alexis Davidson won the Award for Women’s Achievement in Infrastructure.

Ms Davidson has had a long and successful career in infrastructure over the last two decades. The judging panel said they were particularly impressed by her strong leadership and mentorship of other female engineers in the sector.

The judges praised Ms Davidson for consistently delivering outstanding business cases for Major Road Project Victoria and developing an impressive reputation for her innovative thinking and professionalism as a female engineer at the forefront of infrastructure delivery.

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EY honored with top recognition for CRM and work in blockchain

EY announces that it has been selected as a member of the prestigious 2018-2019 Inner Circle for Microsoft Dynamics and has also been awarded the Microsoft 2018 Consulting & SI Drive Partners Award for work in blockchain.

Membership in the Inner Circle is based on sales achievements, with EY ranked as one of the leading Microsoft alliances. Inner Circle members have performed to a high standard of excellence by offering valuable services that help organisations achieve increased success.

The 2018 Consulting & SI Drive Award recognises the work EY is doing to transform the marine insurance industry with the world’s first blockchain platform for marine insurance now in commercial use.

EY, Guardtime, A.P. Møller-Maersk, Microsoft and insurance industry leaders Willis Towers Watson, XL Catlin, MS Amlin and ACORD announced that members of the marine industry are using Insurwave, a blockchain platform to support marine hull insurance. Insurwave, built by a joint venture between EY and Guardtime, will support more than half a million automated ledger transactions and help manage risk for more than 1,000 commercial vessels in the first year.

EY was also honoured for the Citizen Intelligence Solution and the application to child welfare from more than 2,600 entrants across 115 countries worldwide. The solution was built on the back of the work EY is delivering in Australia, New Zealand and UKI. Supported by Microsoft technologies, the solution is currently helping governments around the world in the area of child welfare, but other potential use cases include drug abuse and opioid addiction, homelessness and domestic violence. The platform gathers information from multiple critical data sources – justice, welfare, police, social services, health care – to provide rapid insights into individual cases. With a detailed view of each vulnerable child, decision making is timely, responsive and focused on real, long-term results.

Jim Little, EY Global Leader of the EY and Microsoft strategic alliance, says:

“The EY and Microsoft alliance jointly develops innovative digital solutions that drive long-lasting client value. These distinguished awards recognise the value, focus on innovation and exceptional use of Microsoft’s digital technologies that EY brings to help EY clients reap the benefits of digital transformation. We will continue to bring exciting new solutions to market that leverage the combined strengths of our organisations.”

Victor Morales, Vice President, Systems Integrators at Microsoft Corp., says:

“We are delighted to welcome EY into the elite 2018/2019 Inner Circle in recognition of their deep commitment to our customers and dedication to business excellence. The 2018 Consulting and Systems Integration Partner of the Year award recognises how our jointly-developed innovative blockchain-based solution helps to improve client satisfaction and enhances compliance. We’re thrilled to work with EY in a trusted alliance that leverages EY technology and finance knowledge with the technology leadership of Microsoft.”

The EY and Microsoft alliance combines deep EY insights and experience in disruptive industry trends, new business models and evolving processes with Microsoft’s scalable, enterprise cloud platform and digital technologies. Together, EY and Microsoft are collaborating to help accelerate digital strategy and make it a reality for enterprises to thrive in a digital world.

Recently, EY announced blockchain initiatives with Microsoft including a blockchain solution for content rights and royalties management; the world’s first marine insurance blockchain platform; blockchain for automotive services and a suite of blockchain audit technologies that enhances the ability to perform an in-depth review of cryptocurrency business transactions.

About EY

EY is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. The insights and quality services we deliver help build trust and confidence in the capital markets and in economies the world over. We develop outstanding leaders who team to deliver on our promises to all of our stakeholders. In so doing, we play a critical role in building a better working world for our people, for our clients and for our communities.

EY refers to the global organisation, and may refer to one or more, of the member firms of Ernst & Young Global Limited, each of which is a separate legal entity. Ernst & Young Global Limited, a UK company limited by guarantee, does not provide services to clients. For more information about our organisation, please visit ey.com.

This news release has been issued by EYGM Limited, a member of the global EY organisation that also does not provide any services to clients.

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The 10 countries that make the most money from taxes

Paying taxes is something no one enjoys doing, but the amount individuals and companies pay varies enormously throughout the world. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has calculated how much tax was paid in 2016 by 10 countries. Here’s what it discovered. How does your country measure up?

Australia: $348 Billion

The latest figures available show Australia raised $348 billion from its 24.13 million-strong population. Individuals pay income tax on a progressive basis from 19% to 45%. A Medicare Levy is payable on top to pay for public healthcare; this was increased from 1.5% to 2% in 2014, while since 2015 higher earners who don’t have private hospital cover must also pay the Medicare Levy Surcharge of between 1% and 1.5% on top. Corporate taxes stand at 30%, however the government is pushing for this to be cut to 25% by 2025.

Japan: $351.6 Billion

Japan received $351.6 billion from its population of 127 million, according to the most recent figures. In 2017 the country’s ruling bloc approved a plan to cut the corporate tax rate from 30% to 20%, although only for companies that raise wages and increase capital spending. Japan has a progressive income tax system, with rates from 20% to 40%.

South Korea: $371.1 Billion

South Korea, which received $371.1 billion from its 51 million population, is undergoing huge changes this year as the country enacts a 2018 tax reform bill. Some of the changes include adding a new 25% corporate income tax bracket for taxable income in excess of $270 million, instead of the previous flat rate of 22%. Meanwhile the top income tax bracket has been increased from 40% to 42% for higher earners.

Spain: $412.4 Billion

With a population of 46.6 million, Spain generated tax receipts of $412.4 billion in 2016 according to the report. The country operates a sliding scale of income tax from 19% to 45%, while the general corporation tax rate is 25%. Meanwhile, residents of the Andalucia region had some good news this year, as it was announced changes to inheritance tax rules mean that the vast majority of children or spouses will not have to pay it anymore.

Canada: $491.1 Billion

The system of paying federal tax is simple in Canada: there is a sliding scale of 15% to 33% depending on how much you earn, however it gets a bit trickier when you need to add on provincial and territorial tax as the rate you pay depends on your income – and where you live. The rates vary dramatically from 4%, the lowest bracket in Nunavut, up to the highest bracket in Nova Scotia of 21%. The country’s population of 36.3 million brought in a total of $491.1 billion in 2016.

Italy: $792.8 Billion

Italy’s 60.6 million-strong population helped contribute to vast tax revenues of $792.8 billion. Italians pay personal income tax of between 23% to 43%, plus regional tax which is typically between 1.23% and 3.33%

United Kingdom: $869.4 Billion

The UK generated $869.4 billion in tax from its population of 65.6 million people, according to the OECD report. The UK uses a progressive income tax system, where those living in England, Wales and Northern Ireland pay between 20% and 45% tax, while those in Scotland pay 19% to 46% tax depending in their earnings. Residents must also pay National Insurance contributions too, which are 12%, although workers who earn more than $62,380 pay only 2% on earnings over that threshold. The Corporation Tax main rate is 19% but is set to be reduced to 17% in 2020.

France: $1,115.9 Billion

With a population of 66.9 million, France generated $1,115.9 billion in tax. However it will be interesting to see the results of dramatic tax cuts President Emmanuel Macron made in 2017, including slashing the contentious wealth tax effectively by 70% and introducing a 30% flat rate on capital gains.

Germany: $1,305.7 Billion

A combination of being the biggest economy in Europe, a population of 82 million and a relatively high taxation system means Germany has the second-largest tax revenue in the report at $1,305.7 billion. In addition to income tax, which varies from 14% to 45% for very high incomes, everyone has to pay solidarity tax, which is capped at 5.5% of an individual’s income tax. Also, if you’re a member of a church registered in Germany, you will also be required to pay a church tax of 8% or 9% of your income, depending on which federal state you live in.

United States: $4,846.3 Billion

The US tops the list in the report for having the highest level of tax revenues, with $4,846.3 billion tax generated from its population of 325.7 million. However with the US going through huge tax reforms this year under President Trump, it will be interesting to see the impact that has on those figures in future. Most analyses suggests that while the changes aren’t the biggest tax cuts the country has ever seen, the reduction of the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21% is the biggest corporate tax cut in US history.

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AMP shareholders urged to clean out board after misconduct scandals

Shareholders have been urged to clean out the AMP board at this week’s general meeting, both to deter future misconduct and kickstart the process of renewal at the embattled wealth manager.

Three AMP directors are up for re-election at Thursday’s meeting and need the endorsement of investors angry at the wealth manager’s performance and the string of scandals exposed in the royal commission.

AMP’s new chairman, David Murray, on Monday urged investors to keep a cool head, saying the company needed a period of stability following the revelations of the royal commission.

“Serious investors have to consider whether anger is in itself a good enough frame of mind to make decisions,” Murray told the ABC. “I’m not defending anybody on the AMP board but they have to decide whether they want anger to prevail, or they’re confident that I can make the appropriate changes over time.”

The Australian Shareholders’ Association said a period of instability was regrettable but necessary.

ASA representative Ian Graves confirmed his organisation would use its sway to try to boot out three of AMP’s existing board members, including one who was only appointed last year. The three directors are Holly Kramer, Vanessa Wallace and Andrew Harmos.

“It could be destabilising,” Graves told Guardian Australia. “But as far as our view is concerned … the board renewal should start as quickly as possible because a) it gives a message to shareholders and b) it gives a message to staff, that their jobs are at risk if they ever repeat [this conduct].”

AMP has already begun a partial shake-up since the royal commission revelations and has slashed directors’ fees by 25%.

Its former chairwoman Catherine Brenner resigned, as did its general counsel, Brian Salter, and the chief executive, Craig Meller.

Brenner and Salter left AMP after evidence in the royal commission showing the company had repeatedly interfered with a supposedly independent investigation of its practise of charging clients without providing any service.

The royal commission heard AMP had interfered in a report prepared by the law firm Clayton Utz to minimise the involvement of senior executives. That report was later presented to the corporate regulator, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

The company sought to lay blame for the interference at Salter’s feet last week, saying in a statement that the board and Brenner “were unaware of and disappointed about the number of drafts and the extent of the group general counsel’s interaction with Clayton Utz”.

The royal commission has previously heard evidence that suggested Brenner was involved in viewing and suggesting amendments to the Clayton Utz report.

The royal commission heard last month that Clayton Utz partner Nicholas Mavrakis emailed Brenner a copy of the draft report on the fee-for-no-service scandal, before the pair had a phone call.

A later email from Salter to Mavrakis also suggested Brenner’s involvement.

“I spoke to Catherine earlier today,” Salter wrote on 4 October. “She said that she relayed a number of comments to you over the phone last week and confirmed that she has no more.

“Can you please let us have the next draft with the amendments marked up today?”

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Australia’s Mineral Resources to sell 49% stake in lithium project

Mining services provider Mineral Resources Ltd (MIN.AX) on Tuesday said it was looking to sell a minority stake in its Wodgina Lithium mine in the west of Australia.

The Australian company said in a statement that it was seeking partners to take up to 49 percent of the project in the Pilbara region, after receiving a number of unsolicited approaches from parties interested in a stake or in offtake agreements.

Riding a wave of demand for the mineral used in electric vehicle batteries, the firm already has a joint venture with China’s largest lithium producer, Jiangxi Ganfeng Lithium, to develop its Mount Marion lithium project in the same state.

“This minority sales process is in line with (our) strategy of investing in early-stage projects, adding significant value and then seeking equity partners to share in the value,” Managing Director Chris Ellison said in the statement.

The Wodgina project produced about 1.16 million wet tonnes of lithium direct shipping ore (DSO) in the quarter that ended in March, accounting for a large portion of the company’s overall production.

“(Mineral Resources) will only introduce project partners if acceptable terms can be secured. (The company) has the capability to finance and implement its downstream processing strategy at Wodgina on its own,” Ellison added.

The stake sale comes amid burgeoning sector consolidation, with Australian lithium miner Galaxy Resources (GXY.AX) assessing options for its stake in a large lithium deposit in Argentina.

Mineral Resources said lithium processors, battery manufacturers, international trading companies and automakers had approached it over Wodgina.

“Min Res are used to putting together a joint venture on a project,” said Canaccord Genuity analyst Larry Hill, adding that contenders would be companies that could process the mineral into a battery-ready form.

Mineral Resources may also consider selling its offtake from the project to partners as part of the transaction. Appetite for Australian hard rock deposits is increasing as manufacturers look to secure high-purity supply.

Wodgina is among the world’s biggest hard rock deposits and is also located close to Port Hedland, a large bulk commodities port.

Investment bank Macquarie Capital (Australia) and Australian law firm Gilbert and Tobin have been appointed to assist with the sale. Mineral Resources said it was planning to announce a buyer in the second half of the year.

Shares in the firm were up about 0.6 percent, compared to a 0.5-percent rise in the broader market.

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The Asian law firms investing in legal technology

In a highly competitive and low-growth market, firms are increasingly turning to technology and innovation to stay ahead of competition while boosting efficiency and profitability. Asia-based firms are no exception. Those in Australia and Singapore, where growth has been harder to achieve, are leading the charge.

Over the past few years, ‘legal hackathon’ and ‘design thinking’ have become the most frequently used buzzwords among the managing partners of Australian firms. In response to demands for greater value from sophisticated clients, Australian firms are the most advanced group in the Asia-Pacific 100 when it comes to innovation and technology.

KWM, for example, uses a variety of AI products and software either to improve efficiency, for work such as due diligence and discovery, or to help build up contracts. It has also developed its own web-based programs and apps to navigate clients through regulatory and compliance requirements, and to assist with graduate recruitment. Its ‘Being a Clerk’ app aims to help new recruits make the most of their KWM experience.

To generate growth in a highly competitive and increasingly sophisticated market, Clayton Utz recently formalised its innovation strategy, appointing a director of innovation and an innovation team made up of 81 professionals. They employ a science-based approach to grow the firm’s business and address clients’ needs.

Meanwhile, Gilbert + Tobin has been training its lawyers to code software with US smart contract firm Taylor Gerring and invested in start-up online legal services provider LegalVision. In addition, its internal legal transformation team launched the Smart Counsel app to provide free legal resources and answers to in-house lawyers. The firm hosts ‘legal hackathons’ with major clients such as Westpac to develop and prototype innovative solutions to a range of common legal requests and operational issues.

Australia’s mid-tier firms, which probably face the strongest squeeze in the market, are also embracing change. Hall & Wilcox is a leader among its peers. Recently, it deepened its commitment to innovation by appointing legal IT professional Peter Campbell as director for client solutions. The move is set to drive forward a ‘Smarter Law’ strategy, with initiatives such as the development of client-facing technology, improved project management methodology, business process improvement and developing the firm’s knowledge management strategy. Teaming up with technology firm Neota Logic, Hall & Wilcox has also launched a web application that makes it faster and easier for workers’ compensation insurance providers to pursue recoveries.

Elsewhere, South-East Asian network Zico Law and Indian firm Cyril are pioneers in adopting AI and technologies to improve the efficiency and delivery of legal services. Malaysia-based Zico Law’s affiliated listed entity, ZICO Holdings, has launched a subsidiary, ShakeUp Online, to provide professional services over the internet and transform the way in which services are delivered and consumed. ShakeUp is collaborating with the UK’s legal document automation system provider, Epoq Legal, through a Licence and Support Agreement. Initially, ShakeUp aims to provide affordable online legal services to small and medium-sized enterprises in the ASEAN region, offering access to high-quality legal documents that are easy to understand and simple to use. The platform also plans to partner with large companies to help improve the quality and cost-efficiency of their in-house support services.

Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas (CAM) has become the first firm in India to improve efficiency, accuracy and the delivery speed of certain legal services using AI. In January 2017, it signed an agreement with Canada-based Kira Systems, a machine-learning software provider. In May, CAM appointed legal operations manager Komal Gupta as its first head of innovation and AI. Previously vice-president of Integreon Managed Solutions, she will develop and drive the firm’s innovation strategy.