Green tech plans to restart the economy

Green tech plans to restart the economy

Australian tech startups should embrace clean energy as the economy slowly recovers, says the Chair of Tesla Inc, who will address Sydney entrepreneurs next month.

Robyn Denholm, the Australian successor to Elon Musk as chair of the electric cars, solar panels and clean energy storage giant is among three business leaders who will take part in the City of Sydney visiting entrepreneur program.

Ms Denholm said after almost three decades of prosperous economic growth with heavy reliance on fossil fuels, a post-Covid-19 landscape is the ideal time to steer Australia towards clean energy.

“I think rebuilding the economy post bushfires and Covid, it’s a unique point in time when the business leaders, consumers and political leaders can really change the fabric as we go forward,” Ms Denholm said.

“We’ve had 29 years of good growth as a country. I think we should be using this pause that’s happened in the economy to really change the trajectory and the vector of the economy towards more sustainable energy solutions and electric vehicles. We should be planting the seeds now for the next 30 years of growth.”

Since its 2017 inception, the program has brought high-profile international entrepreneurs to Sydney to share their expertise and knowledge with our local tech startup community.

Through talks, mentoring sessions and workshops, the program has delivered 66 curated events for over 5,400 people involved in local tech startups.

Due to the unprecedented global crisis, this year’s event will be run online, with speakers presenting their thoughts and ideas through webinars.

The talks will focus on clean energy and sustainability and feature talks from Tesla Inc chair, Robyn Denholm; CEO of New Energy Nexus, Danny Kennedy and founder and CEO at Sunfed, Shama Sukul Lee.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the City’s series of online talks from international business leaders will help local startups grow and adapt to an evolving post-Covid-19 global business world.

“As businesses all around the world grapple with the idea of recovery after Covid-19, we have a critical opportunity to reimagine our future and ensure a green-led recovery,” the Lord Mayor said.

“Sydney is the startup capital of Australia, and we want to ensure our ecosystem is as green and sustainable as possible.

“The City of Sydney has a long record of taking bold and evidence-based climate action, and from July 1 our operations will be powered by 100 per cent renewable electricity, sourced from renewable energy farms in rural NSW.

“I look forward to seeing what our local tech startup community can deliver in the fields of clean energy and sustainability during the visiting entrepreneur program.”

Danny Kennedy said even though clean energy startups faced an uphill battle against the status quo of Australia’s fossil fuelled economy, the financial benefits are worth the hardships.

“I think energy is the commanding heights of the economy. It’s very valuable to society,” Mr Kennedy said.

“Australia has a great history. We’re pioneers in solar and not just the deployment of it over the last decade.”

Ms Denholm said the City’s push for green technology bolstered by a swathe of local tech industries created an ideal starting pad for startups.

“I think Sydney really does have the potential and also has got some very good tech innovation bones, if you like. I came out of the tech industry here in Sydney. From my perspective, we’ve got a really good education system,” Ms Denholm said.

“The universities in and around Sydney are world class. We have a great multicultural population and the smartest minds focused on different technology challenges.”

The visiting entrepreneur program took place between Wednesday 10 June to Wednesday 24 June.

For more information on future events, visit

Source: City of Sydney

International startups go online to strengthen Sydney’s economy

A new program creates jobs and supports local business through a successful partnership with the City of Sydney.

Recognising the need to futureproof Sydney’s economy, in 2019 the City of Sydney partnered with Haymarket HQ. The innovation hub provides office space and online support for international startups and entrepreneurs.

The City of Sydney-Haymarket HQ partnership launched Sydney Landing Pad, introducing startups to doing business in Sydney and acting as a gateway into Australia and the Asia-Pacific.

Since the program’s inception, 10 startups valued at $500m have entered the local market and flourished, while creating local jobs and strengthening the economy.

The startups cover agritech, edutech, blockchain, artificial intelligence, smart mobility, the internet of things and fashion.

Haymarket HQ’s Duco van Breemen said employment in Sydney has increased since the Chinatown-based hub’s launch.

“As a result of the Sydney Landing Pad and various other initiatives, we’ve seen tremendous revenue, funding and job growth in the past 2 years,” he said.

“Education platform HolonIQ was founded in 2018 and has grown from 2 founders to a team of over 20, located in Sydney and around the world.”

This year, 17 international businesses, from wildfire detection drones to smart bike helmets, will take part in online workshops and mentoring programs to promote diversity and employment.

Each startup or entrepreneur partners virtually with a local mentor to share their expertise, insights and experience.

Intello Labs, which registered for the 2020 program, uses artificial intelligence to reduce fruit and vegetable waste by standardising quality assessments.

The agritech startup’s head of Asia Pacific, Tanmay Bhargava, said the Sydney Landing Pad was a unique opportunity to enter the Australian market.

“We’re at an inflection point in terms of our overseas expansion and are aggressively looking for access into our most important markets,” Tanmay said.

“We hope to have a better grip on our Aussie market strategy.”

We know this is tough time for local businesses. The City of Sydney supports those affected through a series of Covid-19 relief grants and other measures.

Corporate Recovery Ahead of Schedule

Corporate Recovery Ahead of Schedule

Just twelve months into a three-year program, the City’s plan for corporate recovery is more than 50 per cent complete.

Born from an extensive assessment of operational effectiveness, the Corporate Recovery Implementation Plan (CRIP) was developed under the direction of the City’s three Commissioners and Chief Executive Officer.

The CRIP sets out to re-establish the organisation as an exemplar of local government. It provides the direction required to unlock the City’s full potential by creating an organisation that is customer centric in its decision-making, strategic in its thinking and agile in its response.

The Plan was launched in May 2019 following extensive reviews into the organisation’s operational effectiveness. These reviews identified critical areas of operational and cultural improvement and the swift progress has been made.

Corporate recovery actions to date have been wide ranging. The organisation has established an Alliance structure with more collaborative Executive and Managerial Leadership Teams. In addition, the City has produced an integrated management framework, updated the Strategic Community Plan, developed a Procurement Transformation Plan and Financial Systems and Process Transformation Plan, revised how it manages risk and overhauled its stakeholder engagement approach.

Additionally, operational cost savings of approximately $10 million have been realised this financial year, which will provide ongoing recurrent savings.

This journey of extensive transformation was set in motion when, in March 2018, the Minister for Local Government suspended the City’s Council, announced a formal Inquiry into the City of Perth and appointed three Commissioners to perform the duties of Council.

The recovery journey started with establishing a clear united direction with Commissioners, then getting a high-performance Executive in place, followed by a leaner management structure and a community and customer centric culture in place.

The City’s journey is far from over and there is still room for significant improvement, but the City is proudly heading in the right direction to become an outstanding exemplar of a well-respected local government.

Read more information about the City’s Corporate Recovery Implementation Plan here.



Construction works on the much-anticipated East End Revitalisation program have started this week, with the City of Perth working hard to support local businesses in the area.

The East End Revitalisation Program aims to improve the environment, character and quality of the East End precinct through revitalisation of the streetscape in Hay, Pier and Irwin Streets.

Construction will also focus on the development of a Pedestrian Priority Zone (PPZ) on Hay Street, extending between the Pier and Irwin Street intersections – the first 20km/h PPZ in Western Australia.

With alfresco dining, new street trees and attractive street furniture, visitors, residents and workers will be encouraged to dwell, eat and shop in the area.

“The program will support the creation of great streets; streets that are comfortable, safe and tree-lined with plenty of reasons to stay,” City of Perth Chair Commissioner Andrew Hammond said.

“Key features of the precinct include wider footpaths, upgraded lighting and a greater opportunity for outdoor dining to encourage people to stay longer and activate the area which will support businesses in their recovery from this crisis.”

Construction staging will be flexible, with disruptive works being brought forward where possible before social distancing restrictions are fully lifted, as well as scheduling works to avoid the morning coffee or lunch rush.

To encourage visitors and to support local businesses impacted, the City of Perth has developed a business continuity guide and a voucher scheme for the East End.

Patrons are encouraged to visit Hay Street between Irwin and Victoria Streets and keep an eye out for City of Perth staff handing out $10 vouchers to spend at selected businesses in the area.

“The voucher scheme aims to support local businesses in the area and encourage visitation and spend in the precinct, providing patrons with a great experience that will hopefully encourage them to return,” Chair Commissioner Andrew Hammond said.

Participating businesses are listed below:
East Café & Bistro
Spring Café
Perfect Photos
Z Sushi
Bench Espresso
Cucina on Hay
Cocoa and Rose
Court Newsagency

From 9 to 13 June, the City of Perth will also light up Council House with the letters #EER, signifying the start of construction for the East End Revitalisation and encouraging people to explore the development.

For more information about the East End Revitalisation Project visit Engage Perth.


– Increasing quality of the street network by continuing two way traffic movement along Hay Street to

Victoria Avenue

– Kaal Yimniny – a new public space

– Hay Street Pedestrian Priority Zone – 20km/h speed limit, with pedestrians having right of way over vehicles

– Wide footpaths to enhance the pedestrian environment

– Outdoor dining

– Introduction of an integrated cycling route

– High-quality street furniture

– Additional tree planting to help reduce the Urban Heat Island Effect.


City of Sydney – Support for local businesses

city of sydney

city of sydney logo

How we’re supporting business in response to Covid-19

Need help finding the right support for your business? Whether you’re running a shop, cafe, as a sole trader or creative business, we want to help you. As part of our $72.5 million support package, we’re helping keep businesses afloat through the Covid-19 pandemic.

Grants on offer

Small business grants: Helps businesses adapt to the new operating environment. Examples include the supply of new products or services or changes to your delivery method, development of new online and e-commerce capabilities, support for training and professional development, refurb their premises or buy new equipment or software.

Who can apply: Small businesses and for-profit arts enterprises with 1 to 19 employees, with applications considered from larger businesses in the hospitality and tourism industries under exceptional circumstances.
Funding available: $10,000 per business

Cultural sector resilience grantsProvides immediate financial support for those who have had to cancel, postpone or reduce operations, programs or events.

Who can apply: Sole traders and arts and cultural organisations.
Funding available: $10,000 per sole trader and $20,000 per organisation

Creative fellowships fund: To help keep arts and creative professionals working during a time of reduced opportunities. Projects can be presented during or after the pandemic.

Who can apply: Artists, creative producers, curators, and other creative workers
Funding available: $20,000

Community service grants: Allows organisations to support vulnerable community members with food, digital access and social inclusion.

Who can apply: Not-for-profits and social enterprises.
Funding available
: $5,000 to $50,000

Quick response grants: Small-scale projects responding to urgent need in their communities.

Who can apply: Individuals, sole traders, unincorporated community groups, not-for-profit organisations and for-profit organisations.
Funding available: $2,000 to $5,000.

Extra support

  • Fees waived for health and building compliance activities
  • Rent review on a case by case basis for tenants that require support
  • Standard contractual terms and return booking and banner fees waived for venue bookings
  • Waived market permit and filming fees
  • A flexible approach to parking and other infringements

City policy changes

  • Support businesses to increase or introduce take away food options to allow for social distancing.
  • Only take enforcement action for matters that present an imminent public, environmental, health or safety risk.
  • Allow supermarkets and other stores to operate their loading docks 24 hours a day to deliver essential goods.

Capital works projects

  • To support workers during this difficult time, the City will fast-track $23 million worth of capital works projects. This action will stimulate employment and improve our assets for the benefit of our communities.

Call our business concierge service on 02 9265 9333

We’ll help you find the right grants and support.

We’re open 9.30am to 4pm, Monday to Friday.

You can also drop us a line at [email protected].

If you need a translation service, please call 13 14 50.

Additional support and opportunities

Federal government

The WhatsApp feature  allows you to ask questions you need answered about your business.

The federal government’s Business website  is updated frequently. It provides information for sole traders  and employers . For support accessing services, contact Australian Business on 13 28 46, 7 days a week, 7am to 11pm Sydney time.

State government

The NSW Government Small Business Commissioner  has tips and resources to help you manage during the pandemic and into the recovery phase.

NSW Fair Trading  provides information about your business obligations for cancelled events, refunds and delayed orders.

Expressions of interest are sought from businesses to help replenish medical supplies.  They don’t currently have to manufacture the products, but should be able to change their production lines.

$10,000 small business grant. Fast relief for small businesses  facing unavoidable costs such as utilities, overheads, legal fees and financial advice.

Australian Banking Association

Many banks offer a small business relief package . Features include deferring payments, waiving fees, charges and penalties.

Australian Business Continuity

Free services and advice  about remote communications, collaboration, workforce management and video conferencing.


Qantas Planes

Government considers subsidised Qantas and Virgin domestic flights

Qantas Planes

The federal government is considering underwriting domestic flights operated by Qantas and Virgin Australia to maintain air links between capital cities, following sharp capacity cuts by the carriers.

Virgin on Friday grounded all domestic flying except for a single Sydney to Melbourne return service operating six days a week. Qantas and its budget offshoot Jetstar continue to fly to each capital city but at a significantly reduced frequency due to travel restrictions put in place to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Federal transport minister and deputy prime minister Michael McCormack said he was talking to both airlines about funding domestic flights to ensure routes between capital cities could remain open.

“We… need of course to transfer people around from capital city to capital city,” Mr McCormack said in an interview with ABC television on Monday morning.

He said that included people who return to Australia on international flights, are then forced into quarantine in the city they fly into for 14 days and then have to return to their home city.

The government has already underwritten Qantas and Virgin relaunching a limited international network to bring stranded Australians home. The carriers will operate 13 flights per week from London, Los Angeles, Hong Kong and Auckland.

Returning more planes to the skies will be a welcome boost for Australia’s two major airlines, which have been financially battered by travel restrictions put in place to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Qantas has reduced its capacity between Sydney and Melbourne to only five return flights a week, compared to 50 return flights a day before the pandemic took hold.

Qantas has stood down around 20,000 of its 30,000 workers while Virgin has sent home around 8000 of its 10,000 employees to slow their cash burn as new bookings dry up.

Virgin Planes

The debt-laden Virgin continues to push government for a $1.4 billion loan it says it needs to ensure it can make it through the crisis. However Qantas, which has a stronger balance sheet, has been pushing back against government help directed only to Virgin.

The government has so far announced $715 million in support for the major airlines in the form of waived fees and levies plus another $298 million package for regional carriers.

The Tourism and Transport Forum, an Australian industry group, estimates international and inter-state travel restrictions are costing the tourism industry $9 billion every month.


Neobank 86 400 raises 34m

Neobank 86 400 raises $34m

Neobank 86 400 raises 34m

Australian smartbank 86 400 has only been active for seven months, but since its launch in September the company has amassed 170,000 accounts and attracted $90 million in capital.

A large chunk of that funding comes from a $34 million Series A capital raising in March, designed to further accelerate product and feature development and support mortgage book growth.

86 400 currently has seven products on offer, expects another three by the end of 2020, and is the only retail neobank in the Australian market to offer home loans and shared accounts; the latter still in the pilot stage.

In an announcement today the Sydney-based group said the recent raise led by international investment bank Morgan Stanley one of the largest Australian fintech Series A rounds to date.

Backers include an Australian superannuation fund, fund managers, high net worth individuals and family offices.

CEO Robert Bell

“We’re bringing products to market faster than any other bank in Australia, digital or otherwise,” says 86 400 CEO Robert Bell (pictured).

“The funding announced today means we can keep our foot firmly on the accelerator, continuing to build out both sides of the ledger and help even more Australians take control of their money.

“At our current rate of growth, we should hit 500,000 accounts on the platform in the next 12 months. Of course, that will be balanced by growing the lending side of our business and we anticipate having a mortgage book of close to $2 billion by the end of 2021.”

Bell makes the bold claim that the company is Australia’s most advanced neobank.

“Our customers love that we’re more than just a great savings rate,” he says.

“Of course we do the banking basics extremely well – we’ve had real-time payments and Apple and Google Pay since day one – but we’re also giving them products they would never expect from a bank; tools like account aggregation and Energy Switch that actively help customers save more and budget better.

“All of us want to feel more in control of our finances, particularly in difficult times like these, and we’re delivering smart banking products which do just that.”

At the moment 86 400 processes 350,000 transactions and balance updates each day, and has yielded a Net Promoter Score (NPS) of 46 compared to the Big Four bank average of 2.1

“We always said we were building a bank that puts our customers first before anything else,” says chairman Anthony Thomson.

“That’s incredibly easy for a bank to say, but much harder to do in practice. I’m pleased to say we’re bucking the trend. The Big Four banks would kill to have an NPS as good as ours, and we’ve achieved that with a fraction of the team that they have.”


City of Perth – Relief and Rebound Plan approved

A 12-month, $18 million package designed to provide immediate support to City of Perth businesses was approved by the City of Perth Commissioners last night.

City of Perth Chair Commissioner Andrew Hammond said the Relief and Rebound Plan provided an initial package of support for businesses, ratepayers and residents impacted by COVID-19.

“We know our community is suffering economically and socially. As a City, we are here to help, now and in the future,” he said.

“This is a moderate, sensible and immediate response. We have an incredible challenge ahead in achieving a balance between financial sustainability and assisting the community in what is a time of severe and sustained economic hardship.”

Commissioner Hammond also confirmed the City was currently working on a long-term stimulation package to assist the CBD in recovering from this crisis.

As part of its Relief and Rebound Plan, the City is working in partnership with the State Government and community services sector to address the impacts of COVID-19 on people sleeping rough in the City.

This is in response to the serious impact of social distancing requirements and the reduction of many voluntary organisations who have had to withdraw their services.

The health and safety of the City of Perth’s vulnerable people is a priority and while the City is helping to identify some urgent solutions, the longer-term Plan for Vulnerable People will address longer-term and sustainable outcomes for the homeless community.

The Relief and Rebound Plan includes:


The City of Perth is working on accelerated capital works projects to help boost the economy and maintain jobs.

The City has awarded an accelerated program for the redevelopment of Wellington Square. Planned construction which was due to take three years to complete will now be completed in one year. These works are currently underway.

Similarly, the East End Revitalisation project was approved with an accelerated program being presented as the preferred option for approval. Approximately $10 million worth of construction will commence in May 2020 and run for a 12-month period.

The City recently brought forward detailed design for the Roe Street Redevelopment from the 20/21 financial year, allowing the tender process to commence in June 2020. This could bring construction of this project forward from late next financial year to later in the 2020 calendar year.

Additionally, there are numerous programs of City work being looked at including lighting renewals and urban forest tree planting which could add extra stimulus during the rebound phase of the City’s plans.


A 0 per cent rate increase in municipal rates and charges, including sanitation and waste charge in 2020/21.
Suspension of lease and rental payments for three months to all City of Perth tenants leasing city owned property, including the relinquishment of bank guarantees
Commissioner Hammond said some businesses may see an increase in their 2020/21 rates due to improved valuations.


  • An express planning service for change of land use and development applications for small businesses
  • A full refund on all cancelled bookings at City properties or facilities
  • Shorter payment terms for creditors, reduced from 30 days to 15 days
  • Debtors experiencing hardship will receive a range of options to assist in payment
  • The City will waive fees and charges associated with;
    -Food Premise Licence Fees
    -Other Inspectorial Licence Fees
    -Change of Land Use Fees
    -Small Business Development/Planning Fees (when the estimated cost of development is under $500,000)

Commissioner Hammond said in order to fund what would be a significant operating deficit over the next one to two years, the City of Perth would focus on essential services and adjust service delivery capacity accordingly.

In doing so, the City will make use of savings in recurrent expenditure, long term borrowings and reserve funds.  All of these initiatives will be implemented immediately.



As communities across Australia face up to the challenges of COVID-19 there is one group of Australians working tirelessly and selflessly to protect us all, our wonderful health workers. We salute them. In recognition of their support to all of us, Optus says Yes to waiving their Optus postpaid mobile access charges for the next three months.

Optus CEO Kelly Bayer Rosmarin said: “These are trying times and we recognise that our health workers are putting themselves on the frontline day in day out to protect and help Australians during this pandemic, and we want to say thank you.”

“We are so grateful to all the nurses, doctors, and other healthcare workers who are working in unprecedented conditions. So, we will be waiving their Optus mobile bill access charges in recognition of their invaluable support and dedication.”

“We understand how much everyone is relying on communications services to keep our communities – including our health professionals – connected. We will continue to work tirelessly to maintain the strength of our network and to prioritise critical service needs,” Ms Bayer Rosmarin said, “We are proud to recognise and support the heroes on the front line who are supporting us.”

In addition, Optus has announced a range of initiatives to help keep customers connected during this time, including boosting mobile data allowances, suspending Optus Sport subscription fees until 31 May 2020 and making all fixed broadband plans unlimited until 31 May 2020.

For customers who may be facing financial difficulties, Optus is offering these customers, including small businesses, support to place their postpaid mobile access charges on hold for up to 90 days, and waiving late payment fees and suspension of disconnection and credit collection activities until 30 April 2020.

Eligible new and existing Optus customers will be able to apply for the postpaid mobile access fee waivers through a digital sign up launching next week, available until 30 April 2020. To find out more information about Optus COVID-19 support, including whether you are an eligible health worker, simply go online to from 3 April 2020.


Perth property prices up 0.5 per cent for March

Perth property prices have enjoyed their best quarter in about six years, according to new data released today, but real estate experts say any celebration is likely to be short-lived.

Fresh CoreLogic data shows dwelling values in Perth are up 0.5 per cent for March and 0.9 per cent for the quarter off the back of a recent turnaround in the housing market, which has spent the last five months in the sun.

But REIWA president Damian Collins has told The West Live host Jenna Clarke that the market would likely take a hit as a result of coronavirus which could see rents and house prices nosedive.

“It’s been a five-year downturn and things started picking up in October 2019, so we had about five months in the sun and of course COVID-19 is going to stop that,” Mr Collins said.

“We expected rent prices to grow quite a decent amount this year — that won’t happen, that will be flat.”

“The sales market is concerning because there will be people who will need to sell … we’re likely to see almost a buyer strike — it’s starting to get there, we’re dropping in sales but it’s not there yet but I think that will come.”

Mr Collins said REIWA was lobbying the State Government to provide stamp duty relief for six-months to ease the burden on potential buyers.

“We’re asking for… the State Government to say, let’s cut stamp duty 75 per cent,” he said.

“That will encourage people in a solid job in a position to buy to get into the market and for those who need or want to sell, there will be a fluid market there.”

“Otherwise we run the risk that there will be sellers and not enough buyers and that’s the last thing we want to see — people under financial stress cop another hit on their property prices well after it’s been pretty ordinary for the last five years.”

Real estate is not the only market experiencing a downturn — the Australian Medical Association’s general practice spokesman Dr Simon Torvaldsen told Jenna that GPs were far less busy than usual as patients delay routine healthcare due to coronavirus.

“People are staying at home, people are worried,” said Dr Torvaldsen, whose medical practice is based in Mt Lawley.

“I think it’s not a great concern in the short term but it’s a concern if it continues because in the midst of all our worries about COVID we need to remember other health issues need to be looked after as well.”

In preparation for the upcoming influenza season, which is likely to converge with coronavirus, Dr Torvaldsen said some practices were looking at the possibility of doing flu shots on people in their cars as a precaution.

However, he said the risk of being exposed to coronavirus in a medical practice was “incredibly low” due to the low rate of community transmission of COVID-19 in Western Australia.