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Cyber security a growing issue for small business

Cyber crime is here to stay and small businesses need to be prepared and alert.
That was the message from Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell, to the 2017 Security Exhibition and Conference in Sydney last Wednesday.
In her speech, Ms Carnell said criminals have been targeting small business operators since commerce began.
“What’s changed over the centuries isn’t the act of crime, but how it’s committed,” she said.
“A burglar is just as likely to break into a computer system today as through a smashed window.
“Just about every business with a physical shopfront has an alarm and takes security precautions, but not every business is aware of cyber security and many are sadly at risk of attack.”
Ms Carnell cited the Norton SMB Cyber Security Survey, which showed 19 per cent of respondents had experienced a cyber attack.
The survey also found that 24 per cent of Australian small-medium enterprises did not have an internet security solution.
“Small business owners need to accept responsibility for their own cyber security, just as they would for the physical security of themselves, their staff and their property,” Ms Carnell said.
“This requires vigilance and defense.
“The lack of awareness regarding cyber security is one of the biggest threats facing small business operators today.”
Ms Carnell said there was often a sense of helplessness among small business operators when they report a cyber crime or when they seek assistance or information.
“They don’t always know where to go, but there have been some positive steps,” she said.
“The Australian Government Cyber Security Strategy aligns to that of cyber-aware nations, commits to a framework of national partnerships, fosters cyber awareness and resilience, and seeks to strengthen governance and legislation.
“A 2017 Budget initiative provides $15 million in funding for a small business cyber security program.
“Grants of up to $2100 will be provided to co-fund small businesses to have their cyber security tested by approved service providers.”
For people who may not be technologically savvy, Ms Carnell said the support systems could be difficult to navigate.
“Cyber crime is going to become more sophisticated and more disruptive,” she said.
“Small businesses need to be vigilant and take sensible precautions. Authorities need to be agile and supportive.”
A new era in Aquarium Sales
Aquarium Gallery - a revolutionary concept
Australia's first and only franchised aquarium retail
Read more in the Pet Industry News magazine
Volume 27 No 2 Winter 2017
also available on-line at
Registration to attend PIAA & Tower Systems AusPet 2017 (formally Pet Expo) is now open!
The 2017 event will be held at the Grand Pavilion, Rosehill Gardens Racecourse over two fantastic levels on October 19-20. The venue is close to public transport and offers free parking. We have negotiated excellent accommodation rates in nearby hotels, most of which are within walking distance. We will again be featuring our AusPet conference which will offer 3 concurrent education streams, Business, Companion Animal & Aquatics. Plus we finish up on the Friday night with our AusPet annual dinner where you will be entertained by Australia’s #1 stand-up Ventriloquist, Darren Carr!
Entry to the AusPet 2017 trade show and conference is free for financial PIAA members, non-members will pay $29 to attend both days of the trade show or $99 to attend both days of the conference & trade show.
We have a stellar line up of presenters on offer and a number of new exhibitors. An exhibitor list is available on our website.
All the information on the event including online booking can be accessed here.
Aussie pets fetch $2 billion in public healthcare savings
Dr Chris Brown calls for pet owner tax credit to stimulate further benefits

Sydney, Australia – Monday 31st July 2017: To help relieve the pain of ballooning healthcare budgets, well known veterinarian Dr Chris Brown is prescribing pets to Federal and State governments.
On the back of new data1 released today showing that pet owners deliver a massive $2 billion in public healthcare savings across Australia, Dr Chris Brown is encouraging policymakers to consider tax rebates or offsets that encourage pet ownership to stimulate further savings.
While the individual health benefits of owning a pet are widely known, The Healthcare Economics of Pets1 report determined that every pet owner saves the health system $700 per year1 in reducing the number of doctor visits and associated health costs, such as fewer specialist appointments and hospital visits.
“This research is a wakeup call for policy makers to acknowledge the broader benefits of pet ownership, which even extend to the public purse. If our governments can recognise pet owners for making smart choices for their health through incentives like a tax rebate or offset, the return on investment could be huge,” said Dr Chris Brown. 
The calculations are based on previous studies by academics at the University of Melbourne that showed pet owners visit the doctors 11% less than non-pet owners2.
The economic projections indicate that if pet populations increased by 10% a year the public health system could stand to save over $200 million annually.
“This report shows that keeping Australia pet friendly is an issue of national importance.  I hope the government can see the value in spending a little, to save a lot,” said Dr Chris Brown.
The Healthcare Economics of Pets was commissioned by Mars Petcare as part of the Keep Australia Pet Friendly campaign which Ambassador Dr Chris Brown has been championing since 2015. Dr Chris Brown has been working to highlight the many benefits of pet ownership with stakeholders, pet owners and policy makers to stress the need to build a more pet friendly nation into the future, focusing on accommodation, open spaces and transport as priorities.
John Bishop, Co-Founder and Joint CEO of national animal welfare charity PetRescue, has voiced his support for the proposal.
“We really need policies like this to encourage more Australians to discover the benefits, and the joy, of pet adoption. The fact that pet ownership also has such a huge positive impact on our economy, it makes me wonder why this hasn’t been implemented sooner. It's a win-win for both humans and the many thousands of pets looking for a new home,” said Mr Bishop. 
Supporters can follow Keep Australia Pet Friendly on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #KeepAusPetFriendly. To find out more visit

Amazon to raise the bar in Australian delivery

The arrival of Amazon will catalyse an uplift in consumer expectations around the speed, price and reliability of retail delivery, putting pressure on businesses to improve supply chain practices to remain competitive.

That’s the message from Greencross chief information officer (CIO) Paul Kennedy, who isn’t buying the typical arguments against the viability of best practice delivery in Australia.

“We like to use excuses,” he told an audience at Online Retailer on Wednesday. “We say Australia’s big, or that it’s not very densely populated…some of those things are true, but two-thirds of Australia’s population live within a day’s drive of Melbourne or Sydney.”

“If you have distribution in those cities you should be able to get out to customers within a day…there are things within the retailers control, if it can get out of your DC the day it’s ordered then it has got a lot better chance of getting to customers the next day.

“We need to focus on our internal teams, on order by here, ship it by there, get it to the customer by there,” he said.

Kennedy, one of the architects behind John Lewis’ omnichannel strategy in the UK and former CIO of APG & Co., believes it’s only a matter of time before on-demand or so-called ‘uberised’ delivery becomes widespread in the Australian market

He expects Amazon’s entry to propel the market towards that reality, redefining what Australian consumers see as acceptable offer.

“You can overplay the Amazon threat, but you can’t overplay customer expectations – they’ll continue to go up and we need to respond to it.

“That’s the most notable difference between sites in the UK and Australia. They’ll say, ‘order it by there and it’ll get delivered by here’,” Kennedy explained.

Greencross, which owns pet supplies retailer Pet barn, is one of many publicly listed companies to have been thrown under a cloud in recent months, having had its earnings guidance cut by UBS earlier this year.

Its share price is down almost 15 per cent since January as uncertainty over the impact of Amazon’s entry, as well as macroeconomic headwinds, continue to weigh on the market.

It makes Kennedy, who was poached from APG & Co in late 2015, all the more important. As he says, supply chain may not be the sexiest part of retail, but it is where the money is made.

He expects stores to be the cornerstone of logistical success for established retailers in an Amazon enabled environment, advising retailers to implement omnichannel strategies that leverage pre-existing assets.

But there remains a disparity between what customers say they want and what they are willing to pay for it, Kennedy said.

“Lots of people talk about same day delivery, lots of couriers do it, lots of vendors offer it and every customer will tell you they want it.

“It’s a good idea, and I can see why in some sectors it’s really valuable, but the big challenge is that customers just don’t want to pay for it,” he said.

Kennedy cautioned against investing too heavily in ultra-fast delivery services, noting that investing in same-day as a premium offer only makes sense if an adequate number of customers are prepared to pay for it.

There are, however, ways to make it work. Kennedy agrees that the prime model has been successful in helping Amazon justify free same day, or next day delivery in many parts of the US and UK, and that a subscription/replenishment model has its place.

“If you have replenished able items it might make sense to say, ‘sign up for $50 a year and we’ll cover your freight under this arrangement for the whole year’…we already do subscription dog food and that sort of thing, but for most retailers with less frequent purchases it would be a harder argument.”

Source: Online Retailer
Verse by verse, whales learn songs like humans

Humpback whales learn songs in segments – like the verses of a human song – and can remix them, a new study involving University of Queensland research has found.

The study featured data from Associate Professor Michael Noad of the UQ School of Veterinary Science’s Cetacean Ecology and Acoustics Laboratory (CEAL).

Research indicated that whale songs appeared to be learnt a similar way to how humans acquire language skills, or a bird learns its warble.

“All the males in a population sing the same complex song, but the pattern of song changes with time, sometimes quite rapidly, across the population,” Dr Noad said.

“Learning new songs is a form of what's known as 'social learning', which is where individual animals learn behaviours from each other rather than having them passed on from one generation to another genetically.

“Although we know that whales change their songs over time, we don't know about how they learn the new songs.

“The rate of change though shows that they are constantly learning and updating their songs rapidly.”

The study was led by UQ graduate Dr Ellen Garland, now a postdoctoral fellow at the University of St Andrews, Scotland, and focused on whale songs that were in the process of changing from one type to another.

The research found whales could combine segments of songs in predictable ways if the underlying structural pattern was similar.

“We recorded many individual singers from several populations, including the eastern Australian population and other populations in the South Pacific,” Dr Noad said.

“We looked for songs that were caught in the act of changing; songs that had some of the old song as well as some of the new song.

“Ellen found a couple of interesting things. When we found these rare 'hybrid' songs, the themes of the songs, either old or new, were intact, showing that the whales probably learn songs theme-by-theme like the verse of a human song.

“The other interesting thing was when they switched mid-song from old to new or new to old, it was during a theme most similar to another theme in either old or new songs.

“These themes may have been used as a way of bridging the old and new songs and therefore help with social learning.

“This provides some evidence for how animals rapidly learn large, complex displays and may have relevance for understanding how human language, the most outstanding example of social learning, evolved.”

Dr Noad said changes in humpback whale songs were one of the most striking examples of the transmission of a cultural trait and social learning in any non-human animal. 

The study, Cultural transmission in humpback whales: insights from song hybridization events during revolutionary song change, is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) journal (doi/10.1073/pnas.1621072114).

Rabbit poo bacterium a saviour?

The average person might struggle to get excited about bacterium found in rabbit droppings – but it’s potentially a knight in shining armour for our planet.
Researchers at The University of Queensland’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) and US company LanzaTech have developed a computer model that harnesses ancient microorganisms for an environmentally sound industrial waste conversion method.
AIBN researcher Dr Esteban Marcellin said LanzaTech, a gas fermentation company, was particularly interested in a bacterium called Clostridium autoethanogenum, originally discovered in rabbit droppings.
“LanzaTech uses this bacterium (which falls under the broader class of acetogens) as part of its carbon capture and reuse process, whereby industrial waste gases such as steel mill exhaust are converted into useful by-products like ethanol,” Dr Marcellin said.
“Acetogens are among the oldest living microorganisms and account for around 20 per cent of the fixed carbon on the planet, making them a major player in the global carbon cycle.”
Through an Australian Research Council linkage project, LanzaTech teamed up with AIBN researchers to better understand the process by which the microbe ‘fixes’ carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, and then determine how to modify the microbe so that waste gas can be turned into useful chemicals.
To achieve this LanzaTech researchers and Dr Marcellin‘s team developed a computer model of C. autoethanogenum’s metabolic pathways. 
LanzaTech founder and chief science officer Dr Sean Simpson said: “By including operating data from fermentations happening at steel mills around the world, the UQ team has made the most accurate model system published to date.
“The computer model is able to predict cellular metabolism of the microbe, which helps identify the best way to modify the organism so it can capture greenhouse gases better and convert carbon into desired products.”
Lanzatech’s director of synthetic biology Dr Michael Koepke said the model allowed scientists to predict what happened if certain genes were removed or overexpressed, or if an entirely new pathway was introduced.
“This opens the door to establishing acetogens as catalysts that can convert a variety of carbon-containing inputs into new products,” Dr Koepke said.
The next step was to use the computer model to identify and modify gene targets in C. autoethanogenum, and then test the outcome at AIBN’s gas fermentation facility, one of few non-industry facilities using instrumented fermenters and mass spectrometers for accurate gas data analysis.
The world-leading facility also boasts support infrastructure, which includes theoretical and computational science, and facilities that underpin capabilities in proteomics, metabolomics, biologics, stem cells, nanofabrication, and microscopy and microanalysis.
AIBN Director Professor Alan Rowan said that industrial biotechnology was one of the institute’s key future research pillars and would “become the next industrial revolution playing a critical role in Queensland’s future economy and that of Australia.’
Small business sector slugged by rising power prices                        

There is mounting evidence that small businesses are bearing an unfair higher share of rising electricity prices.
Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell, says submissions to the ACCC electricity pricing inquiry confirm anecdotal accounts that small businesses are being gouged.
Ms Carnell said while households in several states are grappling with price increases of 15-18 per cent, for most small businesses it’s above 20 per cent, with higher rises forecast next year.
“It’s totally unacceptable that energy-dependent small businesses like manufacturers and rural industries are being slugged more than householders and big business,” she said.
“The energy system is broken and needs to be fixed, but we can’t afford to see businesses close and jobs lost while governments and energy companies get their act together.”
Ms Carnell cited examples from submissions to the ACCC inquiry:
Printing Industries Association of Australia
Feedback from our members shows individual increases in electricity prices which include $20-30,000 a month; increases over the previous 12 months (or a comparable period) of 25%, 35%, 48%, 67%. One large-sized Melbourne-based print member will face an electricity bill increasing threefold (from $120k per annum to $360k) once its existing contract expires on 31 December 2017. Many of our members have incurred these increases despite decreasing the amount of electricity they use.
South Australian Wine Industry Association
We are aware of one larger winery that had invested nearly $400,000 in energy-efficiency improvements and solar power that reduced costs by around $120,000 per year, only to then face an increase in electricity cost of 160% in one year amounting to $250,000 – a cost that comes straight off the bottom line.
Alba Cheese Manufacturing (Melbourne)
All electricity retailers we have dealt with provide complex pricing arrangements which make it hard to make comparison between the various offers. In discussion with energy retailers they focus on the energy rate and blame energy suppliers for the cost increases, they gloss over their own charges and dismiss them as being “beyond their control”. Analysis of electricity charges over the last five years shows that network charges rose by an annual rate of 25.9% over the period whilst energy charges rose 21.3% per annum.
Business SA case study: Regional feed mill JT Johnson & Sons
JT Johnson runs a regional exporting business, centred around the export of hay and pellets to Middle Eastern and Asian fodder markets. In mid-2016, and after just having undergone a major upgrade of its power infrastructure, JT Johnson’s total energy bill increased from $800,000 to $1.6 million after its wholesale energy peak price trebled from 6.4 cents to 19.3 cents.
Tasmanian Small Business Council
The wholesale forward price for 2016-17 back in May 2015 was trading around $43.50/MWh and then 12 months later for the same period was trading at $59.60/MWh, a 37% increase in costs. For a contestable customer consuming 100,000MWh per annum, this cost increase would have been in the order of an additional $1.7 million. For a customer consuming 200MWh per annum, such as a school or medium-sized business, the additional cost would be $3400 per annum.
Ms Carnell said the submissions expressed small business concerns with lack of retail competition; complexity around price comparisons and billing; transparency, and disincentives to reduce consumption.
“I’m deeply concerned that small businesses appear to be victims of profiteering by electricity companies,” she said.
“I welcome the NSW Business Chamber suggestion of an industry code to provide minimum standards for energy retailers.
“These standards could be designed to provide a common basis for comparisons between offers, a minimum length of time to consider retail offers and requirements for greater transparency with billing.”
The Rotary Club of Bordertown has built much-needed shelters for their local sanctuary’s famous mob of white kangaroos.
Local Barry Smith caught a rare, large white buck in 1984 by jumping from his motorcycle and crash-tackling it to the ground after fears hunters would target him as an unusual trophy. Over 50 of his descendants have inherited his remarkable snowy fur over the following decades, an unusually strong expression of the white gene.
The council wished to build shelters to allow the kangaroos to better avoid the elements within their enclosures. However, their current budget did not allow for the requisite manpower - something the Rotary Club was happy to provide.
“There are trees and scrub in the pens but it wasn’t enough for the whole mob to fit under comfortably, so a tin shelter was installed – but the kangaroos wouldn’t go near it. It was too loud when it rained,” said Rotarian Trevor Butler.
It was decided this problem could be avoided by constructing the new shelters from thatching native plants. “A bunch of Rotarians went down to a property in Willalooka with lots broombush, cutting off a trailer load of big bundles. We then built a frame and had to learn how thatch properly. It was a learning curve as we hadn’t done that sort of thing before,” said Trevor. 
After all this effort, it wasn’t certain the white kangaroos would take to their new ‘furniture’. However one freezing, rainy day not long after they went up Trevor took a look on his way to work. “Sure enough they were all huddled in the two thatched shelters – and none were in the tin shed.”
Rotary plans on building additional shelters for the two other paddocks the roos are rotated through, and is discussing further involvement in sanctuary maintenance and expanding the operation. Councilor and Rotarian Ken McInerney commented, “Bordertown’s white kangaroos are one of our largest tourist draw cards, making a big impact on our local economy. They are also wonderful ambassadors for native wildlife, drawing attention to its beauty and uniqueness.”
Australian Rotarians are busy assisting wildlife throughout the world. The Rotary Nest Box Project has provided over 5000 nest boxes for native birds and mammals to replace hollows destroyed through deforestation. The Rotarian Action Group for Endangered Species cares for orphaned pygmy elephants in Borneo and now heads up education programs in an effort to conserve the species – of which only 1500 individuals remain.
This year’s Rotary International President, Australian Ian Riseley, has placed emphasis on conservation. “The time is long past when environmental sustainability can be dismissed as not Rotary’s concern. It is, and must be, everyone’s concern,” he said.
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