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March 2024 E News

Whether you're planning Easter festivities or focusing on your financial wellbeing, we hope this newsletter provides valuable information.

In this month's market update, a mixed bag has emerged in global markets for March 2024. The US S&P 500 closed slightly down (around 4,280) due to rising interest rates (Fed hike) and geopolitical tensions. Australia's ASX 200 fared better (around 7,520) thanks to strong economic fundamentals (3.2% GDP growth, 3.8% unemployment), though inflation remains a concern (4.3% CPI). Central banks are a key focus, with the US Fed tightening and the RBA likely to follow suit later in 2024. Volatile oil prices (Brent crude around US$102) present challenges and opportunities for Australian resources. While the AUD weakened slightly against the USD (around US$0.72), this could benefit exporters. Looking ahead, factors like central bank decisions, ongoing geopolitical issues, and upcoming earnings season will influence markets. 

The Industry Growth Program helps innovative small and medium businesses with commercialisation or growth projects aligned with national priorities. The program offers free advice and potentially matched grants from $50,000 to $5 million. Focus areas include advanced manufacturing, resources, agriculture, renewables, and defense. Eligible businesses can expect tailored advice on commercialisation strategies, funding, partnerships, and intellectual property to help them scale up and transform.

Want to see how your business measures up? The ATO's latest Small Business Benchmarks can help! By comparing your business's key metrics like turnover and expenses to industry benchmarks available on the ATO website and analysed through the ATO app, you can identify areas for improvement and boost your bottom line.

There is a free webinar on Tuesday, 9 April, from 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM AEST. Join Jessica Vlaskic, to discover how to build a resilient business model. Learn to diversify revenue streams, create a lean staff structure, and manage fixed costs. By the end, you'll have a plan for disruptions, a cross-trained team, and optimised operations. Register now!

The Northern Rivers holds regular Community Events.  See what's on and keep up to date on all the fantastic opportunities available and help to support local.  There is plenty to do.

A reminder, there are some important lodgement dates to note this month.

Should you have any questions or require assistance with your tax planning, please don't hesitate to contact our team.

Wishing you a safe, relaxing, and joyous Easter holiday!

The WD Nicholls Team

Global Market Update: A Cautious Start to Q2 for Australian Investors (as of 31 March 2024).

As we settle into the second quarter, let's take a look back at March's global market performance and what it might mean for Australian investors.

Mixed Bag for Global Stocks:

March offered a mixed picture for global equities. The S&P 500 in the US closed down slightly, ending the month at around 4,280, reflecting ongoing concerns about rising interest rates (the Fed announced a 25 basis point hike in March) and geopolitical tensions, particularly the conflict in Ukraine.

Closer to home, the ASX 200 performed better, finishing the quarter at approximately 7,520. This reflects Australia's strong economic fundamentals, with GDP growth exceeding expectations at 3.2% and the unemployment rate falling to a new low of 3.8%. However, inflationary pressures remain a concern, with the March quarter CPI coming in at 4.3%.

Focus on Central Banks:

Central banks continue to be a key driver of market sentiment. The Federal Reserve's rate hike in March marked the beginning of a tightening cycle aimed at curbing inflation. Here in Australia, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) maintained its wait-and-see approach at its March meeting, keeping the cash rate at a record low of 0.1%. However, many economists predict the RBA will begin raising rates later this year.

Commodities Update:

Oil prices remained volatile throughout March, influenced by the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Brent crude oil closed the month at around US$102 per barrel. This presents both opportunities and challenges for Australian resource-heavy sectors.

The Australian Dollar (AUD):

The AUD ended March slightly lower against the US dollar (USD), trading at around US$0.72. This could potentially benefit Australian exporters by making their products more competitive in the global market.

Looking Ahead:

While March started cautiously, the Australian market appears to be weathering global uncertainties relatively well. However, several key factors will continue to influence markets in the coming months:

  • Central bank policy decisions: The RBA's next meeting in May will be closely watched for any indication of a potential rate hike.

  • Geopolitical developments: The ongoing conflict in Ukraine remains a major source of uncertainty.

  • Earnings season: Company earnings reports in April and May could provide direction for the market.

For Australian investors:

It's important to maintain a diversified portfolio and a long-term perspective. Consider these factors when reviewing your investment strategy:

  • Risk tolerance: How comfortable are you with market fluctuations?

  • Investment goals: Are you saving for retirement, a house deposit, or another goal?

  • Time horizon: When will you need access to your funds?

Disclaimer: This is general information only and does not constitute financial advice. Please consult a licensed financial advisor before making any investment decisions.

The program supports innovative small and medium enterprises undertaking commercialisation and/or growth projects within the National Reconstruction Fund priority areas through advisory services and opportunities for matched grant funding. Minor changes or improvements to existing products or services are not considered innovative.

Application detail:

You can apply at any time.

What do you get?

You will be connected to an Industry Growth Program Adviser who will provide tailored advice to support your commercialisation and/or growth project.

Once you have received this advice, you may also be able to apply for:

  • grants of $50,000 to $250,000 to support early-stage commercialisation projects

  • grants of $100,000 to $5 million for commercialisation and growth projects.

Who is this for?

Innovative small and medium enterprises with commercialisation and/or growth projects in one or more of the National Reconstruction Fund priority areas.


The Industry Growth Program aims to support innovative small and medium businesses undertaking commercialisation and/or growth projects that align with government priorities to build Australian manufacturing capabilities and within priority areas for the National Reconstruction Fund. The program supports innovative small and medium enterprises undertaking commercialisation and/or growth projects through advisory services and opportunities for matched grant funding.

Under the program:

  • An innovative product, process or service: Minor changes or improvements to existing products or services are not considered innovative.

  • is new, unique or significantly different to any other previous product, process or service in the market or industry where the product is intended to be sold/traded; or

  • involves significant enhancements or developments of current products, processes or services that will enable the business to scale and transform.

  • Early-stage commercialisation projects are intended to include the journey from feasibility studies and the development of proof-of-concept through to the production and testing of early prototypes in a simulated or theoretical environment. Testing should validate the commercial viability of the innovative product, process or service. Various scales are typically referenced to demonstrate technology readiness or market readiness, with one example commonly referenced being Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs). As a guide, early-stage commercialisation grant projects are intended to broadly include the journey through TRL3 to TRL6.

  • Commercialisation and growth projects are intended to include those that can already demonstrate completion of feasibility studies and proof-of-concept. Projects are intended to include the journey of product, process or service development from early prototyping through to actual application in its final form, and the capability to scale up to full rate production and grow into new markets. Various scales are typically referenced to demonstrate technology readiness or market readiness, with one example commonly referenced being Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs). As a guide, commercialisation and growth grant projects are intended to broadly include the journey through TRL4 to TRL9.

The program targets businesses beginning to, or with capacity to, scale as described above but does not include routine business growth or application of existing innovations.

Participating businesses may also apply for matched grant funding to undertake commercialisation and/or growth projects.

The program will complement the NRF’s mission to drive investment in projects that develop Australia’s industrial and manufacturing capability, helping to transform Australia’s industry and economy.

The government's priority areas targeted by this program are:

  1. value-add in resources

  2. value-add in agriculture, forestry and fisheries

  3. transport

  4. medical science

  5. renewables and low emissions technologies

  6. defence capability

  7. enabling capabilities.

Advisory Service

The program’s Advisory Service provides eligible, innovative SMEs with access to advice and support to help commercialise ideas and/or grow their business operations.

You will be connected to an Industry Growth Program Adviser (Adviser) who will work with you to develop recommendations and a plan for commercialisation and/or growth.

Advice will be tailored to your business and may include:

  • commercialisation and growth strategies, including business model validation

  • funding avenues, potential investors and capital raising

  • building networks and establishing collaborative partnerships

  • commercialisation of intellectual property

  • market testing

  • development of compelling value propositions.

During your service period, your Adviser will provide you with a report outlining opportunities, recommendations and a plan for your business.


Advisers are business experts who have walked in your shoes. They provide independent and objective business expertise. They are located across Australia.

Check if you can apply

You can apply if you meet the eligibility criteria. The eligibility criteria are a set of rules that describe who we can consider for the Advisory Service. You can apply if you:

  • are an eligible entity

  • have an eligible innovative product, process or service in one or more of the NRF priority areas.

The rules are in the program information guide.

Eligible entities

Innovative product, process or service.

How to apply

You can apply at any time during the life of the program.

The application must be completed by an authorised representative of your business.

Before applying for the Advisory Service you should read and understand the program information guide.

When you're ready to apply

You must submit your application through the online portal. You will need to set up an account when you first log into the portal. The portal allows you to apply for and manage a grant or service in a secure online environment.

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Run a Smarter Business: Benchmark Your Success!

Ever wonder how your small business stacks up against the competition? The ATO's updated 2021-2022 Small Business Benchmarks can help!

What are Benchmarks?

These benchmarks act as a measuring stick, allowing you to compare your business's key metrics (like turnover and expenses) to similar businesses in your industry.

Let's see how it works!

Imagine Deb, a sole trader running a pizza shop. Deb wants to track her performance against other pizza shops and identify areas for improvement.

Enter the ATO App:

Deb uses the ATO app's Business performance check tool to see the average cost of sales to turnover ratio for pizza shops. She discovers her costs fall within the higher end of the range.

Taking Action:

Armed with this knowledge, Deb analyses her main supply costs and negotiates better deals. This helps her reduce expenses and boost profits.

Ready to Benchmark Your Business?

Find out how your business is performing compared to others in your industry! Get started by:

  1. Accessing the ATO's Benchmarks: Visit the ATO website to download the latest benchmarks.

  2. Calculate Your Performance: Use the ATO App's Business performance check tool to analyse your key metrics.

  3. Compare and Improve: See how you stack up and identify opportunities to improve your business!

Bonus Tip: Check out the ATO's "Compare Your Performance" link below for a step-by-step guide!

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FREE Webinar Tuesday, 9 April 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM AEST

Disruption has become the new 'norm'. We witnessed restaurants during Covid quickly adapting to survive by implementing take-away menus and home delivery and online ordering and payment. The best strategic planning a business can undertake is to try and create a business model that can handle disruption. Small business owners have historically been resilient people; however, resilience must now be built into the business model. This FREE webinar provides some simple and effective tips.

Presenter: Jessica Vlaskic - a seasoned Business Advisor in NSW with over 15 years of diverse experience, specialises in strategic management, compliance, and stakeholder engagement. Her career encompasses roles in recruitment, HR, construction, retail, and local government. 

Moderator: Greg Bowers.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Identify your revenue streams and explore diversification to mitigate risk.

  2. Identify a minimum/skeleton staff structure for your business to operate.

  3. Identify your monthly fixed costs should disruption occur, and revenue diminish.

Learning Outcomes:

  1. A refreshed business plan designed to handle disruption.

  2. Ensuring staff are cross-trained and multi-skilled so they can step into various key roles as required.

  3. Identifying what business functions can be automated and/or facilitated online.

This Webinar will take place on Zoom. Click BOOK EVENT to register. You will receive the Zoom link in an email from Enterprise Plus prior to the Webinar.

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We always like to support our locals!  Here are some community events happening this month (in date order).

Emergency Services Community Connect date is Saturday, 6 April 2024 | 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM

Bring the family to meet your emergency response community at this free action-packed day, while enjoying the Brunswick Heads Markets. 

Meet your local emergency response members, check out the equipment used in an emergency, learn how to plan for a disaster and enjoy demonstrations and activities for the kids.

  • Meet local members of the SES, NSW Police, NSW Ambulance, NSW Rural Fire Service, Marine Rescue NSW and more.

  • Get up close to emergency response vehicles, all-terrain vehicles, and other high-tech disaster response equipment.

  • Learn how you can best prepare and plan for disaster events to improve your individual and community resilience.

  • Enjoy the markets, demonstrations, and activities for the kids.

Location:  Banner Park, Park Street, Brunswick Heads

Learn how to set up and maintain compost date is Saturday, 6 April 2024 | 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM

Come along to the Re-Market Tip Shop at Myocum and join North East Waste to learn how to set up and maintain a compost.

Take home a free bag of mulch and get $15 off compost bins and worm farms.

Register your name and number by emailing

Location:  The Re-Market (tip shop), 115 The Manse Road, Myocum

Byron Bay Community Market next date is Sunday, 7 April 2024 | 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM

The Byron Bay Community Market hosts an eclectic collection of market stalls that showcase what Byron has to offer.

The market is held from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm on the 1st Sunday of every month.

Road closures and traffic changes on market day

  • Jonson Street is closed to traffic at the corner of Byron and Marvel Streets from 5am to 5pm.

  • Traffic is diverted via Fletcher Street.

  • The Lawson Street South carpark is closed from 5am to 5pm.

  • There may be traffic delays are on Lawson Street between the Shirley Street and Jonson Street roundabouts between 6am to 8am and 3pm to 5.30pm.

  • The railway carpark is open under traffic control via the laneway on Jonson Street.

  • Traffic controllers will be in place on market day. 

Location: Byron Bay CBD, Railway Park, Jonson Street, Byron Bay

Council ordinary meeting next date is Thursday,18 April 2024 | 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM

Council meetings are held in the Chambers. 

Go to How to join the meeting for ways you can participate in the meeting. 

A livestream is available to watch online. 

Questions about the meeting?

Location: Council Chambers, 70 Station Street, Mullumbimby

Mullumbimby Community Market next date is Saturday, 20 April 2024 | 8:00 AM to 2:00 PM

The Mullumbimby Community Market is held on the third Saturday of each month from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm.

Location: Corner of Stuarts and Myocum Streets, Mullumbimby

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If you wish to arrange a telephone appointment or zoom meeting with one of our team please contact our office either by telephone or email.

Key lodgment and payment dates for business

21 April
Activity statements
March monthly activity statements – final date for lodgment and payment.Quarter 3 (January–March) PAYG instalment activity statement for head companies of consolidated groups – final date for lodgment and payment.
28 April
Activity statements
Quarter 3 (January–March) activity statements – final date for lodgment and payment.PAYG instalmentsQuarter 3 (January–March) instalment notices (forms R and T) – final date for payment and, if varying the instalment amount, lodgment.GST instalmentsQuarter 3 (January–March) instalment notices (forms S and T) – final date for payment and, if varying the instalment amount, lodgment.SuperannuationDue date for super guarantee (SG) contributions, for quarter 3, (January–March).Quarter 3 (January–March) SG contributions are to be received by the superfund by this date – you need to allow sufficient time for SG payments to reach and be processed by your superfund, especially if using a SG clearing house.If you do not pay minimum SG contributions for quarter 3 in full and by this date, you must pay the super guarantee charge (SGC) and lodge a SGC statement with the ATO by 28 May.It's important to note, SGC is more than the SG you would have normally paid and is not tax deductible.
30 April
TFN report
Quarter 3 (January–March) TFN report for closely held trusts for TFNs quoted to a trustee by beneficiaries – final date for lodgment.


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