E-tax on rise… Carbon reduction scheme takes off… Business travel hook-up service… Boomers hang on to ‘youth’… ‘Food mile’ ratings will hurt Aussie exports?

E-tax on the rise

More than 1.6 million tax payers used e-tax, the free online lodgement service to lodge their 2005-06 tax return — an increase of 18% on the previous year. Downloading information directly from the tax office and other third parties straight into tax returns also increased.

Transactions online from tax payers showed that in 2006:

  • 80,000 downloaded their bank interest details.
  • 22,000 people downloaded information.
  • 100,000 people downloaded of pocket medical expenses.
  • 7500 downloaded information on their managed funds.

This year users will be able to download more information, including bank interest from 20 banks, dividend information from share registries and some pension information.


Carbon trading

Businesses are increasingly demanding a way to reduce their environmental impact. Origin Energy has responded. Tomorrow it will introduce its Carbon Reduction Scheme, which aims to provide businesses with a standard method of buying and selling verified carbon offsets, reports theage.com.au.

The AFL plans to neutralise the 120,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases generated each year from lighting its night games, air travel and other football activities. The country’s biggest bank, NAB, aims to offset all its annual carbon emissions in three years. More than 150,000 of Origin customers have already switched to green power from renewable energy.

The scheme has already lined up participating businesses including NAB, Insurance Group Australia, Intrepid Travel, Transurban and STA Travel, with Origin planning to serve as a broker.


Making business travel a little less lonely

Here’s an online social networking service for business travelers. PairUp matches business travellers headed to any destination for business, reports Springwise.

Members upload their current contacts from Outlook or whatever contact management tool they use, and can build their network from there. When planning a trip, users enter their travel data: departure and arrival dates and cities, and if relevant, the trade show or conference they’ll be attending.

They can then select the contacts they’d like to track or meet up with: people in the destination city at the same time, those attending the same event, flying on the same day, or working for a specific company or in a particular industry.

For example, if a member is flying to Houston in the US, PairUp will display people that he or she might want to meet face-to-face. Either existing contacts that will be in the city at the same time, or people who work in the same industry or are attending the same event.

PairUp also makes it easy to share travel plans with colleagues and coordinate meetings with new contacts. A memory-jogging trip history feature keeps tabs on past business trips, meetings and contacts made at trade shows, conferences, etc.

PairUp will need to get lots of members quickly to work. It’s offering services to events organisers to get started. Will grown-up social networking work?


Boomers search for eternal youth

There are now about four million baby boomers in Australia, and many are trying to avert the effects of ageing, reports The Australian Financial Review. They don’t want to spend their latter years nursing disabilities so alternative medicine, vitamin supplements and other health-related products and services are becoming increasingly popular.

The $1 billion supplements market has had double-digit growth every year for the past five years, and the bulk of that growth has come from the 35 to 54-year-old group.

Sales of arthritis formulations have doubled in five years and are now worth $132 million. Slightly slower growth has been recorded for osteoporosis supplements, worth $37 million, and heart health formulations at $33 million. Of eight new products launched by Blackmores in the past year, five were aimed at the middle-aged.


Has your food done the long haul?

Australia’s isolation from consumers in the northern hemisphere could create problems for our farmers if the concept of “food miles” catches on.

Green groups in Europe are arguing that the further food has to travel to market, the greater the cost to the environment from carbon emissions. The Age reports that supermarket chain Tesco in Britain is already considering labels on its food items that declare the carbon emissions related to their production and transportation.

However, it may be a misleading label because other efficiencies could counter-balance the higher carbon impact of the long journey to market.


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