Tote and Bar Open on its past super liabilities.

In Response to the ABC News On-line article by Matilda Marozzi 9th August 2021. No Tote or Bar Open staff or ex staff are or will get “short changed” or “stooged” of their super entitlements. The use of such language is unnecessarily inflammatory.

The situation is that we are carrying some (managed) liabilities including a period of overdue super payments. However:

  • All due super amounts have been self-reported to the ATO in August 2020 and a formal ATO-managed repayment arrangement is in place.
  • These repayments are up to date as are the current super entitlements of all staff.
  • The super liability is recorded on all corporate balance sheets submitted in company tax returns to the ATO.

All affected staff are aware of the formal ATO arrangement. Every effort is being made to service the overdue super payments in the shortest time possible.

• No profits have been distributed to shareholders, to the directors, share holdings or anyone else, ahead of any super liabilities.

Both Seventh Tipple and BarJAS are currently liquid and solvent.

All super liabilities are guaranteed against the business asset base.

All affected staff have received personal apologies for this unfortunate situation.

Everything humanly possible is being done to correct the historical window in which our super payments fell behind. It is now, however, in a manageable space. If the situation allows, we will the payout super arrears ahead of time1.

The company’s initial plan to address this situation was derailed by the pandemic. A new ATO-managed plan agreed by consensus between staff and management has been in place for a year now. For the sake of clarity, we reiterate that no one has pocketed due super funds. This is a situation shared by many businesses where super payments run behind because of unexpected cashflow variations such as the challengers presented by the pandemic lockdowns and density restrictions. A situation we deeply regret.

However, the article doesn’t adequately distinguish between the extremes of the spectrum of problematic super administration within the hospitality industry. At one end, there are many businesses which pay cash, pocket super deductions (graft) and deliberately fail to declare super liabilities; and on the other end, there are businesses like ours that have fallen out of compliance terms but have formally addressed the situation, in dialogue with the staff and actively worked with the regulator to resolve the situation. Both contexts can describe super as “unpaid” however, there is a massive gulf between graft on one hand and, ensuring that all super arrears are accounted for, backed by both the business assets and the Commonwealth, and ensuring that the super arrears are financially repaid over time. The failure to make this distinction by the author unfairly attacks our business and gratuitously damages our reputations.

Like many businesses right now, our venues are under extreme financial pressure due to the challenges posed by the pandemic, and many like us in the live music and hospitality business, are struggling to hold on. We will continue staging as many bands as possible, supporting the original diverse voices of the Australian contemporary live music scene and all the jobs and musicians that this supports. We do our best to navigate the challenges and continue to catch up on the super liabilities.

Jon and Sam

Article Link melbourne-music-venues/100348276

1 As a side note, crowdfunding and grants can’t be used for this purpose.