• Government seeks urgent clarification on Chinese ban of Australian coal imports

    Officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) are seeking urgent clarification from China regarding reports of a ban on Australian coal. It was reported yesterday that imports of Australian coal had been banned in China’s northern port of Dalian, and that coal imports from all sources would be capped at 12 million tonnes for 2019, according to a customs official. It is now being reported that a total of five northeastern Chinese ... ► Read more

  • Kazakh President fires government

    Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev fired the Government on Thursday (local time) over what he described as its failure to improve living standards and make positive changes in the country. “In many areas of the economy, despite the adoption of many laws and government decisions, positive changes have not been achieved,” the President said. Mr Nazarbayev wrote on the presidential website that he will soon propose “a range of measures to strengthen social welfare and raise ... ► Read more

  • British Labour MPs quit party over Brexit and anti-semitism

    Seven British Labour MPs have quit the party and formed a group of independents, citing Labour’s Brexit policy and failure to address anti-semitism among its membership as the reasons for the split. “Politics is broken, it doesn’t have to be this way, let’s change it,” said MP Chuka Umunna at the launch of the Independent Group. Despite comparisons with the “Gang of Four”, who left Labour in 1981 to form the Social Democratic Party and ... ► Read more

  • Brexit: embarrassment as MPs vote against Government’s negotiating strategy

    British Prime Minister Theresa May has suffered an embarrassing defeat in the House of Commons, with MPs refusing to endorse the Government’s Brexit negotiating strategy. MPs voted 303 to 258 against a non-binding motion to endorse the Prime Minister’s approach to the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union. Downing Street confirmed that Ms May will maintain her current approach to the negotiations, which include seeking legally-binding changes to controversial provisions relating to the UK’s ... ► Read more

  • Airbus to cease A380 production in 2021

    Airbus’ superjumbo A380 will stop being made in 2021 amid a sales slump brought on by airlines opting for smaller, more fuel-efficient aircrafts. The A380 is the world’s largest passenger jet with a capacity of over 500 seats. After a decade of manufacturing it, Airbus announced in a statement that key client Emirates is cutting back its orders for the plane, and as a result “we have no substantial A380 backlog and hence no basis ... ► Read more

  • British Government admits it has “run out of time” to find ships to bring in extra supplies after no-deal Brexit

    British Government officials have admitted that they have “run out of time” to find ships to bring in additional emergency supplies in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The admission comes after the Government cancelled a contract with Seaborne Freight to operate additional roll-on-roll-off ferry services between Ramsgate in England and Ostend in Belgium. The contract was signed in response to fears of reduced capacity at Calais — the busiest port on the English Channel. ... ► Read more

  • PM announces reopening of Christmas Island detention facility

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison today announced that the Government will reopen the Christmas Island immigration detention facility, following the Government’s defeat on medical treatment for refugees yesterday. The Prime Minister said the facility will be reopened in anticipation of an influx of asylum seeker boats. “We have approved putting in place the reopening of the Christmas Island detention facilities, both to deal with the prospect of arrivals as well as dealing with the prospect of ... ► Read more

  • Russia plans temporary Internet cut-off in “sovereign Internet” test

    Russia is planning to temporarily disconnect from the global Internet as part of a test of its cyber-defences. The test is to determine whether Russia has the technical capability to maintain a “sovereign Internet”, with a draft law introduced to the Russian Parliament last year calling for a domestic network that is able to operate independently. During the test, data being transmitted between Russian devices will stay within the country rather than be routed internationally. ... ► Read more

  • Byron Bay Bluesfest director threatens to move festival interstate

    Peter Noble, the director of the iconic Byron Bay Bluesfest, has threatened to move the festival out of New South Wales, claiming new State Government guidelines are threatening the viability of the event. Mr Noble said strict licensing and safety guidelines could cost organisers hundreds of thousands of dollars. “We are the industry professionals, we are the people that are presenting events at the highest levels,” Mr Noble said. “Bluesfest has just been inducted into ... ► Read more

  • Corruption trial of former Malaysian PM postponed

    The corruption trial of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has been postponed, after his lawyers filed an application to delay the trial. Mr Najib has been charged over his alleged involvement in the 1MDB state development fund scandal, in which more than US $4.5 billion of public money was embezzled. He is accused of receiving almost a quarter of 1MDB’s funds into his personal bank accounts, and faces 42 charges of corruption, money laundering ... ► Read more

  • Australia signs $50 billion Attack-class submarine contract

    Australian officials will today sign a $50 billion contract for the construction of 12 Attack-class submarines. At a meeting in Canberra, representatives of the Australian Government will sign the Strategic Partnering Agreement with French arms manufacturer Naval Group, in which the French Government is the majority shareholder. Construction has already begun on the first submarine in the class — HMAS Attack — but the Strategic Partnering Agreement will govern its completion and the production of 11 ... ► Read more

  • EU Parliament Brexit rep welcomes Corbyn’s new exit plan

    The European Parliament’s Brexit representative, Guy Verhofstadt, has welcomed Jeremy Corbyn’s new plan for Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union. The British Labour opposition leader wrote to Prime Minister Theresa May and called for a “permanent and comprehensive UK-wide customs union”, close alignment with the single market underpinned by “shares institutions”, protections on workers’ rights, and British participation in some EU agencies. In January the British Parliament rejected Ms May’s proposed withdrawal agreement, which would ... ► Read more

  • Skilled migrants fast-tracked for regional Australia under $19 million plan

    Skilled migrants willing to settle in regional Australia will have their visa fast-tracked under a $19.4 million government plan. On Friday, Immigration Minister David Coleman announced that the Federal Government will provide $19.4 million in funding over the next four years to support regional areas to attract skilled migrants. Skilled migrants wanting to live and work in regional areas will have access to priority processing on their visa applications, and officials from the Department of ... ► Read more

  • NAB investors confident in interim CEO Phil Chronican

    Investors of the National Australia Bank are confident that the bank’s recently-appointed interim CEO, Phil Chronican, is the right person for the job. Mr Chronican will step into the role from 1 March 2019, after Andrew Thorburn announced he will vacate the position at the end of February as a consequence of the Banking Royal Commission report that criticised him personally. Investors told the ABC that Mr Chronican is a “trusted executive” and “proven performer”, ... ► Read more

  • “Special place in hell” for Brexit promoters with no exit plan, says EU chief negotiator

    European Council President Donald Tusk has said that there is a “special place in hell” for those who promoted the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union without having a plan to carry it out. During a press conference with Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadker, Mr Tusk said they had discussed how to respond to the “possible fiasco” of a no-deal Brexit, under which the EU-UK relationship would end with no agreement on their ... ► Read more

  • Super Bowl 2019: did you catch the game within the game?

    It’s that time for the year again to dissect the NFL extravaganza — the Super Bowl of 2019. For the record, the Patriots beat the Rams in a dour defensive display. But this article isn’t about the game or the much debated halftime performance by Maroon 5. The real game is played in the ad breaks, or at least that’s what ad executives think. Companies spend just over $US5 million ($AU7 million) for a 30 second ... ► Read more

  • CEO Andrew Thorburn unsure of future at NAB

    National Australia Bank CEO Andrew Thorburn may be out of a job by Friday, admitting that his future at the bank is uncertain. Mr Thorburn was one of a handful of individuals specifically criticised in the final report of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry, which was publicly released on Monday. “I can’t confirm that,” Mr Thorburn told ABC’s The Business programme when asked about whether he will remain as ... ► Read more

  • Foreign Minister begins tour of the Pacific

    Foreign Minister Senator Marise Payne began a tour of the Pacific with a visit to Solomon Islands yesterday. Senator Payne met with Solomon Islands caretaker Prime Minister Rick Hou “to discuss Australia’s Pacific initiatives and step-up in the region, as well as the upcoming [Solomon Islands] election”, she tweeted. The Foreign Minister joined Prime Minister Hou at a ground-breaking ceremony in the country’s capital Honiara to mark the next phase of the Coral Sea cable ... ► Read more

  • No hard Irish border, vows Theresa May

    British Prime Minister Theresa May has vowed that there will be no hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland after the United Kingdom leaves the European Union. “[I] affirm my commitment to delivering a Brexit that ensures no return to a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland — which is unshakable,” she told an audience of business leaders in the Northern Irish capital Belfast on Tuesday (local time). Last month British ... ► Read more

  • NZ Trade Minister visits Adelaide for talks

    New Zealand Trade Minister David Parker will land in Adelaide on Wednesday to discuss further integration of the Australian and New Zealand economies. Mr Parker will meet with Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham and Labor’s trade spokesman Jason Clare. “We will discuss the trade outlook for 2019, including the World Trade Organisation, Brexit, the CPTPP and other issues affecting the Asia-Pacific region such as progress on Pacer Plus and how we can work together,” Mr ... ► Read more

  • Report: extreme weather cost insurers $1.2 billion in 2018

    A report by the Climate Council found Australian insurance companies paid out at least $1.2 billion in claims because of damage caused by extreme weather events in 2018. The report identified an increase in the severity and frequency of extreme weather, noting that the past four years have been the hottest on record in terms of global surface temperatures. The report’s key findings are: The past four years have been the four hottest on record ... ► Read more

  • NAB CEO cancels long-service leave in wake of scathing Banking Royal Commission report

    Andrew Thorburn, CEO of the National Australia Bank (NAB), has cancelled his planned long-service leave to deal with fallout from the Banking Royal Commission, which directly criticised both him and NAB chairperson Dr Ken Henry. Although he initially defended the decision to take long-service leave, Mr Thorburn cancelled his planned break today. “I am committed, I am determined, I believe in what we’re doing,” he said. “I believe a leader should be resilient. I cancelled ... ► Read more

  • Political parties respond to the Banking Royal Commission

    Australia’s major political parties have begun to respond to the 76 recommendations of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry. The release of the report on Monday afternoon comes with just five Senate sitting days remaining before the next federal election, and it is unlikely — if not impossible — that the required legislation can be prepared in time for this Parliament to pass it. As a result, how ... ► Read more

  • “Unnecessary distrations”: Draft letter reveals big four’s influence on Banking Royal Commission

    It is a revelation that underscores the close relationship between the major banks and the Government. When the heads of the big four banks wrote to the Federal Government, reluctantly calling for a royal commission into their industry, they asked the Treasurer to vet a draft of their letter, documents released under Freedom of Information have revealed. National Australia Bank chairman Dr Ken Henry — a former Treasury secretary — sent an email to the ... ► Read more

  • ASX tipped to rise despite Banking Royal Commission report

    The final report from the Banking Royal Commission looks set to have little bearing on market performances, with Australian shares tipped to rise. Analysts say the recommendations were not as severe as many in the financial sector had initially feared. “The much anticipated release of the royal commission final report was disappointing, in our view,” UBS banking analyst Jonathan Mott said. “There was much discussion around misconduct within the banks and the need to change ... ► Read more

  • Frydenberg: Government will “take action” on all Banking Royal Commission recommendations

    The Federal Government will “take action” on all 76 recommendations of the Banking Royal Commission, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has announced. Commissioner Kenneth Hayne’s three-volume report on misconduct in the banking, superannuation and financial services industry was tabled in Parliament and publicly released on Monday, with the Government providing its response in the afternoon. “From today, the banking sector must change and change forever,” Mr Frydenberg told reporters. “My message to the financial sector today is ... ► Read more

  • Taxpayers may face future liabilities over Opal Tower

    Taxpayers may foot the bill for future liabilities flowing from the Opal Tower controversy, because a state government agency retained ownership of at least 43 units within the Sydney Olympic Park development. Cracks within the 34-storey apartment building appeared on Christmas Eve, resulting in dispute over responsibility between developer Ecove and building firm Icon Construction. However, NSW taxpayers may bear the costs of rectifying the building and compensating owners for losses because the Sydney Olympic ... ► Read more

  • Theresa May to seek “pragmatic solution” to post-Brexit Northern Ireland border arrangements

    British Prime Minister Theresa May said she will seek a “pragmatic solution” to securing Parliament’s support when she reopens negotiations with the European Union ahead of the scheduled 29 March exit date. Last week the British Parliament rejected the Government’s proposed withdrawal agreement and told Ms May to seek alternative arrangements regarding the controversial Northern Ireland backstop. The Northern Ireland backstop, which is a fallback provision intended to maintain the open border between Northern Ireland ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 27 January – 2 February 2019

    Sydney light rail: NSW may pay over $600 million extra in dispute settlement with Acciona The New South Wales Government could pay Acciona — the Spanish company contracted to build Sydney’s $2 billion light rail — more than $600 million in a dispute settlement. See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. 2019 election: Julia Banks to challenge Greg Hunt for Flinders Liberal MP-turned-independent Julia Banks will contest the seat of Flinders in the upcoming general ... ► Read more

  • Brexit may need “extra time”, says British Foreign Secretary

    British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said that “extra time” may be needed to avoid the United Kingdom leaving the European Union on 29 March without an exit agreement. Mr Hunt said that Brexit may be delayed if progress is not made in the weeks ahead of the 29 March deadline. “It is true that if we ended up approving the deal in the days before the 29 March, then we might need some extra ... ► Read more

  • Federal and State Governments reject Murray-Darling Royal Commission recommendations

    The Federal, New South Wales and Victorian Governments remain firmly in support of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, despite a South Australian Royal Commission finding the plan is based on politics rather than science and recommending it be completely overhauled. Released yesterday, the report of the Murray-Darling Basin Royal Commission found the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) had acted unlawfully and negligently, and committed maladministration in its approach to developing the plan to sustainably manage the river ... ► Read more

  • Royal Commission: Murray-Darling officials committed “gross maladministration” and acted unlawfully

    The Murray-Darling Basin Royal Commission, set up by the Governor of South Australia, has found that Commonwealth officials committed gross maladministration, negligence and unlawful actions in preparing the Basin Plan to save the river system. Headed by Commissioner Bret Walker SC, the Royal Commission has recommended major reforms, including resetting water saving limits, repealing the outcome of the Northern Basin Review, and new measurements for water on floodplains. The Commission found that the Basin Plan ... ► Read more

  • “For the sake of Venezuela’s peace and its future”: Maduro open to mediated talks

    Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has expressed readiness to hold negotiations with the American-backed opposition in the presence of international mediators, while accusing the United States of ordering his assassination. The beleaguered leader, who previously rejected calls for talks, told Russia’s state-owned RIA Novosti news agency on Wednesday (local time) he changed his stance “for the sake of Venezuela’s peace and its future”. Mr Maduro said the talks could be held with the mediation of other ... ► Read more

  • Morrison to promise 1.25 million new jobs if Coalition re-elected

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison has pledged 1.25 million new jobs if his government is re-elected in this year’s general election. The Prime Minister told the ABC that the jobs will be full-time. “That’s been our record over the last five years, we promised one million jobs going into the 2013 election, Labor and others scoffed at that, said it couldn’t be done — and we did it,” he said. He argued the economy would be ... ► Read more

  • US announces criminal charges against tech giant Huawei

    The United States officially announced on Monday (local time) that it has laid 13 criminal charges against China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, several of its subsidiaries, and its Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Meng Wanzhou. The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has charged Huawei and Ms Meng with conspiring to violate US sanctions on Iran by using a subsidiary company to do business with Tehran. Ms Meng has denied allegations that she played a lead role ... ► Read more

  • Deloitte: China is Australia’s biggest economic risk

    An economic forecaster says China, not the local housing market downturn, could be the major swing factor for Australia’s economy in the year ahead. In its outlook for the year ahead, Deloitte Access Economics forecasts a “still growing, but slowing” scenario for the global and national economies. The business outlook report flags that global economic growth “may be pegged back to rather more pedestrian rates through the course of 2019 and 2020”, as the impact ... ► Read more

  • US sanctions Venezuelan state-owned oil firm, urges military accept peaceful power transition

    The United States has imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s state-owned oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) as tensions between Caracas and the West continue to worsen. During a joint White House press conference with Treasurer Steven Mnuchin, National Security Adviser John Bolton announced the sanctions on the oil firm, which exports 41% of its products to the US. “We have continued to expose the corruption of [Nicolas] Maduro and his cronies and today’s action ensures that ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 20 January – 26 January 2019

    Brexit delay looks likely ahead of Downing Steet’s new proposal Suggestions that Britain’s departure from the European Union could be delayed are indicating Prime Minister Theresa May is set for yet another Brexit defeat. See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. US Supreme Court lifts injunctions on transgender military service ban On Tuesday, the Unites States’ highest court lifted two temporary injunctions that had prevented the Trump administration from enforcing its ban on transgender individuals ... ► Read more

  • AMP set for 96% drop in full-year profit

    AMP has flagged a 96% drop in full-year profit and a drastically smaller final dividend after confirming it will set aside another $200 million to cover the cost of customer remediation related to issues heard at the banking royal commission. The wealth manager expects net profit attributable to shareholders for the 12 months to December 31 of about $30 million, it said in a statement on Friday. That compares to $848 million in 2017. The ... ► Read more

  • Sir David Attenborough: climate change crisis “difficult to overstate”

    Sir David Attenborough has told Prince William that people have never been more “out of touch” with the natural world than they are today. In an interview with the Duke of Cambridge at the World Economic Forum, the naturalist warned: “We can wreck it with ease, we can wreck it without even noticing.” Sir Attenborough said people must care, respect and revere the natural world. Heeding his words, Prince William said: “Work to save the ... ► Read more

  • Sir David Attenborough calls for global environmental plan

    Sir David Attenborough used an acceptance speech at the World Economic Forum (WEF) to tell business leaders and governments that “the Garden of Eden is no more”, urging them to come up with “practical solutions” to address environmental problems such as climate change. “If people can truly understand what is at stake, I believe they will give permission to business and governments to get on with the practical solutions,” he said. “As a species, we ... ► Read more

  • IMF report shows global economy slowing

    Global economic growth is continuing to slow as trade tensions between the US and China continue to spook investors, consumers and central banks. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) slightly lowered its growth forecasts from 3.7% in 2018 to 3.5% in 2019 after a noticeable weakening in financial market sentiment. “Risks to global growth tilt to the downside. An escalation in trade tensions beyond those already incorporated into the forecast remains a key source of risk ... ► Read more

  • Private trusts costing billions in tax revenue, claims report

    Private trusts are being used to avoid paying potentially billions in tax, according to a report by RMIT University that was commissioned by the Australian Tax Office (ATO). The report, titled “Current Issues with Trusts and the Tax System”, said that income from trusts was more than $340 billion in 2013–14, but the current method of monitoring and taxing trusts is out-of-date compared to other countries. “The largest part of the tax office’s information about trusts comes through voluntary lodgement of trust ... ► Read more

  • Morrison’s Pacific trip needs to be more than a one-off

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison has kicked off the new year by visiting our Pacific neighbours Vanuatu and Fiji in a bid to bolster relations. It is undeniable that China’s growing influence in the region is at the core of this highly unusual trip. China’s expansion in the Pacific is unnerving to say the least, and the last prime ministerial visits to Vanuatu and Fiji were in 1990 and 2006 respectively, both of which were to ... ► Read more

  • Fijian workers able to work on Australian farms under expanded Pacific Labour Scheme

    Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison will today announce that Fijian workers will be able to work on Australian farms under the expanded Pacific Labour Scheme. “We will work with Fiji to help them access the Pacific Labour Scheme this year, boosting both economies while helping Australian farmers,” Mr Morrison said ahead of his visit. Under the expanded scheme, workers from certain Pacific countries are able to work in rural and regional Australia for up to ... ► Read more

  • Pelosi urges Trump to postpone State of the Union address

    Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, has suggested to President Donald Trump that his annual State of the Union address to Congress be postponed until after the current government shutdown ends. “Sadly, given the security concerns and unless government re-opens this week, I suggest that we work to determine another suitable date after government has re-opened for this address, or for you to consider delivering your State of the Union ... ► Read more

  • Delaying Brexit would be “catastrophic” for democracy, says Theresa May.

    British Prime Minister Theresa May has warned MPs that blocking Brexit would be “catastrophic” for democracy, just days before Parliament is expected to reject her agreement with Brussels on the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union. The Prime Minister postponed a parliamentary vote on the agreement in December due to fears the deal would be voted down by MPs, and ahead of the vote on 15 January she has told MPs that they must ... ► Read more

  • Trump reaffirms threat to declare national emergency on visit to Mexican border

    United States President Donald Trump reaffirmed his threat to declare a national emergency to fund a wall on the country’s border with Mexico if Congress does not grant him the funds he requested. “I have the absolute right to declare a national emergency,” Mr Trump told reporters during a visit to a border patrol station in McAllen, Texas on Thursday (local time). Flanked by border officers and relatives of people killed by illegal immigrants, and ... ► Read more

  • Amendment shows UK Parliament won’t support a no-deal Brexit

    The British Parliament has passed an amendment restricting government revenue raising options through taxation in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The amendment to the Finance Bill passed by 303 to 296 votes and is seen by Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn as an “important step”. However, No 10 says it is “inconvenient rather than significant”. So, who is right? The short answer is both. It is true that the amendment’s practical significance is fairly minor. ... ► Read more

  • ASX set for a good day following foreign market gains

    Australian shares are tipped to climb again as global markets rally on trade talks between China and the US, which have entered a third day. The SPI200 futures contract was up 18 points, or 0.32% to 5,681.0 at 7:00am AEDT on Wednesday, hinting the benchmark ASX/200 will extend gains into a second session. Global markets are buoyant on hopes the United States and China will strike a deal to end a trade war that rocked ... ► Read more

  • Australian share market opens lower as Wall St plunges

    The local share market has opened lower following the negative lead of foreign markets. The Australian Dollar (AUD) rose slightly to 71.14 US cents at 8:10am (AEDT), on the back of a weaker greenback. The Nasdaq Composite was the worst-performing US index. It fell into a bear market, before clawing back some losses in the final trading hour. New York’s tech-heavy index has shed 19.5% since its late-August peak. Overnight, it tumbled 1.6% to 6,528, ... ► Read more

  • Gatwick Airport shut down after drone reports

    Sussex Police are considering shooting down a drone that has caused Gatwick Airport to close for more than 24 hours. The police have received about 50 reports of the device being flown near the international airport since Wednesday evening. Detective Chief Superintendent Jason Tingley said that although shooting down the drone was earlier dismissed, it is a “tactical option” that is being “continually reviewed”. It has been confirmed that the airport will remain closed on ... ► Read more

  • NSW hail storm a “catastrophe” says Insurance Council of Australia

    Last night Sydney was struck by a catastrophic hail storm that caused more than $20 million dollars in damage across the state, with 15,000 people having already lodged insurance claims. Multiple storm fronts converged on Sydney, Wollongong and the Hunter Valley on Thursday, prompting a severe weather warning from the Bureau of Meteorology. Hailstones, some the size of tennis balls, fell over Western Sydney, reducing to the size of golf balls when the storm reached ... ► Read more

  • British Government escalates preparations for a no-deal Brexit

    The British Government announced on Tuesday (local time) that it would escalate its preparations for a no-deal Brexit, under which the United Kingdom would leave the European Union without an agreement on their future relationship. Prime Minister Theresa May is under pressure from the British Parliament to expedite the vote on her draft withdrawal agreement, which she postponed to mid-January after realising she did not have enough support for it to pass. The Government is ... ► Read more

  • Theresa May and Tony Blair squabble over former PM’s call for second Brexit referendum

    British Prime Minister Theresa May has accused one of her predecessors, Tony Blair, of “undermining” Brexit negotiations by calling for a second referendum on whether the United Kingdom should leave the European Union. Mr Blair suggested last week that MPs could back the holding of another referendum if “none of the other options work”, referring to the uncertainty surrounding whether Parliament will support Ms May’s withdrawal agreement. Ms May responded, saying: “For Tony Blair to ... ► Read more

  • MYEFO: budget on track to return to surplus in 2019

    A surge in mining industry profits and tax revenue has boosted Commonwealth coffers and allowed the Federal Government to forecast a bigger-than-expected surplus next year. The Government has received $8.3 billion more than it expected in the first half of this financial year, thanks largely to greater collections of individual and company taxes. It now expects to deliver a $4.1 billion surplus in 2019-20. The Government Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) projects wage growth ... ► Read more

  • Analysis: Theresa May has won the battle, but certainly not the war

    While Theresa May has survived an attempt to remove her, there is at least a third of her party which does not have confidence in her leadership. The nature of Brexit is highly divisive and the hardline Brexiteers will not just disappear. Conservative backbencher Jacob Rees-Mogg, who led the calls for a no confidence vote, has already seized on the opportunity to take further shots at Ms May, calling the vote a “terrible result for ... ► Read more

  • Huawei CFO granted bail by Canadian court

    A court in Vancouver, Canada has granted bail to Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese electronics giant Huawei, while she awaits a hearing for extradition to the United States. The US alleges the 46-year-old daughter of the company’s founder misled multinational banks about transactions linked to Iran, putting those banks at risk of violating US sanctions against the Middle Eastern country. Justice William Ehrcke granted bail to Ms Meng, with a bond of ... ► Read more

  • Trump threatens government shutdown over border wall funding

    United States President Donald Trump has threatened to shut down the Government if Congress does not approve funding for his proposed wall on the US border with Mexico. During a heated exchange with senior Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer in the Oval Office on Tuesday (local time), the President said he would be “proud” to shut the Government down over border security. “If we don’t get what we want, one way or the other, ... ► Read more

  • Tory leadership challenge could be imminent as May’s Brexit negotiations stall

    British Prime Minister Theresa May could be ousted from the leadership of the Conservative Party, after she delayed a vote on her Brexit agreement due to fears Parliament would block it. The British press is widely reporting that the 48 letters calling for a vote of no confidence against Ms May have been received by the Chief Whip, and a vote on her leadership could come as early as Wednesday night (local time). Ms May ... ► Read more

  • Adelaide to be home of Australia’s new space agency

    Australia’s new space agency will be based in Adelaide, reinforcing South Australia as a hub for innovation and technology, Prime Minister Scott Morrison says. The PM says the Australian space sector is set to reach new heights and the agency will open doors for local businesses to access the $US345 billion ($AU478 billion) global space industry. “Our government’s $41 million investment into the agency will act as a launching pad to triple Australia’s space economy ... ► Read more

  • Macron announces wage rises and tax cuts to quell riots

    French President Emmanuel Macron has announced wage rises and tax cuts in an effort to quell anti-government riots. After several weekends of violent civil unrest, Mr Macron finally addressed the nation to respond to accusations that his government’s economic policies are harming the country’s poor. He announced a wage rise of €100 per month in 2019 for the country’s poorest workers, and tax cuts for pensioners, but refused to reinstate a wealth tax or to ... ► Read more

  • European markets tumble, Wall St. rebounds, AUD surges against the Pound

    Political turmoil in London has caused the Pound to plunge and European markets to tumble. British Prime Minister Theresa May called off a crucial vote on her Brexit deal so she can go back to Brussels and ask for changes to it. The benchmark Paris and Frankfurt indices lost 1.5% each, while London’s FTSE fell 0.8%. Wall Street also fell sharply initially, with the industrial-skewed Dow Jones index shedding up to 500 points at its ... ► Read more

  • May postpones Brexit vote, seeks further negotiation with Brussels

    British Prime Minister Theresa May has called off a crucial vote on her Brexit deal so she can go back to Brussels and ask for changes to it. As it stands, the deal “would be rejected by a significant margin” if MPs voted on it, she admitted on Monday (local time). But she said she was confident of getting “reassurances” from the EU on the Northern Ireland border plan. MPs reacted angrily to her announcement, ... ► Read more

  • Paris riots: economy suffering as Macron to address nation, Trump attacks climate accord, and Russia accused of involvement

    The French “yellow vest” protests have continued for a fourth consecutive weekend of rioting across the country. What began as a protest against planned fuel tax increases has broadened into a general anti-government movement, with protestors demanding lower taxes, higher minimum wages and better pension benefits. Some 1000 people are currently being held in custody, 100 of whom are minors and most without police records. Most of those in custody are men under 40 who ... ► Read more

  • House prices: prepare for a hard landing, warns OECD

    Australian regulators should be drafting contingency plans for a severe collapse in house prices with a “hard landing” looming as a key risk, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is warning. In its latest survey on Australia, the OECD pointed to the possibility of a “significant correction” in the housing market that might result in “financial institution insolvency”. “Australia’s housing market is a source of vulnerabilities due to elevated prices and related household ... ► Read more

  • ASX set for flat open as global markets tumble

    Australian shares are set for a subdued open as trade uncertainty, falling oil prices, and global growth concerns weigh on Wall Street, which resumed overnight after a one-day break. The SPI200 futures contract is down 3.0 points, or 0.05%, to 5,654.0, at 0800 AEDT on Friday, pointing to a flat open for the ASX. US stocks are mostly down on mounting worries of slowing global growth after a fresh twist in China-US tensions, with the ... ► Read more

  • British A-G publishes Brexit advice: Northern Ireland could remain in EU customs union indefinitely

    British Attorney-General Geoffrey Cox has published his legal advice to the British Government concerning the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union, just days after the Government was found in contempt of Parliament for refusing to provide the advice in full. The advice on Brexit consists of six pages that focus solely on the legal effect of the “Irish backstop” set out in the withdrawal agreement between the UK and the EU, which will be ... ► Read more

  • AUD tumbles, flat open for ASX expected

    The Australian Dollar (AUD) fell sharply after traders digested yesterday’s worse-than-expected economic-growth figures. Markets at 8:00am (AEDT): ASX SPI futures: +0.2pc at 5,675, ASX 200 (Wednesday’s close) -0.8pc at 5,668 AUD: 72.68 US cents, 57.08 British pence, 64.07 Euro cents, 82.29 Japanese yen, $NZ1.05 US: (closed for national day of mourning for former President George HW Bush) Europe: FTSE 100 -1.4pc at 6,922, DAX -1.2pc at 11,200, CAC -1.4pc at 4,944, Euro Stoxx 50 -1.2pc ... ► Read more

  • British Government releases Brexit advice after being found in contempt of Parliament

    The British Government will publish the full legal advice on which it has based Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union after MPs found the Government in contempt of Parliament for issuing a summary. The Government lost the vote by 311 to 293 at the beginning of a week of votes related to leaving the EU. Before the vote, Prime Minister Theresa May told her cabinet that “candid” legal advice given to the Government must remain ... ► Read more

  • Survey: 82% of Australians support immigration

    An annual national survey tracking public opinion on immigration and population issues has found a strong majority of Australians still see benefits in immigration despite heightening concern over population growth. The 2018 Mapping Social Cohesion survey, conducted by the philanthropic Scanlon Foundation, found more than four in five Australians see benefits to immigration. The survey, which canvassed the views of 1,500 randomly chosen Australians, also found 52% of Australians consider the current intake of migrants ... ► Read more

  • House prices see fastest drop since GFC

    Australia’s housing market has taken another big step down, with Sydney, Melbourne and Perth continuing to lead the declines. CoreLogic’s monthly figures show prices fell 0.7% nationally last month, with a 0.9% slide in the capital cities and a 0.1% fall in the regions. Sydney prices dropped 1.4% in November, bringing the city’s total peak-to-trough decline to 9.5% — almost on par with the previous record fall of 9.6% between 1989 and 1991, when interest ... ► Read more

  • ASX surges following US-China trade war ceasefire

    Australian markets have rebounded after China and the United States agreed to a trade ceasefire at the G20 summit over the weekend. US President Donald Trump agreed to hold off for three months until March 1 before he increases tariffs on $US250 billion worth of Chinese imports. In the meantime, negotiators from Beijing and Washington will attempt to negotiate a deal to de-escalate their trade war, which has plagued global markets for the past year. ... ► Read more

  • Macron orders PM to hold crisis talks to end Paris riots

    French President Emmanuel Macron has ordered his Prime Minister to hold crisis talks with political leaders and demonstrators, as Paris experiences its worst riots in a decade. As part of the nationwide anti-government protests, riots broke out in the French capital on Saturday (local time), leaving hundreds injured and causing widespread destruction throughout the city. During a meeting with his government on Sunday (local time), Mr Macron told Prime Minister Édouard Philippe to hold talks ... ► Read more

  • Angela Merkel to miss start of G20 summit after plane develops fault

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel will miss the opening of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, after her plane developed a technical problem and was forced to land in Cologne. According to her office, the Chancellor and accompanying delegates safely landed in Cologne shortly after departing Berlin. The plane turned back while it was over the Netherlands due to “malfunction of several electronic systems”, the captain announced to passengers, but no details of the cause have ... ► Read more

  • No-deal Brexit could cause recession worse than GFC, warns Bank of England

    A no-deal “disorderly Brexit” could cause a recession worse than the 2008 global financial crisis, the Bank of England has warned. If Britain cannot reach an agreement with Brussels over its withdrawal from the European Union, the Bank says that the Pound could drop by a quarter, the economy could shrink by 8% if there was no transition period, and house prices could fall by almost a third. The Bank’s warning follows the Treasury’s recent ... ► Read more

  • Treasurer Josh Frydenberg cancels G20 trip to deal with Liberal Party chaos

    Deputy Liberal leader and Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will not attend the G20 economic forum in Buenos Aires this week, remaining in Canberra to deal with the chaos engulfing the Liberal Party. As the most senior Victorian Liberal MP in Federal Parliament, Mr Frydenberg is managing the fallout from the Liberal Party’s severe defeat in the Victorian state election last weekend, and Julia Banks’ resignation from the party to sit as an independent MP. A ... ► Read more

  • PM says budget to be released in April

    Australians are all but assured to head to the polls for a federal election in May, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison announcing he will deliver the Budget in April. The Prime Minister said the Budget would be released on 2 April 2019 and Australians would go to the polls after that. But his hold on power has been threatened even more, with backbencher Julia Banks announcing she has quit the Liberal Party. She made the ... ► Read more

  • Julie Bishop calls on Government to reach agreement with Labor on National Energy Guarantee

    Former deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop has called on the Coalition Government to reach an agreement with Labor on the National Energy Guarantee (NEG), saying it would be good for business and ensure a stable investment environment for the energy industry, and is the only framework for achieving “elusive” bipartisanship on energy. Proposed by former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, the NEG was intended to address energy affordability, reliability and emissions, but was quickly abandoned after ... ► Read more

  • EU leaders approve Brexit agreement at Brussels summit

    The proposed agreement on the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union was unanimously approved by the heads of government of the EU’s 27 other member states at a summit in Brussels on Sunday (local time). Following 20 months of negotiations, the 599-page agreement was approved after less than an hour of discussion. British MPs are expected to vote on the deal on 12 December this year, just months before the scheduled withdrawal on 29 ... ► Read more

  • “I mean the whole border”: Trump threatens close US-Mexico border

    United States President Donald Trump has threatened to close the entire US-Mexico border, including halting trade with Mexico, if the arrival of migrants from central America there leads to disorder. He also said he had given troops at the border the go-ahead to use lethal force if needed. On Monday (local time) the US briefly closed a busy crossing to install new barriers. Thousands of migrants are at the border after travelling more than 4,000km ... ► Read more

  • ASX tumbles after panic-selling in US, Europe, Asia

    A wave of panic-selling across Wall Street, European and Asian markets has spread to Australia. The local ASX 200 index had lost 1.3% to 5,599 at 10:10 am (AEDT). The broader All Ordinaries index also fell by a similar level to 5,684 points. Most sectors are in the red, with energy (-2.5pc) and resources (-2.4pc) being the weakest performers. It was driven by steep losses from Origin Energy (-4.4pc), Santos (-3.4pc), Fortescue Metals (-3.9pc), BHP ... ► Read more

  • Josh Frydenberg officially rejects CKI’s bid for APA Group

    Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has officially rejected Hong Kong-based CK Infrastructure’s (CKI) $13 billion bid for Australia’s east coast gas pipeline owner APA Group, two weeks after his preliminary ruling declared the deal was contrary to the national interest. The CK Group consortium released a statement on Wednesday morning saying the takeover will not proceed, and the deal was terminated. Though national security grounds were a consideration for the Government behind the scenes, Mr Frydenberg said ... ► Read more

  • Trump defends US-Saudi relationship despite Khashoggi murder

    US President Donald Trump has strongly defended ties with Saudi Arabia despite international condemnation of journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder. The kingdom is a “steadfast partner” that has agreed to invest “a record amount of money” in the US, Mr Trump said in a statement. The President acknowledged Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman “could very well” have known about Mr Khashoggi’s murder. “In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” he added. ... ► Read more

  • Nissan Chairman arrested for financial misconduct

    Nissan Chairman and Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn faces being fired this week after being arrested in Japan over allegations of financial misconduct, the firm said on Monday, in a stunning fall from grace for one of the world’s best-known businessmen. Mr Ghosn’s arrest and his likely dismissal from Nissan, as well as possibly from Mitsubishi and Renault, sent shockwaves through the auto industry, where he is a towering figure, credited with turning around several major ... ► Read more

  • PM says permanent migration must be cut to reduce congestion

    The Federal Government is likely to cut Australia’s permanent migration cap, in a move it says will ease congestion in the major cities. Prime Minister Scott Morrison, in a speech on the future of Australia’s cities, said Sydney and Melbourne had been overwhelmed with population growth. “The roads are clogged, the buses and trains are full, the schools are taking no more enrolments,” he said. “I hear what you are saying, I hear you loud ... ► Read more

  • TurkStream: Putin, Erdogan mark completion of offshore stage

    Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have marked the completion of the offshore phase of a gas pipeline underneath the Black Sea, the latest sign of growing cooperation between Moscow and Ankara. Speaking at the November 19 ceremony in Istanbul, Mr Erdogan said the TurkStream pipeline will carry 31.5 billion cubic meters of gas from Russia to Turkey each year when operational, and will send at least half of the amount ... ► Read more

  • Fairfax shareholders give Nine takeover green light

    Fairfax shareholders have overwhelmingly backed a takeover by Nine Entertainment, paving the way for both companies to merge by the end of this year. At the Fairfax annual general meeting today, more than 80% of votes were in favour of the deal. Antony Catalano, the former head of real estate website Domain, tried to block the deal by submitting a last-minute bid for 19.9% of the newspaper publisher’s shares on Sunday evening. In a letter, ... ► Read more

  • Banking Royal Commission: Commonwealth Bank CEO defends variable remuneration

    Commonwealth Bank CEO Matt Comyn defended his bank’s use of “variable remuneration” to reward employees for signing customers up to more services, despite the Banking Royal Commission hearing this has led to serious misconduct. Mr Comyn told the Royal Commission that short-term variable remuneration is necessary to motivate staff — to encourage what the Commonwealth Bank calls “discretionary effort.” When asked by Rowena Orr QC why “paying an adequate and appropriate level of fixed remuneration” ... ► Read more

  • Macron, Merkel pledge to build “truly sovereign Europe”

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron met in Berlin on Sunday (local time) to discuss defence, the eurozone and more, pledging to continue Franco-German collaboration on strengthening the “foundation” of Europe. President Macron spoke of a “Franco-German responsibility in preparing for the future and the re-founding of Europe.” “This responsibility means building something, building a truly sovereign Europe and building a strong European Union on this sovereignty,” the Mr Macron said alongside ... ► Read more

  • Cabinet divided over Israel embassy policy

    Defence Minister Christopher Pyne has said that keeping the Australian embassy in Tel Aviv is “like Israel saying that they intend to put their embassy in Sydney and pretend that Canberra isn’t our capital”, as Cabinet remains publicly divided on the issue. Last month Prime Minister Scott Morrison suggested that his government is considering relocating the Australian embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, which has been claimed by Israel as its capital since its occupation in ... ► Read more

  • APEC 2018: US-China divisions deepen worrying world leaders

    Deep divisions between the United States and China have derailed the APEC meeting in Port Moresby, with regional leaders failing to agree on a final communique for the first time in the summit’s history. The two superpowers clashed repeatedly over the language on trade in the final document, with Beijing angrily rejecting paragraphs that called for an overhaul of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and warned against unfair trade tactics. The Trump Administration has repeatedly ... ► Read more

  • Theresa May warns that Brexit will be delayed if she is ousted

    British Prime Minister Theresa May has warned detractors that a successful leadership challenge would delay negotiations for the United Kingdom’s withdrawal agreement with the European Union. “It’s not going to make the negotiations any easier and it won’t change the parliamentary arithmetic,” Ms May told Sky News on Sunday. Several Tory MPs have written letters expressing their lack of confidence in the Prime Minister after Ms May unveiled a 585-page draft agreement negotiated with the ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 10 November – 18 November 2018

    UK, EU agree on draft Brexit deal In a diplomatic breakthrough, UK and European Union officials have agreed the draft text of a Brexit agreement after months of negotiations. See OPMG’s coverage of this story here. Morrison reverses “foolish” decision to cut Foodbank funding Prime Minister Scott Morrison has intervened to boost the Government’s food relief budget to ensure a charity that feeds 710,000 people a month retains its funding. See OPMG’s coverage of this ... ► Read more

  • Moving Australian embassy to Jerusalem could increase terror attacks, warn Indonesia and Malaysia

    Indonesian and Malaysian politicians have warned that moving the Australian embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem could result in increased Islamist terror attacks against Australians. Prime Minister Scott Morrison indicated in October 2018 that the Australian Government is considering relocating its embassy from Tel Aviv to the de facto capital Jerusalem, although Jerusalem is not recognised by the United Nations. The potential policy change has caused concern regarding Australia’s relationship with Muslim-majority nations, ... ► Read more

  • US bill sanctions Saudi military over Khashoggi killing, Yemen

    A bipartisan group of US senators introduced legislation on Thursday (local time) seeking to strike back at Saudi Arabia over the death of a Saudi journalist at a consulate in Turkey and for its role in the devastating war in Yemen. If the bill were to be passed, it would suspend weapon sales to Saudi Arabia and prohibit US refueling of Saudi coalition aircraft for Riyadh’s campaign in Yemen against the Houthi rebels. It also ... ► Read more

  • EU chief Brexit negotiator: draft agreement a “crucial step in concluding these negotiations”

    The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier says “decisive” progress has been made in reaching a final agreement on the UK’s departure from the bloc. Mr Barnier said a 585-page draft withdrawal agreement published on Wednesday represented a “crucial step in concluding these negotiations”. He also said provisions were included to avoid a hard border with Ireland. His comments came after UK Prime Minister Theresa May said her cabinet had backed the draft agreement. While ... ► Read more

  • Cyber security chief: Austal hacking “attribution can take months, even years”

    The head of the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) said on Tuesday an investigation into the hacking of defense contractor Austal could take years, rejecting a report by the ABC that his agency had concluded the attack originated from Iran. Austal said earlier this month hackers had breached its defences to gain access to ship designs and that some staff email addresses and mobile phone numbers were accessed. The attack triggered an investigation by the ... ► Read more

  • Queensland woman to face court over strawberry contamination

    A Queensland woman has been charged over the strawberry needle crisis that forced supermarkets to pull fruit from shelves and farmers to dump it by the truckload. The woman, from Caboolture in Brisbane’s north, was charged on Sunday evening with seven counts of goods contamination. Police say one occasion of aggravation contamination will be alleged, meaning the 50-year-old woman will face a maximum of 10 years in prison if convicted. She was arrested amid a ... ► Read more

  • Australian Government announces $2 billion Pacific development fund to counter Chinese investment

    The Australian Government has announced it will establish a $2 billion fund for infrastructure development in the Pacific in response to increased Chinese investment in the region. The announcement comes ahead of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference in Port Moresby next weekend. The Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility will assist the Pacific in developing energy, communications and transport projects. Speaking in Townsville on Thursday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said his Government would make sure Australia is ... ► Read more