Economics

  • Election: Labor will raise minimum wage for skilled migrants to boost local employment

    The Australian Labor Party will increase the minimum wage for skilled migrants to prevent them being used as cheap replacements for local workers, opposition leader Bill Shorten announced today. Speaking in Queensland, Mr Shorten told reporters that Labor will reduce the number of foreign workers by increasing the minimum wage and enforcing skill shortage tests more strictly. “We want to make sure that short-term skilled migration doesn’t just become an excuse for cheap labour, exploitation ... ► Read more

  • American Airlines cancels Boeing MAX flights until mid-August

    American Airlines has announced it will cancel all its Boeing 737 MAX flights through to mid-August while it waits for Boeing to provide a software update. The Texas-based airline is cancelling 115 flights a day until mid-August because of ongoing problems with the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. In mid-March this year the United States joined other countries in grounding 737 MAX aircraft after two fatal plane crashes, one in Indonesia in October 2018 and the ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 7 April – 13 April 2019

    2019 election: Australians to vote on 18 May Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced 18 May as the date of the 2019 federal election, giving parties just over five weeks to sell their plans for the nation. See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. Construction of Adani mine receives final federal approval, despite allegations Minister was threatened Federal Environment Minister Melissa Price has given Adani the final federal approval needed to begin construction of its ... ► Read more

  • EU agrees to delay Brexit until 31 October

    The European Union has agreed to a “flexible extension” of the Brexit process until 31 October 2019, European Council President Donald Tusk announced today. After five hours of talks Mr Tusk said his “message to British friends” is “please do not waste this time.” British Prime Minister Theresa May said the United Kingdom would still aim to leave the EU as soon as possible, but it appears likely that the UK will need to hold ... ► Read more

  • Melbourne CBD shut down for workers’ rally

    Melbourne CBD was shut down today as an estimated 50,000 workers marched for better wages and increased job security. The “Change the Rules” rally began at Trades Hall at about 10:30am, marching to the Victorian Parliament via Bourke Street in the city’s CBD. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews marched alongside workers as part of the Australian Council of Trade Union’s nationwide campaign. Unions claim the current Federal Government has overseen the most significant decline in living ... ► Read more

  • Labor plans to resurrect Australia’s car manufacturing industry

    Labor will offer tens of millions of dollars to the world’s auto giants in a bid to revive Australia’s car manufacturing industry, according to a yet-to-be-revealed plan uncovered by the ABC. According to an ABC exclusive, the plan centres around building electric and hydrogen-powered cars in an attempt to tap into the rapidly increasing global demand. The plan has reportedly been in the pipeline for years, with high-ranking executives from the United States travelling to ... ► Read more

  • Crown Resorts $10bn buyout talks cancelled abruptly

    High end American casino and hotel giant Wynn Resorts has abruptly cancelled buyout talks with Australian rival Crown Resorts over “the premature disclosure of preliminary discussions”. Controlled by James Packer’s Consolidated Press Holdings, Crown Resorts confirmed on Tuesday that Wynn had offered $10 billion for the company, but said there was no certainty of a deal. After Crown confirmed the offer yesterday, its stock jumped 19.7%, closing at $14.05. However, Wynn appears displeased that word ... ► Read more

  • Construction of Adani mine receives final federal approval, despite allegations Minister was threatened

    Federal Environment Minister Melissa Price has given Adani the final federal approval needed to begin construction of its proposed coal mine in central Queensland. The project now requires final approvals from the Queensland State Government before construction can commence. The proposed coal mine in central Queensland’s Galilee Basin has been controversial, with environmentalists clashing with MPs and Senators who want it approved to bring jobs to the area. The Environment Minister was under pressure from ... ► Read more

  • Labor to promise low-income tax cuts and billions for health

    The Australian Labor Party will promise tax cuts for those earning less than $40,000 a year and billions in additional health spending if it wins the May federal election. Some three million of the lowest-paid Australians would benefit from the tax cuts, which will be formally announced in Labor leader Bill Shorten’s budget reply speech on Thursday night. Deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek said Mr Shorten would unveil Labor’s tax relief plan in a “classic” ... ► Read more

  • Brunei introduces stoning for gay sex and adultery

    The Sultan of Brunei has introduced new laws that make anal sex and adultery punishable by stoning to death. In a move towards stricter interpretation of Islamic law, the new measures came into force on Wednesday, and also include harsher punishments for other offences. The new measures will primarily apply to Muslims, which account for about two-thirds of the country’s population of 420,000. Brunei is an absolute monarchy in which Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah is both ... ► Read more

  • Brexit: PM seeks extension to negotiate compromise with Labour

    British Prime Minister Theresa May will seek an extension of the Brexit deadline from the European Union to “break the logjam” in Parliament. The Prime Minister says she wants to meet with opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, in an effort to secure the Labour Party’s support for a plan on the United Kingdom’s future relationship with the EU. Mr Corbyn said he was “very happy” to meet with Ms May, and would ensure a customs union ... ► Read more

  • Budget 2019 at a glance

    The budget bottom line will surge to a surplus next financial year on the back of higher than expected revenues from commodities, strong corporate profits and low unemployment. The estimated surplus of $7.1 billion for 2019-20 will be the first time the budget has entered positive territory since 2007-08. How will the Government spend this unexpected windfall of revenues? Simplifying the tax system will cost the government $158 billion over the next ten years. The ... ► Read more

  • Government to close Christmas Island mere months after reopening it

    Less than four months after reopening Christmas Island detention centre, the Government has announced it will close the facility. The centre’s reopening was a $185 million knee-jerk reaction to the passing of the Medevac bill, which gives doctors a greater say in refugee medical transfers to Australia from Manus and Nauru, but ultimately leaves the decision to transfer in the hands of government. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the legislation would encourage people smuggling and ... ► Read more

  • Brexit: MPs reject four alternative proposals

    A deadlock remains firmly in place in Britain’s Parliament after MPs rejected four alternative Brexit proposals on Monday (local time). The option that came closest to passing proposed Britain remain within the European Union Customs Union, but failed by just three votes. A vote on a confirmatory referendum on any deal received the most votes, but was also defeated by 292–280. The British Government staunchly opposes both options because the former would prevent the UK ... ► Read more

  • Woolworths to close 30 Big W stores

    Supermarket giant Woolworths will close 30 Big W stores and two distribution centres, taking a $370 million hit. Chief executive Brad Banducci announced the closures, which represent about 16% of the Big W network, as Woolworths attempts to stem its losses. Despite seeing sales revenue increase by 6% in the March quarter, Big W is forecast to lose another $80–$100 million this year, only a slight improvement on the $110 million deficit last year, and ... ► Read more

  • Brexit: PM will stand down if deal is passed

    British Prime Minister Theresa May has vowed to resign as head of government if Tory MPs back her Brexit deal. Ms May acknowledged that her party does not want her to lead the next stage of negotiations for the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union, saying she “won’t stand in the way of that.” “I am prepared to leave this job earlier than I intended to do what is right for our country and ... ► Read more

  • MPs vote to take control of Brexit process

    British MPs have voted to take control of the House of Commons agenda from the Government, to try to find a majority for a Brexit option. The unprecedented move is a reflection of Prime Minister Theresa May’s continued inability to achieve parliamentary support for her negotiated agreement for the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union. The Government’s defeat by 329 votes to 302 means MPs will get a series of “indicative votes” on Wednesday ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 17 March – 23 March 2019

    Coalition wins NSW election, minority government possible Gladys Berejiklian and the Coalition have been returned by the people of NSW for a third term in office, winning 46 of the 47 seats required for majority government so far. See the ABC’s coverage of this story here. EU agrees Brexit delay plan All 27 European Union leaders have backed a Brexit delay plan that gives the United Kingdom two options — pass Prime Minister Theresa May’s ... ► Read more

  • Sydney bars to hold election eve drink freeze

    About 34 Sydney bars will stop serving drinks for up to 15 minutes at 6:00pm tonight to draw voters’ attention to the future of Sydney’s night-time economy, ahead of tomorrow’s state election. The New South Wales Government has been criticised for introducing lockout laws and additional restrictions of liquor licensing, which has become a key election issue. In a statement Sydney’s Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) said the bars involved will “turn up the lights” ... ► Read more

  • EU agrees Brexit delay plan

    All 27 European Union leaders have backed a Brexit delay plan that gives the United Kingdom two options — pass Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal next week for an extension until 22 May, or decide by 12 April whether it will participate in the upcoming European Parliament elections. If the UK opts not to participate in the elections and the deal has not passed the House of Commons, the EU would let Britain drop out ... ► Read more

  • Tusk says Brexit delay possible if MPs back deal

    European Council President Donald Tusk has said that the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union could be delayed, but only if British MPs approve the negotiated withdrawal agreement. The British Parliament has twice rejected the agreement brokered between Brussels and Westminster and Prime Minister Theresa May has sought an extension of the Brexit process beyond 29 March, when the UK is due to leave the EU. “I believe that a short extension will be ... ► Read more

  • British PM will formally ask to delay Brexit

    British Prime Minister Theresa May will formally ask the European Union to postpone the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU. Ms May’s negotiated Brexit deal with the EU has failed to receive the support of Parliament, and there are fewer than 10 days until the UK is scheduled to leave the EU. Downing Street said no decision had been made as to how long the delay would be, but it is expected to be until ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 10 March – 16 March 2019

    49 killed in NZ mosque shootings Three suspects are in custody following deadly shootings at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch on Friday. See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. Major parties launch NSW election campaigns On Sunday the New South Wales branches of the Liberal and Labor parties officially launched their election campaigns, two weeks ahead of the 23 March polling date. See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. George Pell ... ► Read more

  • British MPs reject no-deal Brexit

    The UK Parliament has voted to avoid crashing out of the European Union without a negotiated deal, 321 votes for to 278 against. It follows an amendment of the Government’s motion that toughened the stance of Parliament to avoid a no-deal Brexit under any circumstances. However, the approved motion is not legally binding, and Parliament will still need to pass legislation to avoid leaving the EU without a deal on the Brexit deadline day of ... ► Read more

  • Australia, EU and others suspend 737 MAX 8s following Ethiopian Airlines crash

    Australia, the European Union and other jurisdictions have indefinitely banned the Boeing 737 MAX 8 airliner from their airspace, following a second fatal crash within five months. On Sunday a new Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX 8 crashed en route from Addis Ababa to Nairobi, killing all 157 crew and passengers on board. Investigators are looking for similarities between the Ethiopian Airlines crash and that of a Lion Air MAX 8 that crashed in Indonesia, killing ... ► Read more

  • Controversy over Trump plan to bill allies for hosting American troops

    The Trump administration is preparing demands that South Korea, Germany, Japan and, eventually, other countries hosting American troops pay the full cost of the deployment and an additional 50%, according to administration officials. Under the direction of United States President Donald Trump, some countries would be asked to pay up to six times as much as they currently pay under the new approach. This move is intended to pressure the US’ NATO partners into accelerating ... ► Read more

  • NSW Government announces $500M for private schools

    New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Education Minister Rob Stokes announced on Thursday that independent and Catholic schools will receive $500 million over four years to build, extend and upgrade their classrooms. The funding for private schools is intended to help them cope with rapidly increasing enrolments. Ms Berejiklian said her government will support parents, regardless of whether they choose to send their children to a public, Catholic or independent school. “We have provided ... ► Read more

  • Treasury rebukes Coalition for exaggerating impact of Labor’s proposed negative gearing changes

    The Federal Treasury has rebuked the Coalition Government for exaggerating the impact of Labor’s proposed changes to negative gearing deductions. Under Labor’s policy, negative gearing deductions would be curbed by limiting the tax concessions available to new investment properties, and capital gains tax would be increased by 50%. Since 2016 the Coalition has said this would “smash” housing values with a “sledgehammer”. However, the Treasury explicitly advised the Government that it should not claim that ... ► Read more

  • Prince Charles charity linked to Russian money laundering network

    Key points A Moscow-based investment bank called Troika Dialog managed a network of offshore companies which funnelled money across Europe and the US. Some of the offshore companies were involved in money laundering. Dirty money was mixed with legitimate money and distributed via screen companies, making it impossible to trace back to the source. End recipients most likely were not aware of any wrongdoing. A charity run by Prince Charles was one such recipient. It ... ► Read more

  • US coal miners’ story sparks concerns for Hunter Valley miners

    Inside Singleton’s Diggers club, Hunter Valley residents are debating the future of the world’s coal industry. Coal is the big employer in this region with 40 different mines employing about 9,000 workers to drive the local economy, in turn helping Australia generate billions in export revenue. But as some countries signal a move away from coal, miners cap production and the industry remains almost permanently under the political spotlight, there is concern here that the ... ► Read more

  • Australia, Indonesia to sign delayed free trade deal

    Australia and Indonesia are just days away from signing a landmark free trade deal to bring new access to markets for agriculture and education. Trade Minister Simon Birmingham, accompanied by Defence Industry Minister Steven Ciobo, will sign the deal alongside his Indonesian counterpart Enggartiasto Lukita in Jakarta on Monday. “This is a good deal for Indonesia in terms of growing their economic opportunity and investment,” Senator Birmingham told reporters in Launceston on Friday. “This is ... ► Read more

  • US-NK summit: leaders disagree over abrupt ending

    United States President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un have given conflicting explanations for why their Thursday summit in Hanoi ended abruptly. Mr Trump claims that North Korea had demanded an end to US sanctions. “It was all about the sanctions,” he told reporters. “They wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety and we couldn’t do that.” However, North Korea says it made “realistic proposals” at the summit. According to Mr Trump, Mr ... ► Read more

  • Australia drops out of top 10 countries in rule of law index

    Australia has dropped out of the top 10 in global rankings on adherence to the rule of law, with annual global results showing more countries declined than improved their performance. Australia now stands at 11th place out of 126 countries in the World Justice Project index. The score places Australia second out of 15 countries in the East Asia and Pacific region, and also 11th out of 38 high income countries. The country’s best result ... ► Read more

  • Iranian FM resigns abruptly

    Iran’s top diplomat Mohammad Javad Zarif, an ally of moderate President Hassan Rouhani, unexpectedly announced he was stepping down in a social media post on Monday (local time). “I sincerely apologise for the inability to continue serving and for all the shortcomings during my service. I thank the Iranian nation and officials,” the 59-year-old diplomat wrote on Instagram. “Be happy and worthy,” he added. However, the withdrawal would only become valid if accepted by the ... ► Read more

  • May under pressure to delay Brexit as Corbyn announces support for new referendum

    British opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn has announced that Labour will support a second referendum on the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union to prevent a “damaging Tory Brexit”. The party will back a second referendum if its own proposed Brexit agreement is rejected by Parliament on Wednesday (local time). Labour MP Emily Thornberry said that if the choice is between no deal or the Prime Minister’s deal, the public should make the decision. Pressure ... ► Read more

  • Microsoft to go ahead with defence contract despite employee outcry

    Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella defended the company’s multimillion-dollar contract with the Pentagon to supply augmented reality (AR) headsets in an interview with CNN Business on Monday (local time). Last week, dozens of employees publicly criticised that same contract and called for the company to end its ties with the United States military. On Friday (local time), a group of about 50 Microsoft workers published a letter demanding that the company pull out of its nearly ... ► Read more

  • Government green-lights Snowy Hydro 2.0

    The Government has given Snowy Hydro 2.0 the go-ahead and will commit “up to $1.38 billion in an equity investment” to the project, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced. The project was instigated by former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and the announcement is the first solid committment from the Federal Government to putting a new underground power station in the Snowy Mountains. “Snowy 2.0 will inject the energy supply and reliability our electricity market needs, ... ► Read more

  • PM pledges $3.5 billion to address climate change

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison today announced the Government’s $3.5 billion “Climate Solutions Package” aimed at ensuring Australia meets its international climate targets. In a press release, the Prime Minister said that the Government’s plan will allow Australia to meet its Paris Agreement obligations without harming the economy and raising electricity prices. “We will meet our global commitments, and do what is right for our environment, without taking a wrecking ball to the economy,” Mr Morrison ... ► Read more

  • Brexit could be delayed until 2021, as PM postpones vote

    Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union could be delayed until 2021, according to senior EU officials. The United Kingdom is scheduled to leave the EU on 29 March 2019, but Prime Minister Theresa May has been unable to secure the support of the British Parliament for her Brexit deal. Extending the negotiating period by a further 21 months is the EU’s default position, but would mean that the UK remains within the EU while plans ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 17 February – 23 February 2019

    Liberals, Nationals, Labor targeted in “sophisticated” cyber attack, says PM The Liberal, National and Labor parties were all targeted in a recent cyber attack on Federal Parliament, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday. See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. ABF admits “human error” contributed to Hakeem al-Araibi’s detention Australian Border Force (ABF) officials have admitted “human error” in their agency’s handling of Melbourne refugee Hakeem al-Araibi’s case, saying processes that might have prevented ... ► Read more

  • 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