Economics

  • Government to push ahead with tax cuts despite Labor reservations

    The Morrison Government is planning to follow through with its tax cut plan despite Labor not giving full support. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said tax relief is “about backing Australians, that they are in a better place to decide how their money should be spent, how they should invest it, than governments.” The Government plans to cut income tax for paycheck earners of $45,000-$200,000 to 30 cents per dollar, down from 32.5 cents per dollar. ... ► Read more

  • Trump announces new “hard hitting” sanctions targeting Iran’s Supreme Leader

    United States President Donald Trump announced fresh sanctions against Iran on Monday (local time) as part of the White House’s response to Iran’s downing of a US drone last week. The new sanctions target Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, as well as military officials. Mr Trump told reporters the punitive measures will deny the Iranian Supreme Leader, his office “and many others” access to financial instruments. “Today’s actions follow a ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 16 June – 22 June 2019

    “Very big mistake”: Trump responds to US drone downing United States President Donald Trump has said Iran “made a very big mistake” by shooting down a US drone, while Iran has defended the action and pledged to “zealously defend our skies, land and waters.” See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. Tory leadership: Johnson and Hunt last men standing Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt have emerged as the final two candidates that will be put ... ► Read more

  • Key quotes from Russia’s annual presidential Q&A

    Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual live question and answer session on Thursday (local time) where he touched on a range of pressing issues. Mr Putin takes questions from a large audience and even responds to queries over the phone. Here are the highlights. On whether he has become tired of the presidency “No, otherwise I wouldn’t have run for this term.” On arrests related to economic crimes “I would like to say: you ... ► Read more

  • WIN closes four newsrooms amid demand decline

    Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack says he is saddened to hear of WIN News‘ decision to close four regional newsrooms. The broadcaster will close its newsrooms in Orange/Dubbo, Wagga Wagga, Albury and Wide Bay next week, which the journalists’ union said could cost up to 40 jobs. “As a former journalist and a former newspaper editor I’m saddened,” Mr McCormack told reporters in regional Victoria on Thursday. The Wagga Wagga newsroom in his own electorate ... ► Read more

  • Confused about Iran? Here’s an explainer

    Tensions between the United States and Iran have soared in recent months to what appears to be near boiling point. The two countries have been at loggerheads for decades, with Washington accusing the oil-rich country of destabilising the Middle East by backing extremist groups and attempting to develop a nuclear arsenal, and Tehran accusing the US of imperialism and trying to provoke another conflict in the region. But US-Iran relations stabilised in 2015 when Iran ... ► Read more

  • NSW budget: Berejiklian Government delivers modest surplus

    New South Wales Treasurer Dominic Perrottet has handed down his first budget since the Berejiklian Government’s re-election, delivering a modest surplus, record infrastructure spending and the biggest write-down in NSW history. “We are strongly in the black,” Mr Perrottet said. “This is a budget that is a testament to our strong financial management here in NSW.” However, the surplus is down from $1.4 billion to $802 million due to a $10.6 billion plunge in stamp ... ► Read more

  • Putin, Xi praise Russia-China relations

    Chinese President Xi Jinping began a three-day visit to Russia on Wednesday (local time) with a touch of panda diplomacy and a raft of new Russian-Chinese business contracts. Mr Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin praised their countries’ ties during talks at the Kremlin, as Russia and China seek to shore up cooperation amid shared tensions with the United States. “President Putin is for me a best friend,” Mr Xi told journalists during a joint ... ► Read more

  • Morrison: US-China trade war putting “living standards of billions of people at risk”

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison has warned the trade war between the United States and China is unprecedentedly testing global trade and “putting the prosperity and living standards of billions of people at risk.” Mr Morrison, who is in London to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings, issued the warning during a speech to the Australia-UK Chamber of Commerce. He stressed the importance of multilateral economic institutions that forged the “post-war liberal economic order” ... ► Read more

  • RBA cuts interest rate to historic low of 1.25%

    The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) has cut the cash rate to a record low of 1.25% in an attempt to stimulate the economy. It is the first time the central bank’s interest rate has been adjusted since August 2016 and follows another month of weak economic data, including the unexpected rise in the unemployment rate to 5.2% in April. RBA Governor Dr Philip Lowe said the move should help to reduce unemployment. “Today’s decision ... ► Read more

  • Morrison pledges $250 million toward Solom Islands infrastructure

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison has pledged $250 million in infrastructure aid to the Solomon Islands in a bid to shore up diplomatic capital. During his visit to Honiara, Mr Morrison also announced Canberra will fund the construction of a new office complex which will house the Pacific nation’s prime ministerial office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and promised loans of nearly $3 million for temporary Solomon Island workers coming to Australia under labour mobility ... ► Read more

  • Malaysia to send waste back to developed nations

    Malaysia will send about 3,000 tonnes of non-recyclable plastic back to countries like Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States, as it seeks to avoid becoming a dumping ground for developed nations. Malaysian Environment Minister Yeo Bee Yin said Malaysia and other developing countries have recently become targets after China banned the import of plastic waste last year. Ms Yeo said 60 containers stacked with contaminated waste were smuggled into the country, bound ... ► Read more

  • Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions rising, but resources minister backs new coal plant

    Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2018 rose for a fourth year in a row, according to a Government submission to the United Nations. The National Inventory Report, provided in accordance with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, shows 537 million tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions for 2018. This is an increase of about 0.5% from 2017’s 534.7 million tonnes, despite Australia’s commitment at the Paris climate summit in 2015 to reduce emissions by 26–28% ... ► Read more

  • Sydney’s lockout laws may be relaxed after parliamentary review

    Sydney’s lockout laws may be relaxed after New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian ordered their review, saying it was time to “take stock” of their impact on the Sydney CBD and Kings Cross. A cross-party committee will be established to examine the laws, while the the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party (SFF) and Greens push to scrap the laws. SFF MLC Robert Borsak and Greens MLC Cate Faehrmann have both tabled motions in the NSW ... ► Read more

  • Morrison may not deliver key tax cuts this year as promised

    The Coalition’s tax cuts of up to $1080 per person will likely be delayed until next financial year, Prime Minister Scott Morrison admitted on Monday night. The tax cuts played a central role in the Coalition’s election campaign. Because the election was not called earlier, the bureacratic processes required to return Federal Parliament and pass the tax cuts through the Senate are unlikely to be completed by 30 June. “We obviously have to wait for ... ► Read more

  • North Korea calls US “a gangster country” over ship seizure

    North Korea has described the United States as “a gangster country” over the seizure of a North Korean cargo ship, and called on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to take “urgent measures” to stabilise the Korean Peninsula. In a letter to Mr Guterres obtained by The Associated Press, North Korea’s Ambassador to the UN, Kim Song, wrote that the Trump Administration committed “an unlawful and outrageous act” by taking over the ship Wise Honest and moving ... ► Read more

  • Iranian FM dismisses Trump’s “genocidal taunts”

    Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif has called recent threats made by United States President Donald Trump “genocidal taunts”, and cautioned him against making future threats. Amid a flare up in tensions between Washington and Tehran, Mr Trump tweeted on Sunday (local time): Referring to US National Security Adviser John Bolton, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as “B_Team”, Mr Zarif wrote on Twitter on Monday: Relations between the ... ► Read more

  • Trump signs order barring US telcos from using foreign equipment

    United States President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday (local time) intended to bar American telecommunications networks from using equipment provided by foreign suppliers. Executive order 13873 declares a “national emergency” and claims that “foreign adversaries are increasingly creating and exploiting vulnerabilities in information and communications technology and services”. The order directs Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to prepare rules that restrict the purchase of information and communications technology from companies “owned by, controlled ... ► Read more

  • Pacific Islands ask “bigger countries” to do more to tackle climate change

    A delegation of Pacific Island nations has called on “bigger countries” in the region to take a stronger approach to climate change. During a meeting with United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on Wednesday, Australia’s pacific neighbours warned that rising sea levels will destroy their communities unless more is done to respond to climate change. Nauruan President and chair of the Pacific Islands Forum Baron Waqa implied Australia could be doing more to make climate change ... ► Read more

  • Election: Labor promises new wage theft tribunal

    Labor opposition leader Bill Shorten has promised to establish a new tribunal that will crack down on wage theft if his party forms government after the upcoming federal election. “It shouldn’t be too hard, it shouldn’t be too costly, to get what you are owed for a day’s pay,” Mr Shorten said. Workers who have been underpaid by employers could have claims of up to $100,000 resolved in a day by the tribunal. Mr Shorten ... ► Read more

  • “A little squabble”: Trump downplays trade war with China

    United States President Donald Trump has downplayed the US-China trade war following Beijing’s counter-tariff hike announcement, which saw over $US1 trillion wiped off stock values around the world yesterday. “We’re having a little squabble with China because we’ve been treated very, very unfairly for many decades,” Mr Trump told reporters at the White House on Tuesday (local time). “I think it’s going to turn out extremely well, we’re in a strong position.” He described his ... ► Read more

  • US-China trade war: global markets tumble

    Global equities have tumbled amid an escalation in the United States-China trade war that saw more than $US1 trillion wiped off stock values overnight. China announced it will impose tariffs of 5%-25% on $US60 billion worth of US goods, including frozen vegetables and liquefied natural gas. “China’s adjustment on additional tariffs is a response to US unilateralism and protectionism,” the Chinese Ministry of Finance said. “China hopes the US will get back to the right ... ► Read more

  • Election: PM promises subsidies for low-income first-home buyers

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison has promised up to $500 million in subsidies to help low-income first-home buyers ahead of the federal election this coming Saturday. A Liberal-National Coalition Government would offer guarantees to reduce the required deposit for first-home buyers to 5% of the purchase price, instead of 20%, Mr Morrison announced at the Liberal Party’s campaign launch in Melbourne on Sunday. Singles earning up to $125,000 and couples with a combined income of up ... ► Read more

  • Adani’s Carmichael coal mine faces Qld Gov’t hurdle

    Adani’s controversial Carmichael coal mine project faces another hurdle, with the Queensland Government seeking a further review of the company’s groundwater plans for the project. Federal Environment Minister Melissa Price approved Adani’s groundwater plans just before the start of campaigning for the federal election. The approval followed eight months of assessment, including reviews by the CSIRO and Geoscience Australia. However, the Queensland Department of Environment and Science (DES) requested a further review last Friday, according ... ► Read more

  • US tariff increase on Chinese imports to take effect on Friday

    The United States’ tariff increase to 25% on US $200 billion worth of Chinese imports will take effect on Friday (Washington time), heightening tensions in the ongoing Sino-American trade war. With no action from the Trump administration to cancel the increase, US Customs and Border Protection will impose tariffs of 25% on affected Chinese imports from midnight on Friday. Relevant goods leaving China before midnight will be subject to the original 10% tariff. More than ... ► Read more

  • One million species threatened with extinction: intergovernmental report

    Nature is declining at unprecedented rates and the rate of extinctions is accelerating, warns a landmark report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). “The overwhelming evidence of the IPBES Global Assessment … presents an ominous picture,” said IPBES chair Sir Robert Watson. “The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, ... ► Read more

  • Morrison admits budget remains in deficit

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison has acknowledged that the budget will be in deficit as Australians go to the polls despite repeatedly declaring the country’s finances are “back in black”. It took four questions from Leigh Sales on ABC’s 7.30 program, before the Prime Minister admitted that a deficit would be recorded for this financial year. “The accounts, as of right now, are still in deficit and next year they go into surplus and it’s taken ... ► Read more

  • Fresh modelling suggests Labor climate policy could shrink economic growth by 0.8%

    Labor’s climate targets could cost the Australian economy $542 billion, according to new modelling from economist Brian Fisher. The modelling estimates that by reducing carbon emissions by 45% by 2030, Australia’s economic growth could decrease by 0.8% over the next decade. However, Dr Fisher also says that by increasing the carbon emissions offset threshold for major polluters through international credits, the impact on growth could be halved. Labor’s climate policy spokesman Mark Butler has dismissed ... ► Read more

  • Sydney’s median house price to drop below $1 million, say analysts

    Sydney’s median house price has continued its slow fall, with leading real estate website Domain saying it is on track to dip below $1 million for the first time in four years. According to Domain’s latest house price report, Sydney’s median house price is $1,027,962 — down 3.1% over the past three months and 11.5% over the last year. The company’s senior research analyst Nicola Powell said that prices are likely to drop below $1 ... ► Read more

  • ASX to open flat despite Wall Street gains

    Australian shares are expected to open flat despite gains on Wall Street overnight. The SPI200 futures contract was down 1 point, or 0.02%, at 6,341.0 at 0800 AEST, suggesting a little-changed start for the benchmark S&P/ASX200 on Tuesday. Wall Street closed at new record highs, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 0.04%, the S&P 500 up 0.11% and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite up 0.19%. The Reserve Bank of Australia is due to release data ... ► Read more

  • 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