April 17


News

Rebuilding the Dream

30 April 2017 | The Australian

Have a look through the comments section of the first two parts of our Lost Property series and you’ll see solutions everywhere. Good, bad, funny, earnest, well-researched essays and undercooked thought bubbles. Everyone has a view on what should happen next. Some solutions, however, keep rising to the top, usually also proposed by economists, strategists, planners, analysts and even politicians.


Lessons From 100 Days of President Trump

30 April 2017 | The New York Times

Here are a dozen things we have learned in President Trump’s first 100 days.

1. Trump has had the worst beginning of any president since, oh, perhaps William Henry Harrison (who died a month after his inauguration). Trump has had no legislative triumphs, and he has by far the lowest public approval of any new president in polling history. Large majorities say he is not honest, does not keep promises and does not care about ordinary people.


Pizza Hut set for the courts over cut-price pizza

30 April 2017 | SMH

Pizza wars, the $4.95 pizzas they spawned and the allegedly disastrous impact on Pizza Hut franchisees, is about to be put on trial in a case that will put the $170 billion franchise sector on edge.

The appeal lodged in the Federal Court of Australia will be heard next month, and up to 90 per cent of Pizza Hut franchisees are backing the class action by liquidator Bob Jacobs at Auxilium Partners.


Why it's silly to debate 'good' versus 'bad' debt

30 April 2017 | SMH

The Treasurer, Scott Morrison, strayed into some rather silly territory this week in a speech seeking to lay down a new set of markers for the budget, divvying up government debt into "good" and "bad" debt.

In a small way, it's nice to have a concession – at last - that government debt is not always "bad".


Malcolm Turnbull is forcing Australia's gas producers to curb local prices

26 April 2017 | Business Insider

Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull is taking on the country’s gas producers as part of his plan to tackle the rising gas prices for Australian consumers due to domestic shortages.

Producers will now operate under tighter restrictions on exports to ensure that Australian consumers and business have an adequate supply.

 


Donald Trump's team unveils opening bid for 'biggest tax cut' in US history

26 April 2017 | SMH

The White House made its opening bid for what officials called the "biggest tax cut" in US history - with cuts that would benefit businesses, the middle class and certain high-earning individuals - but left unanswered questions about whether the plan would be paid for, or how.


'Please don't forget us': the hellish search for Syria's lost prisoners

25 April 2017 | Guardian Australia

“I still remember their last words to me: ‘Please don’t forget us’. This rings in my ears every day like church bells, like a daily call for prayer.”

Mansour al-Omari, a Syrian human rights activist, recalls the moment his name was called by the jailer after spending nine months in detention. He was lucky to be released, but is haunted by those he left behind.


Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull visits Australian troops in Iraq and Afghanistan

24 April 2017 | The Age

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has made an unannounced Anzac Day-eve visit to Iraq and Afghanistan to meet serving Australian troops, and leaders of both countries.

In a strictly controlled visit - the details of which were kept secret to protect the safety of Mr Turnbull and his travelling party - the Prime Minister visited Iraq on Sunday, and Afghanistan on Monday.


Climate change offers huge investment opportunity, Al Gore tells World Bank

24 April 2017 | AFR

Climate change should be grasped as an opportunity to attract vast capital flows into low-carbon investments, create jobs and spur economic growth, rather than viewed as a money-absorbing burden, top officials and experts say.



English language bar for citizenship likely to further disadvantage refugees

24 April 2017 | The Conversation

Citizenship applicants will need to demonstrate a higher level of English proficiency if the government’s proposed changes to the Australian citizenship test go ahead.

Applicants will be required to reach the equivalent of Band 6 proficiency of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).


Trump Thinks This Is Pro-Life?

24 April 2017 | The New York Times

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — When President Trump and his (male) aides sit at a conference table deciding to cut off money to women’s health programs abroad, they call it a “pro-life” move.

Yet here in Haiti, I’ll tell you the result: Impoverished women suffer ghastly injuries and excruciating deaths. Washington’s new women’s health policies should be called “pro-death.”

 


Sweating on every word – how ASIC massaged the banking message

24 April 2017 | SMH

"Sorry about this, it's obviously a huge deal for CFP [Commonwealth Bank's financial planning unit]. They have sweated over EVERY word in the media release, believe me ..."

Rather than being an email from a CBA PR about a press release it was about to issue, it is an email from an ASIC executive, relating to an enforceable undertaking after finding gross misconduct in its financial planning division, thanks to a tip-off from CBA whistleblower Jeff Morris.


Grim warning on North Korea missile threat as Julie Bishop blasts regime

24 April 2017 | SMH

As military tensions on the Korean Peninsula escalated further on Sunday, defence experts said Pyongyang could have the ability to strike Australia with an inter-continental ballistic missile [ICBM] within three years – but it cannot hit the mainland yet.


Blow out: 11,000 uni students owe $100,000, a 500pc rise on 5 years ago

18 April 2017 | AFR

The number of student loan debtors owing over $100,000 under the federal government's Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) is over five times higher than five years ago, according to the latest official figures.




How CBA, Westpac, AMP won ASIC spin war

18 April 2017 | The Australian

Over nearly a decade, the corporate regulator regularly bowed to demands from big banks and financial players — NAB, CBA, Westpac, Macquarie and AMP — to water down the language used in press releases dealing with industry wrongdoing.


'A cynical move': readers on Theresa May's snap election

18 April 2017 | Guardian Australia

Britain is set for its second general election in two years, after Theresa May made a surprise announcement that she wants to hold a snap election on 8 June.


How $500k of Donald Trump campaign funds have been funnelled into his businesses

18 April 2017 | The Independent

Donald Trump's properties have reportedly cashed in on nearly $500,000 of the money set aside for the President’s 2020 re-election campaign.


Abolition of 457 visa is more a political stunt than serious change

18 April 2017 | AFR

Prime Minister's Malcolm Turnbull plan to abolish 457 visas has predictably attracted much attention. But when he announced he would replace the skilled visa with a new skilled visa, the 'abolition' started to smack of a political stunt.


Malcolm Turnbull to abolish 457 immigration work visas

18 April 2017 | SMH

The Turnbull government has cracked down on foreign worker visas and adopted an "Australians first" approach to skilled migration, scrapping the controversial 457 visa program and announcing a much stricter replacement.

Two new temporary skills shortage visas will impose tougher English language tests and stricter labour market testing, and require at least two years of work experience and a mandatory police check.


Thousands of Working New Yorkers Are Living in Homeless Shelters

17 April 2017 | The Wall Street Journal

Donna Morgan is dreaming about shrimp and okra, deviled eggs with onions, and porgy.

It has been a long day at work, and the 51-year-old Manhattan health aide is yearning for the taste of home.

Instead, she likely will pick up some fast food and return to the Lower East Side homeless shelter where she has lived since October.


With Trump Appointees, a Raft of Potential Conflicts and ‘No Transparency’

17 April 2017 | The New York Times

WASHINGTON — President Trump is populating the White House and federal agencies with former lobbyists, lawyers and consultants who in many cases are helping to craft new policies for the same industries in which they recently earned a paycheck.


How Dan Single went from a $24m net worth to a $250k handout plea

16 April 2017 | SMH

In their heyday in 2008, Dan Single and his Ksubi jeans co-founder, George Gorrow, had an estimated net worth of $24 million. 

Their impressive rise was compounded by headlines the duo created, like the release of nearly 200 live rats on a catwalk in 2001 or showcasing their sunglasses range propped on a penis.


The woman fighting against debt slavery in Pakistan

16 April 2017 | Al Jazeera

Azad Nagar, Sindh Pakistan - The car made its way down the narrow, winding, mostly unpaved road towards Azad Nagar - a settlement on the outskirts of the southern Pakistani city of Hyderabad that is inhabited by freed bonded labourers.

Inside was Veeru Kohli, a former bonded agricultural labourer who is now an activist working for the eradication of this form of slavery.


Thousands of injured workers to be forced onto Welfare

16 April 2017 |

Since injuring his back as a chef, David Hockey has been fighting constant pain and an insurance company that encouraged him to work in aged care or as a farmer.


Trump Signs Law Taking Aim at Planned Parenthood Funding

15 April 2017 | The New York Times

WASHINGTON — President Trump signed legislation on Thursday aimed at cutting off federal funding to Planned Parenthood and other groups that perform abortions, a move cheered by conservatives who have clamored to impose curbs on reproductive rights.


'Sorry, not sorry': United Airlines fallout shows why businesses need to apologise

15 April 2017 | The Age

When cartoonists, satirists, comedians and politicians around the world wade in on a corporate blunder, it's time to raise the white flag.

And so it was for United Airlines which found itself embroiled in a global maelstrom after a video went viral showing a paying customer – a doctor – being brutally dragged off a plane, bloodied and concussed, because the airline had overbooked.


Uber hails $6.5 billion in revenue in 2016, still makes large loss

15 April 2017 | AFR

Ride-hailing service Uber generated $US6.5 billion ($8.5 billion) in revenue last year and its gross bookings doubled to $US20 billion, the company said on Friday.

Its adjusted net loss was $US2.8 billion, excluding the operation in China it sold last year, Uber said.




The single tweet that revealed Trump's foreign policy

13 April 2017 | The Age

As a general rule, it's probably wise to ignore what Donald Trump tweets. The more he's firing off missives about Snoop Dogg or The Celebrity Apprentice, the more likely it is he's doing something actually significant offline. Like, say, trying to abolish the Education Department or gut the Environmental Protection Agency. But I couldn't help break that rule this week when he indicated he'd be prepared to attack North Korea. Maybe. I mean, who really knows? Anyway, here's the tweet: "North Korea is looking for trouble. If China decides to help, that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without them! USA"


Kikki.k exposed to higher labour costs after revelation it pays no penalty rates

13 April 2017 | AFR

Retailer Kikki.k, which has faced criticism as the first employer to factor in cuts to Sunday and public holiday rates in its new workplace deal, never paid staff penalty rates in the first place, it can be revealed.


Melania Trump and Daily Mail Settle Her Libel Suits

12 April 2017 | New York Times

LONDON — The Daily Mail apologized to Melania Trump on Wednesday and agreed to pay damages to settle two lawsuits she had filed over an article last year asserting that the professional modeling agency she worked for in the 1990s had also been an escort service.


Financial planner accountants have one last chance to redeem reputation

12 April 2017 | ABC

Five years ago the accounting profession was presented with an opportunity to show the world it was a cut above the rest on ethics and the wellbeing of its customers.

It blew it.

What we learnt was that when it came to the temptation of easy money, accountants were no different to anyone else.

Let me explain.


Malcolm Turnbull shuts down MP debate on super for housing deposits

12 April 2017 | The Age

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has moved to shut down the unruly public debate over letting first-home buyers raid their superannuation, saying the issue had gone "round and round" and referring to his earlier criticism of the plan as a "thoroughly bad idea". 




Get ready for the next financial crisis

12 April 2017 | AFR

Ever since the dust settled on the global financial crisis there's been no shortage of experts trying to predict when the next big crisis will happen and what will cause it.

To date there hasn't been one but maybe it's not too far away.

 


Donald Trump says 'going to go it alone' if China won't help on N. Korea nukes

12 April 2017 | AFR

US President Donald Trump says the US is prepared to tackle the crisis surrounding North Korea without China if necessary.

The president made the comments on Wednesday (Thursday AEDT) at a joint news conference with visiting NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. Trump met Chinese President Xi Jinping last week and spoke to him by phone on Wednesday night.





One-third of Australians are being underpaid superannuation

11 April 2017 | Guardian Australia

One-third of eligible workers in Australia are being underpaid superannuation by their employers, or not being paid super at all.

The average underpayment is worth $2,025 a person each year, and more than 2.7 million workers are affected.


Almost half of all Centrelink robo-debt cases sent to private debt collectors

11 April 2017 | Guardian Australia

Centrelink has used private debt collectors to pursue 43% of the debts raised by its controversial “robo-debt” system, a rate vastly higher than normal.

New figures show 56,504 of the 132,764 debts raised by the system between July and March were handed to two firms contracted by the Department of Human Services – Probe Group and Dun & Bradstreet.


'I won't be doing this forever': the barista with a Masters is a complex problem

11 April 2017 | The Age

I was buying a coffee before work, when the barista looked straight at me and blurted out in an alarmed and defensive voice: "I'm only here until I can get a teaching job. Honestly, I won't be doing this forever." Why was she telling me this? Why was she making such a loud and public declaration about her future life? Another customers scowled at me as if I were some kind of agent-inquisitor from the Gen Y thought-police. What the hell?


Scott Morrison makes the case for negative gearing change

11 April 2017 | The Age

It's hard to decide which was more impressive: the case Treasurer Scott Morrison made to the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute for changing our negative gearing rules, or the contortions he subsequently performed to deny any need for changing negative gearing. 


Wells Fargo sets new standard in forcing bankers to cough up

11 April 2017 | AFR

Wells Fargo used to be the exemplar of a what a successful retail bank should look like, with financiers around the world marvelling at its ability to expand its market share by aggressively "cross-selling" its range of banking products.

Now it's become the gauge for the type of penalties bankers can expect to pay for misbehaviour.





I looked at hundreds of millennials' CVs and this is what I learned

10 April 2017 | ABC

Over the last month and a bit, I've been recruiting. In February, RN advertised for six digital producers. Two of them were on my team, and I received more than 260 applications.

"Digital producer" could mean a lot of things, but for us it meant journalists with multimedia skills — and virtually everyone who applied was between 18 and 30.

 


Private hearings ‘a risk to ICAC’s existence’

10 April 2017 | The Australian

Gary Sturgess, the architect of the Independent Commission Against Corruption, has warned that making hearings private would bring its future into question, but says there is widespread support for measures to limit damage to reputations arising from its hearings.


May budget: Axe hovers over government's $648.5 million work-for-the-dole program

10 April 2017 | SMH

The Turnbull government's powerful expenditure review committee has discussed axing one of Tony Abbott's first major policy achievements, the work-for-the-dole program.

But a group of backbench MPs have lobbied Treasurer Scott Morrison as part of a rearguard action to save it, with one describing work for the dole as "red meat for the base" and warning that axing it would infuriate the party's conservative supporters.


Too many stuff-ups about to put economic reform into reverse

10 April 2017 | The Age

I have bad news and worse for advocates of micro-economic reform. First, the jig is up. There'll be few if any further major reforms. Second, the backlash against mounting wreckage from failed reforms is about to begin.

Since the reform push has degenerated into little more than business rent-seeking – let's cut tax on business and increase it on consumers; let's push the legislated balance of power in industrial relations further in favour of employers – it's neither surprising nor regrettable that voters have called a halt.


How to qualify for a super pension

10 April 2017 | AFR

From July 1 starting a superannuation pension by retiring will become an increasingly popular strategy as individuals seek to leave transition to retirement pensions, or transition to retirement income streams (TRISs).

This is because from that date a TRIS will no longer be tax-free, while assets supporting an account-based pension, which is typically harder to get, will continue to be exempt from earnings tax.

 


BHP drives ASX to two-year high

10 April 2017 | AFR

News that BHP Billiton is being urged by an activist US hedge fund to demerge its petroleum arm sent the miner's shares soaring in late trade and pushed the benchmark index to a two-year high.

Elliot Management, which holds about 4.1 per cent of BHP's London-listed shares, proposed unifying BHP's dual-listed company structure into a sole Australian entity and separately listing the miner's US petroleum business on the New York stock exchange. 




Loan limits firm up Australia's AAA rating but risks remain: Moody's

10 April 2017 | AFR

Australia's prized AAA credit rating could be firmed up by the prudential regulator's moves to target interest-only loans, according to Moody's, but the credit ratings agency remains concerned that elevated household debt may amplify economic risk if housing markets turn sour.



America owes China $1tn. That’s a problem for Beijing, and Trump knows it

09 April 2017 | Guardian Australia


Banks are still lending too much to property owners

09 April 2017 | The Age

Real estate continues to dominate the headlines in tandem with speculation on the future of the housing market as the banking regulator's crack down on interest-only loans begins to bite.

Bank of Queensland chief executive John Sutton was front-page news last week when he revealed that some of his competitors were offering maximum loans of up to 30 per cent more than his bank was prepared to write. He finished with a timely warning: "This will end in tears."


The plot to kill off tough new wage fraud laws

06 April 2017 | SMH

 

Shocking cases of wage fraud in the big brands of 7-Eleven, Domino's, Caltex and United Petroleum, ricochet across the country, prompting all sides of politics to promise new legislation to rein in systemic wage fraud.

Or so we thought.



 


Australian millennials rank second last in global home ownership survey

06 April 2017 | ABC

Is the property market simply out of reach for younger Australians?

Australian millennials were ranked second last in home ownership in a recent survey by international bank HSBC.

The bank surveyed 9,000 millennials — people between the ages of 18 and 36 — in nine different countries.


Former RBA governor Bernie Fraser says penalty rate cut will produce inequality, not jobs

06 April 2017 | SMH

Former Reserve Bank boss Bernie Fraser has savaged the Fair Work Commission's cuts to penalty rates and the Turnbull government's company tax cuts, saying the measures will further entrench inequality but do little to produce jobs and growth.


ASIC head says he's still seeing 'appalling things' at Australian banks

06 April 2017 | SMH

The head of the corporate regulator says he is still uncovering "some pretty appalling things" when conducting surveillance on Australian banks.

Australian Securities and Investments Commission Chairman Greg Medcraft said banks still had a way to go to restore the trust of their customers, and while at a board level banks seem to "get it", on the ground there are still issues.


IAG CEO Peter Harmer blows the whistle on cyber risk

06 April 2017 | AFR

After a week of being bruised and battered over elevated reputation and credit risks, the last thing the bankers attending The Australian Financial Review Banking and Wealth Summit needed was a reminder of the rising operational risks from cyber attacks.

But the straight-shooting chief executive of Insurance Australia Group, Peter Harmer, did not dodge the question when asked what his firm had found while trawling through the "dark web".

 


Treasurer Scott Morrison to big business: Help us win on tax cuts

05 April 2017 | AFR

Treasurer Scott Morrison is calling on big business to take up the fight for tax cuts for major corporations, warning that without winning over the public there's little hope of the government passing the rest of its tax plan through the Senate.

While Mr Morrison will recommit the government to legislating the remainder of its tax cuts, the tarnished reputation of the top end of town is making it easier for Labor to demonise big business.

 


$20m for remote housing to roll out in 3 months but NTG is still unable to say who will qualify

05 April 2017 | ABC

Seven months into its term, the Northern Territory Government is struggling to put concrete details on a key election promise to equalise access to housing in the bush.

As part of its pre-election pitch to win back the support of bush voters, Labor tapped into discontent in remote communities over "discrimination" in the allocation of housing for government employees.


Adani mine railway loan would breach government's policy, says legal group

05 April 2017 | Guardian Australia

A $1bn federal loan to builders of a railway line between the proposed Adani coalmine and the coast would be a direct breach of government policy, a legal group has claimed.

Environmental Justice Australia has lodged a formal complaint with the Productivity Commission over the prospect of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility partially funding the 400km rail line.


United Petroleum blasted by Fair Work Ombudsman for underpaying staff

05 April 2017 | SMH

Petrol giant United Petroleum has been blasted by the workplace regulator for rampant underpayment of workers across its franchise network after a series of raids.

The Fair Work Ombudsman's investigation also found that a company related to United Petroleum's head office and which shared the same two directors was also underpaying staff.


Wall Street finishes flat ahead of earnings season, key US-China meeting

04 April 2017 | ABC

It was a fairly flat session on Wall Street overnight, as investors exercised caution ahead of the first-quarter earnings season and a meeting between the US and Chinese presidents later this week.

Investors will be focussed on the potentially tense meeting between Donald Trump and Xi Jinping on Thursday and Friday, after Mr Trump held out the possibility of using trade as a lever to secure China's cooperation against North Korea during the talks.


Syria conflict: Dozens dead, including children, in suspected chemical attack in Idlib

04 April 2017 | SMH

The deadliest chemical weapons attack in years in Syria killed dozens of people in northern Idlib province on Tuesday morning, including women and children, and sickened scores more, according to medics, rescuers and witnesses in the rebel-held province, who said the gas had been delivered by a government airstrike.

 


Australian police seize ice drug haul worth $900m in record bust

04 April 2017 | Guardian Australia

Almost a tonne of the drug ice has been seized in Melbourne in the largest ever bust in Australia’s history.

Two men have been charged with drug trafficking after the record 903kg haul, valued at almost $900m.


Federal budget to tackle illegal cash economy costing up to $15b in lost revenue

04 April 2017 | SMH

The Turnbull government is expected to announce some interim measures in the May federal budget aimed at beginning a long journey to claw back up to an estimated $15 billion in lost federal tax revenue and illegitimate welfare payments due to widespread cash economy activity.


The plane, the plane! Pauline Hanson in hot water with AEC

04 April 2017 | AFR

Labor has asked the Australian Electoral Commission to investigate whether Pauline Hanson's One Nation breached financial disclosure laws over the use of a light plane flown and owned by her chief of staff James Ashby.



Budget could contain tax increases, says Mathias Cormann

03 April 2017 | AFR

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann has hinted there could be tax increases in the May budget but says the government will adhere to its medium-term target of the overall tax take not exceeding 23.9 per cent of the economy.

 





George Calombaris' restaurants underpaid staff $2.6 million

03 April 2017 | The Age

Nearly 200 staff at George Calombaris' restaurants have been underpaid $2.6 million, with the celebrity chef blaming "historically poor processes" for the bungle.


Company tax cuts issue balloons into a problem for the 2017 budget

02 April 2017 | AFR

If you think about it, the Turnbull government's problem with its ambitious 10-year plan for company tax cuts was that it was always a bit of a stranded asset, or more appropriately, liability. And that was long before the House of Representatives adjourned on Friday without bothering to discover the bill's fate in the Senate.


Death threats and smear campaigns, the lot of a whistleblower

02 April 2017 | SMH

The culture of "don't dob in a mate" strikes at the heart of our poor treatment of whistleblowers. From an early age we are told to keep quiet and avoid the stigma of being a snitch or a troublemaker.


 

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