Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Star Entertainment executive chair David Foster privately suggested abolishing NSW casino regulator, inquiry hears

Star Entertainment executive chairman David Foster privately canvassed abolishing the independent casino regulator in New South Wales despite public comments he was fully cooperating, an inquiry has heard.

Mr Foster admitted making the comments in a text message to then-chief executive Robbie Cooke, but said they were "out of context" and "made in the heat of the moment".

LISTEN to my coverage of the second Star Entertainment inquiry

Under questioning from counsel assisting the inquiry Caspar Conde, Mr Foster said the suggestion about abolishing the NSW Independent Casino Commission (NICC) related to "levelling the playing field" to ensure pubs and clubs receive the same scrutiny as casinos.

Mr Foster said Mr Cooke did not endorse his suggestion to abolish the NICC but responded "yes it is on my list".

Mr Foster was also asked about text comments on January 31 2024 that casino regulator was "prepping for war .. and we'd better do the same".

"It was a comment made in the heat of the moment," Mr Foster told the inquiry.

"As I've reflected on it, I was a bit trigger happy with a number of my texts.

"I do stress that all of my engagement with the regulator and Mr Weekes (special external manager to Star) has always been professional and constructive."

Last week, external manager Nick Weekes told the inquiry he assumed top Star executives were spying on his diary ahead of a special meeting with NSW casino regulators.

Mr Foster is alleged to have to CEO Robbie Cooke that Star could have an opportunity to "get rid" of Mr Weekes.

The second inquiry led by Adam Bell SC is examing whether Star Entertainment is suitable to hold a casino licence in New South Wales.

Thursday, April 18, 2024

AUSTRAC slaps businesses with fines for failing to comply with anti-money laundering, counter-terror financing laws

The financial intellegence agency has slapped a range of businesses with infringement notices for failing to comply with their reporting obligations on anti-money laundering laws and counter-terrorison funding.

The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) has targeted companies and sole traders including pubs, clubs, non-bank lenders, bookmakers, financial services providers and trustees.

The initial infringement notices range from $3,300 for sole traders to $16,500 for companies for each contravention.

AUSTRAC has named the entities as Global Capital Management, Katoomba RSL All Services Club, Powered Investments, Albany Capital Investors, CP2 Investment Services and Archiwoods Capital.

In a statement, AUSTRAC CEO Brendan Thomas said ensuring businesses comply with anti-money laundering and counter-terror financing rules is critical to safeguarding Australian communities from serious crime.

"A key aspect of Australia's anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing regime is ensuring AUSTRAC receives information from businesses to support our work, and the work of our law enforcement partners," Mr Thomas said.

"Criminals and terrorists target businesses with weak anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing settings, which is why continued industry engagement is crucial."

The infringement notices related to failures to report the 2022 annual compliance report.

Friday, March 1, 2024

Pandemic super raid to cost $85 billion as more retirees tap aged pension - according to Super Members Council

Four years after the pandemic emergency was declared, the massive financial and social cost of allowing Australians to raid their retirement nesteggs is becoming clear.

LISTEN: Pandemic super raid to cost $85 billion as more people tap aged pension

New analysis shows the Morrison government's early release of superannuation scheme could hit future taxpayers with as much as $85 billion additional costs as people who tapped super funds are forced to rely on the aged pension.

Modelling by the Super Members Council - which represents funds managing $1.4 billion of retirement savings - shows the Early Release of Super Scheme scheme will mean a higher reliance on the aged pension and lower tax from superannuation hitting $2.5 billion a year by the mid-2060s.

Super Members Council chief executive Misha Schubert told the ABC's AM program the financial toll of the early release scheme where members miss out on compound interest will burden all Australian taxpayers for decades to come.

"In the early stages of the COVID pandemic, before government assistance kicked in with JobKeeper, many Australians were encouraged to sacrifice their retirement savings to support themselves," Ms Schubert said.

"Tragically, that will now leave many people significantly poorer in retirement.

"Those withdrawals will also cost the next generation of taxpayers in a case of fiscal long-COVID."

Mischa Schubert, CEO Super Members Council (supplied)

It's been estimated that three million Australians withdrew around $38 billion from superannuation under the scheme which was introduced as an emergency measure in April 2020 in face of an economic crisis where the unemployment rate was feared to hit 25 percent.

Australians who claimed to be financially impacted by COVID-19 were able to apply to access their superannuation between April and December 2020 to take two maximum portions of $10,000 totalling $20,000.

According to the analysis, all of today's 20-year-olds are projected to pay about $3,000 more tax to cover the higher pension bill caused by the scheme.

In an example of a 30-year-old who withdrew the maximum $20,000 from super during the pandemic, there would be would $93,600 less at retirement leaving the member "dramatically worse off in their lifetimes".

In a statement, Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones attacked what he called the Morrison government's "raid" of the super system during the pandemic.

"It's crystal clear that the former government's raid of the super system had a devastating impact on the retirement savings of millions of Australians," Mr Jones said.

"It's why the Albanese Government is committed to legislating an objective of super to help prevent this sort of short-sightedness ever happening again."

The expected toll from the super access program comes as a senate committee examines the objective of superannuation.

The federal government maintains the main objective must be to provide a dignified retirement nest egg which shouldn't be eroded by populist proposals such as using super for a housing deposit, paying off HECs debts or to fund aged care.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Higher mortgage stress but "still resilient" economy: Commonwealth Bank boss Matt Comyn

Commonwealth Bank chief executive Matt Comyn says there has been a slight increase in loan arrears and impairments as Australians struggle to pay their mortgage. 

But he still sees the economy as "fairly resilient" despite aggresive interest rate rises. 

Mr Comyn also called for flexibility in the "right to disconnect" and still thinks there's a future for cash.

Commonwealth Bank has revealed an 8 per cent fall in its half year profit to $4.8 billion. 

Matt Comyn speaks with ABC's Peter Ryan

Monday, February 12, 2024

Jobless likely to tick to 4 per cent; Commonwealth Bank to deliver another bumper profit in snapshot of broad economy health

Australia's unemployment rate is likely to tick slightly higher when official figures are released on Thursday.


Economists predict the January jobless rate will come in at 4 per cent, up from 3.9 per cent in December, with around 30,000 new jobs created.

That's a bounceback from December when 65,000 positions were lost.

The marginal rise in unemployment comes as the impact of 13 interest rates rises since May 2022 continues to slow the economy.

Other key indicators this week will be an update on business confidence from the National Australia Bank and consumer sentiment from Westpac.

The company reporting season continues with profit updates from JB Hi Fi, the Commonwealth Bank, Telstra, Origin Energy and AMP.

Wall Street ended mainly higher at the week as investors snapped in technology stocks that could benefit from the boom in artificial intelligence.

Friday, February 9, 2024

Reserve Bank governor Michele Bullock cautious on rate cuts while inflation remains above 4 per cent

Reserve Bank governor Michele Bullock warns there "still some way to go" to meet the midpoint of the inflation target range of 2 to 3 per cent, adding the central bank has not ruled out another rise in interest rates, neither has it ruled it in. 

Ms Bullock told the House Economics Committee the Board "considered a range of scenario" before Tuesday's decision to leave the cash rate on hold at 4.35 per cent.

Here's my analysis on The World Today

Robots at home, smart kitchens, smart bathrooms - NBN Co boss Stephen Rue on AI future

Robots in the home, smart kitchens, smart bathrooms, better healthcare and virtual reality becoming part of our lives.

That's the not-to-distant future for Australian households as the National Broadband Network embraces artificial intelligence and what will be massive demand for greater internet bandwidth.

The NBN Co's Stephen Rue concedes there are big ethical and moral hurdles to overcome but he predicts A-I will life changing, rivalling the introduction of the Internet and the I-phone.

Here's my interview with Stephen Rue

Thursday, February 8, 2024

"the last of the old school bankers" - National Australia Bank chief executive Ross McEwan to retire with Andrew Irvine to take over

Five years ago, the National Australia Bank was in deep damage control after losing both its chief executive Andrew Thorburn and chairman Ken Henry who were forced to resign after the banking royal commission.

The board of Australia's second biggest bank turned to banking veteran Ross McEwan to rescue the NAB and to somehow restore it's smashed reputation.

Now Ross McEwan's time is up.

The 66 year old Melbourne-based New Zealander is retiring and making way for Andrew Irvine currently the head of the NAB's business and bank.

I spoke with both Mr McEwan and Mr Irvine after the announcement about about scams, cheques and the future of cash.

But I began with Ross McEwan about the early dark days after the Royal Commission.


Here's my early take on Ross McEwan's retirement posted on ABC News Online shortly after the announcement.

Ross McEwan was almost the National Australia Banks accidential chief executive. 

He was recruited in late 2019 in the wake of the Banking Royal Commision which claimed the scalps of top NAB executive including his predecessor Andrew Thorburn and chairman Ken Henry. 

At the time of his appointment, Mr McEwan said there was no "silver bullet" to restore the NAB's reputation and credibility after the bank was smeared with allegations and evidence of shoddy banking practices.

But in his four years as CEO, Ross McEwan has worked to restore trust and to put a human face to banking.

He regularly toured regional Australia in the wake of devastating bushfire to provide confidence the NAB would stand by to assist business borrowers.

And he went interstate to gauge the impact of pandemic lockdowns across Australia where the economic impact of closed borders and staff shortages ravaged businesses big and small.

A one time head of retail banking at the Commonwealth Bank, Mr McEwan was overlooked to replace Ralph Norris as CEO - a role won by Ian Narev.

But in most ways, Mr McEwan dodged a bullet and Ian Narev was swept into managing scandal at the CBA's insurance arm CommInsure and later fallout from anti-money laundering and counter terror financing breaches.

Mr McEwan went on to be CEO at the Royal Bank of Scotland in the wake of the global financial crisis which saw the once prestigious bank bailed out by the British taxpayer.

Mr McEwan's reputation as a calm, straight speaking banker with high level crisis management credentials will be a hard act to follow for his successor Andrew Irvine as the NAB continues to go back to basics.


Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Reserve Bank board considered pre-Christmas rate hike but paused on "encouraging signs" about slowing inflation

The Reserve Bank board left official interest rates on hold a fortnight ago given "encouraging signs" that aggressive hikes are conquering inflation. 

In its final meeting of the year, the RBA board held the cash rate at 4.35 per cent despite concerns that inflation could remain above the 2 to 3 per cent target "for a prolonged period".

Here's my hot take for The World Today from outside RBA headquarters in Sydney's Martin Place

Friday, December 15, 2023

Tax identity fraudsters stealing billions of dollars from hijacked tax accounts. Inspector-General of Taxation launches probe.

Inspector-General of Taxation Karen Payne is investigating the theft and hijacking of personal information that's allowed millions of dollars of tax fraud by professional scammers.

LISTEN: I speak with Inspector-General of Taxation Karen Payne

Ms Payne - whose agency probes complaints about the Australian Taxation Office - has raised concerns that criminals have been using stolen identities to infiltrate the tax system to change details and then illegally claim tax refunds belonging to another taxpayer.

Here's a special I did for ABC News On Demand

The Inspector-General is investigating 130 complaints the ATO is yet to resolve and says evidence of infiltration by scammers to steal tax refunds potentially undermines faith in the security of personal details and tax accounts.

"It does rattle confidence in the tax system. What I'm concerned about is whether the tax system itself and the  checks and balances within that system are working so that this doesn't happen," Ms Payne told the ABC's "AM" program.

"How many of those tax debts have been created because people have fraudulently access people's personal details to claim refunds they're not entitled to? How has somebody been able to infiltrate the tax system?"

Ms Payne says scammers have been able to reap windfall refunds as part of a criminal bonana. 

"We have an idea that it's actually in the millions (of dollars). And that's a significant sum of money that that warrants further investigation by our agency," Ms Payne said.

The Australian Taxation Office has agreed to meet with Ms Payne in early 2024 to provide a briefing on the extent of the tax identity fraud.

"These are cases that the ATO has not been able to resolve satisfactorily. These are the cases that the Tax Office didn't resolve to the satisfaction of the complainant," Ms Payne said.

"These are unsuspecting individual taxpayers who've had their accounts compromised and use to perpetrate a fraud in the tax system. Why is that not being caught before the money goes out the door?"

A spokesperson for the Australian Taxation Office says they're aware of the Inspector-General's investigation that the ATO has sophisticated processes across its systems to detect fraud. 

"Our systems and controls are strong. We are working with the Inspector-General to assist with this investigation," the spokesperson said.

"The ATO is not, nor have we ever been, complacent when it comes to security and fraud prevention."

Taxpayers who suspect they're victims of tax identity fraud should call 1-800-467-033 and a complaint can be lodged with the Australian Taxation Office.

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Michele Bullock's honeymoon over as RBA boss hikes rates for 13th time since May 2022

After a relatively smooth induction as Reserve Bank governor, it seems the honeymoon's over for Michele Bullock.

Her decision to hike interest rates for the 13th time since May last year means more pre-Christmas pain for borrowers and the real risk of a followup in the coming months.

Here's my analysis on AM and ABC NewsRadio

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Going, going ... Goyder. Qantas chairman eyes early exit "in recognition of reputational issues"

After weeks of pressure, Qantas chairman Richard Goyder has announced he'll step down and leave the airline some time next year. 

The decision follows growing anger from Qantas customers and shareholder groups demanding his retirement and greater accountability for members of the Qantas board. 

Mr Goyder's pending departure comes amid allegations that Qantas sold tickets for flights that didn't exist and a High Court ruling that the airline unlawfully sacked 17-hundred ground workers at the height of the pandemic.

Here's my coverage on The World Today

Monday, October 9, 2023

Peter Costello to step down from Future Fund after 14 years as Treasurer Jim Chalmers continues "renewable" of key institutions

Former Liberal Treasurer Peter Costello won't be seeking a third term as chairman of the federal governments Future Fund.

Here's my coverage on ABC Newsradio

A spokesman for Treasurer Jim Chalmers has confirmed Mr Costello's 14 year stint first as a board member then chair will end in February after 14 years.

Mr Costello's decision to step down follows renewal at the top of key institutions including the Reserve Bank and the Productivity Commission.

The spokesman thanked Mr Costello for his "significant contribution" and said a merit-based selection process will now commence to appoint a replacement.

Mr Costello established the sovereign wealth fund as John Howard's Treasurer in 2006 with $60.5 billion in budget surpluses and proceeds from the privatision of Telstra.

Friday, October 6, 2023

A rising number of households on the cusp of financial stress, but Reserve Bank says banking system isn't at risk

Australian homes and businesses are vulnerable to financial stability risks as rising inflation and interest rates continue to pressure the global economy.

Here's my report just after I left the lockup at Martin Place in Sydney

The latest Financial Stability Review released today by the Reserve Bank warns any shock to global growth could result in lower incomes, higher unemployment and “challenge the debt-servicing capacity of more vulnerable borrowers” in Australia.


My report for ABC News Online

The review singles out China as a major risk where stress in the ailing property sector and other imbalances could spread to the rest of the Chinese economy and “reverberate globally”.


Other potential flashpoints include banking systems in the United States and Switzerland where global financial risks remain “elevated” despite intervention by governments to provide support and in the case of Credit Suisse, a forced takeover by rival UBS.


“Higher than anticipated loan losses resulting from rising unemployment could lead to a tightening in lending standards, amplifying the downturn,” the Review says.


“Inflation and interest rates remaining high for an extended period could lead to a significant deterioration in credit quality that could lead to lenders cutting back on the provision of credit.”


The Review warns “disorderly declines in asset prices” could disrupt the functioning of the financial system.


While stressing that Australia’s banks are well-positioned to absorb any shock, the Review says financial institutions could become more cautious about lending given the stresses on households struggling to meet higher mortgage repayments.


“In an adverse scenario where growth slows and unemployment rises more than expected, loan losses for banks would increase,” the Review says.


But it says high provisioning and capital levels “leaves banks well-placed to manage the increase in arrears limiting the impact on credit provision in the economy.”


“Systemic risks are limited due to Australian banks’ low exposure and conservative lending practices.”


The review says only a “very small share of borrowers” are in negative equity (where the value of a loan exceeds the value of a property) further protecting banks from credit losses.


While the Review says Australian households are well-placed to adapt to challenging economic conditions, it warns “some are vulnerable to further shocks”.


It notes most borrowers have restrained discretionary spending, reduced or drawn down savings and increases hours worked to meet repayments.


The Review says variable rate borrowers, who account for three-quarters of loans, have seen repayments increase between 30 per cent and 50 percent since May 22 when interest rates started rising from 0.1 percent.


“The vast majority of households continue to service their debts,” the Review says.


However, the Review does not appear to be alarmed about a feared “mortgage cliff” when fixed interest rate borrowers rollover over a higher variable interest rates world.


“They (fixed rate borrowers) do not appear to be at more risk than similar borrowers and in fact have benefits from having fixed their interest rates at a very low level for an extended period”.


Other risks to financial stability include “the increasing intensity of cyber attacks” on financial institutions, rising geopolitical tensions stemming from the war in Ukraine and effects on climate change on the global economy.


Global sharemarkets have been volatile in recent days on fears that interest rates in the United States will stay higher for longer given resilient inflation.


The Reserve Bank left interest rates steady at 4.1 percent earlier this week, but some economists think fears about inflation and rebounding real estate prices could prompt a November rate hike on Melbourne Cup Day.


Fair Work Ombudsman Anna Booth vows to use criminal penalties to clamp down on wage theft

Newly-appointed Fair Work Ombudsman Anna Booth has vowed to use yet-to-be legislated criminal penalties against employers who deliberately underpay or rip off their workers.

LISTEN to my interview with Anna Booth here

Ms Booth - who began as fair work cop last month - says the risk of tough criminal sanctions including potential jail time would be a major deterent to dodgy bosses if proposed criminal wage theft laws are passed by federal parliament.

"Certainly once the law has passed and there is a criminal liability, as long as the criminal standard of proof has been met then the criminal penalties could flow as well as in the ultimate case of imprisonment.," Ms Booth told the ABC's AM program in an exclusive interview.

"I think the criminal penalties if they become law will be an extremely good, specific and general deterrent. And of course, we will enforce them. 

"It is important that the awareness is raised and there's no doubt that there will be a sharper focus on behavior in that that circumstance."

Ms Booth began her five year term as Ombudsman in September after extensive experience in workplace relations including eight years as Deputy President of the Fair Work Commission from 2012 to 2020.

Ms Booth began her career in the trade union movement in the late 1970s in the clothing industry, witnessing cases of work underpayment and exploitation - paving her path to become Fair Work Ombudsman.

"Back then I observed on almost a daily basis, women being confined to their sewing machines, getting urinary tract infections and getting repetition strain injuries from their work," Ms Booth said.

"There are certain cohorts of workers who are more vulnerable than others. Young people and migrant workers, particularly visa holders .. because they're often either unaware of their rights or afraid to speak up. 

"In the clothing industry, I had seen the experience of of workers being afraid to go to the toilet whilst they were working on sewing machines. So I've seen fear in the workplace. There are still large cohorts of workers who are afraid".

As the mother of a 29 year old daughter with an intellectual disability, Ms Booth is also hoping to eliminate discrimination and injustices for people with disabilities who she says should be welcomed and integretated into the workplace.

Ms Booth recently took to Linkedin to speak about the challenges of placing Clare in employment especially as opportunies faded during the COVID lockdowns.

"Some of the inquiries to our office come either from people with a disability or on or behalf on behalf of people with disability," Ms Booth said.

"I have recently been working very hard to place my own daughter in employment. The challenge is that the workplace itself has to be a great receiving environment for any neurodiverse person. 

"I would like to see more effort put in by not just employers, but the workplace community generally in being a welcoming environment for people with disability."

Ms Booth said in addition to protecting the rights of people with disabilities, her office was casting a net wide across agriculture, aged care, fast food, and universities.

Recently, the Ombudsman's office urged the Federal Court to seek a maximum penalty against the Commonwealth Bank in relation to alleged underpayments of $16 million.

Ms Booth said the maximum penalty stance was designed to send a message to major employers that worker underpayments would not be tolerated.

"It is important that proper penalties be paid in these circumstances so that we shine a light on the behavior and and get people to sit up and take notice," Ms Booth said.

In recent years, the Fair Work Ombudsman has targetted a range of organisations for underpayments including Woolworths, Coles, Qantas and the ABC which agreed to a $600,000 "contrition payment" and an enforcable undertaking to overhaul its timekeeping systems.

A Fair Work Ombudsman spokeman said the ABC's enforcable undertaking over the underpayment of around 1900 staff was "tracking towards finalisation".

"The ABC has been cooperative and it has now completed most obligations," the spokesman said.

In addition to the contrition payment, the spokesman said the ABC had backpaid more than $12 million, plus interest and superannuation.

The ABC recently introduced a new rostering and shift tracking system to ensure it complies with the law.

Monday, October 2, 2023

Not a safe bet, but Melbourne Cup Day rate hike a rising risk

After twelve interest rate rises since May last year, bets are rising that troublesome inflation might force the Reserve Bank to deliver yet another rate hike in the coming months. 

While the RBA's cash rate looks like staying on hold at tomorrow's Board meeting, AMP chief economist Shane Oliver think a November rate rise on Melbourne Cup day is emerging as a real possibility.

Here's my report on The World Today

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Pilots urge emergency ejection of Qantas chairman Richard Goyder

Pressure is continuing to grow on Qantas chairman Richard Goyder - this time from pilots who are calling for his head.

The Australian and International Pilots Association is urging Mr Goyder to step down saying they've lost confidence in him after a rolling crisis that's have damaged the Qantas reputation.

Here's my report on ABC NewsRadio

“Richard Goyder has overseen one of the most damaging periods in Qantas history which has included the illegal sacking of 1,700 workers, allegations of illegally marketing cancelled flights, and a terribly managed return to operations after Covid-19,” said AIPA president Captain Tony Lucas.

“The morale of Qantas pilots has never been lower. We have totally lost confidence in Goyder and his Board.

“Qantas desperately needs a culture reset but how can this happen with Richard Goyder as chairman?

“Despite overseeing the destruction of the Qantas brand, Goyder last week accepted a near $100,000 pay rise - taking his pay to $750,000 - while staff are expected to accept a two-year wage freeze. This is a galling and tone-deaf decision.

"Qantas is more than just an airline - it is a symbol of national pride and trust."

Friday, September 22, 2023

Rupert Murdoch steps aside to become "emeritus chairman" of News Corporation and Fox Corporation. But is he really retiring?

I woke up about 40 minutes earlier than usual this morning and stumbled at my bedside as I looked for my Iphone.

My bleary eyes immediatly went to a subject line that contained "Rupert Murdoch" and I feared the media magnate's final deadline has arrived,

But no - Rupert Murdoch has not departed for the great newsroom in the sky.

Instead, the 92 year old is stepped aside to become "chairman emeritus" making way for his son Lachlan.

Here's my first report on Early AM

I then spoke with author Paddy Manning and with Tom Oriti on ABC NewsRadio.

I also spoke on the BBC World Service

Now I need to update the Rupert Murdoch obituary to reflect the latest chapter in his remarkable and contrversial career

News Corporation papers went "full Rupert" including the New York Post

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Inflation beast still a real and present danger, Reserve Bank minutes warn

The Reserve Bank has signalled that inflation remains a clear and present danger to the economy and that another interest rate rise can’t be ruled out.

Listen to my report on The World Today

That’s despite evidence that twelve interest rate rises since May last year are continuing to slow the economy with Board members warning inflation is still too high.

While the RBA board left the cash rate in hold at its meeting a fortnight ago, the minutes released this morning show the battle to get 4.9 percent inflation back into the 2 to 3 percent target zone is far from over.

In considering whether the inflict another rate hike, the Board noted that inflation was “still too high” and “was expected to remain so for an extended period”.

While headline inflation is slowing, the minutes show concern that services inflation might take a while to decline and that the labour market remains tight with the jobless rate hovering around a 50 year low.

“Were inflation to remain above target for an even longer period, this could cause inflation expectations to move higher which would likely require an even larger increase,” the minutes warn.

However, members also note that the economy is “experiencing a period of subdued growth” led by household consumption as high inflation and rate rises weigh on household budgets.

As the impact of rate rises hit, the Board noted the risk “the economy could slow more sharply than forecast” - in other words a hard economic landing.

The minutes show a deepening concern about China where conditions in the property market had deteriorated further.

“Members noted .. significant challenges from financial stress among developers and further defaults posed a risk to economic activity.”

Board members said they would be guided by incoming economic data in assessing the need for further hikes.

Money markets only see an 8 percent probability of a cash rate rise to 4.35 percent at the RBA’s October meeting.

However, if inflation makes a comeback or remains sticky, there's an outside chance of another rate rise before the end of the year.

Judo Bank economic adviser Warren Hogan sees the outside chance of a November rate rise on Melbourne Cup Day as the final nail in the coffin of inflation.

The minutes make no mention of Philip Lowe’s final meeting as Reserve Bank governor.

Michele Bullock is in her second day as RBA governor and will chair the next meeting on October 3.

Michele Bullock settles in as Reserve Bank governor - image doctors working to tame media coverage in post-Philip Lowe era

Michele Bullock is beginning her second day as Reserve Bank governor.

And as she settles into the hot seat, an image-softening campaign appears to be underway to better explain the way the RBA operates.

That comes after her predecessor Philip Lowe copped negative media coverage after he oversaw twelve interest rate rises since May last year.

Here's my analysis of the media management this morning on ABC Newsradio

The RBA also released a Youtube video explaining the workings of the Reserve Bank in using interest rates to calibrate inflation

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Humiliating apology from Qantas as High Court backs Transport Workers Union on unlawful outsourcing of 1700 staff

"We sincerely apologise"

Three humilitating words from Qantas that underscores the enormity of the High Court loss which has handed the Transport Workers Union an unlikely but hard fought victory after more than a decade of industrial warfare.

It's a far cry from October 2011 when then Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce grounded the entire airline - domestically and globally - in a brazen Saturday afternoon response to industrial action by three key aviation unions.

Anthony Albanese - Labor's Federal Transport Minister at the time - was furious he'd been kept out of the loop until the shutdown went public, accusing Qantas of a "breach of faith with the government".

But the animosity between Qantas and unions existed long before the shock grounding in 2011. 

Here's my coverage from October 2011 including an interview with Alan Joyce in a special Sunday edition of AM

Unions - aware of pressure from major investors to cut costs to boost dividends and shares - had already been pushing back against plans for outsourcing of ground services while negotiating for better wages, conditions and job security.

Alan Joyce's immediate predecessor Geoff Dixon had been known to be considering outsourcing options, such as selling off flight catering, but never executed plans during his reign.

At the time of the grounding, Mr Joyce told reporters he taken action in locking out workers to stop industrial action from "killing Qantas slowly" accusing unions of "trashing our strategy and brand."

Now Qantas stands accused of trashing its own brand - without the help of trade unions.

The massive loss of face for Qantas in accepting a ruling that it acted unlawfully by outsourcing almost 1700 staff further erodes a corporate reputation already in tatters and perhaps beyond repair.

The High Court loss and a ruling that it effectively dispensed with long-serving ground staff to counter future industrial action puts Qantas's social licence in jeopardy - and fuels perceptions that the licence has already been lost.

Forced to "acknowledge and accept" the decision, Qantas has now run out of options in defending its high stakes pandemic strategy of outsourcing staff for "lawful commercial reasons", pinning its hopes on an original ruling from the Federal Court. 

Once loyal consumers are more outraged by the day as the airline's corporate spindoctors constantly recalibrate their crisis management tools with Qantas now splashed on the front pages of tabloids and leading commercial news bulletins for all the wrong reasons.

Just a fortnight ago, allegations from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commissions that Qantas sold fares for cancelled flights could mean a $250 million fine.

Days after the ACCC action was announced, Qantas revealed late on a Friday afternoon that Alan Joyce would be awarded 1.7 million shares worth around $10 million as part of his long term incentives.

Even after Mr Joyce brought his retirement forward by two months to November, the Qantas board has refused to rule out that a $24 million golden parachute awaits as a lucractive puncuation market to a turbulent career.

The Australian Shareholders Association told the ABC earlier this week there were questions on whether the $24 million payout is appropriate, reminding Qantas board to act in the best interests of the company.

The ASA also wants more information in "clawback" provisions in Mr Joyce's contract if his legal obligations were breached.

The Qantas loss is also an early test case - and a red alert - for other companies considering the outsourcing of staff or dilution of pay and conditions.

They now know "commercial reasons" won't be enough cover for stretching industrial law to the limit.

On the other hand, the High Court ruling emboldens Federal Government's campaign to tighten up loopholes on the use of contractors and mechanisms that could result in current of new employees being put on unfavourable terms.

The crisis - complicated by the High Court ruling - casts a great shadown over the Qantas board and whether directors properly questioned Mr Joyce's management to ensure risk and reputation were fully oversighted.

Qantas chairman Richard Goyder is now under fire for his leadership and failure to properly manage Alan Joyce who in the past he's described as Australia's best chief executive.

Now the ghost of Alan Joyce haunts not just Mr Goyder, but Vanessa Hudson who has the task of rebuilding the Qantas reputation aware that the near certainty that new chapters of the crisis await.

The Transport Workers Union has called for a spill of the Qantas board and the exit of Richard Goyder.

Mr Goyder has refused all ABC requests for an on the record interview, but he has told select print commentators that Qantas need to show more humility given it's shattered record.

Richard Goyder and Vanessa Hudson are going to need all the humility they can get - and there's more humble pie to come that will either make or break Qantas

Qantas acted unlawfully in outsourcing 1700 staff, High Court rules.

In yet another critical blow to Qantas, the High Court has backed an earlier ruling the airline acted unlawfully by sacking 1700 ground services staff at the height of the pandemic. 

Dismissing the Qantas appeal, the High Court ruled in favour of the Transport Workers Union upholding a previous Federal Court judgement that Qantas had acted illegally in outsourcing the jobs of baggage handlers, cleaners as part of a commercial decision. 

Qantas has accepted the ruling, but the TWU is now demanding a spill of the entire Qantas board.

Here's my coverage on The World Today 

Monday, September 11, 2023

What did Qantas board know about looming crisis? Pressure grows on chairman Richard Goyder.

The Australian Shareholders Association wants to know what the Qantas board knew about the ACCC's investigation into the "fares with no flights" scandal and what they did to mitigate the fallout. 

The ASA is also questions chief executive Alan Joyce's contract and whether it's subject to clawback provisions on his likely $24 million golden parachute.

Here's my report on the ABC's AM program

Friday, September 8, 2023

AustralianSuper sued over $69m in fees charged to multiple accounts

Corporate regulator ASIC is suing Australian Super alleging it failed to merge multiple member and continued to charge multiple fees and insurance premiums.  

ASIC deputy chair Sarah Court alleges AustralianSuper knew about the problem in 2018 but only began to act in late 2021.

Here's my report on The World Today

Regrets - I've had a few. But Philip Lowe goes out fighting in final speech in a shot at the media as he exits

Philip Lowe has gone out fighting in his final speech as Reserve Bank governor. 

Mr Lowe's warned that Australia's living standards are at risk without productivity reform. 

And he's taken a swipe at the media over the reporting of his now infamous signal that interest rates would stay near zero until 2024. 

Listen to my coverage of Philip Lowe's swangsong here

Also, corporate regulator ASIC is suing Australian Super alleging it failed to merge multiple member and continued to charge multiple feesd and insurance premiums.

Monday, September 4, 2023

Shareholders urge Alan Joyce bonus clawback as Qantas crisis deepens

Australian Shareholders Association chief executive Rachel Waterhouse says Qantas board needs to consider a clawback of bonuses awarded to Alan Joyce and other executives. 

Major investors are demanding a please explain after the competition watchdog accused Qantas of selling tickets for flights that didn't exist - risking fines totalling $250 million.

Here's my report on The World Today

Listen to my earlier report on the ABC's AM program

Thursday, August 31, 2023

Qantas face massive fines for allegedly selling tickets for cancelled flights; Australia Post reveals $200 full year loss as letters decline worsens

Competition regulator ACCC is taking Qantas to the Federal Court alleging the airline advertised tickets for more than 8,000 flights that it had already cancelled but had not removed from sale. 

The watchdog alleges deceptive, false and misleading conduct. 


The theoretical fines (maximum $10 million x 8,000) on paper could equate to $80,000 - off the scale and would never be enforced.

Also Australia Post reveals a $200 million full year loss as the letters decline worsens and community service obligation costs weigh. 

Australia Post chief executive Paul Graham speaks with ABC's Peter Ryan.

Peter Costello says Qatar Airways veto "hard to fathom", underscores Qantas lobbying power; AEMO warns of blackouts risk as coal stations close

Future Fund chairman Peter Costello says the Albanese government's decision to restrict more flights from Qatar Airways is "hard to fathom" at a time when more competition is needed to lower airfares. 

The former Liberal Treasurer says the decision underscores Qantas lobbying in Canberra to protect its market power. 

Also the Australian Energy Market Operator says Victoria and South Australia are facing an increased risk of power blackouts this summer as coal-fired generators close down.

Here's my coverage on ABC Newsradio

Friday, August 18, 2023

Latitude Financial in $98 million half year loss as cyberattack costs mount

 Watch here

Economy at turning point as jobless rate ticks higher; Michael Parkinson in popular culture on cover of Paul McCartney's Band On The Run album

Australia's economy could at a critical turning point after the official jobless rate unexpectedly ticked higher to 3.7 percent in July.  

Listen to my report

While the jobs market remains tight and economy for the most part is resilient, that could change dramatically in the coming months given the economic storm clouds ahead. 

Also Telstra CEO Vicki Brady on big profits driven by the need for speed. 

And some Michael Parkinson trivia - he featured on the cover of Band on The Run by Paul McCartney and Wings.

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Jobless rate ticks up to 3.7pc in July. Could this be a sign the economy is slowing?

There are fresh signs that the economy is starting to gradually slow after aggressive interest rate rises since May last year.

The official unemployment rate ticked slightly higher than expected last month with the number of full time jobs going backwards.

Here's my report on The World Today

It's "the biggest issue" facing the economy: NAB CEO Ross McEwan on the housing supply crisis.

National Australia Bank chief executive Ross McEwan has welcomed by deal struck by National Cabinet supply to boost housing supply.

Mr McEwan's currently on the road on northern New South Wales and he told AM local businesses are struggling to attract workers because housing and rental accommodation is so scarce.

He says the housing crisis is dominating talks with customers - along with mortgage stress from twelve interest rate rises since May last year.

Ross McEwan spoke to me from Tamworth in northwest NSW.

And here's my analysis from the AM program