Friday 28th October 2016 - 6:53 am

The news: Friday October 28

by Alan Thornhill

Australian permanent resident Jessica Wongso has been sentenced to 20 years in jail for murdering her friend Mirna Salihin with a cyanide-laced coffee in a Jakarta cafe.

Federal government negotiating with Senate cross benchers on the timing of proposed changes to family payments

The United Nations seeks Russia’s help in getting aid through to Aleppo BBC

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Thursday 27th October 2016 - 6:33 pm

Labor renews its attack on the banks

by Alan Thornhill

A report showing that Australia’s big banks have been charging their customers for service they did not provide shows, once again, that a royal commission is needed into their behaviour, Labor says.

The Shadow Minister for small business and financial services, Senator Kay Gallagher, made the comment after the financial watchdog, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission delivered its report.

Senator Gallagher said: “the revelation that Australia’s biggest banks have spent years charging over 200,000 customers fees for services they did not receive is yet more proof we need a Royal Commission into the banking and financial services sector.”

She said: “ASIC’s…. report reveals AMP, ANZ, CBA, NAB and Westpac groups will have to pay almost $180 million in compensation because yet again they have failed to do the right thing by ordinary Australians.

“The report shows customers who initially signed up for financial advice have been charged thousands in fees for services they did not even receive – in some cases years after they had any contact with their bank.

“It shows that there were great systems in place to record incoming revenue, but very little to ensure that customers were actually getting anything in return for the fees being charged.

“Customers were even charged fees for advice from financial advisers who had left or retired, and for ‘services’ that involved nothing more than three unanswered phone calls.

“Labor has long argued that our banks and financial services providers are putting profits before people, and Australians are paying a heavy price,” Senator Gallagher said

“ Today’s report on fees …. comes after a steady drip of scandals and rip-offs involving dodgy financial advice, unpaid insurance claims and small businesses having the rug pulled out from under them.

“ Where does it end? “ she asked.

Thursday 27th October 2016 - 3:32 pm

Many migrants succeeding here:ABS figures show

by Alan Thornhill

Many of the migrants who come to Australia seeking better lives succeed here.

That is reflected clearly in figures that the Bureau of Statistics published today.

But others suffer so badly from underpayment and exploitation that the Federal government announced today that it would step in to protect them.

The difference between the two groups is based largely on their skill sets.

The Federal Employment Minister, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash, announced steps she said the Federal government will be taking to protect vulnerable, lower skilled migrant workers.

These include setting up a special task force to help them.

Senator Cash singled out 7-Eleven stores, for special mention, saying the new Taskforce would watch “progress by 7-Eleven in rectifying its breaches.”

She said these convenience stores, which have often been criticised for the way they treat migrant workers have: “a moral obligation to rectify underpayments to employees in its network as quickly as possible.”

The Bureau, though, looked largely at skilled migrants.

It found that migrant taxpayers earned $53.4 billion in total personal income in 2011-12.

In real terms, this was an increase of 17 per cent on the comparable figure for 2010-11.

Most of this income ($49 billion, or 91 per cent) was earned as an employee, with the majority reported by skilled migrants, the Bureau said.

Jenny Dobak of the ABS National Migrants Statistics Unit said: “this type of information allows us to get a much better understanding of the sources of personal income earned by migrants each year.”

“Now that we have three years of data, we know that for the majority of migrant employees, median incomes generally increase over time.”

Skilled migrants had the highest median employee income at $51,992, followed by those with an other permanent visa ($41,941) and those from the family stream ($35,620).

Of skilled migrants, professionals had the highest median employee income ($75,284), followed by skilled managers ($68,609).
However Ms Dobak also noted that humanitarian migrants continued to have the highest median business income of $14,402.

However , this was a “slight decrease” – of 5.2 per cent in real terms between 2010-11 and 2011-12.

Ms Dobak also said: a case study on humanitarian migrant taxpayers showed:

• Whilst they only represent 4.8 per cent of all migrant taxpayers, they reported $1.5 billion in total income, an increase of 35 per cent in real terms on 2010-11
• Over 70 per cent of humanitarian migrants were born in just 10 countries, with migrants from Sudan reporting the most income ($245 million)
• Almost half (49 per cent) of all humanitarian business income was reported by businesses in the construction or transport, postal and warehousing industries.
A separate case study on Indian-born taxpayers showed:
• Indian-born taxpayers generated $7.9 billion in total income, mostly employee income (94 per cent)
• Almost three-quarters of Indian-born taxpayers arrived after 2005. Of these, half were skilled males, with 40 per cent aged 25-34 years of age
Female Indian-born migrants who were primary applicants in Tasmania had a median employee income ($82,364) almost double that of their male counterparts ($48,992).

Thursday 27th October 2016 - 7:32 am

The news: Thursday October 27

by Alan Thornhill

Queensland police promise a thorough investigation of the Dreamworld theme park, where four people died last Tuesday in a rafting accident ABC

Most economists believe there is little chance of another rate cut on Melbourne Cup day next Tuesday as inflation is still subdued

Calais ‘Jungle’ cleared of migrants, French prefect says. BBC

Wednesday 26th October 2016 - 12:19 pm

Inflation still subdued

by Alan Thornhill

Australia’s inflation remains subdued – at 1.3 per cent – despite sharp rises in fruit and vegetable prices in the three months to the end of September.

However these figures, published by the Bureau of Statistics today, do show that Australia’s annual inflation rate now is slightly higher than it was in the 12 months to the end of June, when it stood at 1 per cent.

The Bureau said its Consumer Price Index rose rose 0.7 per cent in the September quarter.

This followed a rise of 0.4 per cent in the June quarter.

The Bureu added that the most significant price rises the latest quarter were for fruit, at 19.5 per cent, vegetables at 5.9 per cent, electricity at 5.4 per cent and tobacco at 2.3 per cent

It added that these rises were partially offset by falls in communication costs, of 2.3 per cent and 2.9 per cent in fuel costs.

The Bureau also said the rise in fruit and vegetable prices had been due to adverse weather conditions, including floods, in major growing areas, impacting supply.

Wednesday 26th October 2016 - 7:38 am

The news:Wednesday October 26

by Alan Thornhill

Four die in rafting accident at Queensland’s Dreamworld ABC

September quarter inflation figures to be released at 11.30am

The International Energy Agency says that the world’s capacity to generate electricity from renewable sources has now overtaken coal. BBC

Tuesday 25th October 2016 - 4:12 pm

Federal ministers losing best staff

by Alan Thornhill

Labor continued to probe the departures of two senior public servants today as the government insisted that it had done nothing wrong in these affairs.

The shadow attorney general, Mark Dreyfus, for example, said: “the wrong person’s gone” when reminded that the Solicitor General, Justin Gleeson not the Attorney General Gorge Brandis, had resigned.

The principals in these cases are a former head of the Department of Agriculture, Paul Grimes and Mr Gleeson.

Mr Grimes had questioned the integrity of the Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce, accusing him of altering the Hansard record.

In one interview, Mr Dreyfus said the government could not stand criticism

“ We see the same thing in the attack on Paul Grimes by the Deputy Prime Minister, forcing him out of his office as Secretary of the Department of Agriculture,” Mr Dreyfus said.

“This is a government that …attacks everybody who dares to speak the truth to it, and then turns around and says to anyone who raises this, like me, that you’re politicising this matter.”

However the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, once again held his ground, declaring his “confidence” in Mr Brandis, when questioned on the subject in a Brisbane television interview.

“He certainly does.

“He absolutely does,” Mr Turnbull replied.

The interviewer said it was the first time in a century that this had happened.

Mr Turnbull’s response was dismissive.

“Well look it’s often that people who are working together can’t get on,” he said.

“And the Solicitor-General has done the right thing, as George has noted and he’s resigned.

But I thank Justin Gleeson for his service as Solicitor-General and the Attorney-General is doing a very good job as well.

So it’s a pity that …the relationship broke down.

“But but that does happen in other circumstances and I think the Solicitor-General’s taken the right course of action,” the Prime Minister said.æ

Tuesday 25th October 2016 - 6:39 am

The news: Tuesday October 25

by Alan Thornhill

Truth is we’re winning the election, Trump insists SMH

A Senate Committee will today examine the expensive breakdown on Census night ABC

Labor is continuing to press for the sacking of the Federal Attorney General, George Brandis. ABC


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Alan Thornhill

Alan Thornhill is a parliamentary press gallery journalist.
Private Briefing is updated daily with Australian personal finance news, analysis, and commentary.

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