Browsing articles in "Financial advice"
Tuesday 16th August 2016 - 12:18 pm
Comments Off on South Australian families “ripped off” on electricity bills

South Australian families “ripped off” on electricity bills

by Alan Thornhill

South Australian families are paying hundreds of dollars  a year more for their electricity than those in other parts of the country, according to a new report.

 

The report by the research group GetUp says that’s because the big three energy companies have been exploiting their market power in that State.

 

It says AGL, Origin and Energy Australia regulate what retailers can charge their customers.

 

Miriam Lyons  of GetUp   says the report, written by Bruce Mountain, reveals the hidden costs of big three’s stranglehold on the South Australian retail market.

 

And she said South Australian families, in particular, are being “ripped off. “

 

“Many South Australians are just keeping their head above water, and they shouldn’t be being ripped off by companies who are taking advantage of their oligopoly position to rake in massive profits,” Ms Lyons added.

 

“How is that, after deregulation, retail charges went from next to nothing to a huge 38 per cent slice of the average customer’s bill?” she asked.

 

The report says AGL, Origin and Energy Australia have a stranglehold on the state’s retail market.

 

 

“How is that, after deregulation, retail charges went from next to nothing to a huge 38 per cent slice of the average customer’s bill?” she asked.

 

This has huge impacts for people struggling to pay unaffordable energy bills.

 

 

Ms Lyons said the three companies are still  lining the pockets of  their energy executives “at the expense of Australian families.”

 

 

“Companies like AGL, Origin and Energy Australia are big enough that they should be able to undercut new entrants to the market ,”  Ms Lyons said.

 

“Instead the new players are much cheaper and the big guys have been able to overcharge customers whatever they want,”   she added.

 

 “When this kind of behaviour was revealed in the UK, there was a huge public outcry – yet their retail charges are a fraction of what the Big Three charge here.”

 

So far, none of the three companies has replied to these allegations.

 

 

 

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Monday 15th August 2016 - 7:42 pm
Comments Off on Tourist industry urges government to scrap its backpacker tax

Tourist industry urges government to scrap its backpacker tax

by Alan Thornhill

 

Young travellers will avoid Australia if the Federal government does not scrap its planned backpacker tax, tourism and transport operators warned today.

 

Margy Osmond, CEO of the Tourism and Transport Forum, said Australia would see an even bigger exodus of young backpackers from Australia if the government persists with the tax..

 

The backpacker tax, introduced in the last Federal budget, would have seen backpackers paying 32.5 cents in the dollar in tax, from the first dollar they earnt in Australia.

 

At present working holidaymakers  only pay tax on earnings above the $18,200 tax threshold.

 

However the government announced before the July 2 election that it would review working holiday visas and postpone any changes to the current tax system until January next year.

 

The delay, in implementing the new backpacker tax will cost the Federal government an estimated $40 million.

 

However the tourism and transport operators want it scrapped altogether, not just suspended.

 

Ms Osmond warned that the most likely result of keeping the proposed tax would be an exodus of working holiday makers to other countries.

 

She described it as as “ill-considered cash grab.”

 

Ms Osmond said her Federation  had welcomed the commencement of the review.

 

And she said it would be “… making the strongest case on behalf of the tourism industry for the Government to abandon the backpacker tax.”

 

Ms Osmond recalled that the Federation had been  “…one of the first industry groups to sound the alarm on the impact of the backpacker tax.”

 

“…and we will continue to campaign for the Federal Government to abandon this ill-considered cash grab,” she added.

 

She said the tourist:  “…industry wants to work in a positive and supportive manner with the Federal Government to grow the sector.”

 

“But a 32.5 per cent tax on backpackers on every single dollar they earn while working in Australia is simply absurd,” she added.

Friday 12th August 2016 - 1:19 pm
Comments Off on Commercial lending eases

Commercial lending eases

by Alan Thornhill

Commercial lending fell by 2.2 per cent in June on trend figures the Bureau of  Statistics published today.

 

On seasonally adjusted figures the fall that month  was even bigger at 8.7 per cent.

 

Lease finance fell by 2.8 per cent in June, but rose by 13 per cent on seasonally adjusted figures.

 

Personal finance rose by 0.3 per cent on trend figures, but fell by 3 per cent on seasonally adjusted figures.

 

Housing finance for owner occupation rose by 0.2 per cent in June on trend estimates, while seasonally adjusted figures showed a 1.8 per cent rise.

Thursday 11th August 2016 - 1:43 pm
Comments Off on Commercial property:worth a look

Commercial property:worth a look

by Alan Thornhill

 

Commercial property?

 

With returns on interest investments at historic lows – and fresh doubts appearing about the future of residential investment, this might be worth some thought.

Especially in view of the results of the National Australia Bank’s latest Commercial Property Survey,which is for Q2 2016

 

It shows that: “sentiment in the retail commercial property market has risen to its highest level in over six years.”

 

However, the bank adds: “strong retail market confidence was not enough to offset the lower sentiment recorded across the office, industrial and CBD hotels sectors.

 

“ Overall, the NAB Commercial Property Index fell 7 points to +5 in the second quarter of this year,” it said.

 

“This was a strong quarter for capital growth in the retail property sector, with respondents expecting retail to grow 1.5 per cent in the next year.

 

“As a result, sentiment in the retail commercial property sector rose to its highest level since early 2010,” NAB Group Chief Economist Alan Oster said.

 

“However, sentiment from respondents was lower across all other sectors, particularly in CBD hotels which was the weakest sector overall .”

 

“Looking towards the future, confidence levels remain broadly unchanged over the next one to two years across all markets.”

 

Market sentiment remained strongest in NSW (+37) and Victoria (+28), likely driven by the continued non-mining recovery whilst sentiment fell heavily in SA/NT (-27

to -51) and, although still subdued, improved slightly in WA (up +4 to -48).

 

The Q2 Survey showed that one in two developers plan to start new works within the next six months.

 

“But developers have also reported further deterioration in their debt and equity funding situations.”

 

That is expected to continue over the next six months.

 

“This is coupled with respondents reporting the average pre-commitment percentage required for developments increased for the fifth straight quarter,” Mr Oster said.

 

The Bank said About 230 property professionals had participated in the Q2 Survey.

Wednesday 10th August 2016 - 1:04 pm
Comments Off on Lending for investment housing rises

Lending for investment housing rises

by Alan Thornhill

Lending for investment housing rose by 3.2 per cent last month, on seasonally adjusted figures published by the Bureau of Statistics today.

 

The Bureau’s figures show that almost $11.8 billion was made available, through fixed loans, for this purpose last month.

 

The Bureau also reported that there had been a 1.2 per cent rise, in commitments for owner occupied housing last month.

 

Loans for the construction of dwellings rose by 2.1 per cent in June, while lending for the purchase of established dwellings rose by 1 per cent.

 

Lending for the purchase of new dwellings rose by 2.7 per cent in June.

Tuesday 9th August 2016 - 2:48 pm
Comments Off on New risks loom

New risks loom

by Alan Thornhill

A new business survey shows that while the Australian economy is still strong, medium to longer term risks are becoming more apparent.

 

These are the conclusions the National Australia Bank’s Chief Economist, Alan Oster, reaches from the results of the bank’s  latest monthly business survey.

 

The bank sid: “for a while now, the NAB Business Survey has provided a relatively consistent message on the health of the Australian economy.”

 

And it added: “It continues to show a steady recovery in non-mining activity, with the services sectors clearly leading the way.”

 

However Mr Oster added a warning.

 

He said:  “there were some notable differences in business conditions across industries this month. “

 

“The largest deterioration was in mining, followed by big falls in transport and wholesale.”

 

“Retail saw the largest improvement, following a weak result last month.”

 

But  Mr Oster said:  “…the contribution from major industries suggests a relatively mixed bag.”

 

He said the service sectors continue to be the best performers.

 

“ Signs of a broadening recovery in recent months have again become more obscure following sharp deteriorations in transport and wholesale – although the recovery in retail conditions was encouraging.”

 

The bank said the economy could run into headwinds from 2017.

 

And it added: “these headwinds may require additional policy action to support growth, especially if the RBA hopes to see inflation return to within its target band.

 

“ Both global and domestic disinflationary pressures are expected to keep CPI inflation below the target band for an extended period.

 

And structural shifts in the economy and modest economic growth would leave the unemployment rate under pressure.

 

“To stabilise the unemployment rate (at around 5.5 per cent) we expect the RBA will feel the need to provide further medium term support through two more 25bp cuts in May and August 2017 (to a new low of 1 per cent).

“And thereafter raises the prospect of the RBA thinking about the use of non-conventional monetary policy measures,” it added.

Monday 8th August 2016 - 7:27 pm
Comments Off on Job ads “ease”

Job ads “ease”

by Alan Thornhill

Job advertising fell last month, according to research the ANZ bank published today.

 

The bank said job ads fell by 0.8 per cent in July.

 

It said this was the first decline since April and may reflect heightened uncertainty temporarily delaying the hiring plans of some employers.

 

It added that the annual growth in job ads has slowed to 6.9 per cent from 8.0 per cent  the previous month.

 

 

The bank said too, that the fall in July was driven by both internet and newspaper job ads.

 

Internet job advertisements, which are the main driver of total job ads, declined by 0.7 per cent in July, the bank noted.

 

It said that annual growth in internet jobs ads had slowed from 8.8 per cent  in June to 7.9 per cent in July.

 

The more volatile newspaper ads remain on a structural downward trend and fell further in July, down 12.6 per cent  in the month to be 41.7 per cent  lower than a year ago.

 

The bank’s head of Australian Economics, Felicity Emmett, said:  “the labour market has lost some momentum so far in 2016.”

 

She said there had been :  “slower average growth in both employment and job ads seeing the unemployment rate stabilise around 5.75 per cent.

 

The labour market has lost some momentum so far in 2016, with slower average growth in both employment and job ads seeing the unemployment rate stabilise around 5.75 per cent, in the second half of last year from a peak of 6.3 per cent.”

 

Ms Emmett said, too, that: “more recently, job ads rebounded strongly in May, followed by a modest rise in June.”

 

But she also noted that:  “…these increases have been partly unwound by the decline in July.

 

“Given that ads fell sharply in early July, we think this decline may partly reflect the impact of increased uncertainty following the close federal election on 2 July and the shock decision by the UK to leave the European Union on 24 June,” she said.

 

This impact appears to have been short-lived,

 

Job advertising fell las month, according to research the ANZ bank published today.

 

Ms Emmett also said:  “the labour market has lost some momentum so far in 2016.”

 

Ms Emmett said, too, that: “… job ads rebounded strongly in May, followed by a modest rise in June.”

 

But she also noted that:  “…these increases have been partly unwound by the decline in July.

 

“Given that ads fell sharply in early July, we think this decline may partly reflect the impact of increased uncertainty following the close federal election on 2 July and the shock decision by the UK to leave the European Union on 24 June,” she said.

 

This impact appears to have been short-lived,” Ms Emmett added.

 

 

With surveyed business conditions remaining upbeat and the RBA cutting rates in August, we look for a gradual improvement in hiring intentions over the remainder of the year,” Ms Emmett said.

 

 

Thursday 4th August 2016 - 7:29 pm
Comments Off on PM hauls banks before parliament

PM hauls banks before parliament

by Alan Thornhill

The Federal government will haul Australia’s banks before a powerful parliamentary committee as it seeks to persuade them to pass on the Reserve Bank’s latest interest rate cut in full.

 

The Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull and his Treasurer, Scott Morrison, made the announcement in a joint statement today.

 

Labor might well have gone further.

 

It promised a royal commission into the behavior of  Australia’s banks, before last month’s Federal elections.

 

Mr Turnbull said that in  challenging economic times globally, it is important that Australians retain faith in our financial institutions and the decisions they are taking.

 

“The Australian economy depends critically on the performance and strength of our banking and financial system,” Mr Turnbull said.

 

” Banks operate under a social licence and have responsibilities to the Australian public.”

 

He said they would be asked, particularly about several matters.when they appear before the House of Representatives Economics Committee.

 

In particular the banks would be required to explain:

  • International economic and financial market developments and how these are affecting Australia
  • Developments in prudential regulation, including capital requirements, and how these are affecting the policies of Australian banks
  • The costs of funds, impacts on margins and the basis for bank interest rate pricing decisions
  • How individual banks and the banking industry as a whole are responding to issues previously raised in Parliamentary inquiries through their package of reforms announced in April 2016
  • Bank perspectives on the performance of the Australian economy, including strengths and risks.

 

The appearance by the banks will ensure they have the important opportunity to transparently account for their decision making and how they balance the needs of borrowers, savers, shareholders and the wider community, Mr Turnbull said.

 

The initial response from Australia’s banks was cautious.

 

Andrew Thorburn, the National Australia Bank’s Chief Executive Officer, said for example that his bank is looking  forward to the dialogue around “how we balance”  the needs of different  stakeholders.

 

He said it is also anticipating “outlining the full cost of being an unquestionably strong bank and bringing further insight to the topic of how we set our interest rates.

 

“I am proud to be a banker,” he added.

 

” It has always required carefully thought through decisions,” he added.

 

“But the focus has been on serving the many people who rely on us to get these decisions right. ”

 

 

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Alan Thornhill is a parliamentary press gallery journalist.
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