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Friday 3rd May 2013 - 11:25 am
Comments Off on Money worries:what others are doing

Money worries:what others are doing

by Alan Thornhill

Do money worries leave you feeling stressed?

If so, you are not alone.

A new survey has revealed that even when things are going well, almost 40 per cent of people ‘stress out’ about money.

The survey was conducted by the ANZ Bank and Pacific Magazines.

Even in the good times Australians worry about money.

The survey also found that:-

* Women tend to worry more than men, with 51 per cent saying they find dealing with money stressful and overwhelming, compared to just 37 per cent of men.

* One third of respondents say worrying about finances causes sleepless nights, while 39 per cent feel anxious.

* 37 per cent of respondents talk to their partner or spouse to alleviate financial stress and one in three exercise.

* While the vast majority say it’s important to have a long term financial plan (84 per cent), just one in five respondents say they currently use a financial planner or adviser (21 per cent).

* 83 per cent of those not confident about their future financial security either “procrastinate” or “try not to think about it” when it comes to putting a financial plan in place.

* Most respondents say they have some form of financial fear; with the most common financial fears being not having enough money to live comfortably in the future (48 per cent), and not being able to maintain their current lifestyle in the future (28%).

* 44 per cent of respondents agree that “dealing with money is stressful and overwhelming”.

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Wednesday 27th March 2013 - 10:52 am
Comments Off on More cash for start ups

More cash for start ups

by Alan Thornhill

The Federal government says it will invest at least $200 million in early stage, high growth Australian companies.

The Minister for Climate Change, Industry and Innovation, Greg Combet, said this would  be done through three new venture capital funds supported by the Gillard Government’s Innovation Investment Fund.

He said this is a key Government vehicle for providing small and medium sized enterprises with access to venture capital.

“This is a huge boost for Australian start-ups,” Mr Combet said.

“These funds will invest at least $200 million of new capital in start-up businesses.”

He said the  IIF continues to commercialise leading Australian research to produce new technologies, products and services that will be sold around the globe.

“These new fund managers will provide crucial equity capital and essential management expertise to a whole range of promising companies across the economy.

“Venture capital helps turn ideas into successful businesses and new jobs. It is a vital part of our innovation system which is why the Government, as part of its Plan for Australian Jobs, has announced a new $350 million round of the IIF Program.

“Successful start-ups are essential to creating new products, jobs and economic growth. The IIF will continue to co-invest government capital with private investor capital into early-stage Australian technology based companies.”

The IIF commenced in 1998. Over three rounds, the IIF has established 16 funds and has co-invested in new companies including Seek, Bionomics, Pharmaxis and Benthic Geotech.

Details on the successful fund managers and examples of successful IIF investee companies are available at

More information on the IIF program can also be accessed through the AusIndustry Hotline on 13 28 46 or email



Monday 25th February 2013 - 12:11 pm
Comments Off on How others see us:A BBC reporter’s view of Australia

How others see us:A BBC reporter’s view of Australia

by Alan Thornhill

From an article by BBC  reporter Madelaine Morris


Australia has managed to come out of the global financial crisis without a recession. But as a result of its booming economy, the cost of living is extremely high.

It was the limes that finally tipped me over the edge.

In the sleepy Australian seaside village where my parents live, not that far away from several citrus orchards, I was in a supermarket staring at a sign:

Limes: $2.25.

Two Australian dollars, twenty-five cents.

That’s £1.50 (US$2.30). Not for a bag. Not for a pair. Each. One lime cost £1.50. Infuriated, I stormed out of the shop, limeless.

“The country has lost it,” I fumed to my mum and dad over dinner that night. “How can anyone afford to eat in this country?”

“Darling,” my father replied. “Look around. People here are rolling in money. We live in an unbelievably wealthy nation.”

And he is right. In the 12 years since I last called Australia home, it has changed. It was always the lucky country, blessed with fertile land, abundant sunshine and plentiful natural resources……

Monday 18th February 2013 - 11:53 am
Comments Off on Cyber attacks:It could be you

Cyber attacks:It could be you

by Alan Thornhill

Yours truly has been hit by cyber attacks, over the past week, apparently from two trusted sources.

A sister, no less,  and an old friend.

They weren’t the real villains, of course.

One of those was on the other side of the world, in Poland.

Another was much closer, in South East Asia.

However these attacks have left Private Briefing looking very closely at a warning the Federal government issued today.

The new Attorney General Mark Dreyfus, warns that cyber attacks on Australian business are now more targeted and coordinated.

He said a new survey has shown that one Australian business in five suffered an electronic attack in the past year.

The survey also shows businesses and industries that provide essential services such as energy, defence, communications, banking and finance, and water, are now investing more heavily in tighter security.

“The 2012 Cyber Crime and Security Survey Report,…will establish baseline information on cyber attacks,” Mr Dreyfus said in Melbourne, as he launched the report.

“The digital economy has opened up myriad opportunities for Australian businesses to deliver goods, provide services and communicate with people more effectively,” he said.

“But with every online opportunity comes the risk of criminal exploitation,” he added.

“Cyber attacks have shifted from being indiscriminate and random to being more coordinated and targeted for financial gain,” he warned.

“ Most attacks occur from outside the business, although it appears internal risks are also significant.”

Mr Dreyfus said: “The most serious attacks involved the use of malicious software including “ransomware” and “scareware”, trojan or rootkit malware, theft or breach of confidential information and denial-of-service attacks.

“ In one case, an organization reported the theft of 15 years’ worth of critical business data.”

Mr Dreyfus also said: “A third of attacks involved the theft of notebooks, tablets or mobile devices.

He said the survey, commissioned by Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) Australia and conducted by the Centre for Internet Safety at the University of Canberra, would become an annual event.

“CERT Australia, established by the Gillard Government, is working with closely with Australian businesses to create higher security standards, warning systems and a secure information sharing system to defend key organisations from cybercrime attack Mr Dreyfus said.

It is available at –


Wednesday 24th October 2012 - 6:05 pm
Comments Off on Repeal carbon tax:business

Repeal carbon tax:business

by Alan Thornhill

Business is alarmed by the 15.3 per cent rise in electricity prices that accompanied the first three months of the Federal government’s new carbon tax – and it is calling for the tax to be repealed.

However, the Federal government insists that the carbon tax was not the only factor driving that rise.

That figure was among many the Australian Bureau of Statistics published, when it released its September quarter Consumer Price Index today.

These showed that Australia’s headline inflation rates rose by 1.4 per cent in the quarter and  by 2 per cent over the 12 months to the end of September.

The nation’s underlying inflation rates were 0.7 per cent for the quarter and 2.4 per cent over the year.

These underlying rates are close to the figures that the Reserve Bank board will consider, when it meets to review Australia’s interest rates, on Melbourne Cup day next month.

Greg Evans, of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that although the latest CPI figures show prices have risen sharply, the latest figures still leave room for a rate cut, on the first Tuesday of next month.

He said, too, that the ACCI still opposes the carbon tax and believes it should be repealed.

The Federal Treasurer, Wayne Swan, said the latest data shows both headline and underlying inflation remain well contained within the RBA’s 2–3 per cent target band.

Mr Swan also said the CPI figures are consistent with Treasury’s estimate of the carbon price impact.

He said: “The quarterly increase in headline CPI reflects the modest impact of the carbon price in addition to a number of seasonal and temporary factors. ”

Mr Swan noted that bad weather had driven up fruit and vegetable prices in the quarter.

He said, too, that: “The recent electricity price increases attributed to the carbon price by state and territory pricing regulators have generally been consistent with the 10 per cent estimated by Treasury modelling.”

Mr Swan said factors other than the carbon price have been pushing up electricity prices over the past year.

Power suppliers have been trying to recoup investments they have made on poles and wires, to ensure reliable supplies.

Mr Swan said, too, that the impact of the carbon tax on prices was less than a third of the price impact from the GST under the Liberal Government.

Thursday 4th October 2012 - 6:17 pm
Comments Off on David Murray’s warning raises a storm

David Murray’s warning raises a storm

by Alan Thornhill

Julia Gillard says Tony Abbott has been “grossly irresponsible” in comparing the Australian economy to that of Greece.

The Prime Minister was speaking to reporters in Hobart, after the Opposition Leader  endorsed a warning given by a former head of the Future Fund and the Commonwealth Bank,  David Murray.

Mr Murray had said high debt levels could “easily” lead to a collapse in the Australian economy, similar to that already seen in Greece.

He told the 7.30 report last night that Australia’s net foreign debt is too high and the country’s productivity levels are too low.

Mr Abbott described these remarks as a “timely warning.”

“The lesson of Europe is that countries can go very quickly from a strong position to a parlous position if things aren’t well managed,” the Opposition Leader told reporters in Melbourne.

The Prime Minister’s response was scathing

“Today I’ve seen that the Leader of the Opposition and his Shadow Finance Minister have once again taken the opportunity to talk Australia’s economy down,” Ms Gillard said.

“To compare our circumstances, as the Leader of the Opposition has done today, to Greece, is grossly irresponsible and wrong,” she added.

“Our economy is growing .

“It’s going to grow at around 3 per cent this year.

“We’ve got unemployment just over 5 per cent,

“We’ve got low inflation, low interest rates, strong public finances.”

“(We are) AAA-rated by every major credit agency for the first time in our nation’s history,” Ms Gillard said.

Thursday 2nd August 2012 - 2:10 pm
Comments Off on ACCC stands back from Murdoch bid

ACCC stands back from Murdoch bid

by Alan Thornhill

Australia’s competition authority will not oppose News Limited’s bid to take over Consolidated Mediia Holdings.

In a statement today the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission announced that it would not oppose News Corporation’s proposed acquisition of 100 per cent of the shares in Consolidated Media Holdings Limited (CMH).

CMH has a 50 per cent shareholding in FOX SPORTS Australia, which owns 50 per cent of the shares in FOXTEL.

“The ACCC’s view is that this acquisition is unlikely to lead to a substantial lessening of competition in any relevant market,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.

“The ACCC noted that News Corporation already owns 50 per cent of FOX SPORTS Australia.

“ Given that News Corporation has no interests in other free-to-air or subscription television entities in Australia, the ACCC considered that the proposed acquisition was unlikely to materially change News Corporation’s incentives in relation to the supply of content in Australia,” Mr Sims said.

Mr Sims noted, though,  that the ACCC is still assessing  the Seven Group Holdings rival bid for 100 per cent of the shares in CMH.

Wednesday 13th June 2012 - 9:32 pm
Comments Off on End This Depression Now: Krugman

End This Depression Now: Krugman

by Alan Thornhill

Europe’s debt issues have already touched Australia in a very sensitive spot – its confidence.

This is shown in the latest issue of the Westpac Melbourne Institute Index of consumer confidence, which rose by a “disappointing” 0.3 per cent in June, despite two successive monthly cuts in interest rates.

“Westpac’s Chief Economist, Bill Evans, said: “clearly other factors are dominating the minds of consumers.

“Those factors are concerns about the domestic economy and international conditions.”

The two are linked.

If people in Europe and the United States are spending less, because their economies are depressed, China, the new workshop of the world, will, consequently, be exporting less.

And, as China is Australia’s best customer,  we don’t have to be told what that means for us.

So what is to be done?

The Nobel prize winning economist, Paul Krugman, makes a bold attempt to answer that question, in his latest book End This Depression Now.

Your correspondent has just read this book, and was mightily impressed.

Krugman says today’s leaders have both the knowledge and the tools to end this suffering.


His theme is simple.

The time to spend is when the economy is low.

Booms are the times to stop spending.

That, essentially, reflects the mantra of the great Depression era economist, John Maynard Keynes.

As you will have guessed, from all this,  Krugman, himself,  is an unreconstructed, unapologetic and proud Keynsian.

But he notes: ““From the beginning….political conservatives – especially those most concerned with defending the position of the wealthy – fiercely opposed Keynsian ideas.

Krugman says this is still happening, with a vengeance.

He sees those, advocating severe austerity measures, now,  as abandoning economics, and turning instead to “morality plays.”

Austerity programs, championed, conspicuously by the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, effectively protect the bankers and shadow bankers, whose excesses contributed so much to the present crisis, Krugman argues.

And they leave the unemployed to suffer, needlessly.

Krugman notes that immediately after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, in 2008, just about all major governments applied the lessons learnt from the Great Depression of the 1930s.

“But a funny thing happened in 2010,” he adds.

“Much of the world’s policy elite – the bankers and the financial officials who define conventional wisdom – decided to throw out the textbooks and the lessons of history, and declare that down is up.”

They decided, instead, to go for spending cuts, tax hikes and even higher interest rates, even in the face of mass unemployment.

Expansion was out.

Austerity was in.

That’s the wrong remedy entirely, Krugman argues, in his very timely, lucidly argued book.


It can be ordered from

The price is $US24.95.

Your correspondent, though, was mightily impressed, at being told this book was waiting for him at the
Dickson branch of the ACT library service, just a few days after he had asked for it.














My book

wx 2

Weathercoast by Alan Thornhill

A novel on the murder of seven young Anglican Christian Brothers in the Solomon Islands.

Available now on the iTunes store.


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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