by Alan Thornhill
Nick McKim, the former Tasmanian Greens Leader, is to fill a casual vacancy in the Senate, created by the resignation of Christine Milne.
This follows a ballot held to identify a candidate for the position.
The Senator elect welcomed the result.
“I want to thank the Tasmanian Greens members for giving me this honour and I will do everything I can to repay the faith they have put in me,” Mr McKim said.
“Replacing someone of Christine’s calibre will be a huge challenge, but one that I’m really looking forward to,” he added.
He was not so kind, though, in his assessment of the Federal government.
“Australia has rarely seen such a reckless and self-serving government,” he said.
Nick McKim declared that:” The Greens mission is more urgent now than ever and I can’t wait to join my new colleagues in standing up for a cleaner, healthier and smarter Australia. ”
by Alan Thornhill
A former director of Provident Capital Limited, Trevor John Seymour, has been banned from managing corporations for three years.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission, which took this action, also announced that Seymour would be banned from providing financial services for three years.
In a statement today, ASIC said these actions followed its investigation which found that Seymour breached his duties as a director and failed to comply with financial services laws.
It also said that Seymour, of Campbelltown, New South Wales, was a director of Provident Capital from 25 May 1998 to 17 December 2013.
Provident Capital went into receivership on 3 July 2012 and into liquidation on 24 October 2012.
The Commission said it had found Seymour breached his obligations as a director of Provident Capital and engaged in conduct that was misleading or deceptive.
It said he did this by approving a number of documents issued by Provident Capital.
• 15 Quarterly and 7 Benchmark Reports issued to ASIC and Australian Executor Trustees Limited, which contained misleading statements and which were misleading or deceptive, and
• a Debenture Prospectus in December 2010, issued to raise funds from the public, which contained misleading statements and which were misleading or deceptive and
• Information Booklets in 2012, which were deficient.
ASIC Commissioner John Price said, ‘Directors of financial services companies have a clear responsibility to ensure the company provides accurate and credible information upon which investors can rely.
He said it would act to remove people who fail in their corporate governance and compliance obligations, for the protection of the public.
Mr Price noted though that Seymour has been given permission to manage Raintron Pty Ltd (the trustee of his self-managed superannuation fund) and Garde Pty Ltd (a trustee company which acts as an executor of an estate).
He said tese exceptions had been granted on the basis that altering the arrangements to accommodate his disqualification is disproportionate to the risk to the public given the limited activities of these companies.
by Alan Thornhill
Bill Shorten was applauded by Labor delegates in Melbourne today when he outlined his plans to tackle climate change.
But – opening the party’s annual conference – the Opposition Leader said nothing about his plan to change the party’s policy on turning back asylum seeker boats.
Instead he attacked the government’s response to climate change.
” Mr Abbott’s society of flat-earthers talk a lot of nonsense about Labor policies – but they’re right about one thing,” Mr Shorten said.
“There is, absolutely, a clear-cut choice between Labor and the Liberals on renewable energy.
“This Coalition government has done everything in their power to try and destroy Australia’s share in one of the world’s fastest growing industries.”
The Opposition Leader said:” Fourteen of the fifteen warmest years on record have fallen in this century.
“2014 was the warmest year in recorded history.
“The evidence is in, the science is settled.
“Climate change is not ‘absolute crap’, it is an inescapable fact.
“And if we take a do-nothing approach, there will be more extreme weather.
More severe storms, more aggressive fires, more dangerous floods, longer and more damaging droughts.
“Our farmers will face greater hardship.
“Our coastal homes will be invaded by rising seas.
“The infrastructure cost will be hundreds of billions of dollars.
‘”We can rebuild flooded cities once every century.
“We can rebuild fire-ravaged bushland every half-century.
“But we cannot do it every decade,” Mr Shorten said.
” The Abbott-Hockey attacks on renewables are grotesque – and the consequences have been devastating.
“Last year, around the world, investment in renewables rose by 16 per cent.
“In China alone, up by 33 per cent.
“In Australia, down by 88 per cent. ”
Mr Shorten said:”Only a Labor Government can save the renewable energy industry now.
Only Labor can restore the confidence and certainty this government has smashed.
“This is why, in our platform we must set an ambitious new goal for renewable energy.
“By 2030, our aim is for renewable energy to generate 50 per cent of Australia’s electricity. ”
by Alan Thornhill
The Federal government is offering a total of $4 million in grants to help fund community projects designed to reduce violence against women.
The Minister for Social Services Scott Morrison and the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women, Michaelia Cash, said it is vital the broader community understands and recognises domestic violence and its impacts.
In their joint statement, the two ministers said:” “This funding will support community organisations to create their own solutions to tackle violence against women and respond to local needs.
“It will enable communities to invest funding where it is needed most to create an environment where women and their children are safe and supported.”
They said the Coalition Government understands that domestic violence affects different women in different ways.
So innovative and original solutions must be sourced from communities across the country.
Funding of up to $150,000 over two financial years would be available to community groups, not-for profit organisations and local government authorities.
The offer would be open from October 1 this year to September 30 2017.
“The reduction of violence against women is a priority for this Government, but we cannot achieve this alone,” Sentor Cash said.
“Everyone – government, business, community and civil society – must work together to prevent this national tragedy.
“We are confident that creative projects will emerge from across Australia and the initiatives funded under this grants process will be an important part of our efforts to reduce violence against women,” she added.
by Alan Thornhill
Bronwyn Bishop has admitted that her decision to charter a helicopter for a trip from Melbourne to Geelong “was clearly an error of judgement.”
But the Speaker of the House of Representatives told reporters that she did not know the cost at the time.
“And the bookings were simply made in the ordinary course of events by my office,” Ms Bishop said.
“And when I saw the figure, as it was published, it was clearly an error of judgment,” she added.
“And that large sum – clearly unacceptable – and that’s why I’m repaying it.”
The charter cost $5,227.
Meanwhile, the Sydney Morning Herald has published another story, saying that Ms Bishop ran up limousine bills of $1,000 a day, while overseas.
Speaking at a news conference yesterday, Ms Bishop said there had been two other occasions – since she became Speaker – on which she had used charter aircraft.
” Now, since I have been the Speaker I have in fact used that charter allowance on three occasions,” she said
” The one you know about is the helicopter.
” There were two other charters I used of small fixed wing aircraft.”
Ms Bishop has been under considerable pressure – not least from her own Liberal party colleagues – to resign over the helicopter scandal.
The Treasurer, Joe Hockey, for example has said that her earlier explanations “did not pass the sniff test.”
Labor is urging the Federal police to investigate the affair.
by Alan Thornhill
Australians have cut their borrowing, in these uncertain times.
This is reflected in figures the Bureau of Statistics published today.
The Bureau reported that we borrowed $18.103 billion to finance home purchases in May, 5.3 per cent less than we borrowed in April.
Borrowing for personal finance also fell – by 1.3 per cent – in May.
But the Bureau noted that the value of fixed borrowing, for personal finance, fell by 3.1 per cent that month.
Australians, though, were still willing to plug gaps in their personal finances by pulling out their credit cards.
As a result, the Bureau reported, revolving credit commitments rose by 1.4 per cent in May.
All of these comparisons are based on seasonally adjusted figures.
The Bureau’s report also shows that business, too, is now borrowing more cautiously.
It showed that borrowing for commercial finance fell – by 1.7 per cent – in May.
Only lease finance rose – by 0.7 per cent – in May.
by Alan Thornhill
Australia’s carbon heavy financial system could collapse under its own weight, according to a new study.
The warning is contained in a discussion paper, “Australia’s Financial System and Climate Risk”, published by the Climate Institute.
The study warns that Australia’s financial system could be destabilised by both direct climate change impacts and secondary effects, such as a slump in demand for carbon-intensive exports.
It examines general risks posed to all financial systems, and considers which risks could be particularly relevant to the Australian economy and financial system, through our broader economy.
Specifically, it examines risks to superannuation funds, mortgages, and our place in global capital markets.
The study then puts a case for a comprehensive assessment by financial authorities.
To ensure the system is resilient to climate-related shocks.
“We know that climate change is already affecting our economy, and that some companies and financial institutions are already waking up to the implications for their own businesses,” John Connor, CEO of The Climate Institute said.
“Yet many others are still forging ahead as though climate change, and the economic changes needed to deal with it, will have no impact at all on their plans.
“There’s a risk that poor policy signalling, delayed action and mis-reading by markets could lead to a messy transition that threatens the stability of our financial system.
“This risk deserves closer examination by our policy makers and financial regulators.
“The question is whether the entire financial system can adapt in an orderly way to climate change and related shifts in policy, society and technology.”
Mr Connor noted that the past two years have seen unexpected shifts in many markets.
These had included slumping value of pure-play coal companies’ shares; declining resources demand from China and plummeting costs of solar panels.
“It has also seen investors – particularly large, long-term investors – increasingly incorporating climate risk as a material factor in their strategies,” Mr Connor said.
“More than 190 countries have committed to keeping warming to less than 2 degrees,” he added.
“With major economies like the US and China putting forward initial long-term emissions reduction targets and accelerating climate action ahead of the Paris climate talks at the end of this year, the direction of travel is clear.
” Nations and mainstream economic institutions and organisations now recognise that the global economy must be zero carbon before the end of this century.”
Mr Connor said governments of the world’s biggest countries, including Australia, had already acknowledged that this risk deserves formal scrutiny.
In April the G20 had asked the global Financial Stability Board to consider stranded asset risks and the “carbon bubble”.
” This is recognition that climate change has unique characteristics which can pose a threat to financial stability,” Mr Connor said.
“However the FSB work will not take account of every country’s particular characteristics,” he warned.
Financial authorities at a national level in many countries, such as the Bank of England, are taking concrete steps towards determining how they should guard against climate risk in their respective jurisdictions.
“The sub-prime bubble which led to the global financial crisis may offer insights, but there is no precedent for climate change in financial history which we can draw upon,” Mr Connor said.
“However we do know climate impacts are already costing us, and those costs will continue to grow.
“These are complex issues; it will take time and effort to work through them.
“This is why it’s essential to begin looking at them now.”
by Alan Thornhill
Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey are jeopardising both jobs and investment in Australia’s wind power industry, according to Labor.
The Opposition’s Environment spokesman, Mark Butler, leveled this charge at the Prime Minister and Treasurer, after Fairfax newspapers reported that Mr Abbott had ordered environmental authorities to with-hold approval for new wind farm projects.
In a statement today, Mr Butler described this as a “dramatic escalation” of the government’s “war on wind farms.”
He said Tony Abbott’s and Joe Hockey’s: “dramatic escalation in its war on Australia’s wind industry is astoundingly reckless and is putting jobs and investment at serious risk.
“Reports today that the Clean Energy Finance Corporation has been ordered by the Government to stop investing in wind energy projects is the latest step in its(the government’s) relentless attack on the renewable energy industry,” Mr Butler said.
“How a Prime Minister and Treasurer can so blatantly undermine thousands of Australian jobs and billions of dollars in investment is beyond comprehension,” he added.
“Tony Abbott is abusing his office and the Cabinet process by pursuing his own anti-wind ideology, enlisting fellow wind haters Joe Hockey to help bring down a whole industry.
“Greg Hunt must stand up today and be clear about whether he supports this attack from Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey, or does he support Australia’s wind industry.
“Will Mr Hunt stand up for jobs, investment and the environment – or will he cower in the corner in the face of his climate sceptic colleagues?” Mr Butler asked.
“The wind industry employs thousands of Australians, attracts billions in investment and reduces pollution,” he added.
” Tony Abbott’s own RET (Renewable Enegry Target) Review Panel found renewable energy drives down household power prices,” Mr Butler said.
“Unlike Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey, Labor believes Climate change is a serious problem with a simple solution: cheap, clean, renewable energy to secure a healthy environment for the future generations,” he added.
” “Australia’s wind industry employs thousands of people,” he said.
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 is a parliamentary press gallery journalist.
Private Briefing is updated daily with Australian personal finance news, analysis, and commentary.
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