Senior Cabinet Minister Malcolm Turnbull says it would be a "thoroughly bad idea" to allow young people to tap into their superannuation savings to buy their first home.
Uncertainty surrounds the future of the national census amid media reports the Federal Government is considering axing it.
Independent senator Nick Xenophon says he will move to reinstate a part of the competition law that prevented companies from charging different prices to different companies for the same product or service. "[The] latest discounting gimmick of 85c loaves of bread might seem appealing to consumers, but in the long run it will cripple independent supermarkets who can't access bread at that price from suppliers," Senator Xenophon said in a statement. Senator Xenophon said both consumers and independent companies would suffer under Australia's current competition laws. Senator Xenophon is seeking to reinstate the then-Section 49(1) of the Trade Practices Act, which was in place until 1995.
A community of successful and flourishing technology-based start-up companies has developed in Berlin, a city that has long attracted artists and musicians. With cheap living costs, ample space and a helpful business community, Berlin is getting a name as the next Silicon Valley. The audio platform SoundCloud was developed seven years ago by Swedish musicians Alexander Ljung and Eric Wahlforss and has grown into a multi-million-dollar business with 250 million users worldwide. Mr Ljung says the company began as a platform for musicians to share music.
The minutes from the latest meeting of the Reserve Bank board indicate the recent strength in the Australian dollar is becoming a problem for the central bank. The Australian dollar remains around 93 US cents despite a sharp fall in commodity prices which would normally see the value of the dollar drop. "That's not really what they want in a sense that as commodity prices come off, that's a negative for the economy," she said. "I think they look to the Aussie dollar to being lower as a way to offset that and that's not happening at the moment."
It has been the longest corporate divorce in Australian history. More than 13 years after then treasurer Peter Costello controversially denied Royal Dutch Shell the right to launch a takeover bid for the then highly prospective Western Australian oil and gas giant Woodside, the two companies have been examining ways to end the marriage. With no chance of ever moving to full control, and clearly unhappy about being stuck with a 33 per cent stake, speculation ever since has swirled around Woodside's ownership structure, with the massive share overhang effectively capping Woodside's share price. Despite the ownership unease, both companies will remain business partners with strong operational links and this morning's announcement neatly fits the ambitions of both, delivering a $5.3 billion cash injection for Shell and shoring up Woodside's balance sheet.
Global oil giant Royal Dutch Shell is selling almost all of its stake in Australia's biggest oil and gas producer, Woodside. Shell announced the sale of about 157 million shares in Woodside, netting Shell about $5.32 billion after tax. Shell is Woodside's biggest shareholder, currently holding 23 per cent or 190 million shares in the company. Shell chief executive Ben van Beurden says the decision does not reflect the confidence the company has in Australia as a key energy producer.
Authorities have tracked down shipping pallets infested with beetles in an effort to avert a risk to the timber industry. Federal Liberal MP Tony Pasin says he has been told 2,100 pallets of gypsum plasterboard taken to a container depot in Adelaide now have been located. Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce earlier said Asian longhorn, brown mulberry longhorn and Japanese sawyer beetles had been found in pallets which were shipped to Australia from China in 337 containers.
The South Australian Film Corporation has reported a $2 million loss for last financial year. The Corporation's annual report says the Glenside studios in Adelaide helped produce three feature films and a television series in 2012-13. Film Corporation CEO Richard Harris has defended the loss, saying the value of production at the site during the time was about $50 million. The annual report says cleaning and information technology costs of the film studios are an ongoing concern.
Decades of marijuana prohibition are coming to an end, on the back of a sea change in public opinion. Next month, Washington State will be the second state to fully legalise cannabis. Hundreds of new marijuana businesses - and 2,000 existing medical marijuana sellers - are gearing up for the recreational market to take off. And one of that argument's chief proponents is former congressman Patrick Kennedy, the nephew of John F Kennedy and the son of senator Ted Kennedy.
Strength in the resources sector has led a modest increase across the share market in an otherwise uneventful day of trade. Gold miners have benefited from higher spot gold prices with Newcrest closing up nearly 3.5 per cent OzMinerals, adding 1.75 per cent. Resources giant BHP Billiton has gained 33 cents to close at $35.62 while Rio Tinto added 42 cents to finish at $58.02. Super Retail Group, which owns chains like Rebel Sport and Supercheap Auto, has cut its projections for its annual earnings, blaming weaker than expected sales in the wake of the budget and the warmer autumn weather.
Solomon Lew appears to have tightened the bear hug on his South African nemesis Woolworths. With less than 48 hours before Woolworths shareholders meet in Cape Town to vote on whether to proceed with the company's biggest international foray â the $2.2 billion takeover of David Jones â a mystery buyer has waded into the Australian market seeking more than 5 per cent of the upmarket retailer. The buyer, widely believed to be the Melbourne-based clothing retailer, was offering $3.90 a share for 28 million shares, well below the $4 offer from Woolworths. Mr Lew, who has been at loggerheads with the South African group for almost two decades, was unmasked as the owner of a tiny 0.65 per cent stake in DJs several weeks ago.
Repeat drink-drivers in Canberra must now have special locks fitted to their cars to prevent them driving while under the influence. From Tuesday, motorists convicted of serious drink-driving offences will have to pay for an alcohol interlock to be fitted to their vehicle. An alcohol interlock is an electronic breath testing device wired into the ignition of a vehicle. A driver must blow an alcohol-free breath sample into the device before the car will start.
The Reserve Bank says Australian labour costs are now falling relative to other countries, making the nation's export-exposed industries more competitive. In a speech hosted by the Wall Street Journal, the bank's assistant governor (economic) Christopher Kent said recent strong productivity growth and low wages growth means that labour costs have remained stagnant. "Over the past year-and-a-half, the growth in nominal wages has been matched by growth in labour productivity," he observed. Dr Kent says Australia's unit labour costs have stopped rising relative to the nation's main trading partners, and even fallen a little since mid-2012, after a big run up in relative labour costs over the previous decade.
Tasmania's economy faces significant challenges in the year ahead, the Australian Local Government Association's latest State of the Regions report has found. Disposable incomes in the state's north and north-west were found to be some of the lowest in the country with two regions in the top 10 lowest disposable incomes. North-west Tasmania has the 5th highest dependency in the country on 23 per cent. Mayor of Dorset in the state's north, Barry Jarvis, said recent Federal Government cuts to local councils would make the situation worse.
The consumer watchdog says it has warned Saskia Beer's Barossa Farm Produce over false pork claims. Ms Beer, daughter of Barossa Valley food icon and television chef Maggie Beer, has agreed to a court enforceable undertaking for making representations about its products that it acknowledged were likely to be in breach of the Australian Consumer Law. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's chairman Rod Sims says Saskia Beer's Barossa Farm Produce made various misleading claims about the sources of its pork between December 2010 and May 2013. "Barossa Farm Produce made false or misleading claims that Berkshire, Black, or free range pork was used in its Black Pig products, when this was not the case," he said in a statement.
A prominent economic forecaster is tipping the federal budget will not make a significant dent in retail sales for more than a year. There have been worries the budget will cause households to stop spending, dragging on economic growth. The latest forecasts from Deloitte Access Economics forecast sales growth to accelerate to a solid 3.6 per cent next financial year. Deloitte partner David Rumbens says, while turnover probably dropped last month at the time of the budget, that may just be a temporary decline.
The deficit levy, one of the more controversial federal budget measures, is expected to pass the Senate this week. MPs and senators are back in Canberra for the final fortnight before the current Senate expires and the Income Tax Rates Amendment (Temporary Budget Repair Levy) Bill 2014 is listed for introduction into the Senate today. It has the support of the major parties and independent senator Nick Xenophon, meaning it is set to pass the Parliament. However, Labor is criticising the Government for delaying other, more-contested budget measures, like changes to a range of family payments.
Tens of thousands of Australians are being scammed each year, with dating and romance scams topping the list of financial losses for 2013, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). The ACCC's Targeting Scams Report says Australians lost $25 million to dating and romance scams. ACCC deputy chairwoman Delia Rickard says the figures are only a small snapshot of how much money people are losing to scams. She says dating and romance scams are very concerning.
A giant carbon dioxide absorber has been transported to the Conoco Phillips gas and oil plant, outside Darwin, in an operation that was almost two years in the planning. Crowds of onlookers gathered to catch a glimpse of the huge piece of equipment as it was pulled by four prime movers and accompanied by a convoy of police cars. Together, the absorber and prime movers stretched 85 metres and weighed more than 750 tonnes - making it the largest road haul in the state's history. The machine, which is used to remove carbon dioxide from incoming natural gas before it is super-cooled and liquefied, will replace an old absorber.
A new economic report warns Australia must boost infrastructure spending and address youth unemployment as the mining boom subsides. The Australian Local Government Association's latest State of the Regions report, produced by National Economics, examines how the fortunes of metropolitan areas relate to the mining boom between 2007 and 2013. It notes the boom favoured construction activity, particularly in Perth, while Melbourne and Adelaide â the cities the report said were worst-affected by the downsides of the boom â are only gradually responding with infrastructure investment. It finds Australia as a whole has serious deficiencies in its infrastructure capital stock and there is scope for governments to raise investment levels, especially in transport and communications.
Coal will fuel human progress for many decades to come, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has told business leaders at the Asia Society Texas Centre in Houston, adding that that had contributed to the Government's decision to scrap the carbon tax. Mr Abbott says the Government will take action on climate change without ostracising any particular energy resource. "Discussion about developing our natural resources often goes hand in hand with conversation about climate change and impacts on the environment," Mr Abbott told the audience. "It is prudent to do what we reasonably can to reduce carbon emissions.
The lure of a lucrative European market is prompting a growing number of Australian shellfish producers to invest in native angasi oysters. The flat oyster already fetches around double the price of the better known Pacific oyster domestically, and the industry says it could potentially fetch up to five times the price in countries like France. "Their native flat oyster is identical in flavour and appearance to ours," South Australian oyster grower Brendan Guidera said. Mr Guidera, a Coffin Bay producer, is one of the country's most awarded shellfish farmers.
Woolworths have issued a product recall after an Adelaide mother found a metal blade inside a baby food product. The retailer is recalling any of the product bought at any Woolworths, Safeway or Thomas Dux supermarket with a best before date of August 7 this year. Woolworths released a statement advising customers who have purchased the product to return it to their nearest Woolworths store for a full refund.
There are calls for urgent reform of the smash repair industry after an ABC investigation revealed significant concerns that repairers linked to Australia's major insurers were putting vehicles back on the road with potentially deadly faults. A special investigation by 7.30 NSW has found evidence of repairs allegedly authorised by insurance companies to be inadequate and in some instances dangerous and unlawful. Allegations that insurance companies are putting profit ahead of safety and that corners are being cut in repairs have been put to a NSW Parliamentary inquiry into smash repairs, which is currently underway. NSW Parliamentary Secretary for Transport and Roads Ray Williams is assisting the inquiry and says the committee's final report has been delayed due to huge volumes of evidence.
State and territory ministers have agreed to a New South Wales proposal to develop a national standard for free-range eggs. New South Wales Fair Trading has been pushing for a national standard after an investigation found current arrangements are ambiguous and could potentially mislead consumers. The ministers agreed to the proposal at a meeting in Cairns, with New South Wales to take a leading role in developing a draft National Information Standard for free-range eggs. Currently, only the ACT and Queensland have standards for free-range and there is no enforceable national standard.
The share market has closed at a near four-week low amid worries about a possible civil war in Iraq. Oil and gold rose but stocks tumbled on Wall Street overnight, as the hostilities sparked fears about possible disruptions to oil supply. Australian stocks dropped at the open, matching those weak leads. Iron ore miners had the biggest losses after the iron ore price dropped again overnight, this time down more than 2 per cent to a 21-month low of $US91.50 a tonne.