Fitch warns of far-reaching dangers of negative encryption laws

Original article by Paul Smith, Natasha Gillezeau
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 29 : 14-Dec-18

Australia’s new anti-encryption laws are nominally intended to assist law enforcement agencies in combatting terrorists and criminals by allowing them to crack encrypted messages. Ratings agency Fitch contends that the laws have the potential to harm the local technology sector, as well as global tech firms such as Facebook and Twitter. However, the Australian Signals Directorate’s Director-General Mike Burgess says a lot of myths are being perpetuated about the new laws.

CORPORATES
FITCH RATINGS LIMITED, FACEBOOK INCORPORATED, TWITTER INCORPORATED, AUSTRALIAN SIGNALS DIRECTORATE, GOOGLE INCORPORATED, TELSTRA CORPORATION LIMITED – ASX TLS, HUAWEI TECHNOLOGIES COMPANY LIMITED, SINGTEL OPTUS PTY LTD, CISCO SYSTEMS INCORPORATED, APPLE INCORPORATED

$400m bill for training

Original article by Rob Harris, Anthony Galloway
Herald Sun – Page: 12 : 14-Dec-18

The federal government has criticised a push for union members to receive paid leave to attend training programs. The resolution will be put to Labor’s upcoming national conference, but the government has warned that it would cost the national economy about $1.3 billion a year and the Victorian economy $358.3 million a year if it applied to all members of a union. However, Labor has stressed that the policy would apply only to elected union delegates. Shadow workplace relations minister Brendan O’Connor argues that union delegates are already permitted to take training leave during working hours at the majority of unionised workplaces.

CORPORATES
AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY, AUSTRALIA. DEPT OF JOBS AND SMALL BUSINESS, AUSTRALIAN WORKERS’ UNION-FEDERATION OF INDUSTRIAL, MANUFACTURING AND ENGINEERING EMPLOYEES, AUSTRALIAN BUREAU OF STATISTICS, AUSTRALIA. ROYAL COMMISSION INTO TRADE UNION GOVERNANCE AND CORRUPTION

TPG plunges on doubt over merger plans

Original article by James Fernyhough
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 17 & 22 : 14-Dec-18

Australian Competition & Consumer Competition chairman Rod Sims says its preliminary view on the proposed merger between Vodafone Hutchison Australia and TPG Telecom is that it will lead to less competition. The ACCC will delay its decision on the $15 billion merger for three months, while Sims’ comments caused TPG’s share price to fall by 16.7 per cent on 13 December. Vodafone CEO Inaki Berroeta says the merger with TPG is still on track, and that it will be good for consumers.

CORPORATES
VODAFONE HUTCHISON AUSTRALIA PTY LTD, TPG TELECOM LIMITED – ASX TPM, AUSTRALIAN COMPETITION AND CONSUMER COMMISSION, MORGAN STANLEY AUSTRALIA LIMITED, SINGTEL OPTUS PTY LTD

Shorten vows to restore a fair go

Original article by Troy Bramston
The Australian – Page: 6 : 14-Dec-18

Opposition leader Bill Shorten has outlined some of the key policy areas that will be part of its 2019 election campaign. Amongst other things, Labor will legislate to overturn the Fair Work Commission’s penalty rate cuts and introduce a new regulatory regime for labour hire firms. Labor also intends to increase the highest marginal income tax rate by two per cent, abolish the Medicare rebate freeze and restore funding for schools and public hospital to the levels before the Coalition took office in 2013.

CORPORATES
AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY, AUSTRALIA. FAIR WORK COMMISSION

NAB faces even bigger remuneration strike

Original article by James Thomson
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 31 : 14-Dec-18

Investors who account for more than 213 million shares in Westpac abstained from voting on the bank’s remuneration report at its 2018 AGM. Had these shares been voted, the proportion of votes cast that rejected the report could have been much higher than the 63 per cent that was recorded. Meanwhile, there is speculation that the "no" vote at National Australia Bank’s AGM could be at least 70 per cent. Key issues for shareholders are likely to be the bonus received by former executive Andrew Hagger and NAB’s decision to move chairman Ken Henry to a single variable pay structure.

CORPORATES
WESTPAC BANKING CORPORATION – ASX WBC, NATIONAL AUSTRALIA BANK LIMITED – ASX NAB, AUSTRALIA. ROYAL COMMISSION INTO MISCONDUCT IN THE BANKING, SUPERANNUATION AND FINANCIAL SERVICES INDUSTRY, TELSTRA CORPORATION LIMITED – ASX TLS

Crackdown delivers tax windfall

Original article by Ben Butler
The Australian – Page: 19 & 22 : 14-Dec-18

Woodside Petroleum and Roy Hill Holdings are among 722 large companies that did not pay any tax in 2016-17. Large corporations paid a combined total of $45.7bn in taxes during the financial year, compared with $38.2bn previously. The Commonwealth Bank and BHP paid the most tax, at $3.9bn and $3.27bn respectively. The federal government’s corporate tax revenue was bolstered by factors such as a rise in commodity prices and the impact of its Multinational Anti-Avoidance Law, which has targeted global technology companies in particular.

CORPORATES
WOODSIDE PETROLEUM LIMITED – ASX WPL, ROY HILL HOLDINGS PTY LTD, COMMONWEALTH BANK OF AUSTRALIA – ASX CBA, BHP GROUP LIMITED – ASX BHP, AUSTRALIAN TAXATION OFFICE, HANCOCK PROSPECTING PTY LTD, BAE SYSTEMS AUSTRALIA LIMITED, ROCKPOOL DINING GROUP, TAX JUSTICE NETWORK, BUSINESS COUNCIL OF AUSTRALIA, AUSTRALIA. DEPT OF THE TREASURY, AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY, GOOGLE AUSTRALIA PTY LTD, FACEBOOK AUSTRALIA PTY LTD

Call for 10pc royalty on offshore gas amid boom

Original article by Ben Butler
The Australian – Page: 22 : 14-Dec-18

The federal government gained $946m in revenue from the petroleum resource rent tax in 2017, according to data from the Australian Taxation Office. However, the McKell Institute estimates that revenue from the PRRT could increase by $2.8bn a year if a 10 per cent royalty were to be imposed on offshore gas projects. The left-wing think tank argues that the PRRT was designed primarily to encourage the development of marginal oil projects and has little relevance to Australia’s booming gas industry.

CORPORATES
AUSTRALIAN TAXATION OFFICE, McKELL INSTITUTE, CHEVRON CORPORATION, EXXONMOBIL CORPORATION, BHP GROUP LIMITED – ASX BHP, ESSO AUSTRALIA PTY LTD, THE TAX INSTITUTE

Secret federal ICAC slammed

Original article by Phillip Coorey
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 3 : 14-Dec-18

Labor leader Bill Shorten has criticised the federal government’s proposed national integrity commission, warning that the anti-corruption agency would lack transparency and it would have limited scope and powers. It would comprise a law-enforcement division and a public-sector division, but only the former will be authorised to conduct public hearings. Labor has been calling for an anti-corruption watchdog at federal level since early 2018; Prime Minister Scott Morrison has disclosed that the government has been working on its proposal since January, although it only recently dismissed the need for such an agency.

CORPORATES
AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY, AUSTRALIA. DEPT OF THE PRIME MINISTER AND CABINET, AUSTRALIA. ATTORNEY-GENERAL’S DEPT, AUSTRALIAN FEDERAL POLICE, AUSTRALIA. ATTORNEY-GENERAL’S DEPT. AUSTRALIAN TRANSACTION REPORTS AND ANALYSIS CENTRE, AUSTRALIA. DEPT OF HOME AFFAIRS, AUSTRALIAN COMPETITION AND CONSUMER COMMISSION, AUSTRALIAN TAXATION OFFICE, AUSTRALIAN SECURITIES AND INVESTMENTS COMMISSION, AUSTRALIAN PRUDENTIAL REGULATION AUTHORITY, NEW SOUTH WALES. INDEPENDENT COMMISSION AGAINST CORRUPTION

BHP left holding Chilean mine after deal collapses

Original article by James Thomson
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 23 : 14-Dec-18

Private equity firm EMR Capital will not proceed with a deal to buy BHP Group’s Cerro Colorado copper mine in Chile. EMR has advised that the $US320m ($443m) transaction has been abandoned due to problems in meeting its deadline to secure financing. The deal had been announced in June; EMR recently acquired a majority stake in a copper mine in Zambia.

CORPORATES
BHP GROUP LIMITED – ASX BHP, EMR CAPITAL PTY LTD, RIO TINTO LIMITED – ASX RIO, PT ADARO ENERGY TBK

Flinders’ plan to delist angers small holders

Original article by Paul Garvey
The Australian – Page: 29 : 14-Dec-18

Shares in Flinders Mines were placed in a trading halt on 13 December, after the iron ore producer flagged plans to delist. Chairman Neil Warburton says Flinders’ board considered a number of options for its iron ore project in the Pilbara and felt that going private is the best strategy, as it will allow the company to gain funding from private equity firms and other funds that invest in such projects. The delisting proposal has the support of its major shareholder, Todd Corporation.

CORPORATES
FLINDERS MINES LIMITED – ASX FMS, TODD CORPORATION, BBI INVESTMENT GROUP