Negligent profits at workers’ expense

Original article by Ewin Hannan
The Australian – Page: 8 : 21-Feb-20

Super Retail Group has advised that the extent of its wage underpayment scandal is worse than initially thought. The retailer says employees have been underpaid by $61.2m, compared with a previous estimate of $53m. Meanwhile, Professor Andrew Stewart from the University of Adelaide suggests that some employers have been negligent by shifting staff to annualised salaries while failing to determine if they have been working additional hours.

CORPORATES
SUPER RETAIL GROUP LIMITED – ASX SUL, UNIVERSITY OF ADELAIDE

Practical focus for fire inquiry

Original article by Rosie Lewis, Rachel Baxendale, David Ross, Sarah Elks, Yoni Bashan
The Australian – Page: 1 & 6 : 21-Feb-20

The federal government has released the terms of reference for its bushfires royal commission, which will be headed by former defence force chief Mark Binskin. The six-month inquiry’s focus will be on natural disaster management and improving Australia’s resilience to natural disasters. Labor and the Greens have criticised the government for excluding policies aimed at reducing carbon emissions from the inquiry’s terms of reference.

CORPORATES
AUSTRALIA. DEPT OF THE PRIME MINISTER AND CABINET, AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY, AUSTRALIAN GREENS

The real scandal behind wage theft

Original article by Jennifer Hewett
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 2 : 21-Feb-20

The Fair Work Commission is about to impose onerous new rules concerning the recording and reconciliation of hours being worked by salaried staff. They are being imposed at a time when technological advances are blurring the distinction between work and home, making the traditional 40-hour week seem an illusion. There has been a lot of controversy recently about employees not getting paid for all the hours they have worked, but there are often good reasons why people choose to work extra hours, including a desire to develop their career. Most cases of underpayment are unlikely to have been deliberate.

CORPORATES
AUSTRALIA. FAIR WORK COMMISSION, WESFARMERS LIMITED – ASX WES, COLES GROUP LIMITED – ASX COL

Canberra needs to act to fix slowing economy

Original article by John Kehoe
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 6 : 21-Feb-20

Private domestic demand contracted in the year to 30 September, according to a chart published in the Reserve Bank’s latest ‘Statement of Monetary Policy’. This means the Australian domestic private economy was effectively in recession even before the negative impact of the bushfires and the coronavirus. With the cash rate at just 0.75 per cent, the RBA cannot do much more to stimulate the economy, so it is essentially up to the federal government to do so. This could include reforms to workplace relations, tax and competition, along with ongoing infrastructure spending and maintenance.

CORPORATES
RESERVE BANK OF AUSTRALIA

First coronavirus deaths among Diamond Princess passengers and in South Korea; health experts warn of mounting cases beyond China

Original article by Gerry Shih, Rick Noack, Lateshia Beachum, Teo Armus
The Washington Post – Page: Online : 21-Feb-20

The death toll from the coronavirus in mainland China has risen to 2,118; some 74,546 people across the nation have now contracted the respiratory illness. Meanwhile, media reports in Japan have confirmed that two elderly passengers on the quarantined cruise ship ‘Diamond Princess’ have died from the coronavirus, while the first death from the virus has been reported in South Korea. World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has warned that the number of coronavirus infections outside of China could rise.

CORPORATES
WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION

Whitehaven Coal profit slumps 91pc

Original article by Peter Ker
The Australian Financial Review – Page: Online : 21-Feb-20

Whitehaven Coal has reported a 2019-20 half-year net profit of $27.4 million, which is 91 per cent lower than previously. Despite the decline, it still managed to declare a dividend, although shareholders will only receive a payment of $0.015 per share, compared to the $0.20 per share they received for the previous corresponding period. Falling thermal coal prices were the biggest contributor to Whitehaven’s profit decline, while its coal production was down by 31 per cent.

CORPORATES
WHITEHAVEN COAL LIMITED – ASX WHC

Roy Morgan January unemployment predicted the increase seen yesterday with the ABS results

Original article by Roy Morgan
Market Research Update – Page: Online : 21-Feb-20

The Roy Morgan January unemployment and under-employment result released earlier this week showed an increase in real unemployment to 9.7% in January with over 1.36 million Australians now unemployed (an increase of 1% point from December) and a further 1.23 million (8.7% of the workforce) now under-employed – and now the ABS results have confirmed the upward trend in unemployment. The ABS figures show seasonally adjusted unemployment of 5.3% in January, up 0.2% points from December with 726,000 Australians now looking for a job according to the ABS. The ABS figures show an additional 8.6% of Australians are now under-employed. The latest Roy Morgan employment estimates show over 2.5 million Australians (18.4% of the workforce) are now looking for a job or looking for more work while the ABS claims a significantly lower figure of around 1.9 million (13.9%). These results suggest the ABS is continuing to under-estimate the level of true workforce labour under-utilisation in Australia.

CORPORATES
ROY MORGAN LIMITED, AUSTRALIAN BUREAU OF STATISTICS

Labor backs net-zero emissions, won’t use Kyoto credits

Original article by Geoff Chambers, Greg Brown
The Australian – Page: 4 : 21-Feb-20

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese will use a speech on 21 February to commit Labor to a target of net zero carbons emissions by 2050. It will replace Labor’s previous target of reducing emissions by 45 per cent by 2030, which was rejected by voters at the May 2019 election. Albanese will also stress that Labor will not use Kyoto carry-over credits or provide any financial support for the construction of coal-fired power stations.

CORPORATES
AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY

Markets hit fresh record high

Original article by David Rogers
The Australian – Page: 17 & 26 : 21-Feb-20

The Australian sharemarket has gained 7.2 per cent so far in 2020, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 reaching a new intra-day high of 7,197.2 points on 20 February. The rally saw a number of blue-chip stocks rise to new highs. Meanwhile, the Australian dollar fell to its lowest level in more than a decade in response to data showing that the unemployment rate rose to 5.3 per cent in January. This in turn heightened market expectations of an official interest rate cut by August.

CORPORATES
STANDARD AND POOR’S ASX 200 INDEX, RESERVE BANK OF AUSTRALIA

Jobs market setback rekindles threat of interest rate cut

Original article by Patrick Commins, David Rogers
The Australian – Page: 8 : 21-Feb-20

Ben Jarman of JP Morgan says the latest jobs data will strengthen the case for another official interest rate cut. The Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows that the economy added 46,200 full-time jobs in January, although this was offset by the loss of 32,700 part-time positions. The unemployment rate increased to a higher-than-expected 5.3 per cent, from 5.1 per cent in December. The labour participation rate rose by 0.1 per cent to 66.1 per cent, and the under-utilisation rate rose to a 19-month high of 13.9 per cent.

CORPORATES
AUSTRALIAN BUREAU OF STATISTICS, JP MORGAN AUSTRALIA LIMITED