Westpac CEO: banks strong, economy the risk

Original article by Jonathan Shapiro
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 1 & 20 : 16-Mar-20

Westpac’s acting CEO Peter King says the coronavirus crisis represents a ‘real’ economy issue that needs to be dealt with accordingly. He says Westpac and the other big banks can cope with an increase in bad debts and a tightening of credit markets, but helping business customers that have no cash flow to remain operating will be their biggest challenge. King says Westpac is ready to play its part in slowing down the spread of the coronavirus within the community, with appropriate procedures in place if a staff member tests positive.

CORPORATES
WESTPAC BANKING CORPORATION – ASX WBC, MACQUARIE GROUP LIMITED – ASX MQG, NATIONAL AUSTRALIA BANK LIMITED – ASX NAB

Virus puts nation on war footing

Original article by Geoff Chambers, Simon Benson
The Australian – Page: 1 & 6 : 16-Mar-20

The global death toll from the coronavirus has risen to 6,492. More than 168,000 people worldwide have been diagnosed with the respiratory illness, including 300 in Australia, while the nation has recorded its fifth death from the pandemic. The federal government has announced that all people arriving in Australia from overseas will be required to self-isolate for 14 days; those who fail to do so can be jailed for up to 12 months and fined up to $50,000. International cruise ships will also be banned from Australian ports for at least 30 days, while a ban on non-essential gatherings of more than 500 people takes effect on 16 March.

CORPORATES
AUSTRALIA. DEPT OF THE PRIME MINISTER AND CABINET

APRA probes bank, insurer virus plans

Original article by Michael Roddan
The Australian – Page: 17 & 26 : 28-Feb-20

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority has not updated its guidelines on pandemics since 2013, but the coronavirus outbreak has prompted it to activate Prudential Practice Guide CPG 233 – Pandemic Planning. APRA has asked financial institutions such as banks, insurers and superannuation funds to demonstrate that they are sufficiently prepared for a global pandemic. Westpac has responded to the outbreak by imposing a ban on employees travelling to China for business purposes, while AMP is requiring some employees in coronavirus epicentres to work from home.

CORPORATES
AUSTRALIAN PRUDENTIAL REGULATION AUTHORITY, WESTPAC BANKING CORPORATION – ASX WBC, AMP LIMITED – ASX AMP

Global pandemic upon us: PM

Original article by Phillip Coorey
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 1 & 6 : 28-Feb-20

The coronavirus outbreak has not yet been declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization, but the federal government believes it is only a matter of time. Only 23 Australians have contracted the virus to date, and eight of them were on the cruise ship ‘Diamond Princess’; however, Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the nation needs to prepare for a pandemic. The government has advised that it will provide ‘targeted’ financial assistance to sectors that have been affected by the coronavirus, such as education, tourism, exporters and small business. This may further jeopardise the prospect of a Budget surplus for 2019-20.

CORPORATES
AUSTRALIA. DEPT OF THE PRIME MINISTER AND CABINET

PM’s bid to boost disaster powers

Original article by Simon Benson, Geoff Chambers
The Australian – Page: 1 & 2 : 29-Jan-20

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will use a National Press Club speech on 29 January to argue the case for the federal government to be given increased powers to declare a national emergency. He will also call for the government to be given the power to deploy Australian Defence Force personnel to disaster areas without a request from a state premier. Morrison will stress the need for Australia to learn from the current bushfire season in order to be better prepared for future disasters.

CORPORATES
AUSTRALIA. DEPT OF THE PRIME MINISTER AND CABINET, NATIONAL PRESS CLUB (AUSTRALIA)

Greens call for climate emergency national stockpile

Original article by Nick Bonyhady
The Age – Page: Online : 14-Jan-20

The Greens have called for a climate emergency national medical stockpile to address the health impacts of the current bushfires. The policy would see people in smoke-impacted areas have access to stockpiles of smoke-filtering masks, with Greens leader Richard Di Natale saying that the federal government’s current supply of masks was not enough to protect Australians. The federal government has stated it will make more masks available if the need arises, while Bunnings owner Wesfarmers reported recently that demand for face masks "had gone through the roof".

CORPORATES
AUSTRALIAN GREENS

Morrison won’t rule out bushfires royal commission

Original article by Rosie Lewis
The Australian – Page: 1 & 2 : 6-Jan-20

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the federal government is open to holding a royal commission into the bushfire crisis. Morrison says there is broad agreement on the need for a review of factors that contributed to the devastating bushfire season and the response to the disaster, but he stresses that now is not the right time to apportion blame for the crisis. Issues such as land clearing and hazard reduction will be on the agenda for the next Council of Australian Governments meeting in March.

CORPORATES
AUSTRALIA. DEPT OF THE PRIME MINISTER AND CABINET, COUNCIL OF AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENTS, AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY, NEW SOUTH WALES RURAL FIRE SERVICE

Convene COAG over disasters: Albanese

Original article by Joe Kelly
The Australian – Page: 4 : 25-Nov-19

Labor leader Anthony Albanese has called for an emergency meeting of the Council of Australian Governments in the wake of deadly bushfires. He says the agenda for a COAG meeting should include Australia’s preparedness for natural disasters, the development of an action plan on adaptation to climate change, and increased investment in research on natural disaster response, recovery and mitigation. The federal government will provide grants of up to $15,000 to assist farmers and small businesses to recover from the recent bushfires in New South Wales.

CORPORATES
AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY, COUNCIL OF AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENTS, AUSTRALIA. DEPT OF THE PRIME MINISTER AND CABINET, AUSTRALIA. DEPT OF AGRICULTURE AND WATER RESOURCES, NEW SOUTH WALES. DEPT OF PREMIER AND CABINET