The Economy

 

Hit by political uncertainty, manufacturing continues to shrink

Tim Binsted 9:47 AM   The nation's manufacturing sector has shrunk for the fourth straight month despite the dramatic devaluation of the Australian dollar as political uncertainty and weak business investment weigh on activity.

Crunch time for government's reform ambitions

Malcolm Maiden dinkus

Malcolm Maiden 1:16 AM   The Abbott government had decided before it was elected it would deliver process-driven reform in financial services, competition law and tax, and on two fronts the crunch time is now approaching.

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Taxis, pharmacies, shopping hours ripe for shakeup

Taxis are 'virtually unique among customer service industries', the Harper review found.

Gareth Hutchens, Peter Martin 4:36 PM   Rules that restrict taxi licences, shopping hours, the location of pharmacies and the resale of goods legally purchased overseas would be swept away as part of a package of measures proposed by the first comprehensive review of competition policy in 22 years.

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Think luxury car prices are ridiculous? Here's why

A car costing close to $70,000 in Australia would be around $14,000 cheaper in the United Kingdom.

Simon Evans 4:22 PM   Porsche dealer Sean Lygo says its "totally ridiculous" that Australian buyers pay so much for luxury cars, which are subject to a 33 per cent tax the industry wants dumped.

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$A drops as RBA rate cut chance increases

A strong Australian dollar has plagued business confidence.

Max Mason 4:17 PM   Falling commodity prices and a weak outlook for growth have increased the chance the Reserve Bank of Australia may cut rates next week, driving the local currency lower.

Slower property lending may ease way for further rate cut

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Mark Mulligan 3:04 PM   A slower pace of lending to property investors in February has given the Reserve Bank of Australia more scope to cut interest rates.

The nasty tax surprise about to hit the average Australian worker

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 30:  Treasurer Joe Hockey addresses the media regarding the Liberal Party Tax White Paper and their plan to reform the tax system on March 30, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Graham Denholm/Fairfax Media) *** Local Caption *** Joe Hockey

Judith Ireland   The average Australian worker will find themselves bumped into the second-highest income tax bracket in just over a year's time.

Growing inequality? It's your fault

Michael Pascoe dinkus Dinkus

Michael Pascoe   Now that you have your castle, you want to defend it.

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Dividend imputation clears an early tax review hurdle

Malcolm Maiden.

Malcolm Maiden   Australian investors appear to have dodged a bullet.

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RBA warnings fail to dampen property bonanza

One Sydney real estate agent will auction off 128 homes this weekend.

Clancy Yeates   Sydney's housing investors are ignoring repeated warnings about the growing the risks in bricks and mortar.

Mood builds for corporate tax cut

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Peter Ker   Assistant Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has echoed Treasury's concerns about the impact Australia's high corporate tax rate is having on foreign investment

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Committee calls for rethink on ATO powers to fight tax evasion

The committee recommended the onus should be on the ATO to prove the accused taxpayer was guilty.

Nassim Khadem   The Abbott government should change the law so that it places the burden of proof on the Australian Taxation Office, where fraud and evasion is alleged, according to the final recommendations of the parliamentary inquiry into tax disputes.

Has the pro-business party lost its nerve?

Have Abbott and Hockey lost their appetite for fiscal reform?

Mark Kenny   Business bodies are concerned that a weakened Coalition leadership is putting political stability ahead of reform.

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Budget adviser lauds benefits of company tax cut

'Australia's company tax is relatively high by global standards,' says Rob Heferen.

Nassim Khadem   Company tax cuts are on the cards as the government heads into the tax white paper process.

Gerard Minack calls one in three chance of recession

Notorious bear Gerard Minack expects lower growth, a lower cash rate, "much more currency adjustment" and a weaker Australian sharemarket.

Patrick Begley   'Bear' strategist Gerard Minack has a stark warning about the Australian economy.

Treasury signals company tax cuts

"Australia's company tax is relatively high by global standards," says Rob Heferen.

Nassim Khadem   The head of Treasury's revenue group, Rob Heferen, has thrown his support behind a move to cut the company tax rate from 30 per cent, saying it would boost foreign investment and economic growth.

Forget when the Fed will raise rates - the problem is how

Rates conundrum: Fed chairwoman Janet Yellen.

Liz Capo McCormick and Matthew Boesler   For all the talk about when Federal Reserve policy makers are going to raise interest rates, they haven't quite figured out how to do it as the market is awash with excess cash reserves.

Rio's Walsh says trust crucial to tax reform

Culling jobs, not only at the hard hat level: Rio boss Sam Walsh.

Amanda Saunders   Rio Tinto chief executive Sam Walsh says Australia's tax system has lost its competitive edge, declaring that transparency is crucial in creating the public trust needed for reform of the system.

AMP chairman warns Aussie companies too timid

Simon McKeon sees a major challenge for Australia in taking new ideas to their logical end.

Ruth Liew   AMP chairman Simon McKeon fears there is a lack of focus on top-line growth.

Hockey rejects Twiggy's iron ore 'cartel'

Beg to differ: Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey, left,  and mining magnate Andrew Forrest.

Gareth Hutchens   Treasurer Joe Hockey has rejected a suggestion by mining millionaire Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest that the world’s iron ore companies should band together to restrict iron ore supplies to stop global prices falling.

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Science contributes $145b to GDP: report

Science in action

Nicky Phillips and Gareth Hutchens   The significant contribution of science to Australia's economy has been measured for the first time in a landmark report that warns economic growth could fall dramatically without strong commitment to the sector.

Illegal foreign buying 'inevitable', says FIRB

This $39 million Point Piper mansion has been illegally purchased by China's 15th richest man.

Sally Rose   Regulators' ability to uncover and prosecute illegal residential property buying by foreigners is "sorely limited" and such sales are "inevitable", the Foreign Investment Review Board chairman has admitted.

There's a 50% chance we're in recession by 2017, top bond manager says

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Benjamin Purvis   Australia's top-performing bond manager is loading up on longer-dated government debt, saying there is a one-in-two chance the RBA will cut interest rates below 1 per cent as recession looms.

Reforms will slow housing, in time, says RBA

It will take a while for the financial regulator's reforms to slow the number of housing loans being taken out by investors, the Reserve Bank says.

Abbott needs to tax rich people and big companies more, says developer

Property developer Soheil Abedian (left), chairman of Sunland, runs the company with his son, Sahba Abedian.

Nassim Khadem   The Abbott government could raise much needed revenue by increasing the top tax rates paid by the richest Australians, and hiking the company tax rate to 45 per cent, says rich property developer Soheil Abedian.

Interest rate reductions have benefited top 20 per cent the most

"Interest rate reductions are clearly a positive for families with housing loans but can be a negative for older families who often don't have loans but do have savings accounts.": NATSEM's principal research fellow Ben Phillips.

Nassim Khadem and Gareth Hutchens   Interest rate reductions have benefitted the highest 20 per cent of income households with average gains of $536 per year, compared with just $38 per year for the lowest income category.

OPINION

Polls and wires: We are not entirely stupid

The campaign against the privatisation of power infrastructure is cynical.

Michael Pascoe   It’s reassuring to be reminded that the electorate is not entirely stupid, or selfish and greedy. Most of us actually want a better nation.

Joe Hockey to tart up the budget with lipstick

Peter Martin dinkus

Peter Martin   The Treasurer moans about Labor’s budget tricks, yet considers a similar sleight of hand.

Is this the recession we had to have (again)?

Peter Reith.

Peter Reith   If both sides of politics decide we may as well walk away from fiscal repair before the next election, Australia could experience a serious blow to our economy and real poverty for potentially hundreds of thousands.

Premier Investments 'optimistic' for 2015

Premier Investments chairman Solomon Lew reported a 9 per cent rise in profit to $56.8 million.

Madeleine Heffernan   Investors push retailer's shares to a record high on its increased dividend and a better-than-expected result for its stationery brand Smiggle.