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Former French president Sarkozy jailed | Aung San Suu Kyi Charged Again | ScoMo mulls aged care tax | 'Astonishing' borrowing binge | $A, Dow & Bitcoin Up; Gold, Iron & Oil Down.

Source : PortMac.News | Independent :

Source : PortMac.News | Independent | News Story:

02-03-21 | Suu Kyi Charged | Sarkozy jailed | ScoMo | $A Up
Former French president Sarkozy jailed | Aung San Suu Kyi Charged Again | ScoMo mulls aged care tax | 'Astonishing' borrowing binge | $A, Dow & Bitcoin Up; Gold, Iron & Oil Down.

News Story Summary:

Latest updates on Key Economic Indicators

Australian Dollar: $0.7773 USD (up $0.0022 USD)

Iron Ore Apr Spot Price (SGX): $167.70 USD (down $1.30 USD

Oil Price (WTI): $60.58 USD (down $0.92 USD)

Gold Price: $1,723.78 (down $11.00 USD)

Bitcoin: $48,326.61 USD (up 10.61 % in last 24 hours)

Dow Jones: 31,631.45 at 3.06pm NY time (up 699.08 points on Friday's close)

All changes compared to 7am yesterday.

Aung San Suu Kyi appears in court again

'Looking good', Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi has been seen for the first time since she was detained in a military coup, after she appeared in court via video link.

The ousted leader appeared to be in "good health" and asked to see her legal team, her lawyers say.

Initially Suu Kyi was charged with illegally importing six walkie-talkie radios.

Later, she was also charged with violating a natural disaster law by breaching coronavirus protocols .

On Monday, two more charges were added: One under a section of a colonial-era penal code prohibiting publication of information that may "Cause fear or alarm", and the other under a telecommunications law stipulating licences for equipment.

Meanwhile, protesters took to the streets again despite Sunday seeing the deadliest day yet with 18 killed.

The deaths came as the military and police ramped up their response to demonstrations across the South East Asian nation over the weekend, firing into the crowds.

 Woodside puts Myanmar operations on hold

The Australian Financial Review - Page Online : 2 March 2021 - Original article by Angela Macdonald-Smith - PortMac.News Summary

Woodside Petroleum has announced plans to reduce its presence in Myanmar and put future planning in the country "Under review".

Its decision follows the recent coup in Myanmar, with Woodside indicating that it found reports of violence against people taking part in peaceful protests "Deeply disturbing".

Woodside is one of the biggest holders of offshore gas acreage in Myanamar, although the company does not yet have producing assets there and does not generate any revenue in the country.

Former French president Sarkozy sentenced to jail

French ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy has been sentenced to three years in jail, two of them suspended, for corruption.

He was convicted of trying to bribe a judge in 2014 - after he had left office - by suggesting he could secure a prestigious job for him in return for information about a separate case.

Sarkozy, 66, is the first former French president to get a custodial sentence.

His lawyer says he will appeal. Sarkozy will remain free during that process which could take years.

In the ruling, Judge Christine Mée said the conservative politician "knew what [he] was doing was wrong", adding that his actions and those of his lawyer had given the public "a very bad image of justice".

The crimes were specified as influence-peddling and violation of professional secrecy.

It is a legal landmark for post-war France. The only precedent was the trial of Sarkozy's predecessor Jacques Chirac, who got a two-year suspended sentence in 2011 for having arranged bogus jobs at Paris City Hall for allies when he was Paris mayor. Chirac died in 2019.

ScoMo mulls aged care tax

The Australian Financial Review - Page 1 & 8 : 2 March 2021 - Original article by Phillip Coorey, Tom McIlroy - PortMac.News Summary

The federal government will allocate an additional $452m to aged-care in response to the final report of the royal commission into the sector, with further measures to be included in the May Budget.

The report has made a total of 148 recommendations; commissioners Tony Pagone and Lynelle Briggs have concluded that the sector requires a massive increase in funding, and that this should be financed via a tax increase.

Briggs has recommended a Medicare levy-style tax, while Pagone favours an increase in the Medicare levy or a one per cent income tax increase.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has indicated that the government may be open to a tax increase, but notes that the Coalition is generally averse to such measures.

Andrews seeks to extend state of emergency

Herald Sun - Page Online : 2 March 2021 - Original article by Shannon Deery, Mandy Squires, Tamsin Rose - PortMac.News Summary

Victoria has recorded a third consecutive day with no new COVID-19 cases, and there are now just 11 active cases state-wide.

However, residents of 10 suburbs in Melbourne's east remain on alert after virus fragments were detected in wastewater.

Meanwhile, the state government appears set to extend its 'state of emergency' powers following negotiations with the Greens and upper house crossbenchers.

States still in first gear on vaccine

The Australian - Page 7 : 2 March 2021 - Original article by Richard Ferguson - PortMac.News Summary

The Australian Medical Association's president Omar Khorshid says the federal government's goal of vaccinating the entire population by October will be a challenge, and the end of the year is more realistic.

The government has already fallen well short of its target of vaccinating 60,000 people by the end of February.

New figures show that about 75% of available Pfizer doses were administered in New South Wales during the first week of the vaccine rollout, compared with just 30% in Victoria and 22 per cent in Queensland.

The government expects to ramp up the vaccine rollout in coming weeks.

NAB chairman says some sectors may never revive

The Australian Financial Review - Page 9 : 2 March 2021 - Original article by Sally Patten - PortMac.News Summary

National Australia Bank chairman Phil Chronican has told the Australian Institute of Company Directors' conference in Sydney that some sectors may not recover from the coronavirus-induced recession.

He noted that changes to travel trends would make sectors such as education and mass tourism vulnerable, while Newcrest Mining and Melbourne Airport chairman Peter Hay used the conference to call for consistency between states with regard to border closures.

JobKeeper subsidy 'Distorts the job market'

The Australian - Page 13 & 17 : 2 March 2021 - Original article by Glenda Korporaal - PortMac.News Summary

National COVID Commission chairman Nev Power contends that the JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme should end as scheduled in late March.

He says retaining the scheme would risk distorting the labour market by encouraging employers to retain staff that they should lay off, who could then be redeployed to sectors that are experiencing a shortage of workers.

Power adds that coronavirus-induced international border closures means that access to migrant labour will be restricted for the next several years, so Australian workers need to be retrained and upskilled to work in sectors where demand for staff is high.

Government halts star ratings for employment services

The Guardian Australia - Page Online : 2 March 2021 - Original article by Luke Henriques-Gomes - PortMac.News Summary

The federal government recently suspended indefinitely a 'Star rating' system that ranks privately-run employment services providers.

Its decision has been described as 'Galling' by unemployment support groups, as it comes at a time when the government is increasing its auditing of job applications submitted by unemployed people.

Australian Unemployed Workers' Union spokesperson Kristen O'Connell contends the decision is "An open admission that there are simply not enough jobs", but National Employment Services Association CEO Sally Sinclair says provider performance is still being measured.

Fears online safety law could censor all adult content

The Guardian Australia - Page Online : 2 March 2021 - Original article by Josh Taylor - PortMac.News Summary

The federal government's online safety bill aims to give the eServices Commissioner the power to target online bullying and harassment.

It also enshrines the Commissioner's powers to quickly shut down online sites hosting abhorrent violent and terrorist content in order to prevent them being accessed in Australia.

However, concerns have been expressed that the legislation could result in the censorship of all online adult content and see sex workers forced off the internet.

eSafety commissioner, Julie Inman Grant, says she has no intention of using her powers to regulate consensual adult pornography, although she notes that hosting explicit adult sexual content is not permitted in Australia.

'Astonishing' borrowing binge hits $28bn

The Australian - Page 5 : 2 March 2021 - Original article by Patrick Commins - PortMac.News Summary

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that lenders wrote some $28.8bn worth of housing loans in January.

This is 11% higher than in December, and 44% higher year-on-year, while there was 52% growth in loans to owner-occupiers compared with the same period in 2020.

Shane Oliver of AMP Capital says the surge in lending suggests that further growth in house prices can be expected in coming months.

Meanwhile, CoreLogic has reported that house prices rose by 2.1% in February, the highest monthly growth since 2003.

How Unis are preparing for the looming crisis

The Australian - Page 21 : 2 March 2021 - Original article by Robert Gottliebsen - PortMac.News Summary

Australian universities are looking at various strategies to help them adjust to the loss of income that they have traditionally received from Chinese students, a source of revenue that is in the process of drying up.

These strategies include the following:

Continuing to operate in the same manner as they have in recent years but reducing university sizes.

Having a small number of universities try to emulate MIT & Harvard by establishing world-class research and education.

Focusing on educating students that are 'job ready' and able to be employed by middle-size companies when they graduate.

Stocks jump as bond yields fall

The Australian - Page 20 : 2 March 2021 - Original article by Lachlan Moffet Gray - PortMac.News Summary

The Australian sharemarket rallied on 1 March, with the S&P/ASX 200 adding 1.75% to close at 6,789.6 points.

The market was boosted by factors such as the latest house price data and a fall in the 10-year bond yield in response to the Reserve Bank's revised bond-buying program.

BHP rose 1.95% to $50.09, Santos advanced 2.49% to end the session at $7.41 and the Commonwealth Bank was up 3.13% at $84.11. However, AMP shed 3.33% to finish at $1.45.

RBA doubles its daily bond buying to $4b

The Australian Financial Review - Page 4 : 2 March 2021 - Original article by Matthew Cranston - PortMac.News Summary

The yield on 10-year government bonds fell to 1.61% on 1 March, after the Reserve Bank of Australia advised that it will buy $4bn worth of bonds each day, up from $2bn previously.

ANZ Bank economist David Plank believes that the move merely constitute a "Bring forward" of the central bank's existing bond-buying program, rather than an increase in its overall quantitative easing program.

Bill Evans of Westpac does not expect the RBA to announce an increase the quantitative easing program at its board meeting on 2 March.

CEOs say ultra-low rates won't last

The Australian Financial Review - Page 12 & 18 : 2 March 2021 Original article by Simon Evans, Sue Mitchell, Angela Macdonald-Smith, Jenny Wiggins - PortMac.News Summary

There is general agreement among Australian business leaders that the nation's historically-low interest rate will rise in coming years.

Wesfarmers CEO Rob Scott says the conglomerate's acquisitions strategy is driven by the long-term outlook rather than short-term interest rates. while Domino's Pizza CEO Don Meij notes that low interest rates help the group's franchisees to expand.

Transurban CEO Scott Charlton emphasises that the toll roads group has an investment horizon of at least four decades.

Bassat readies $1b for VC battle

The Australian Financial Review - Page 19 & 20 : 2 March 2021 - Original article by Natasha Gillezeau - PortMac.News Summary

Seek co-founder Andrew Bassat intends to double the size of Seek Investments, its venture capital operations, following his decision to step down as CEO of the recruitment company.

The expanded Seek Investments will have around $2 billion to invest, and Bassat intends to focus the expanded entity's investments in three areas: contingent labour, online education and human resources software.

Seek Investments currently has around 20 employees, which Bassat says will double to 50 over the next couple of years.

'Employment Hero' launches $45m raising

The Australian Financial Review - Page 20 : 2 March 2021 - Original article by Paul Smith - PortMac.News Summary

Australian human resources technology company Employment Hero has raised $45 million from a funding round that included investors such as Seek, AirTree Ventures and Salesforce Ventures.

Employment Hero sells software that help small businesses to manage new employees, with over 6,000 SMEs currently using its product.

Employment Hero founder and CEO Ben Thompson contends that a newfound commitment to remote working had enabled its expansion across Singapore, Malaysia, the UK and New Zealand to happen more rapidly and more effectively than it would have done prior to the pandemic.

How the news media code points to the future of big tech

The Australian Financial Review - Page 19 & 21 : 2 March 2021 - Original article by John Davidson - PortMac.News Summary

Chris Cooper says it would be very helpful if the ACCC had oversight of the algorithms Facebook and Google use to distribute ads.

Cooper, who is the executive director of tech-reform lobbyist group Reset Australia, said it would allow advertisers to see where their money is going, as well as addressing the ACCC's concerns in regard to Google's self-preferencing.

Australia Institute's Centre for Responsible Technology director Peter Lewis says it is vital that the federal government's News Media Bargaining Code are only the first step in the reform of digital platforms.

Nine's board tension sparks exit

The Australian - Page 13 & 20 : 2 March 2021 - Original article by Lilly Vitorovich - PortMac.News Summary

Patrick Allaway will step down as an independent director of Nine Entertainment Company in order to focus on his role as chairman of the Bank of Queensland.

The former Fairfax Media director's departure in April will strengthen the presence of Nine-appointed directors on the merged group's board, while it may also affect the process of appointing a successor to outgoing CEO Hugh Marks.

Meanwhile, Nine has declined to comment on reports that deputy chairman Nick Falloon is being investigated over allegations that he misused a corporate golf club membership.

Falloon was Fairfax's chairman prior to the merger in late 2018.

Digital tops ad market for first time

The Australian - Page Online : 2 March 2021 - Original article by Lilly Vitorovich - PortMac.News Summary

SMI data shows that advertising expenditure fell by 7.3% year-on-year in January.

There was a 5.3% decline in metropolitan TV ad bookings, which has been primarily attributed to the Australian Open being delayed by three weeks due to COVID-19 restrictions.

However, digital advertising increased by 1.8% year-on-year in January.

Meanwhile, spending on cinema advertising fell by 67.9% year-on-year in December, while magazine and outdoor advertising fell by 42.4% and 38.4% respectively.

Developer dream over for Grange

The Australian Financial Review - Page 29 & 32 : 2 March 2021 - Original article by Peter Ker - PortMac.News Summary

Iron ore miner Grange Resources announced in 2018 that it would diversify into the development of luxury apartments, a strategy labelled as "Ridiculous" at the time by its shareholders.

However, its joint venture with former AFL footballer Will Slade has not proven to be a success, and Grange has ended its association with him.

Grange CFO Steven Phan has confirmed that it will exit the property development sector once it secures buyers for its unsold apartments and an undeveloped property in the Melbourne suburb of Toorak.

Grange's focus now seems to be back on iron ore; it is looking at plans for a possible underground expansion of its Savage River mine in Tasmania in 2021.

Tax rate turn-off for build-to-rent units

The Australian - Page 5 : 2 March 2021 - Original article by Adam Creighton - PortMac.News Summary

Investors and the New South Wales government have called on the federal government to reduce the Managed Investment Trust tax rate as it applies to build-to-rent (BTR) apartment developments.

The government increased the MTR rate for such developments from 15% to 30% in 2017, with the industry seeing the increase at the time as an ineffective attempt to curb growing Chinese investment.

Projects with a total value of $6 billion are said to be at risk because of the high MTR tax rate on BTR developments.

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