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Archive for October, 2018

13 October
Comments Off on Could these changes force businesses to ‘lift their game’?

Could these changes force businesses to ‘lift their game’?

Kids watching tv at a Bing Lee store. Generic television, advertising, retail, electrical goods, appliances, entertainment, children. Sunday 30th January 2011 AFR photo Louie Douvis job# 141457 Photo: Louie Douvis
Nanjing Night Net

When one of the most coveted Christmas gifts of 2015 – hoverboards – began causing house fires around Australia, recalls and bans were implemented in some states long before they were in others.

Victoria’s electrical safety regulator announced a recall and a public warning in early January, while it was another two months before an interim ban on the self-balancing scooters was introduced for the rest of the country by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

In future, such a discrepancy in product safety rules would not occur, if a key recommendation by the Productivity Commission is adopted.

The recommendation that “the state and ACT governments should relinquish their powers to impose compulsory recalls or interim bans”, is just one of four outlined in the commission’s final report on the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).

The report follows the commission’s last consumer policy report in 2008, which ushered in the ACL.

According to the commission, realigning the product safety regime would make it “the Commonwealth’s responsibility to immediately respond to all product safety issues that warrant a compulsory recall or ban”, in conjunction with input from state and territory governments.

It was among a raft of findings and recommendations in the commission’s report assessing Australia’s current “multiple-regulator model”, through which two Commonwealth and eight state and territory regulators enforce the ACL.

While the commission found the multiple-regulator model to be working “reasonably effectively”, it found inconsistencies and deficiencies in the way consumer law was administered, particularly in relation to electrical goods, and building and construction.

“Some study participants … pointed to the ways the different ACL regulators interpret the law, the advice they provide to businesses and consumers, how … they handle consumer complaints,” the report said.

“With 10 regulators involved at different levels of government, there are risks of gaps or overlaps in investigations and enforcement, and of inconsistent approaches to… applying the law.”

In response to this, the commission recommended that individual regulators regularly publish comparable performance results.

Echoing calls from ACCC chairman Rod Sims that penalties for breaching the ACL must be “more than the cost of just doing business”, the commission voiced support for increasing maximum financial penalties for contravening the ACL.

As a way of encouraging poorly performing businesses to “lift their game,” the commission also argued there were grounds for giving the public greater access to data on consumer complaints.

Highlighting current consumer intelligence processes as “slow and resource intensive”, the commission suggested implementing a nationally aggregated complaints and incidents database.

It pointed to the NSW Fair Trading Complaints Register, which was introduced in August last year, and has since featured well known businesses such as LJ Hooker, Harvey Norman, AirAsia and fashion brand Shakuhachi.

“The register encourages the marketplace to regulate itself, and publishing monthly allows businesses the chance to improve their complaint handling procedures,” NSW Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe said at the time.

The commission also recommended that state and territory governments move to agree on nationally consistent laws on electrical goods safety, a process it says is currently at an “impasse”.

It highlighted the lack of consistency between state electrical safety regulations, which allowed for discrepancies, such as certain electrical products being legally sold in some jurisdictions, but banned from sale in others.

A further recommendation included that Australian governments “establish an independent review of consumer alternative dispute resolution mechanisms”, which should give regulators greater powers to compel businesses to cooperate.

The Productivity Commission will now wait for the government to respond to its findings.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

13 October
Comments Off on What happens if China stumbles? A $140b doomsday scenario

What happens if China stumbles? A $140b doomsday scenario

Australia is more exposed to the economy of a single nation – China – than at any time since the 1950s, when Britain was our major trading partner.
Nanjing Night Net

While the gains from that economic relationship have been huge, the risk if China’s economy slows are potentially just as large, new modelling warns.

The analysis, from Deloitte Access Economics’ Chris Richardson, to be released at the National Press Club on Wednesday, says that if economic growth in China halved from its current rate of about 6.7 per cent to 3 per cent, Australia would be forced into recession as the nation “just doesn’t have the ammo to fight it off any more”.

The damage would include:

$140 billion wiped from national earnings for families, businesses and government in the two years to 2019.

500,000 people would lose their jobs.

house prices would fall by about 9 per cent.

the sharemarket would drop in value by 17 per cent.

the Australian dollar would drop 15?? and inflation would rise.

business sales and profits would drop by 8 per cent and 19 per cent respectively.

$40 billion would be wiped off the federal budget bottom line in 2019-20 alone.

Mr Richardson, in his speech to the Press Club, is quick to add that Deloitte Access is not forecasting a China crisis – although he does warn that China is too reliant on debt, has built too much, has over-capacity in everything from steel to housing and its economy is still reliant on stimulus.

“In fact, China looks stronger today than at any time since 2011. So this isn’t our view of what is most likely. But it is entirely plausible,” he will state.

In addition, compared with the global financial crisis in 2008-09, Australia’s interest rates and dollar are already low, while the federal budget is in the red and household borrowing has risen. All of these factors make it harder for Australia to resist falling into recession.

The so-called “China stumbles” scenario is one of three that have been modelled by Deloitte Access Economics using its new “Horizon” economic model. All three are alternatives to the Treasury’s “most likely” scenario for the economy.

The other two options to be set out by Mr Richardson present far rosier possible futures for Australia.

The “best and brightest” future would see Australia successfully ride the wave of a rising Asian middle class, with an economy 2.5 per cent larger than it otherwise would have been, an additional $800 billion of national income over two decades and stronger wages growth.

Crucially, it would also see Canberra embrace economic reforms.

“That may be a tall order … politicians are struggling to get the message across that reforms bring benefits,” Mr Richardson will note.

The third scenario, examining the so-called “cyber smart” option, would see Australia take a leaf out of Israel’s book and embrace technology to drive growth.

“Going cyber smart would have some pretty big benefits for the average Australian,” Mr Richardson will note, with 60,000 extra people in jobs, higher wages and a rise in Australian living standards.

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This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

13 October
Comments Off on Budget razor gang to consider medicine scheme shake-up

Budget razor gang to consider medicine scheme shake-up

Nanjing Night Net

The Turnbull government’s budget razor gang is set to consider changes to the $10 billion Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme designed to bring down the price of medicines and kill off a potentially damaging fight with pharmacists.

Health Minister Greg Hunt is close to finalising a new strategic agreement with pharmaceutical industry body Medicines Australia that will underpin the changes to go before the expenditure review committee within days, Fairfax Media can reveal.

Well-placed sources in the medicines sector say that under the agreement the industry will bring down the cost of some drugs in exchange for price certainty and stability. The agreement will fill the void left after negotiations on an earlier agreement ended in acrimony in 2015.

The government is also set to extend an agreement with the generic medicines sector and reach a compromise with the powerful Pharmacy Guild of Australia, which has been laying the groundwork for a bruising public campaign over a funding dispute.

Mr Hunt has been in fresh talks with doctors’ groups this week, exploring ways to unwind the Medicare rebate freeze as he tries to reset the Coalition’s relationship with the sector in the wake of Labor’s “Mediscare” campaign.

It is unclear how much the reform package will save consumers or the government’s bottom line, but Mr Hunt has been telling stakeholders he wants to reinvest the money in the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme so more drugs can be listed.

The package would be Mr Hunt’s first big win in the portfolio after he took over from Sussan Ley in January.

Mr Hunt’s office would not confirm details of the package, saying only that negotiations were continuing.

“The government is having constructive discussions with a number of sectors, including Medicines Australia, aimed at improving access to doctors and reducing the cost of medicines,” a spokesman said.

“Our goal and our principles are protecting and supporting the long-term sustainability of Medicare and the PBS.”

Under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, the government subsidises the cost of medicine for most medical conditions. Patients pay a small co-payment – $38.80 for most PBS medicines and $6.30 for concession card holders – and the government pays the remaining cost.

The cost of the scheme goes up every year, reaching $10.8 billion in 2015-16.

The Coalition has promised to list all vital new drugs recommended by the independent Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee on the PBS, adding $5 billion worth of drugs since 2013.

The government already has an agreement with the Generic and Biosimilar Medicines Association, but that is likely to be extended so it aligns with the Medicines Australia agreement, likely to conclude in 2022.

Sources say the association has agreed to an increase in the mandatory price cuts triggered by the reimbursement of a second brand of an already listed medicine, delivering major savings.

Price disclosure policy has also been part of the negotiations, with the government prepared to make some concessions, sources say.

Sources in the pharmacy sector say they are increasingly confident of a deal with the government over what is known as “risk share”, a contested element of the government’s $18.9 billion funding deal with the guild and the 5500 community pharmacies it represents.

The risk share forecasts prescription volumes in each of the agreement’s five years. In the first year – last financial year – there was a 2.1 per cent shortfall in prescriptions, delivering the government a saving of up to $500 million.

That includes the cost of medicines that were not dispensed and therefore not paid for under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. But it also included an estimated $81 million of foregone dispensing revenue for pharmacies which the guild wants repaid.

It is not yet clear what sort compromise is likely, but the government is eager to prevent the guild launching a public campaign spearheaded by thousands of pharmacists.

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This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

13 October
Comments Off on Waterhouse and Bott charged over switch

Waterhouse and Bott charged over switch

Gai Waterhouse and Ian Craig at the Golden Slipper Barrier Draw at Rosehill Racecourse, Sydney. 15th March 2016 Photo: Janie Barrett Photo: Janie BarrettWizard of Odds: Live Odds, Form and Alerts for all Racing
Nanjing Night Net

Gai Waterhouse labelled charges against her and training partner Adrian Bott over the switch of horses at trackwork as, “totally unacceptable, so incredibly severe, unnecessary and certainly unfair”, at a Racing NSW inquiry on Tuesday.

Racing NSW stewards charged Waterhouse and Bott with conduct prejudicial to the image and interests of racing after inquiring into why three horses scheduled to work were changed without notice at the breakfast with the stars at Randwick last week.

Waterhouse and Bott didn’t plead to the charge, rather immediately asked for an adjournment to seek legal advice on the matter.

They were charged after Stampede, Sort After and Fabrizio were sent out in the places of Serena Bay, English and Debonairly and in their silks and saddlecloths for public gallops at Randwick on April 4.

“To think you have called us in here today over this [matter] I find it totally unacceptable, so incredibly severe, unnecessary and certainly unfair,” Waterhouse told stewards after being charged. “I can’t believe you didn’t just give us a warning.”

Waterhouse said “she was one of racing’s greatest advocates”, which Racing NSW chief steward Marc Van Gestel agreed with, saying “no one underestimates what you have done for the industry”.

However, they differed on the seriousness of the horses being substituted for the track gallops. It was a term that riled Waterhouse from the outset of the inquiry.

“Substitution [of horses], I take great expectation to that word, because it suggests something sinister, or we were out to deceive people,” Waterhouse said at the beginning of the 90-minute hearing.

Waterhouse admitted the stable had been wrong to send out different horses to those published on the gallop list. She apologised on numerous occasions during the inquiry and told stewards it would not happen again.

But she didn’t offer a reason why the club was not notified of the changes and why horses went out in the silks and saddlecloths of the advertised horses.

“I thought the show must go on. I would rather send out horses than have four scratchings because there were people there to see horses and I don’t think it is that serious,” Waterhouse said.

She later added: “This has happened many times before with lot of trainers using gallop slots with different horses. We didn’t want to let anyone down.

“We made a mistake and we won’t make it again.”

Tulloch Lodge made the decision not to gallop English, Debonairly and Serena Bay because of minor problems at 3.30am on the morning of the gallops.

English had a sore eye, Debonairly a sore foot and Serena Bay a muscle enzyme problem. But Tulloch Lodge decided not to give up the four slots for course-proper gallops, which were restricted to horses running in group races the following Saturday.

Van Gestel asked Waterhouse why she didn’t tell anyone of the changes in the three hours between the decision and the gallops.

“I was busy getting 150 horses worked. We were very busy as we always are,” Waterhouse said. “We didn’t think about it.

“We didn’t go out to deceive anyone. The horses weren’t even working that fast because the track was so wet.”

Stewards pointed out that a number of tweets were sent by members of the media identifying English and Serena Bay as working together. Bott countered by saying the ATC tweet had correctly identified Fabrizio during the morning.

The inquiry will recommence on a date to be fixed.

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This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

13 October
Comments Off on Wanderers facing early exit from ACL after another home loss

Wanderers facing early exit from ACL after another home loss

Western Sydney Wanderers’ hopes of progressing past the group stage of the Asian Champions League have been all but dashed after slumping to a lacklustre defeat at home to FC Seoul.
Nanjing Night Net

The 2014 Asian Champions need a near miracle to reach the knockout stages of this year’s tournament after a 3-2 loss to the Korean giants at Campbelltown Stadium left the Wanderers anchored at the bottom of Group F. Their disappointing campaign appears to have come to an end after their second hefty home defeat of the season requires them to now win their final two games and pray other results go in their favour to finish in the top two.

Despite being outclassed for the majority of the match, a late fightback gave Western Sydney some hope of pulling off the incredible after clawing back from 3-0 down. However late goals from Terry Antonis and Lachlan Scott provided more respect to the scoreline than the balance of play.

However, Western Sydney coach Tony Popovic is pulling the positives from an underwhelming campaign, viewing it as a vehicle that has fast-tracked the development of his youngest talent.

“It’ll be difficult [to progress to the knock-out stages],” a disappointed Popovic conceded.

“We’re in a group as well where there have been no draws so no one’s dropping any points.

“You have a look at the other groups – the leaders might be on four, five or six points.

“As a whole, in terms of results, disappointing.”

The quality of Asian football is no doubt improving, but Popovic also pointed to his squad’s relative youth compared with glossier prior campaigns highlighted by 2014’s historic triumph.

He said young players lacking in extensive match conditioning will benefit from their first real experience of short turnarounds and long-haul travel between Asian and A-League commitments.

In particular, he singled out two of the club’s rising stars in 20-year-old first-choice centre-back Jonathan Aspropotamitis and burgeoning 19-year-old striker Scott.

Scott scored his second Champions League goal – and the third of his senior career – in injury time, adding to Antonis’ 77th-minute strike to bring his team to the brink of a three-goal comeback.

“It’s clearly accelerating them,” Popovic said.

“Lachy fought hard – the kid was cramping in the last 10 minutes and he scored a wonderful goal, a fantastic striker’s goal.

“Jonathan was, I thought, very good.

“It’s hard, you’re speaking highly of your defenders and yet you concede three goals, but it was pretty much three attempts on goal and they scored three.

“So if you look at it as a whole they defended well.”

The Wanderers were outplayed in almost every measure aside from possession in a loss that would sting Popovic, who highlighted the importance of this fixture with the selections on his team sheet. Just three changes made from the side that drew with Melbourne Victory three days earlier displayed their desire for consistency despite the availability of fresh and fit players and that search for stability was dealt a blow after only four minutes.

They were left shell-shocked when Lee Seok-hyun fired a rocket from some 25 metres, leaving goalkeeper Vedran Janjetovic helpless but to watch the fierce drive rattle the back of the net.

The Wanderers should have drawn level midway through the first half when Jumpei Kusukami received the most fortunate of gifts from Seoul’s defence. A back pass fell straight to the Japanese winger’s feet inside the box. He was already through on goal, had the chance to hone in on goal and finish simply, yet in a baffling decision, opted to cut back to the edge of the area for Mitch Nichols in support. His shot was fired well over the bar and the groan in agony from the stands was an apt reflection of Kusukami’s decision making.

They were made to rue that minutes before the break when Scott Neville brought down Maurinho inside the box and Montenegran striker Dejan Damjanovic ensured Seoul went into half-time with a comfortable lead, slotting the resulting spot kick.

There was little life injected into the Wanderers after their break as their grip on possession still didn’t lead to any chances. Seoul continued to look dangerous and Damjanovic came close to firing the final nail in the coffin with a powerful free-kick that forced a fine save from Janjetovic.

Popovic injected Marquee Nico Martinez and captain Dimas Delgado after the hour mark but no sooner had they arrived than the Wanderers’ hopes of progressing disappeared. Damjanovic sealed the emphatic win for the Koreans in style, beating two players to fire a long-range strike to make it 3-0 in the 70th minute.

In other Australian results, Adelaide United upset Jeju United 3-1 in Korea to climb from last to second in Group H.

Brisbane, last in Group E, host Kashima Antlers on Wednesday night.

with AAP

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.