Anthony Albanese dumps Labor’s franking credits policy, attacks ‘fake’ PM ahead of federal election

Federal Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has dumped Labor’s policy to overhaul franking credits while also launching an attack on Scott Morrison, in a renewed focus on the next election, which could be called later this year.

In a video conference address to Victorian Labor members this morning, Mr Albanese announced Labor would scrap the proposed changes to franking credits the party took to the 2019 election campaign.

The Opposition Leader said the policy had distracted voters from the party’s core messages.

He said that would not be the case at the next federal election, which could be called in late 2021 or early 2022.

The Coalition targeted the franking credits policy during that campaign, describing the measure as a “retiree tax”.

“I can confirm that Labor has heard that message clearly and that we will not be taking any changes to franking credits to the next election,” Mr Albanese said.

“I want the focus to be on Labor’s positive agenda for Australia’s future … a nation where people aspire to personal success, but also have aspirations for their family, their community and their nation.”

Bill Shorten (left) was widely tipped to win the 2019 election but lost to Scott Morrison (right).(AAP)

Labor’s 2019 election review identified former leader Bill Shorten’s unpopularity and a lack of political strategy as two of the causes of the party’s failure to take government.

The Coalition, which had changed its leader three times since coming to power in 2013, was widely tipped to lose the election, having fallen into minority government months out from the poll.

However, it regained majority government as Labor’s primary vote fell to 33 per cent, with sharp falls among blue-collar workers.

PM ‘lacks empathy, stands for nothing,’ Albanese says

Mr Albanese also used the video address to criticise the Prime Minister’s character, arguing Australians had judged Mr Morrison as a person who shifts blame and is a “showman who loves grand announcements, but never delivers”.

He also invoked the awkward interaction, in January 2020, between Mr Morrison and a bushfire survivor who refused to shake his hand, as evidence that Mr Morrison lacked empathy.

“As the nation burned and our cities were choked by smoke, Mr Morrison’s only focus was photo opportunities, where, understandably, many people saw straight through him and refused to shake his hand,” he said.

“That infamous visit said a lot about Scott Morrison and his lack of empathy with Australians who are doing it tough.

“When it comes to Scott Morrison, Australians have started to work him out anyway.

Albanese resorting to ‘personal attack’

Asked about Mr Albanese’s comments today, senior Liberal MP and Minister for Industry Karen Andrews said the Opposition Leader was resorting to personal attacks because he could not attack the Government’s policies.

“He can personalise his attacks as much as he wants,” Ms Andrews said.

“What that clearly demonstrates is our policies are sound [and] they are delivering for Australians.

“If you’re going to attack an individual, it’s because you can’t attack the policy.”

A woman with blonde hair and a blue business jacket in front of an electorate office.
Minister for Industry Karen Andrews said the Opposition Leader had resorted to a “personal attack”.(ABC News)

Mr Albanese also used the speech to criticise Mr Morrison’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis and his public criticisms of Labor premiers, including Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews during that state’s major coronavirus outbreak in October and November.

He said Labor state premiers had taken the right decisions, while the Prime Minister “campaigned” against them.

“The Liberals’ essential belief is that government should just get out of the way of markets but we know that markets have no conscience,” Mr Albanese said.

“Just as conservative values were useless during the pandemic, they also offer us little in the rebuilding phase.

“We should use the recovery to address some of the deficiencies in our society.”

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AFLW dumps controversial conference system

The AFLW has abandoned its controversial conference system in favour of a single ladder for 2021 with matches also ticketed for the first time.

The nine-round home-and-away season will start on January 28, with the full fixture to be released on Friday.

The conference system that was first introduced for 2019 and resulted in some weak teams making the finals, has been scrapped.

Instead, all 14 teams will be placed on a single ladder with the top six teams qualifying for the three-week finals series.

The grand final is scheduled for the second weekend of April.

Matches will now be ticketed in another change for the women’s competition in its fifth year, ensuring each venue is COVID-safe.

The league is yet to reveal ticket prices.

“We are proud the 2021 season will see all matches ticketed,” AFL head of women’s football Nicole Livingstone said.

“We have listened to supporters of women’s football who continue to indicate a willingness to pay to attend AFLW matches and support the growth of the competition.”

The scrapping of the conference system will be widely applauded.

The flaws were most prominent in 2019, when both Geelong (12 points) and GWS (eight points) made the finals from the weak Conference B, while Melbourne (16 points) missed out from Conference A.

The AFLW has gone from strength to strength since being launched in 2017.

More than 600,000 women and girls now play football across the country while the AFLW has expanded from eight teams to 14 – growing from 216 players to 420.

League heavyweights were criticised earlier this year after they were forced to cancel the AFLW season midway through the finals.

As the COVID-19 pandemic spread to Australia at the tail end of the 2020 home-and-away AFLW season, the AFL had the option of heading straight into an AFLW grand final between the winner of Group A and the winner of Group B.

Instead, the league attempted to push ahead with a three-week finals series, which was brought to a halt after just one week when coronavirus restrictions made it impossible to continue.

The unbeaten Fremantle Dockers, who thumped Gold Coast by 70 points in the semi-finals, and Group A leaders North Melbourne were the teams hardest done by.

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Victoria dumps mandatory outdoor masks | The Canberra Times

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Victorians can breathe a sigh of relief, with months of compulsory face mask-wearing coming to an end as part of a further lifting of COVID-19 restrictions. Premier Daniel Andrews on Sunday announced the changes to take effect from midnight. “Masks will be required inside in all settings, they will not be required while outside,” he told reporters. “However you need to carry the mask with you because you will have to wear the mask outside if you can’t socially distance.” Melburnians have been required to wear compulsory face masks outdoors since mid-July, as the city was struck by its deadly second wave of coronavirus. As cases leaked out of the city, the mask rules were implemented for regional Victorians in early August. Other new rule tweaks from Monday include 15 home visitors per day, up from two, while outdoor public gatherings can have up to 50 people. The latest changes to social restrictions were unveiled as the state extended its streak without a new COVID-19 infection to 23 straight days. There remains only one active case in Victoria. Mr Andrews outlined additional moves back to normality, including up to 30 home visitors per day from December 13 – just in time for Christmas. “That is not 30 for lunch and 30 for dinner, it is 30 across the course of the day,” he said. “I know that will be a large enough number for some families, and for others they will need to do some juggling.” A fourth of Victoria’s workforce will be permitted back in workplaces from November 30, while the rest will have to continue working from home. Public sector workers are not part of the 25 per cent cap, allowing more private sector businesses to benefit. The premier flagged the next set of COVID-19 rule changes – likely the last before the end of the year – would be announced on December 6. “I want to get to a situation where in the next couple of weeks we can lock in the rules and then people will know and have certainty that they are there for the whole summer,” Mr Andrews said. It came as Victoria reopened to South Australia after a brief “hard border” was replaced overnight by a permit system. SA residents can get a permit via the Services Victoria website but Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley said not everyone would be eligible. “For people from South Australia who are exposed to the South Australian government’s defined high-risk sites, you will not be granted a permit,” he said. Communities in a 70km bubble around the interstate border can continue using the SA government-issued permit they used for months previously. Those receiving or providing emergency medical care or services or who reside on a property that straddles the border are exempt from the permit requirement. NSW and the ACT are due to open their borders to Victoria on Monday. Australian Associated Press


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AustralianSuper dumps Whitehaven Coal, commits to net zero by 2050

Mr Gray said the thermal coal industry relies on the development of carbon capture technology, but slow advances in this space, combined with global trends away from thermal coal as an energy source had made these companies a high-risk investment.

AustralianSuper confirmed that over the past six months it had sold out of Whitehaven coal, which operates four mines in the Gunnedah Basin of New South Wales. Mr Gray said the fund would now turn its lens to passive investments in the thermal coal industry, including South32, despite these being relatively minor.

“It’s about $160 million in a $180 billion fund, so it’s a very small dollar amount and not a significant investment risk,” he said. “Having said that, as part of this net zero by 2050 approach, we will examine how we can manage the holdings in the passive portfolio.”

‘Embracing net zero 2050’

AustralianSuper will use its new target to force companies to formalise plans to transition towards zero carbon operations, which will extend to scope three emissions – those from the supply chain – where possible.


Net zero emissions means every tonne of greenhouse gas emitted must be matched by a tonne removed from the atmosphere through carbon sinks including forest plantations. Major Asian trading partners have recently set net zero targets, but the Australian federal government has refused to do so.

Mr Gray said the financial industry was “moving ahead” of governments on the transition to a low-carbon economy.

“Recent moves in policy by Japan, China, South Korea clearly shows where global policy makers are going,” he said. “They are embracing net zero 2050, that’s telling us there is a wholesale low carbon economic transition happening here.”

AustralianSuper joins a range of financial institutions including IFM Investors and ANZ Bank, who have recently formalised net zero targets. ANZ chief executive Shayne Elliott told investors in October the decision to stop funding new thermal coal mines was not an ethical or moral decision, but an economic one.

‘Good investment practice’

AustralianSuper has been increasing its investments in international shares, mostly due to its size, but Mr Gray said climate concerns also informed the strategy to pivot away from the local sharemarket, which is dominated by high emitting industries.

“The size of our investment in international equities has been growing, and will continue to grow,” he said. “The primary driver of that is our size, it’s a scale issue, but it’s also true to say we integrate consideration of climate change issues.”

The financial industry has been criticised by the federal government, particularly Resources Minister Keith Pitt, for engaging in activism in the decision to move away from coal. However, Mr Gray said its net zero target was not part of a public policy campaign, but rather one focused on returns.

“At the end of the day for us, this is about good investment practice.”

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Westpac dumps Zip stake following deal with rival Afterpay

Westpac said the decision to sell its stake in Zip reflects its approach to simplifying its business and ensuring the efficient use of capital.

“Larry Diamond, Peter Gray and the management team of Zip have done a tremendous job growing the company, including expanding globally. We look forward to seeing them continue to grow a global
customer franchise,” Westpac chief information officer Gary Thursby said.

He indicated that Westpac was still looking to partner with Zip. It was expected to be the first company to sign on to the bank’s digital banking platform rather than its rival Afterpay.

“We are continuing to explore opportunities with Zip, including working to integrate their buy now, pay later functionality into our mobile banking apps across Westpac and our regional bank brands. This would expand our offering to customers and broaden the customers Zip can reach,” Mr Thursby said.

“We are also working with Zip on other opportunities for consumer, business and corporate customers that we believe could be mutually beneficial, while continuing to develop our banking relationship with Zip.”

Zip’s share price has soared along with the rest of the buy now, pay later sector, hitting a high of $9.65 in August. Zip shares closed on Wednesday at $7.08. Westpac said it plans to sell the shares via a fully underwritten bookbuild to institutional investors at $6.65 a share, which will be managed by UBS.

Zip has a market valuation of $3.65 billion compared with Afterpay’s valuation of $29 billion. Westpac is worth $66 billion.

On Tuesday, Afterpay co-founder and chief executive Anthony Eisen said using Westpac’s “banking-as-a-service” platform will not only help it offer its customers a different way to manage their finances but also get a deeper understanding of their spending habits.

The deal enables Afterpay to further scale its business by broadening its services and gain access to crucial user data without needing a licence from the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) to offer the accounts or needing to hold additional regulatory capital.

Meanwhile, competition regulator Rod Sims said he would press the federal government for tougher anti-merger laws that include stopping the big banks from buying emerging fintechs.

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BHP dumps $3.5 billion expansion plan at Olympic Dam in ‘body blow’ for SA economy

Mining giant BHP has shelved a planned multibillion-dollar expansion at South Australia’s Olympic Dam, after studies of the ore body revealed underwhelming prospects.

The information was contained in BHP’s first quarter report, released this morning, which also detailed a $500 million smelter upgrade the company said would create 1,500 jobs during construction at the site.

While the report stated that Olympic Dam had yielded more than 50,000 tonnes of copper — the highest quarterly production since December 2015 — BHP said it would not be continuing with its planned $3.5 billion Brownfield Expansion (BFX).

It is not the first multi-billion dollar project at Olympic Dam the mining company has walked away from in the past decade.

“The studies have shown that the copper resources in the southern mine area are more structurally complex, and the higher grade zones less continuous, than previously thought,” BHP said.

“We have decided the optimal way forward for now is through targeted debottlenecking investments, plant upgrades and modernisation of our infrastructure.”

BHP also revised Olympic Dam’s projected maximum copper production from 350,000 tonnes per annum, to 300,000, following the drilling assessments.

“This will in turn lower potential future water requirements and support long-term sustainability of Great Artesian Basin,” the company said.

‘Body blow’ for SA economy

The expansion was slated to increase Olympic Dam’s annual copper production from 200,000 tonnes to up to 350,000 tonnes, as well as boosting its level of gold, silver and uranium production.

It was also expected to create 1,800 jobs during construction, and 600 additional permanent operational roles thereafter.

“This is a body blow for South Australia’s economy, it’s a body blow for the resources sector,” said Opposition mining spokesman Tom Koutsantonis.

“Those jobs were vital, we needed those jobs, we needed that investment,” he said.

SA Mining Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan said BHP’s announcement was “disappointing”, but insisted the expansion had simply been delayed, not abandoned.

Mr Pellekaan said the government had received written confirmation from BHP late last week that they would ‘continue expansion’ of the Olympic Dam mine, but would not say whether the company specifically referenced the Brownfield Expansion.

“What we’re actually talking about is significantly increasing the production of copper.

“BHP has committed to investing $1.5 billion in Olympic Dam over the next two years, amounting to 1,500 jobs.”

BHP did not indicate an alternate timeline for the Brownfield Expansion in its quarterly report.

Nearby deposits ‘encouraging’

BHP emphasised that third-phase drilling of copper deposits at Oak Dam, 65 kilometres southeast of Olympic Dam, delivered “encouraging results”.

“Further high-grade mineralised intercepts of copper, with associated gold, uranium and silver have been confirmed,” the company report stated.

“The project will now move to planning for early stage design-evaluation and commencement of resource definition drilling in the first half of the 2021 calendar year.”

Oak Dam is not yet operational, and Mr Koutsantonis said he did not believe it would become so for another decade.

“The idea that we can miss out on investment now, and wait another ten years before we even start digging, I think is laughable,” he said.

BHP said it would continue to study options for growth at Olympic Dam over the long term.

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Volkswagen dumps jailed Audi CEO amid emissions probe

Stadler has left the board of management of Audi parent company Volkswagen (VLKAF) and stepped down as chairman of the premium brand’s management board, the autos group said in a statement Tuesday.

“Due to his ongoing pretrial detention, he is unable to fulfill his duties as a member of the board of management and wishes to concentrate on his defense,” the statement said of Stadler.

Volkswagen previously said that Stadler would be considered innocent until proven guilty. Audi tapped its top sales executive to lead the company after Stadler was detained.

The German carmaker has admitted that it rigged millions of diesel engines to cheat on emissions tests.

Diesel cars from Volkswagen and its Audi subsidiary cheated on clean air rules with software that made emissions look less toxic than they actually were.

The scandal sent its share price plunging, and trashed confidence among consumer and regulators in diesel technology. The episode has already cost Volkswagen more than $30 billion in recalls, legal penalties and settlements.

In a separate announcement on Tuesday, Volkswagen said it would offer incentives to customers in Germany who wanted to swap older diesel cars for cleaner models.

Martin Winterkorn, the former chief executive officer of Volkswagen, was indicted by US prosecutors in May. He was charged with wire fraud, and conspiracy to defraud American customers and violate the Clean Air Act.
Matthias Mueller, who was brought in to replace Winterkorn, stepped down earlier this year and was replaced by BMW (BMWYY) veteran Herbert Diess.

Diess acknowledged at a press conference in April that Volkswagen had “lost a great deal of trust,” and that it would take years to restore public confidence in the automaker.

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Bunbury man Phil Smith digs up dark history of baby bottles after 50 years scouring rubbish dumps

Phil Smith has scavenged through rubbish tips and dug up parks in the search for collectables for his long-time obsession of collecting rare baby bottles, including the Victorian-era ‘murder’ bottle.

Mr Smith has an extensive collection of historic baby bottles and some date back to the 1800s.

To many, baby bottles may seem like an unusual collectors’ item but to Mr Smith it has been part of his life for the past 50 years.

It started in 1970 when he hunted through a rubbish tip in Perth.

He struck collector gold during a dig at Queens Park in Bunbury.

“In 1986 the council refitted all the drainage in town. They dug into Queens Garden’s, which was the old rubbish dump,” Mr Smith said.

“It’s 70 years of dumping of things that people don’t want.

“We got permission to dig there over four or five years and baby bottles kept turning up.”

But one of his most important finds is the Alexandria baby feeding bottle, also known as a Victorian ‘murder’ bottle, making it his most sinister find of them all.

The glass bottle was used in the late 1800s and had a long rubber tube that would extend from the top that the baby would suck.

“You couldn’t clean it,” Mr Smith said.

However, over time, baby bottles progressed in shape and size and made them easier to clean.

“As they got more banana shape and upright you could boil the bottles without them breaking,” he said.

“The more modern ones were upright and would have a rubber teat attached to it.”

Collection of a lifetime

Mr Smith, who is in his 80s, has been competing in collection competitions around the country since 1972.

Phil Smith has been collecting baby bottles for 50 years.(ABC South West: Ann Carter)

Many bottles in the collection share an important part of history that Mr Smith is fascinated by.

Mr Smith’s collection comes from years of hard work but now that he is older he has stopped digging.

“Now I dig with the cheque book,” he said.

Mr Smith has donated his baby bottle collection to Bunbury Museum and Heritage Centre.

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Farmer Wants a Wife: Alex Taylor dumps winner Jess Wolfe and reunites with Henrietta Moore

Months after filming wrapped on Farmer Wants A Wife, Alex Taylor is still stuck in a bizarre love triangle.

On last night’s final episode, the Queensland cattle farmer chose Jess Wolfe as the woman with whom he wanted to pursue a relationship outside of the show.

But after filming, he realised he only saw her as a friend and within a month, he dumped Wolfe and reunited with his second choice, Henrietta Moore.

Now, five months later, Taylor has confessed he has not seen Moore in three months.

“We have stayed in good contact and are still talking, but we haven’t really had the opportunity to catch up,” Taylor told AAA.

Camera IconHenrietta and Farmer Alex.

While Taylor still seems committed to making it work with Moore, he is planning further catch-ups with his first choice, Geelong-based Wolfe — and her family.

“Jess and I are still really good friends and we have quite a good relationship. We had been through this crazy experience together and didn’t want to stop talking,” he said.

He also revealed that once borders reopened, he would be welcoming her back to his Cunnamulla property.

“I still talk to Jess and see how she is going and her and her family would love to come to the farm at some point,” he said.

The self-confessed “love virgin” went on the show hoping to find “the one”, but despite having made his choice, he still keeps in touch with all four women who he invited back to his farm.

“You spent most days with these people for five weeks and grow very attached to them,” he said.





It was while catching up with Moore in Brisbane, after driving eight hours to “drop off some socks and a watch” she left on the farm, that the pair rekindled their spark.

“It was the first time that cameras and the other girls weren’t around and it felt really organic and nice,” he said.

“We always had this great chemistry and spark and those initial feelings I had on that first date were still there.”

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Top super fund dumps coal miners as emissions cuts intensify

The most immediate direct action is to divest all its shareholdings of companies that mine thermal coal – the type of coal used in power generation – by October 2020.

Although the plan does not specify which thermal coal miners will be divested, corporate records indicate First State held shares in ASX-listed Whitehaven Coal, Stanmore Coal, New Hope and Washington H. Soul Pattinson in 2019.

The next phases of the fund’s strategy – a 30 per cent emissions cut across its entire listed equities portfolio by 2023 and 45 per cent by 2030 – are more immediate goals than those set by many other investors, whose targets stretch out to 2050.

Along with increasing its investment targets for renewable energy, First State said its goals would be achieved first through engaging with boards of heavy-emitting companies about their plans to decarbonise and then through further divestments where necessary.

“The time for debate and discussion is up: Really large emitters need to have a really clear transition plan with very clear targets, and then action it,” Ms Stewart said. “The investment community wants to engage with them, back them and help them in this transition, but not if no action is taken.”

First State said it had spent five years engaging with the nation’s top polluter, AGL, on decarbonising and welcomed its pledge last month to link executive pay incentives to achieving targets surrounding the expansion of renewable energy generation and selling more “carbon-neutral” energy plans.


The fund’s move to divest thermal coal miners is the latest setback for the coal sector following pledges by a growing number of the world’s institutional investors to reduce their fossil fuel exposure on ethical and financial grounds. The world’s largest asset manager, BlackRock, this year announced a partial retreat from thermal coal investment citing climate change concerns. HESTA, the super fund for healthcare workers, has divested its thermal coal holdings as part of its plan to be a “net-zero” emitter by 2050.

The Investor Group on Climate Change, which represents big investors with more than $2 trillion under management, said more Australian funds were planning to roll out tougher climate targets imminently.

“The proliferation of emissions reduction goals across Australian portfolios is a clear sign of the growing ambition and sophistication on climate change among institutional investors,” said the group’s chief executive officer, Emma Herd.

“We expect this trend to only intensify in the coming months.”

A spokesman for the Minerals Council of Australia, which counts thermal coal miners among its members, said the group did not comment on superannuation entities’ divestment decisions.

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