Resurgent home lending boosts Resimac



The company said if the domestic economy continued its recovery path and funding markets remained open and stable, it expected 2021 fiscal year net profit of $100m-$105m. That would reflect a jump of as much as 90 per cent on the prior year. Resimac on Thursday reported that net profit soared 86 per cent to $50.5m in the six months to ­December 31, compared to the period a year earlier. Normalised profit, excluding lumpy one-off items, surged 88 per cent. “The momentum and the performance, we believe, is sustainable and that’s because the drivers behind it are real drivers,” chief executive Scott McWilliam said, referring to loan growth, the management of margins and the credit performance of the portfolio. “The pipeline looks healthy, the outlook looks healthy, and we’re aiming to push out a strong fourth quarter.”On the outlook for house ­prices, Mr McWilliam noted regulators would closely assess any emerging risks over the medium term, although demand this time round was being dominated by owner-occupiers rather than ­investors. “The regulators will look at the heat in the market if there is any,” he said. Resimac’s interim dividend doubled to 2.4c, compared with the previous corresponding ­period.Net interest income climbed 45 per cent, even though loan settlements during the period dropped to $2.1bn, from $2.4bn. Total assets under managements rose 7 per cent to $15.1bn. The group’s net interest margin — what it earns on loans minus funding and other costs — increased to 2.11 per cent in the first half, from 1.98 per cent in the prior six months.Resimac chief financial officer Jason Azzopardi said the group had pulled back slightly in the prime lending market in the first half, where fierce competition for customers was occurring predominantly in fixed-rate home loans. “Margin management is a huge focus for us and there were very aggressive pricing strategies put in place by competitors, banks among them, and sometimes you don’t want to give away such huge margin just to write some more settlements,” Mr Azzopardi said. The results showed settlements of prime home loans fell 16 per cent in the first half, while settlements of specialist loans — with a higher risk profile — rose 9 per cent. Banks have been boosted by ultra-cheap funding provided by the Reserve Bank through its COVID-19 Term Funding ­Facility.COVID-19 repayment pauses accounted for about 1.55 per cent of Resimac’s loan book, down markedly from 10 per cent at the end of June. Of the remaining 500 customers on loan repayment pauses, a proportion had only ­requested assistance during ­Melbourne’s second pandemic lockdown. “We are heartened by the fact that there is good equity in that portfolio,” Mr McWilliam said of the portfolio’s loan-to-valuation ratio, but he also noted he was closely monitoring the situation as JobKeeper support payments ended next month. Resimac’s home loan collective provision edged up to $33.5m in its first half.The lender’s cost-to-income ratio fell sharply to 31.1 per cent as at December 31, from 42.1 per cent a year earlier. The group is also boosting its technology and credentials as a digital non-bank.

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A new generation of Wi-Fi to improve your home network


Wi-Fi 6 debuted in 2018 but reached the mainstream only this year, when it became more affordable, with devices that cost as little as $100, and more widely available on new internet routers. Many newer smartphones and computers now also include chips that help them take advantage of Wi-Fi 6.

So, how exactly does it work? Imagine cars driving on a road. On older Wi-Fi networks the cars, which represent devices transmitting data, drive in a single lane. A device taking a long time to complete a data-heavy task is like that obnoxious slowpoke forcing everyone behind to tap the brakes.

Wi-Fi 6 reduces congestion by directing traffic. There are now multiple lanes: carpool lanes for the newer, faster devices and a slow lane for the older, slower ones. All of the vehicles are also full of people, which represent big batches of data being transported over the network simultaneously.

“Wi-Fi 6 can be much more efficient at getting a lot more cars down the road faster,” said David Henry, a senior vice president of the networking company Netgear.

I recently tested two new Wi-Fi 6 routers and compared them with a previous-generation Wi-Fi router, which led to some middling results as well as more surprising improvements. Here’s what I learned.

Orbi mesh routers with Wi-Fi 6 start at around $400, but you can get standalone Wi-Fi 6 routers for less.

Test, Test

I usually have more than two dozen internet-connected devices running, including smart speakers, a thermostat and a bathroom scale. That appeared to make my home an ideal test environment for Wi-Fi 6.

For a Wi-Fi 6 router I picked Netgear’s Orbi, and compared against an old 2016 Google Wifi router.

One test involved downloading an episode of the Netflix series The Final Table on two smartphones and a tablet, while streaming video on another tablet.

The Wi-Fi 6 router did better than the older router, but only marginally:

  • On the Orbi it took about 45 seconds for all three devices to finish downloading the TV episode. On the older Google router, the task took 51 seconds, 13 per cent slower.
  • When I tried streaming a high-definition video on a tablet while the other devices were downloading files, there wasn’t a noticeable delay in the playback of the streaming video on the Wi-Fi 6 router or the older router.

I ran the routers through many tests like the one above, including downloading video games while doing a video call. The results were often underwhelming. So, what gives?

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Nick Weaver, chief executive of Eero, the router-maker owned by Amazon, said the benefit of reduced congestion with Wi-Fi 6 would be more visible in an environment with many more devices, like an office with hundreds of computers doing heavy tasks at the same time.

“It’s less important in the home environment,” he said. Most homes still don’t have so many devices.

Keerti Melkote, founder of Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company that offers Wi-Fi products for businesses, offered another theory. The majority of the devices in my home would need to have chips that made them compatible with Wi-Fi 6 before the benefits were more pronounced, he said. Only about one-quarter of my internet-connected devices have those.

Upsides

Those weren’t jaw-dropping results. But the good news was that using Wi-Fi 6, I noticed subtle changes throughout my home.

For one, my Amazon smart speakers are now more responsive. In my bedroom, I ask Alexa to control a pair of internet-connected light bulbs. With the older router, whenever I said, “Alexa, turn on the lights,” there was a delay of about two seconds before the lights turned on. Now it’s less than a half-second.

I noticed something similar about MyQ, which lets me use a smartphone app to control my garage door. Previously, after pressing the button, I waited several seconds for the door to open. Now the wait is a split second.

My video calls also look clearer than they used to, and they take less time to connect.

This suggests that Wi-Fi 6 is a long-term investment. The more internet-connected devices that enter people’s homes in the coming years, the more the perks will become visible.

“It will take time, but the improvements will be real,” Melkote said.

Bottom Line

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My experience indicated that people who bought a router in the past five years probably wouldn’t see major improvements immediately, so there is no rush to upgrade.

Those customers are probably better off waiting for Wi-Fi 6E, a newly unveiled technology that supposedly offers even more improvements to reduce network congestion in dense neighbourhoods. Routers that work with Wi-Fi 6E are just beginning to roll out — and are very expensive — so it could be several years until it’s practical to consider upgrading.

But if you bought a router more than six years ago, upgrading to Wi-Fi 6 would offer a big boost in speed, and the overall benefits would be more noticeable.

Here’s an even simpler rule of thumb: if you are happy with your internet connection at home, hold on to what you have and upgrade when you feel you must. Even Melkote hasn’t made the jump to Wi-Fi 6. He said he planned to this year because his family was working and attending school from home for the foreseeable future.

As for me, even though the improvements over my older router were only marginal, there’s no turning back. I seem to connect a half-dozen new devices to my network each year, so I’ll need those extra lanes.

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VIDEO: Two elderly patients given wrong vaccine dose in Queensland



An untrained GP has given up to four times the recommended dose to two nursing home residents – and it's happened before in other countries.

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Jazz Guitarist JC Stylles



Veteran jazz guitarist Jason Campbell, aka JC Stylles, has returned to Far North Queensland after living and playing in New York for 18 years. Video: Brendan Radke – Cairns Post

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Morrison’s JobSeeker boost is stingy, mean and bad for the economy


Now contrast this, of course, to the generosity shown to JobSeeker recipients, who learnt this week they will receive a $50-a-fortnight continuing boost to their payments after more generous coronavirus supplements expire at the end of next month. They’ll pocket an extra $3.57 a day – about one-fifth of the benefit I’ve seen.

Some have dismissed the sum as little more than a daily cup of coffee. But, of course, welfare recipients rarely have enough spare change for such barista-made treats. That $3.50 can, however, cover one or two meals a day. Or the internet and phone bill for the month. Or car rego and insurance for the year. It’s not nothing. But it’s a pittance compared with what I have received and falls well short of what business groups, economists and social service groups had been calling for.

This is the first real increase to Australia’s jobless payment since before the last recession. But that’s not saying much.Credit:Janie Barrett

True, it is the first real increase to Australia’s jobless payment since before the last recession. But that’s not saying much. Since the days of the Howard government, jobless payments have been set to rise only in line with consumer price increases each year, not wages. Because wages growth usually outstrips growth in prices, this means jobless support has shrunk relative to both wages and pensions (which are, by contrast, indexed to wages).

Brendan Coates and Matt Cowgill at the Grattan Institute have run the numbers. Even after the boost, they estimate that “Australia will have the second-stingiest payment for newly-unemployed people out of all 37 members of the OECD, behind only Greece”.

“An Australian on an average wage who loses their job will find that JobSeeker and Commonwealth Rent Assistance combined add up to only a bit more than a quarter – 27 per cent – of what they earned when they were working,” Coates and Cowgill estimate. “An unemployed Canadian would get 62 per cent of the average wage. The average across the rich countries is 58 per cent, about double Australia’s new payment.”

Now, it’s true that many countries set their jobless payments relatively high initially but shrink them over time, to further induce people back to work. We’re just stingy from the outset. And our stinginess will only get stingier with time, due to the government’s inaction on revising indexation arrangements. As a result of this week’s decision, JobSeeker will continue to rise only with consumer prices, meaning recipients will fall further behind as wages pick up.

As things stand, JobSeekers are set to receive just 41 per cent of the full-time minimum wage and 66 per cent of the aged pension. For the more than a million Australians on JobSeeker today, they will continue to face difficult trade-offs, like foregoing medications or travel – the very things essential to their continued ability to search for and secure work.

On the upside, they will be able to earn slightly more side income – up to $150 a fortnight – before their benefits are withdrawn.

Now, the government is right to argue JobSeeker payments should not act as a replacement wage, but rather a “safety net”. The tricky thing about safety nets, however, is they have to be slung sufficiently high off the ground to ensure you don’t accidentally hit rock bottom when you fall.

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On the reckoning of economists and many others, even after this boost, our jobless payment does not do that. Which is a shame not just from a moral viewpoint, but an economic one too. The thing about giving money to those who have very little of it is that they are more likely to actually spend it. That money circulates back into the economy, driving jobs and growth. For me, the government’s largesse is just helping me to pay down my home loan faster.

The Morrison government had been doing admirably to put ideology aside to guide us through this economic and health crisis. It has fallen woefully short at the last hurdle. Its decision on JobSeeker is stingy and mean. People will suffer needlessly because of it. And so, too, will our economy.

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Voluntary assisted dying laws delayed as more time granted to develop legislation in Queensland


The body drafting voluntary assisted dying laws for Queensland has flagged it may not be able to complete the work by its May deadline.

In the throes of last year’s election campaign, Labor promised that if re-elected, the state government would introduce voluntary assisted dying laws by February.

Just two months later, it has granted an extension to the Queensland Law Reform Commission (QLRC), which asked for more resources and time to draft the bill.

Now, in a review update tabled in State Parliament, the QLRC has flagged it may not meet that date.

“Although the commission has been very busy with this review, a large body of work remains to be done,” wrote QLRC chair Justice Peter Applegarth.

“The commission will complete this complex review as soon as it reasonably can.

“It hopes that it will be able to report and provide well-drafted legislation by its reporting date of 10 May 2021.

“However, the commission cannot exclude the possibility that its report and the requested draft legislation will not be complete at that date.”

In a review update tabled in state parliament, the QLRC has flagged it may not meet the May deadline.(ABC News: Natasha Johnson)

Commission members have been meeting more frequently than normal — once a fortnight instead of monthly — in a bid to get the work done on time.

The commission is required to:

  • Consult with the public and stakeholders and consider who should be eligible to access the scheme
  • Consider safeguards to ensure the decisions are made voluntarily and without coercion
  • Consider the qualifications and training of health professionals who may work under the laws, and
  • Consider the process of requesting voluntary assisted dying
A close-up shot of a 91-year-old woman's hand resting on her opposite elbow.
The laws are now set to be implemented by August 2022.(Flickr: jamelah e.)

It received 124 submissions in response to a consultation paper late last year and is in communication with participants in similar schemes in Victoria and Western Australia, where a scheme is still in its implementation phase.

The update said the commission recognised the desirability of “achieving reasonable consistency” with other states and with laws in New Zealand, but had to develop legislation suited to Queensland’s geography, population spread, and access to qualified health professionals.

“Legislation that may operate in a place like New Zealand or Victoria may not be suited to a large, decentralised state like Queensland, many of whose citizens live in remote areas,” the update states.

Queensland Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman, who tabled the review update, thanked Justice Applegarth and the QLRC for their work to date.

“The Palaszczuk government made a commitment to Queenslanders that we will legislate this extremely complex and deeply personal issue, and we are getting on with the job,” Ms Fentiman said.

“The review update identifies the principles that will underpin the recommended legislation, but notes that work is ongoing to develop a comprehensive legislative framework.

“While the inquiry time was extended, there will be a shorter implementation period of 15 months to ensure there is no delay in Queenslanders being able to have a choice in voluntary assisted dying and end-of-life decisions.”

That would see the laws implemented by August 2022.

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Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman has thanked Justice Applegarth and the QLRC for their work to date.(ABC News: Rachel Riga)

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NSW restrictions eased, Pfizer vaccine bungle in Queensland, JobSeeker payment increase won’t rise, NZ records three COVID-19 cases


“That’s all been thrown out of the window,” she says.

Like many operators in the travel industry, the coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on Caffery’s small, but previously profitable, business in Melbourne’s Malvern East.

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While Caffery and two of her employees at Travel Sense each receive a fortnightly JobKeeper payment of $1000 from the federal government, her share has been entirely consumed by business costs and customer refunds.

At the end of March, the JobKeeper payments keeping her 13-year-old travel agency afloat are set to come to an end. She’ll have to let go of her staff, a sad, but unavoidable outcome after a horror 12 months.

“It breaks my heart,” she says, her voice wavering.

She’s applied for work in office administration, catering and at hotels, but hasn’t heard back from anyone yet. She knows competition is fierce and suspects her age might be working against her.

Read more here.

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Mayor calls on CHO to boost numbers for Mocktail event


There are fears some students may not be able to attend Mackay’s iconic Mocktail event next month because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Mackay Mayor Greg Williamson has written to Queensland’s chief health officer Jeannette Young asking her to step in to allow all students to attend.

Cr Williamson said Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s decision to allow Anzac Day to go ahead as normal should extend to other significant community events.

Established in 1991 as an alcohol and drug free party, The Mocktail is a tradition senior high school students across the Mackay and Whitsundays look forward to each year at Mackay Entertainment and Convention Centre.

“We usually have 1100 or more students in the MECC and it’s one of those rite of passage events that senior students look forward to,” Cr Williamson said.

“With the COVID-19 planning issues this year, we can only fit 750 plus another 50 (chaperones) in the MECC.

“I wrote to Dr Jeannette Young last week and said ‘this is what usually happens, it’s a great event for the students, can we raise the level of the 800 total to get an extra 200-odd students in’?”

“She’s come back and said she’ll have a look at it.

“If Anzac Day can go ahead with no restrictions at all, The Mocktail event should be able to go ahead on March 12 providing we have contact tracing for everyone coming in.”

Mackay Regional Council Mayor Greg Williamson. Picture: Heidi Petith

 

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The Daily Mercury understands the event organiser has submitted a COVID-safe management plan and the initial proposed floor plan only met the requirements for 700 people.

Mackay Regional Council has since worked with the event organiser to redesign the floor plans and providing the new layout is acceptable to the event organiser, they will receive approval for attendance of 1179.

It is understood the public health unit will likely approve the event once the organisers resubmit the application as requested.

Cr Williamson said he hoped a solution could be found so all students could attend.

“(If not) the schools are going to have to make that difficult decision and say ‘well you can go and you can’t’ – That’s really terrible,” he said.

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Texas Officials Respond to Fiery Explosion After Train Collides With 18-Wheeler



An 18-wheeler collided with a train in Milam County, Texas, on Tuesday morning, February 23, causing several fuel tank cars to catch fire, reports said. Milam County Sheriff Chris White shared video from the scene, showing black smoke billowing from the fiery crash in Cameron. Sheriff White wrote on Facebook that the fire was “primarily petroleum,” and that there were no reports of chemical hazards. Officials told local media that both the driver of the truck and the conductor of the train were uninjured. Residents were advised to avoid the area, which was being attended by “numerous” emergency vehicles, White said. Credit: Sheriff Chris White via Storyful

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Schools can’t end the scourge of sexual assault, adults behaving like adults can


That it can happen in the halls of the highest government office in the land, or in the back streets of Kings Cross, and that no one is ever held to account, is the point.

That it can happen in thousands and thousands of homes across the country, and people are rarely held to account, is the point.

That the former president of the United States can boast to the world that he can grab any woman he wants, whenever he wants, wherever he wants, and not be held to account, is the point.

When the president of the United States can act badly with impunity children get the message.Credit:Bloomberg

Young people learn by watching. They look for cues as to how to behave in situations where they have little experience. They listen to the words, they watch the finger pointing, and they know what behaviour is validated, and what behaviour is ignored. They learn how to be good people by watching adults, and learning what matters.

So, how’s that working for us?

Until we come to terms that we – the adults – are a huge part of the problem, nothing will change.

And for those who conveniently turn to schools and go “what are you doing about it?” , I can tell you. We are busting a gut trying to ensure that schools are allowed to teach about such matters, rather than have them being constrained by the personal but public opinions of politicians, or criticised when wanting to educate about sexuality. You cannot have it both ways.

We talk about consent every year, and it is well covered in subjects like Personal Development, Health and Physical Education. We have guest speakers, who are specialists in assault prevention, talking with students about how to respond when threatened. By year 12, most schools have taught on domestic violence, workplace culture and power, and sexual assault.

Despite this, every year something goes wrong. None of what we do in schools can counteract the flow of passive leadership and wilful blindness at a community and national level.

Every year, young people are hurt. Every year, assaults happen. Every year, young people are subject to controlling and aggressive behaviours. Sometimes within families, but in my experience, mostly from their peers, who somehow think that ignoring the need for consent is normal, and reasonable.

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Every year, at least one ex-student will return, having been sexually assaulted; seeking counsel, needing to be heard, wanting advice. They turn back to the communities where they are known, loved, and where they are valued, and respected. Our hearts break for those who do not return but struggle on alone.

Sexual assault and intimate partner violence are enormously significant and profoundly traumatic events that are beyond the remit of any one school.

It’s time we all grew up, took responsibility, and began acting like adults. Together, as a community, as a society, we can all do so much more.

And to the young people who have the courage to tell of their experiences? All power to you.

I am proud of you for enacting your own #MeToo. I am sorry for my role in any failure here and not being the protection you seek. It is heartbreaking.

I don’t care what school you went to, what situation you found yourself in, what clothes you wore, how much you had to drink, or how late at night it was; you are not the problem.

We, as a country, have to do better.

Dr Briony Scott is the principal of Wenona School, an independent, non-denominational school for girls.

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