10 Things You Need To Know This Morning In Australia

A good month to be Shadow Treasurer. Picture: Getty Images

Good morning.

1. In Asia yesterday, Hong Kong was lower after the protests started being broken up, and Shanghai was up on a combination of hopes for more stimulus and the announcement of the draft deposit guarantee scheme which will favour the big five banks. The Nikkei was up 0.75% to 17,590, the Hang Seng down 2.59% to 23,367 and the Shanghai Composite Index just couldn’t avoid the HK tractor beam after lunch and was down 0.11% to 2,680.

2. The Aussie is almost a cent higher than the 0.8417 low yesterday at 0.8502 this morning and sterling is also higher, up at 1.5738. Euro is at 1.2471 and the yen has pushed back off the 119 level again in Asia to sit at 118.34.

3. On the data front today, in Australia we have building permits and the quarterly current account balance along with the RBA rate decision at 2.30. PPI is out in Europe tonight and the IDB/TIPP economic optimisim survey, construction spending and ISM New York are out in the US.

4. Treasurer Joe Hockey’s mid-year update on the federal budget is coming, along with a nasty set of numbers. And there’s plenty waiting in the wings ready to remind Tony Abbott and his Government of their “end to debt and deficit” promise with which they came to office. Hockey can start – and already has – by blaming billions in Budget bottom line deterioration on the 3-40 per cent drop in iron ore prices. It’s so bad, even Andrew Bolt’s sulking. But is this a case of Australians having to drop their pathological addiction to surpluses, or do our leaders need to be better forecasters? It’s over to our editor Paul Colgan on that one.

5. The business of politics. There’s a strong case for not mixing business and politics, but this is ridiculous. John Colvin, the outgoing head of the influential Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD), has highlighted how party lifers are narrowing the gene pool in Australia’s Parliament. He says there’s an alarming lack of career diversity among politicians on all sides. For example:

  • Federal parliamentarians with 10 years or more senior executive or board experience – 0.9%
  • In the House of Reps – 0.7%
  • Senators – 1.3%
  • And only 6.6% of parliametarians had any senior executive or board experience at all.

But exactly 50% of all federal parliamentarians had a background as an adviser in a political office, or as a party or union official. And the trend continues down through the ranks of the Commonwealth departments.

6. Disrupt this, ATO. Aussie Bitcoin trading platform CoinJar nodded its head and played nice with the ATO a couple of months ago when it ruled to levy GST on Bitcoin from fiscal 2015. They even sent an email out to users saying they understood the ATO’s decision and would make the process as painless as possible. Yesterday, CoinJar announced it had reincorporated in the UK so customers no longer have to pay 10 per cent GST when they buy Bitcoin using the exchange. “We’re excited to be part of the progressive digital currency scene in London,” company CEO Asher Tan said. It’s also taking some of its Melbourne staff with it to the new Canary Wharf digs.

7. Free fuel for life. Last month, a team from UNSW smashed a 26-year record for the fastest electric car over 500km, topping out at an average of 106.966kmh. They now want to bring that car, the Sunswift, which charges using a combination of solar, electric and battery, to market. UNSW hopes crowdfunders at Pozible can help them and only need $30,000 to kickstart the project. Plus front, rear and side impact protection, headlights, windscreen wipers, new raised suspension and new wheels.

8. Uber, or more specifically, UberX, is causing all sorts of grief for the taxi industry by allowing regular folk with decent cars the chance to make some easy cash by offering a lift. If you’ve ever Ubered, you’ll know that surprised feeling you get when you find your driver is pretty happy with his or her lot. But how much work do they actually have to put in to turn a reasonable dollar? NerdWallet crunched some numbers to figure out how many rides drivers for Uber, and its ridesharing competitors Lyft and Sidecar, would have to give to earn $US50,000, $US75,000, and $US100,000. It really is a job you have to love.

9. Make flying better. Most people hate flying, but former flight attendant Lim Lee Mai lost friends and colleagues on MH370 and MH17. And if she can get back up in the air without grumbling, anyone can. Now one of 14 safety instructors at Malaysia Airlines Academy, Lim gave us her top five tips for making air travel bearable, including avoiding the tail section if you’re not into turbulence.

10. This summer of cricket. Cricket Australia has settled on the new schedule to allow for a proper farewell for Phillip Hughes, whose funeral will be broadcast live on Channel 9 from 1.30pm tomorrow. It goes:

  • First Test: December 9-13, Adelaide
  • Second Test: December 17-21, Brisbane
  • Third Test: December 26-30, Melbourne
  • Fourth Test: January 6-10, Sydney

The decision was made to not squeeze the Gabba Test into the gap between the Fourth Test and the one-day series due to India’s concerns the late finish to the Tests would hurt their preparations for the World Cup. Ticket holders will have their seats honoured for the new dates, or they can opt for a full refund. The Big Bash league Sydney derby between the Sixers and the Thunder, scheduled for January 9, will be moved.

BONUS ITEM: It may have been fixed, but it’s got Mickey Rourke in it. And that’s all we need:

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