Here’s the news from a dramatic Thursday:
1. Plutus Payroll, the company that couldn’t pay wages to thousands of tech contractors after a “commercial dispute” with the tax office this month, is now at the centre of an “unprecedented” alleged $165 million tax fraud. The Australian Federal Police are alleging a crime syndicate used the payroll processing company as a front to siphon off tax payments. Deputy commissioner of taxation Michael Cranston was issued a court attendance notice for alleged abuse of his position as a public official. Nine other people were arrested and charged yesterday, including Cranston’s son and daughter, who are among six members of the alleged syndicate charged with conspiracy to defraud. Read more here.
2. Telstra and Optus have tied as the most-complained telcos in the country. In a March quarter that saw complaints for the whole industry rise, Telstra blamed the malaise on the accelerating rollout of the NBN. Read which telco bucked the trend and why their celebration might not last much longer.
3. A new Australian startup lets you do chores, instead of paying rent, for accommodation and food. The Room Xchange officially launched this week with a hybrid AirBnB-Airtasker model allowing homeowners to rent out spare space in return for 14 hours of household tasks per week – such as babysitting or gardening. The founder claims it has the potential to “unlock” 7 million spare bedrooms around the country. Read more here.
4. While Australia, the UK and USA are all looking to stem the inward flow of foreign workers, New Zealand is flying 97 people from around the world for interviews to fill tech vacancies in Wellington. The promotion ended up attracting 48,000 applications and after the unenviable process of looking through all those CVs, a lucky 97 were chosen to make the trip. Read more here.
5. Craving a Big Mac? There’s an app for that. McDonald’s Australia has launched an ordering app for both Android and iOS as the next evolutionary step from the digital kiosks in restaurants. Read more here.