News Pulse for June 25, 2018

A daily download of SME, startup, fintech and tax news from around Australia.

Tough for old Telstra to change in world of new disruption

In the years since its privatisation was completed in 2006, Telstra bestrode the Australian bourse like a colossus – the ex-government sort of colossus that runs an effective monopoly – generating mountains of cash that was fully passed on, with franking credits, to its shareholders and making it the poster child for big yield investment on the ASX. Until, of course, the national broadband network slowly and then suddenly bit into its previously very profitable wholesale line rental business, based on its old-school telephonic infrastructure. That, and the mobile internet phone market became much more competitive. The company has, in many ways, behaved like the ex-government monopoly that it is: impervious to the winds of disruptive change brought about by constantly improving internet technology, until it wasn’t. The NBN is soon to be the monopoly provider of fixed-line internet – partly because of the intransigence of former Telstra CEO Sol Trujillo a decade ago – even the $11 billion and more that NBN continues to pay Telstra for using and then shutting down its own copper network has not been enough to boost a share price that dropped to a seven-year low last Wednesday.

Why freelancers could be the key to business success

Technology-fuelled digital disruption will continue to transform the Australian workforce, and the emergence of the peer-to-peer, sharing or ‘gig economy’, as we have come to know it, is one of the fastest growing examples of this.

In the past, freelancers have been constrained by availability and lack of income stability, but now with the help of technology we are seeing a rapid rise in freelance employment opportunities. In addition, this technology is giving power back to freelancers and businesses, enabling workers and employees to be un-restricted by location and demographics.

NAB’s UBank to ‘use technology as a weapon’

National Australia Bank says its digital bank UBank will take advantage of the government’s ‘open banking’ reforms by developing new ‘platforms’ that will connect users to a broad range of financial services – not necessarily NAB’s – which could open up new revenue streams.

NAB chief executive Andrew Thorburn described the open data reforms  as “potentially a transformational-type change” and said in an interview NAB is planning to “use technology as a weapon, not just a tool of commerce”.

Kate Carnell says inquiry needs to probe bigger Bankwest picture

With the Hayne royal commission set to re-open its examination into Commonwealth Bank’s takeover of Bankwest this week during hearings in Brisban e, small business ombudsman Kate Carnell said it needs to “more rigorously examine a range of unanswered questions” in order to get closure on the long-running saga.

Ms Carnell agrees with groups of aggrieved Bankwest borrowers that more time is needed for the royal commission to more deeply probe CBA’s treatment of borrowers after takeover of Bankwest .

All or nothing on company tax cuts, government vows

The federal government has ruled out any further compromise on company tax cuts, saying the Senate either must pass the entire remainder of the package this week or not at all.

With Parliament sitting for the last time before a six week break and the Super Saturday of byelections on July 28, there appears no prospect of the government mimicking last week’s passage of the income tax cuts by securing the support of One Nation, the Centre Alliance and Derryn Hinch for company tax cuts.

Banks’ use of ‘small print’ clauses for farmers under scrutiny

Banks’ heavy-handed enforcement of “small print” in loan contracts will be put under the microscope this week, as the royal commission turns its focus to bank treatment of farmers.

In public hearings in Brisbane, banks are expected to face questions over moves to “unilaterally ” change loan contracts for rural customers who the lenders thought posed a financial risk, even though they had never missed repayments.

Advisory Board to help clamp down on the black economy | The Hon Kelly O’Dwyer MP

The Turnbull Government is establishing a new Advisory Board to support its ambitious reform agenda to disrupt the black economy.

The Minister for Revenue and Financial Services, the Hon Kelly O’Dwyer MP, today announced that Mr Michael Andrew AO, who provided strong leadership to the Black Economy Taskforce last year, will chair the Black Economy Advisory Board.

New laws will protect your superannuation savings | The Hon Kelly O’Dwyer MP

The Turnbull Government has taken action to protect the hard-earned superannuation savings of millions of Australians from rorts and rip-offs.

Today’s introduction into the Parliament of the Treasury Laws Amendment (Protecting Your Superannuation Savings Package) Bill 2018 introduces a range of reforms which will protect against the undue erosion of superannuation balances through excessive fees and inappropriate insurance arrangements.

Appointment of Fair Work Ombudsman | Ministers’ Media Centre, Australian Government

The Australian Government has today announced the appointment of Sandra Parker PSM as the Fair Work Ombudsman for a five-year term, commencing on 15 July 2018.

Minister for Small and Family Business, the Workplace and Deregulation, Craig Laundy, said Ms Parker has been appointed following a merit-based selection process.

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