Westpac will pay a $35 million civil penalty after settling with corporate regulator ASIC over irresponsible loan practices. Between 2011 and 2015 Westpac’s automated loan assessment procedures issued more than 10,000 home loans to customers who potentially couldn’t afford them, breaching responsible lending laws. While the bank has avoided court proceedings the civil penalty, which must be approved by the Federal Court, would be the largest awarded under the National Credit Act, according to ASIC. Westpac has since changed its lending policies.
Meanwhile, Professor Allan Fels, the former head of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has criticised the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority for its responses at the banking royal commission. Speaking at the Melbourne Economic Forum, he said: “It was made crystal clear in an embarrassing way at the royal commission … [APRA has] a long-term culture of weak law enforcement.” It comes after the regulator admitted in a recent hearing that it had not commenced any court proceedings in the sector for a decade.
Labor has given notice to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, which received almost half a billion dollars in a controversial grant, not to spend too much of it. The party warned that if it won government at the next election, it would use a grant agreement clause to force the return of any unspent funds. “If Labor wins … they have to return every single dollar,” shadow environment minister Tony Burke said.
A New Zealand reporter was briefly detained by Nauruan police on Tuesday for interviewing refugees. Barbara Dreaver, the TVNZ reporter was interviewing a refugee at a local café when police arrived and requested to see her visa, claiming she had breached her visa conditions. She was held for four hours and her footage was confiscated. While she has been released, and is allowed to remain on the island, she is now banned from reporting on the Pacific Islands Forum, which she was assigned to cover. The Nauruan government denies preventing any journalists form talking to refugees, saying it was “genuinely concerned” about the safety of media.
Several people have died, more than 150 have been hurt and more than a million people were told to evacuate as a typhoon made landfall in western Japan on Tuesday, hitting one of Japan’s main industrial areas. Typhoon Jebi, which means “swallow” in Korean, has brought gigantic waves and winds of up to 162 km/h, capable of overturning cars, trucks and a 2591-tonne tanker. The typhoon, thought to be the strongest since 1993, hit Tokushima prefecture on Shikoku, the main island southwest of Osaka. Train services and hundreds of flights have been cancelled as Japanese officials wait for Jebi to pass over the island of Honshu and it is not expected to weaken until it enters the Sea of Japan.
Australian tennis player John Millman, 29, has beaten world No. 2 Roger Federer in the fourth round of the US Open. The shock win by Millman came after three hours and 34 minutes on court and five sets, 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (9-7), 7-6 (7-3). It was Millman’s first fourth round game in a major title and he now goes on to play Novak Djokovic in the quarter finals.
Tropical corals appear to be migrating south as the East Australian current strengthens and waters becomes warmer. Off Sydney’s northern beaches, a number of species normally found much further north are “absolutely proliferating”, according to underwater naturalist and photographer, Josh Sear. Branching corals are establishing new homes in “thermal niches” that didn’t exist before. Professor David Booth says, “It's like new apartment blocks have arrived in town” and suggested it could be coral larvae’s increased ability to live through winter that is the cause.
Warm and dry conditions have also driven large flocks of birds such as corellas and other parrots to move into Sydney’s parklands, and may have been what led to a pair of bottlenose dolphins being spotted in Melbourne’s Yarra River yesterday. According to Dolphin Research Institute executive director, Jeff Weir, it’s likely the weather conditions led to an increase in salt which “means there’s more bream and other fish in the water which would have attracted the dolphins,” he said. Dolphins have also been spotted in the Maribyrnong River in the past week.