Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Westpac to pay $35 million settlement

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.

 
 

“Crawling into position, she knelt in the small space between floor and stalagmite and retrieved the sample kit from her rucksack. With sterile forceps she scraped away a near-minuscule section from the tip of the first stalagmite, dropping it into a 50ml Falcon Tube before securing it away. She worked quickly by the light of her head torch, filling her half-dozen containers with stalagmite samples. The team then retraced their steps back to the surface. Cheeptham deposited the samples in the coolbag designed to keep the bacteria alive until they could be analysed in her lab.”

 

“Unlike in denial, when an individual knows there’s something wrong but insists they’re fine, Babinski believed that his patients weren’t fibbing or confused; they genuinely had no concept that half their body was paralysed. Something in their brains – he couldn’t say what – was damaged. For the next eight decades, anosognosia featured exclusively in the neurology literature, associated with physical conditions. Not until the mid-1990s did a few psychiatrists begin to try and apply the word to their patients, too. The pushback came almost immediately.”

 

“Losers are a fixture of my workday as a sportswriter. Talking to a person coming off court who was just dealt a crushing defeat, and offering some vague, platitudinous comfort to assuage their raw battle wound, is a necessary task in the job. On rarer occasions, I’ve talked to those who have just suffered a defeat so harrowing and derailing that it has them visibly doubting the viability of their career. But for most losers, even in down moments, there’s the credibility and dignity of having just performed for an appreciative crowd of some size in a respected, aspirational pursuit like professional sports.”

 
 

“It's about a boy who goes to Canberra. His father has just been elected as an independent federal MP... my character, is a little taken aback when he discovers how much of the time and effort and energy that the very hard-working elected representatives put out each day is spent in doing exactly the things he's always been told at school he will get into big trouble if he does - name-calling, forming gangs and ganging up on others, etc. So it's actually the story of how an 11-year-old boy sets out to gently remind our elected representatives that there is a better way of helping make the world a better place.”

 
 

“[Scientists] found that the babies were not at all shocked to see the bully being ignored when her back was turned. ‘With the bully, there is very little respect. If she stays, you do what she says. If she leaves then you know it’s OK not to. Babies could make sense of that,’ said Dr Baillargeon. The babies were shocked, however, when they saw the respected leader being disobeyed. ‘There was a clear expectation that she should be obeyed,’ said Dr Baillargeon.”

 
 

“Raine provided a taxonomy of grunts. Roger Federer: dignified and taciturn, grunting only on the most important points. Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka: shrieky, like birds of paradise. Serena Williams: volatile and powerful. ‘Her grunts can go all the way up to eleven hundred hertz, when she’s losing, and down to five hundred, six hundred hertz, when she’s winning,’ he said.”

The Saturday Paper invites readers to enter the draw to win one of three double passes to Can I tell you a (true) story? at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, part of Conversation Starters: Truth or Dare – a weekend of art, questions and ideas inspired by the work of Sun Xun. Entries close at 11.59pm AEST on Wednesday, September 5, and winners will be notified by midday on Thursday, September 6.

Anna Horan
is a Melbourne-based editor and writer.