Friday, September 25, 2020

Treasurer to relax lending laws

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will today announce ($) plans to scrap responsible lending laws for banks, relaxing credit rules to permit easier loan approvals during the recession. In a shift from “lender beware” to “borrower beware”, the government would effectively abandon the responsible lending law imposed by the Rudd Labor government in 2009, reports The Australian Financial Review. The Hayne banking royal commission recommended the simplification of regulation, but consumer groups are expected to scrutinise whether these changes reflect the recommendations and protect Australians burdened with loans. Master Builders Australia welcomed the proposal, saying it could speed up decisions for Australians trying to buy their own homes. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission would no longer review responsible lending obligations also assessed by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, ending what the federal government argues is regulatory duplication.

A new inquiry has been launched into land purchased at more than ten times its value by the federal government for a planned airport in western Sydney, although officials refuse to name the investigators. The Department of Infrastructure purchased the land from Liberal Party donors Tony and Ron Perich's Leppington Pastoral Company in 2018 for $32.8 million, despite the property only being valued at about $3 million. Backlash over the deal in recent days has prompted the Infrastructure Department to appoint an unnamed independent investigator and auditor to assess the deal, the conduct of its officers, and to “ensure any further problems in departmental processes are identified and addressed”, reports The Sydney Morning Herald

Australian Workers' Union national secretary Daniel Walton has called on Labor to embrace gas rather than “continuing to impotently hedge” on climate policy. Writing in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, Walton said any more equivocating from Labor on gas was “not just morally indefensible, it's strategically moronic”. It comes as Labor frontbencher Mark Dreyfus branded fellow shadow cabinet member Joel Fitzgibbon “the idiot for Hunter” in a heated caucus meeting over the latter’s support for fossil fuels, as the party debates how to frame its climate policies for the next election.

The cricket world is in mourning after former Australian batsman Dean Jones died of a heart attack in India aged 59. Jones was in the country to commentate on the Indian Premier League, with Indian TV network Star Sports, which announced his death in a statement yesterday. Cricket Australia chair Earl Eddings said Jones would be remembered as a cricket great. “Anyone who watched cricket in the 1980s and 1990s will fondly recall his cavalier approach at the crease and the incredible energy and passion he brought to every game he played,” he said. Tributes poured in from around the world, with Indian great Sachin Tendulkur describing the news as “absolutely heartbreaking”. 

Escape from Tony Abbott
Scott Morrison has spent the week untangling himself from Tony Abbott’s policies, on both climate change and the NBN. Today, Paul Bongiorno on new roadmaps and old problems.

“The prime minister made 49 references to gas and six to coal. But the words ‘climate change’ never passed his lips ... Morrison did make 14 mentions of renewable energy, but only in the context of problems associated with integrating renewables into the electricity grid. It was, in short, another reality-defying speech from a man who once waved a lump of coal around the house of representatives while bellowing: ‘This is coal. Don’t be afraid.’”

“For one reason or other, fish and chips is a meal not often cooked at home. Maybe it’s the idea of the pot of hot oil, or the convenience of the nearby shop. After we photographed this dish I sat down with the remainder of the beer from the batter and ate my afternoon’s work. It made a very pleasant early dinner, and it reminded me that I should make myself fish and chips more often.”

“John Leary is joined by husband-and-wife team Belinda Bromilow and Tony McNamara in this episode of The Saturday Quiz. In between answering questions, they find time to share an anecdote about the Queen, reminisce about 1980s and ’90s TV commercials, and insult the host on his French pronunciation.”

“Border restrictions between NSW and South Australia have reopened with the first flight between Sydney and Adelaide landing today. Family and friends separated for months were able to embrace each other after the Qantas flight landed just after 11am. Yesterday Queensland's government announced it would be extending its border bubble to include five more local government areas.”

“Australians stranded overseas have made an emotional plea for the federal government to do more to secure their return home before a Senate inquiry ... Stoyanovich said the grieving family has since struggled to get her husband and his elderly mother back home to Australia. ‘The cap has abandoned my family and it's abandoned our citizens that are overseas,’ she told the committee through tears. ‘They are not stranded - they are abandoned by the government. There are no words that can describe my emotional state.’”

“The data available draws a line between Victoria’s current predicament and holes in the quarantine system. Unlike in New South Wales, where police were brought in to patrol quarantined arrivals, private security contractors were hired in Victoria – a risk the state government, led by Premier Daniel Andrews, was warned about early on.”

“The MN8 electroencephalography device looks like any set of sleek wireless earphones. Its buds can rest unobtrusively in the ear's concha for a whole workday and that, its makers at San Francisco-based Emotiv say, is the point. You and everyone around you forgets you’re wearing a device that is monitoring your brainwaves for signs of stress, focus, and attention. The purpose of the headset, after all, is for companies to collect brain data from their employees.”

Max Opray is Schwartz Media’s morning editor and a freelance writer.