Australia news live: Reserve Bank to deliver year’s last interest rates decision as economists tip no change | Australia news – Freedom Voice


RBA rate decision due at 2.30pm

Borrowers are likely to be spared another interest rate hike in the lead-up to Christmas when the Reserve Bank board meets today, Australian Associated Press reports.

The RBA is widely expected to keep rates on hold when it meets on Tuesday after a surprisingly weak monthly inflation read.

Headline inflation grew 4.9% in October, down from 5.6% in September.

A poll taken by Reuters last week found 28 of 30 economists expect the central bank to keep the cash rate steady at 4.35%.

Australia’s big four banks were among those tipping no change.

The 13 interest rate hikes in the cycle have been pushing up monthly repayments for mortgage holders, stretching many household budgets thin.

Key events

New research from Impact Economics and Policy found that removing the activity test could increase female workplace participation by more than 39,000 a year and boost the economy by $4.5bn.

The research also estimates that around 108,000 children in NSW and Victoria are missing out on universal access to pre-school each year.

The activity test works by determining how many hours of subsidised childcare families receive based on the number of hours they work, study or complete other approved activities like volunteering.

The Parenthood said it has been criticised by many parents as “confusing and financially unviable”, with the take-home pay for some families almost cancelled out by the high cost of childcare.

The Parenthood CEO Jessica Rudd describes the test as a “lose-lose”:

It’s completely arbitrary. For many families, relying on two incomes to get by is no longer a luxury, but a necessity. Parents are trapped in a cycle of being unable to find a job without childcare, and unable to afford childcare without a job.

The fact that we have a policy that directly exacerbates the unaffordability of childcare and in turn prevents parents – predominantly women – who want to work from supporting their families and building their careers is unacceptable.

Rudd said the entire childhood and education sector is “crying out for reform” and the activity test should be the first thing addressed.

In case you missed it: early this morning, Westpac services came back online following an outage overnight where customers were unable to access their online accounts or use their cards.

You can read all the details on this below:

The bank issued this apology on social media earlier:

Our mobile and online banking services are now restored and running as usual.

We want to apologise to all our customers who were impacted by the issue overnight. We recognise this took too long to resolve and we thank customers for their patience.

Our mobile and online banking services are now restored and running as usual.

We want to apologise to all our customers who were impacted by the issue overnight. We recognise this took too long to resolve and we thank customers for their patience. https://t.co/4BFcWmqShl

— Westpac Bank (@Westpac) December 4, 2023

Mostafa Rachwani

Mostafa Rachwani

The National Tertiary Education Union’s latest wage theft report reveals a huge $159m in underpayments across the higher education sector.

The report calls the state of wage theft in the industry “a disgrace” and “shameful”, revealing that more than 97,000 university staff have been underpaid by over 30 employers.

The report says the vast majority of underpayments have occurred since 2014, and that the “true tally” was much higher, with eight wage theft cases potentially worth millions of dollars still ongoing.

Victoria leads the nation in university wage theft with $75m ahead of NSW at $65m and Tasmania at $11m.

NTEU national president Dr Alison Barnes said the scale of wage theft “expose the depths of systemic underpayment in Australian universities.”

The fact that wage theft is so widespread in Australian universities is a damning indictment of the current governance model.

Wage theft has a devastating impact on the lives of university staff. It can mean struggling to make ends meet, being unable to afford to pay bills, or being forced to take on additional work.

More than half of ‘middle-age, middle-wage’ workers experiencing cost-of-living distress

The gap in cost-of-living distress between “middle-age, middle-wage” workers and middle-income retirees has tripled in the past 12 months, according to the latest Suicide Prevention Australia community tracker.

The data was released ahead of today’s Reserve Bank meeting.

It found that more than half (54%) of Australia’s “middle-age, middle-wage” workers reported elevated stress due to the cost of living and personal debt in the December 2023 quarter, compared to 42% this time last year.

In comparison, this figure fell from 30% to 21% for retirees (over 50, earning between $50k-$150k).

Nationally, elevated cost-of-living distress rose from 41% to 46% over the past year.

Suicide Prevention Australia CEO, Nieves Murray, said the data showed many Australians were doing it tough:

However, our findings also confirm ‘middle-age, middle- wage’ workers are carrying a greater share of the economic burden at a time in their lives when they’re at peak productivity and heightened risk of suicide.

It’s critical for policy and economic decision makers to address this urgently, including by sharing messages of hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

The community tracker surveyed 1,035 adults from 16 November to 20 November online.

Emily Wind

Emily Wind

Good morning, and happy Tuesday.

I’m Emily Wind and I’ll be with you on the blog today – many thanks to Martin for kicking things off.

See something that needs attention? You can get in touch via X/Twitter @emilywindwrites or email: emily.wind@theguardian.com.

With that, let’s get started.

Athletics Australia warns damage from Commonwealth Games decision will carry over to Brisbane Olympics

The consequences of cancelling the 2026 Commonwealth Games will linger over the Brisbane Olympics, a top sporting body warns.

Australian Associated Press reports that Athletics Australia will today front a Victorian parliamentary inquiry into the failed 2026 Commonwealth Games bid months after the former premier Dan Andrews announced the state would no longer host the major sporting event.

In their submission, the organisation lashes the state government, claiming the cancellation will hurt its athletes and the nation’s reputation and legacy.

“The upheaval this decision has caused for athletics in Victoria and Australia, as well as the Commonwealth Games is immeasurable, with a blatant disregard for the significant logistical, emotional, financial and reputational damage caused,” the submission says.

“None of these impacts will be confined to Victoria. They will carry forward to Brisbane 2032.”

In the past, Commonwealth Games close to home have laid the foundation for Australian athletes to break out on to the international stage.

Cathy Freeman, for example, became the first Indigenous Australian to become a Commonwealth Games gold medallist at the 1990 event in Auckland, while pole vaulter Steve Hooker took home his first major international gold at the 2006 Melbourne iteration of the event.

No UK rescue for 2026 Commonwealth Games after Gold Coast withdrawal

After the Gold Coast mayor, Tom Tate, said last night that the city was withdrawing its bid for the 2026 Commonwealth Games, the British government has made it clear it will not provide money for a UK bid.

Substantial UK government support allowed Birmingham to ride to the rescue of the 2022 Games after Durban was stripped of the event in 2017. However, multiple sources have told the Guardian that there is no financial appetite – or any preliminary planning in place – to allow another British city to intervene again. “For the good of the Games, it needs to go elsewhere,” one insider said.

Read our full story here:

RBA rate decision due at 2.30pm

Borrowers are likely to be spared another interest rate hike in the lead-up to Christmas when the Reserve Bank board meets today, Australian Associated Press reports.

The RBA is widely expected to keep rates on hold when it meets on Tuesday after a surprisingly weak monthly inflation read.

Headline inflation grew 4.9% in October, down from 5.6% in September.

A poll taken by Reuters last week found 28 of 30 economists expect the central bank to keep the cash rate steady at 4.35%.

Australia’s big four banks were among those tipping no change.

The 13 interest rate hikes in the cycle have been pushing up monthly repayments for mortgage holders, stretching many household budgets thin.

Welcome

Martin Farrer

Martin Farrer

Good morning and welcome to our rolling news coverage. I’m Martin Farrer and these are some of the main stories you need to know about this morning before my colleague Emily Wind comes along.

Thousands of Westpac customers across the country were unable to access their accounts online or use their cards overnight after an outage struck the bank last night. The company says all is now well, but it will crank up concerns about the safety of online systems after last month’s Optus crash. The bank said last night that the problem occurred during a “routine technology update”.

The Coalition leader, Peter Dutton, mocked Chris Bowen for travelling to Dubai for the Cop28 climate summit and “incurring all those emissions” on his flight. But the jibe could backfire as it has emerged that the Coalition is sending a significant delegation to the Cop28 summit in Dubai, including frontbenchers Paul Fletcher and Bridget McKenzie. The travel is being facilitated by the Coalition for Conservation and Environmental Leadership Australia and the group includes Liberal senators Andrew Bragg, Maria Kovacic and Dean Smith, as well as New South Wales Liberals Matt Kean and Kellie Sloane and Queenslanders Sam O’Connor and Steve Minnikin.

The British government has told Commonwealth Games organisers that the United Kingdom will not step in to rescue the event again after the Gold Coast withdrew its bid for the 2026 edition. The games now faces serious jeopardy if it cannot find a host after the decision by the Victorian government to pull out earlier this year. More coming up.

Today, Brittany Higgins is due to return to the witness stand for another day of cross-examination in Bruce Lehrmann’s defamation action against Network Ten and Lisa Wilkinson.

And the RBA meets for its last rates decision before Christmas. Does it have a present for mortgage holders?

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