Australia news live: Qld ends Brisbane lockdown after one new local Covid case; Commonwealth Bank wrongly charges nearly 1 million people | Australia news
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Independent senator Rex Patrick has taken a swipe at the federal government for its “absolute failure” on electric vehicles and says the prime minister, Scott Morrison, has broken a promise to make progress on their adoption.
Royce Kurmelovs has more.
The embattled Liberal MP Andrew Laming has just issued a statement after Queensland police found he had no criminal case to answer over an allegedly inappropriate photograph taken in 2019.
Laming, who is currently on leave, says in the statement:
I thank Queensland police for their prompt assessment yesterday; that this complaint revealed no offence, and they have decided to take no action.
I have commenced courses and counselling, which have been of enormous assistance, not just to be a better MP, but to be a better father, husband and community member.
I will have more to say on the remaining matters when this period of support is completed.
Pedestrian reports that some people are scalping the NSW government’s Dine & Discover vouchers.
NSW residents can apply for $100 in vouchers: two worth $25 each for restaurants and bars and two worth $25 each for entertainment and recreation sites.
But according to Pedestrian, they’re being sold on eBay and Facebook at a reduced price, which the government says is against the terms and conditions.
At a time when tens of thousands of people may be worrying about their futures following the end key government support measures this week, there was at least some positive news for those left seeking a job, reports AAP.
Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show that between November 2020 and February 2021 there was a 13.7% increase in job vacancies – 27% higher than a year earlier and before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
National Australia Bank economist Taylor Nugent said:
Even with the faster-than-expected fall in the unemployment rate so far, the elevated level of vacancies points to further declines.
Elevated job vacancies also reduces the risk of unemployment increasing substantially following the end of jobkeeper.
Unemployment dropped to 5.8% in February, more than a year ahead of official forecasts.
But Treasury estimates up to 150,000 people could be out of work as a result of the jobkeeper wage subsidy ending this week.
The jobseeker coronavirus supplement also ended on Wednesday, although the base of the dole rate was slightly lifted.
The ABS head of labour market statistics, Bjorn Jarvis, said there were 289,000 job vacancies in February – 61,000 more than a year earlier.
This reflected the pace of recovery in labour demand over the second half of 2020 and early 2021, and labour shortages in some industries.
In other data released on Thursday, retail spending declined 0.8% in February, a slightly smaller fall than had been estimated in preliminary figures released last month.
However, retail trade was still a solid 9.1% higher than a year earlier.
The Australian Retailers Association’s CEO, Paul Zahra, said:
While we don’t expect a ‘fiscal cliff’ with the removal of jobkeeper, we do expect sales to soften in the coming months.
Asked about delays to the vaccine rollout, McCormack says:
We’re getting on with the vaccine, we’re working with states, as you’d expect us todo, and the pleasing thing is that we haven’t had a death from Covid this year. So that’s the important thing.
We are the envy of the world when it comes to what we have done right through Covid-19. Many other countries, their vaccine rollout might be ahead of us, but they’re still having a tragic number of deaths each and every day, each and every hour of each and every day.
Michael McCormack is at Sydney airport spruiking the government’s half-price travel scheme.
He’s asked if he thinks the Queensland government’s decision to lock down Brisbane spooked any travellers.
Get in early. That’s my message: get in early. Plan, make sure that you have that holiday on us. These Brisbane lockdowns, yes, we’d prefer, of course, that everything was open for business, but that is a decision taken by the Queensland government. They are acting on their best medical advice, I understand that.
I understand that they wanted to make sure that the health, safety precautions are taken. But as I say, there’s plenty of places in Australia crying out for visitors and this scheme enables them to do just that.
The Commonwealth Bank wrongly charged almost one million customers nearly $55m in monthly fees, and a regulator wants a hefty fine, reports AAP.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (Asic) on Thursday said it was seeking penalties in the federal court after the fees were charged between 1 June 2010 and September 11 2019.
The customers were charged $4 to $6 a month despite meeting conditions that made them exempt. Those included having a balance of more than $50,000, receiving a pension and depositing at least $2,000 in a month.
Asic claimed bank staff in 2011 discovered problems with systems causing overcharging.
Customers made about 14,000 complaints about the fees from 2010 to 2019.
The regulator said that when customers complained, they were told the bank was contractually entitled to charge the fees. Asic said these statements were false or misleading.
In a statement on Thursday, the bank said the fees should have been waived and apologised.
The bank said it repaid $64.2m, including interest, to all affected customers.
However, Asic said that while most affected customers had been repaid, others were owed payment.
The regulator said the bank’s systems designed to identify these criteria were inadequate. Staff error was also to blame.
David Littleproud, who said yesterday the states and territories were doing “three-fifths of bugger all” on the vaccine rollout, has hit back at the Queensland deputy premier, Steven Miles.
The Nationals deputy leader says in a statement:
I won’t be lectured to by a man who was sacked as health minister and a government that was derelict in their duty of protecting their frontline health workers by not having them fully vaccinated before they treated Covid patients.
His statements today also show why he and his government are incompetent. My statements pertained to assisting the Queensland government roll out the vaccines they’ve left in the rack rather than in health workers’ arms.
Miles said earlier that Littleproud was this year’s “April fool” and that the federal frontbencher had undermined the rollout for the Morrison government’s political benefit.
Everything running smoothly, then.
Thanks Matilda. Hello to you all, it’s Luke Henriques-Gomes here.
I’ll be with you into the evening, so if you want to get in touch, please send me an email at email@example.com or make contact through Twitter @lukehgomes.
And with that good news, I will pass you over to Luke Henriques-Gomes to take you through the rest of the afternoon.
Have a happy Easter, all!
HAPPY NO MORE LOCKDOWN, BRISBANE!!!!!!!!!!!!
Also, I actually like this graphic from Palaszczuk but I’m still going to call a “coffee sip” on it.
Five minutes until the Brisbane lockdown is over, and the ACT is easing travel restrictions.
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