Oceania

New Zealand's closed borders have helped keep COVID-19 out of the Pacific nation, but a critical shortage of migrant labour is now fueling protests among businesses and workers struggling with a staffing crisis, Reuters reported. About 2,000 eateries stopped service and turned off lights across on Tuesday and are planning other stop work events as part of a two-month campaign to draw the government's attention to the severe shortages in skilled labour. The labour crunch comes after New Zealand sealed its border in March last year in response to the raging coronavirus pandemic.
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A consortium led by Macquarie Group Ltd. is exploring a rival offer for Sydney Airport, in a potential challenge to IFM Investors Pty’s A$22.3 billion ($17 billion) bid, Bloomberg News reported. The Australian firm has been speaking with potential partners, including local pension funds, about making a joint offer. The bidding group could include funds managed by Macquarie Infrastructure & Real Assets. Macquarie may also use some of its own capital for the deal and could seek to rope in some of the MIRA funds’ investors to join the consortium.
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A controversial Christchurch, New Zealand-based businessman, who was once a director of a Headhunters-linked debt collecting firm, has declared himself bankrupt, Stuff reported. Richard Logan Freeman, a former heavyweight boxer and racing car driver, was put into bankruptcy on June 21. It’s understood he declared himself insolvent after the High Court awarded $350,000 in damages against him earlier this year for making defamatory remarks about earthquake advocate Bryan Staples.
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Britain and Australia announced a free trade deal on Tuesday which the British government hailed as an important step in building new trade relationships following its departure from the European Union, Reuters reported. Britain said cars, Scotch whisky and confectionery would be cheaper to sell in Australia because of the agreement, which removes tariffs and reduces red tape. Australia said it was a "great win" for Australian agriculture. The deal is the first bilateral trade accord Britain has negotiated from scratch since leaving the EU last year.
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Australia’s economy raced ahead last quarter as consumers and businesses spent with abandon, lifting output back above where it was last year when pandemic lockdowns tipped the country into its first recession in three decades, Reuters reported. The economy expanded by a real 1.8% in the three months to March, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) showed on Wednesday. The solid back-to-back quarterly growth helped annual output climb 1.1% to A$525.7 billion ($408.05 billion), a major turnaround from last year's recession low of $468.3 billion.
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Months after sweeping changes to insolvency laws, the budget revealed the government will re-examine what should happen when businesses go bust, ABC.net reported. Robyn Erskine, partner at insolvency firm Brooke Bird, said that it was disturbing the government was again raking over the systems used when businesses need to be wound up. "They're back having a look at that regime, only months after the introduction, and that creates uncertainty in the marketplace," she argued.
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The Presbyterian Church of Queensland, which runs aged care operator PresCare, has been placed in receivership after the sale of three properties fell short, leaving it unable to pay debts owed to a creditor, the Australian Financial Review reported. PCQ was unable to meet the terms of a contract with its partner, real estate investment trust Catalyst Health, triggering the insolvency. Catalyst and PresCare had entered into several sale and lease back deals in recent years.
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Australia unveiled a big-spending budget that aims to run the economy red hot, joining the U.S. and Europe with a fiscal-monetary tandem that seeks to drive unemployment down to levels rarely seen in the past 50 years, Bloomberg News reported. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s 2021-2022 fiscal blueprint aligns both economic orthodoxy with the political needs of a government facing an election in the next year.
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Nomura Holdings Inc. announced business partnerships at home, Australia and New Zealand as Japan’s biggest brokerage seeks to move past a $2.9 billion hit from the implosion of Archegos Capital Management, Bloomberg News reported. Nomura signed an agreement with three regional Japanese banks to set up a joint venture to provide remote financial consulting services. It also struck up an alliance with investment bank Jarden Securities Ltd. to provide services such as stock and bond underwriting for clients in Australia and New Zealand, it said in separate statements on Monday.
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Australia’s fiscal authorities are taking a leaf out of U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s playbook in deploying spending to push the economy toward maximum employment, a stance that keeps policy aligned with the Reserve Bank, Bloomberg News reported. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says he will deliver a “jobs budget” on Tuesday that’s expected to boost spending on roads and railways to support hiring and extend income-tax breaks for low and middle income earners to keep them spending.
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