NAB apology for non-disclosure by advisers

National Australia Bank has apologised to at least 150,000 customers for failing to disclose that its advisers were cross-selling the bank’s products.

长沙夜网

The bank on Friday issued an apology and made a “corrective disclosure” to customers about the relationship between its advisers, its financial advice licensees and the recommended investments, following an investigation by the corporate regulator.

The Australian Securities and Investment Commission has found that NAB’s financial advisers were recommending products to customers without disclosing that these were issued by the group’s firms, including its MLC wealth management unit.

While customers were issued statements of advice and financial services guides, these failed to fully disclose the connection between the adviser, the financial advice licensee and the investment products, ASIC said.

Financial institutions are required to disclose that information under the Corporations Act.

In response, NAB says it had failed to update template documents its financial advisers gave to customers between 2007 and early 2016 so that they included details of new investment managers the group had acquired or taken a shareholding in.

The bank also said it had issued statement of advice templates between 2012 and 2016 referring customers to the Financial Services Guide for full disclosures of relationships, but admitted it should have included the full details.

“We apologise to our customers, and want to assure them that they did not impact the quality of advice they received from their adviser, and there is no impact on their investments or portfolios,” NAB’s executive general manager of Wealth Advice Greg Miller said in a statement.

Customers who invested in MLC-branded products will receive corrective disclosure for a three-month period when they log in to their accounts on the MLC website.

NAB has also agreed to write to the rest of the affected customers currently invested in related products, explicitly acknowledging the issue and providing a corrective disclosure.

WA views on economy improving

West Australians feel more confident about the economy than they did nearly three years ago, but most people have a negative view about the short and medium-term future.

长沙夜网

About 29 per cent believe the WA economy will strengthen over the next 12 months, up from 26 per cent in the previous quarter and the strongest result since 2014.

However 36 per cent said it would weaken, but most are optimistic it would remain the same, according to the latest survey from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Western Australia which involved 828 adults.

Only 12 per cent thought the economy would improve in the next three months with 34 per cent believing it would weaken.

The fact that almost two-thirds of consumers were optimistic that the economy would remain the same or improve in the medium-term indicated “a healthy majority feeling good about the immediate future”, CCI economist Rick Newnham said.

However consumer confidence in personal finances dropped three per cent in the June quarter and is just one per cent higher than the six-year low of 12 this time last year with 39 per cent reporting their financial situation deteriorated in the quarter.

Only nine per cent of consumers believed their job prospects had improved since the last quarter and nearly a third of consumers reported their employment situation had worsened in the last three months, Mr Newnham said.

About 65 per cent of women felt secure in their jobs, compared with 72 per cent of men.

“Consumers are, however, feeling the pinch of the economic downturn, with living costs again coming in as a significant weight on peoples minds,” Mr Newnham said.

Given the subdued job security and wage growth sentiments, it was critical that there were no new or increased taxes, fees or charges levied against the business community because it would result in job losses and less spending in the economy, he said.

WA households have already been hit with average power bills rises of $169 a year as part of increases to fees and charges that will total almost $440 a year extra.

Qld minister defends personal email use

Queensland’s Liberal National Party Opposition are calling for Environment Minister Steven Miles to stand down over his use of a private email account, but Dr Miles has accused them of “grasping at straws”.

长沙夜网

The Australian has reported a right-to-information application for his email activity, lodged by the state opposition, showed he had sent documents relating to cabinet discussions to his private account in October and March.

Dr Miles clarified on Friday that he had sent three emails to himself, one of which was just the word “test” while another was documents he wanted to print out for emergency meetings during the response to Cyclone Debbie earlier this year.

The third was a draft email Dr Miles was going to send to help a constituent of LNP Member for Gympie Tony Perrett have a grazing issue resolved.

“The three emails that have been released, to my knowledge there are no others, it’s not something I do regularly, I think anyone would understand that in a rush to get to a disaster committee meeting I wanted to print a document,” Dr Miles said.

“This is an entirely appropriate use of email, and I think the opposition are grasping at straws here.”

Dr Miles said he believed the action was within the guidelines set by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk earlier this year, after fellow cabinet minister Mark Bailey was referred to the corruption watchdog for his use and subsequent deletion of a private email account.

The probe into Mr Bailey was launched following reports he received emails from the Electrical Trades Union secretary over his concerns about a now-abandoned superannuation merger.

Opposition frontbencher Scott Emerson said Dr Miles had breached those guidelines and had to face consequences.

“The test on this is the premier, she gave very clear instructions to her ministers, ‘don’t use private email accounts,’ Steven Miles ignored that direction,” Mr Emerson told reporters on Friday.

“The other thing of concern is that we know there’s been a number of leaks of cabinet documents from the environment department at the same time Steven Miles was using his private email account.”

Mr Emerson stopped short of saying the LNP would refer the matter to the Crime and Corruption Commission, adding it would be up to the premier to decide how to deal with the issue.

No deal to end Cyprus’ decades-old division as talks crumble

Marathon talks aimed at ending Cyprus’s drawn-out conflict sputtered out early Friday without a deal, despite valiant efforts from the UN chief to jumpstart the process.

长沙夜网

Cyprus is one of the world’s longest-running political crises and the UN-backed talks that began in the Swiss Alpine resort of Crans-Montana on June 28 had been billed as the best chance to end the island’s 40-year division.

The failure to reach a deal brings an end to more than two years of UN-backed efforts to resolve the conflict.

“I am deeply sorry to inform you that despite the very strong commitment and engagement of all the delegations and the different parties … the Conference on Cyprus was closed without an agreement being reached,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and later occupied its northern third in response to an Athens-inspired putsch seeking union with Greece.

Guterres himself was upbeat when he first joined the Crans-Montana talks late last week, describing the negotiations as “highly constructive”, and urging the rival Cypriot sides to seize “a historic opportunity to reach a comprehensive settlement to the conflict that has divided Cyprus for too many decades”.

But the tone quickly soured and the UN chief flew back to Switzerland early Thursday in a bid to try to end the stalemate that had set in.

He held a full day of back-to-back meetings with President Nicos Anastasiades, the Greek-Cypriot leader, and his Turkish-Cypriot counterpart Mustafa Akinci, as well as the foreign and European affairs ministers from so-called guarantor powers Greece, Turkey and Britain.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini was also there to show support for the process.

And US Vice President Mike Pence called Anastasiades and Akinci urging them to “seize this historic opportunity to reunify the island … to the benefit of all Cypriots,” according to the White House.

‘People yelling’ 

But after pushing negotiations into Friday, just hours before he was set to leave for the G20 summit in Hamburg, a drawn-looking Guterres was forced to acknowledge that the talks ended “without a result.”

Shortly before his announcement, a source close to the negotiations told AFP the talks had become heated: “There was people yelling, a lot of emotions.” 

Guterres himself said “it was obvious that there was still a significant distance between the delegations on a certain number of issues, and a deal was not possible,” he said, without providing more details.

But during the past week, it became clear the negotiations had run into trouble over security guarantees and the withdrawal of Turkish troops, among other things.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias earlier in the week called for the withdrawal of Turkey’s “occupying troops”, while Ankara retorted that “Turkey will not step back on the issue of security and guarantees.” 

Turkey maintains more than 35,000 troops there, and any prospects of reunification largely hinge on a drastic reduction of Ankara’s military presence.

Several previous peace drives have stumbled over the issue, with Greek Cypriots demanding a total withdrawal of what they say is an occupying force and minority Turkish-speakers fearful of ethnic violence in the event of a pullout.

Despite the lack of an agreement, Guterres on Friday hailed the efforts of the two Cypriot leaders and their communities to find common ground.

And with UN mediator Espen Barth Eide by his side, he praised the UN team that had “done everything possible to bring closer the positions.”

Guterres stressed that while the Crans-Montana conference had proved fruitless, “that doesn’t mean that other initiatives cannot be developed in order to address the Cyprus problem.”

“The United Nations role is the role of a facilitator and we will be always at the disposal of the parties willing to come to an agreement if that would be the case,” he said

Young surfers descend on NSW’s north coast

The NSW north coast’s reputation as Australia’s shark attack capital hasn’t stopped hundreds of young surfers from across the globe hitting the waves in the area this week.

长沙夜网

The seaside town of Lennox Head is bursting at the seams in the middle of winter as it hosts the annual Skullcandy Oz Grom Open, the premier youth surfing tournament in the world.

Two-hundred youngsters aged 10-18 will compete in the six-day event, along the same area of coast where eight people – two fatally – have been attacked by sharks since September 2014.

The importance of the Open, organised and managed by locally-based volunteers, cannot be underestimated for the community during winter months when tourism numbers are at their lowest.

“Winter gets quiet,” event organiser Steve Conn told AAP on Friday.

“All the local businesses are happy to contribute to this event.”

The threat of a shark attack has to be mitigated by organisers through regular patrolling of the water, overhead monitoring by drones and helicopters as well as a string of smart drum-lines that run parallel to the beach.

They were installed by NSW Department of Primary Industries following the recent spate of attacks.

Clearly competitors and their parents aren’t put off by the area’s history.

This year’s Open sold out within 15 minutes of entries being made available, with competitors coming from Japan and Europe.

“This is a really important event and one that’s interwoven into the local community,” contest director Cameron Lindsay told AAP.

“There obviously has been a lot of sharks in this area but all the measures have been put in place and at the moment it seems like we’re not in the same predicament as we were a few years ago.”

The 2015 attack that left bodyboarder Matt Hall with severe leg injuries occurred the day before that year’s Oz Grom Open started.

Mr Lindsay said shark attack mitigation was a key element of the competition’s organisation and management.

“It’s a full ambit of different measures that we employ now – in-water assets, aerial assets and also guidelines and operating procedures we’ve had to adopt in case of any shark incident or shark sighting,” he said.

“There’s obviously a real strong desire for people to come and compete. It’s seen as the premier junior comp in the world … but the parents want to know that we’ve got things in place – which we do – to keep their kids safe.”

Heavy protests greet start of G20 summit in Germany

Anti-capitalist protesters have clashed with police as the G20 summit gets under way in Hamburg, Germany.

长沙夜网

Police used tear gas and water cannons against the crowds, which burned cars and held signs saying, “Smash G20!”

Ahead of the meeting, United States president Donald Trump spoke before a large crowd in Warsaw, declaring Western civilisation is under threat from terrorism and bureaucracy.

“The defence of the West ultimately rests not only on means but also on the will of its people to prevail and be successful and get what you have to have. The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive. Do we have the confidence in our values to defend them at any cost?”

Mr Trump also addressed the issue of North Korea before the crowd, hinting military action might be an option.

“As far as North Korea is concerned, I don’t know, we’ll see what happens. I don’t like to talk about what I have planned, but I have some pretty severe things that we’re thinking about. That doesn’t mean we’re going to do them. I don’t draw red lines.”

Arriving in Hamburg, Australia’s prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has suggested economic sanctions should be the path forward for controlling North Korea.

“We are a party to and, of course, support the sanctions imposed by the United Nations. And we also have autonomous sanctions of our own against North Korean entities and individuals. But we will work cooperatively, through the United Nations, and taking measured steps autonomously, but focused on bringing the economic pressure to bear on North Korea to bring that regime to its senses without conflict.”

In what is set to be a politically charged G20 summit, the world leaders will discuss their responses to terrorism, the environment and globalisation.

As the host of this year’s G20, German chancellor Angela Merkel admits there are differences between the leaders at the moment, but she says she is committed to cooperation.

“We are convinced that, if we address the big problems — and we know that there are a lot of them in the world at the moment — and if we make every effort to find solutions, that everyone can benefit from this, that it is a so-called win-win situation.”

Germany’s finance minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, has also emphasised the importance of the United States working together with other world leaders.

“The strongest power of the world, economically and politically, if the strongest power wants to be even stronger, this power must lead the world. If the strongest power is saying, ‘Only America,’ it doesn’t remain the strongest power. It becomes more … more … less important.”

President Trump is scheduled to meet with Russian president Vladimir Putin tonight.

However, their meeting comes after Mr Trump said yesterday Russia may have interfered in the 2016 US election.

“I think it could very well have been Russia, but I think it could well have been other countries, and I won’t be specific.”

The G20 Summit will run for the next two days.

 

 

France moving to all electric cars by 2040

It is a celebratory moment in Paris as France’s environment minister, Nicolas Hulot, smashes a champagne bottle against a boat.

长沙夜网

He is christening the Energy Observer, the world’s first boat to be powered solely by wind, solar and hydrogen energy.

The vessel is about to embark on a round-the-world journey lasting six years, all to raise awareness about renewable energy.

The Minister says it is important for the government to nurture such technologies, but France’s bold plan for fighting climate change does not stop at the seas.

On the same day, he has announced a plan which could dramatically change the look of French roads — and the country’s air quality.

“We will announce the end of sales of diesel and petrol cars by 2040.”

It is part of a five-year plan to wean France off fossil fuels and help meet its targets under the Paris climate accord.

The goal is to make the country carbon-neutral by 2050 and reduce nuclear energy from its power mix.

At the news conference announcing the plan, the Environment Minister called the ban on petrol and diesel cars a revolution.

“A new theme is to make France the number one in the green economy by making the Paris agreement an opportunity for creativity, innovation and employment. This is very important and it’s one of the objectives, the desires, we have, and I hope I will succeed: reconciling economy and ecology.”

The surprise announcement comes after the Swedish car-maker Volvo has revealed its plan to phase out petrol-only cars by 2019.

From then, all of its new makes will be either electric or hybrids, making Volvo the first major manufacturer to electrify all of its models.

The company’s president, Hakan Samuelsson, has told Radio Sweden it is not just an environment-led decision, but also a business one.

“We are reacting to customer demand, asking for electrified cars, and, of course, it’s also the way for us to come down when it comes to CO2 levels and reducing our carbon footprint.”

Analysts say the move also comes because of regulations around emissions for car-makers.

PriceWaterhouseCoopers’ Darren Jukes says most manufacturers, like Volvo, have some kind of a strategy around electric vehicles.

“Well, I think we just need to sort of bear this … put this into context, so, what all the manufacturers have announced are a move towards more electric features within vehicles. Largely, this can be around hybrid vehicles. You know, the move towards 100 per cent pure electric vehicles is still some way off. What we’re seeing is a gradual transition through technology, so the combination of various combustion engines with electric motors in order to provide hybrid technology. So I don’t think we’re seeing the end of combustion engines just yet.”

France is not the first country to make a move towards less-polluting cars either.

India has said it wants all cars electric-powered by 2030.

Norway, where sales of electric cars are booming, says it wants to end the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2025.

And car giant Germany says it wants to put a million electric vehicles on the road by 2020.

 

 

No Ablett, but Swans on Suns forward alert

Sydney are well aware of the boost that Gary Ablett’s absence has given their chances of re-entering the AFL’s top eight.

长沙夜网

But it doesn’t mean the competition’s in-form side aren’t still on high alert for Gold Coast’s danger forwards at the SCG on Saturday.

The Suns’ prospects of a first-ever win over the Swans took a sizeable hit with news Ablett has been ruled out with a hamstring injury.

It helps the cause of John Longmire’s ninth-placed side, who had focused this week on establishing set-ups to curtail the dual Brownlow medallist’s influence both inside and outside.

It leaves less concern for the Swans’ improved backline as they hunt for a fifth-straight win and eight in the past nine games.

Yet, with no margin for error in a tight finals race, defence coach Henry Playfair says there’s still just cause to be wary of Rodney Eade’s frontmen.

“Tom Lynch is back in form and they’re smalls are dangerous as well,” Playfair told AAP.

“(Ben) Ainsworth kicked four last week and Jack Martin is a really promising young talent.

“(Callum) Ah Chee is dangerous, Peter Wright can take a catch and kick a goal.

“They’re actually really well-balanced and dangerous, so we’ve spoken to our guys this week that we’re going to have to be on edge.”

Lynch rediscovered his game last weekend with five goals from 20 possessions and eight marks in the loss to North Melbourne.

The key forward will have tougher work cut out for him up against a Sydney defence featuring talls Heath Grundy, Dane Rampe and now Jarrad McVeigh.

The trio’s leadership will be vital if the Swans are to rectify this season’s poor home record – four games have already been dropped at the SCG, though three of those came in a winless first six rounds.

“We’ve had a close look at Gold Coast, what they’re capable of and how they’ve played,” Playfair said.

“They kicked 18 goals last week and are a really talented team,” Playfair said.

“It’s a broader thing as well. We need to win each week because the nature of the competition is just so unique in that it’s even – games are even, quarters are even, every contest is important.

“We’re going in with a focus to play with four quarters because that’s what you have to do to win these days.”

Vic pokie numbers frozen for 25 years

Pokie machine numbers in Victoria have been frozen at 27,372 for the next 25 years, angering anti-gambling advocates who say it will lock in community harm.

长沙夜网

The maximum number of gaming machines in a single venue will be capped at 105, Gaming Minister Marlene Kairouz announced on Friday.

“Not a single extra gaming machine will be allowed in Victoria for the next 25 years, helping limit gambling-related harm in our community,” Ms Kairouz said.

The minister said the reforms provide certainty to pubs, clubs and hotels and were informed by an extensive review involving more than 200 public submissions.

However Victorian Greens MP and anti-gambling advocate Colleen Hartland said the government had guaranteed “more pokies harm” and the reforms did not go far enough.

“Pokies rip billions of dollars from Victorian communities each year and Labor is now locking in this crisis for another three decades,” Ms Hartland said.

She said gambling addiction lead to crime, family breakdown and job loss with the money going into pokies not going back into the community.

Maurice Blackburn lawyer and former Labor MP Jennifer Kanis said the announcement was “significant”, and the balance had been tipped in favour of the pokie machine industry for “too long”.

“Governments and venues alike have been reluctant to take serious action to ensure a sensible and responsible balance is struck, particularly in vulnerable communities,” she said.

Ms Kanis urged other states and venues to consider similar measures, and said while it could impact on tax revenue it would ensure a more level playing field.

Teens escaping the mafia through therapy

He faced jail for smuggling Kalashnikovs, but the teenage heir to a powerful mafia clan in Italy was instead removed from his family and given a chance to break free of the criminal underworld.

长沙夜网

Help came from psychologist Enrico Interdonato, 33, who volunteers with a project that tries to free youngsters from the notoriously ruthless ‘Ndrangheta in Calabria by placing them in care in secret locations across Italy.

The program called “Liberi di Scegliere” (Freedom to Choose), aims to show teens they can forge a life outside the criminal underworld without feeling they have betrayed those they love.

“They’re raised as princes destined to inherit a dynasty, the embodiment of their town’s criminal history,” Interdonato told AFP.

“Their fathers are almost always in prison or dead, their cousins or brothers are in jail. In the closed societies of small Calabrian towns everyone knows them and they feel it’s their duty to live up to the family name,” he said.

“At risk” minors are removed from their families by the juvenile court in the southern city of Reggio Calabria and given a chance to finish their education. Those who want it also get help finding work once they turn 18.

The first challenge Interdonato faces is convincing the youngsters not to see it as a punishment but an opportunity to find themselves in a place where their family names  renowned at home  hold no power over them.

They also have to be convinced of the ills of a lifestyle which seduces many in a region with crippling unemployment.

“Being heir to a mafia clan means obligations but it also means privileges, having access to significant economic and social power,” he said.

‘Traumatised’ 

They may wear designer clothes and command the fear or respect of locals, but “they are still the same as other teenagers in one respect: the changes in their bodies and brains are still underway”.

Though each case is different, all at first are “emotionally rigid” and traumatised after having seen relatives killed or taken away in the middle of the night in police raids.

Once a relationship is forged, Interdonato takes them along to meetings organised by the Addiopizzo association, a grassroots movement of victims of mafia extortion who have joined forces to denounce their tormentors.

“Just as police infiltrate the mafia, we infiltrate the anti-mafia!” he quips.

“These are people traditionally considered the enemy of the mafia, so the kids get a chance to see the human face of their ‘enemy’, and see what their world does to them.”

The encounters can be “very emotional”, he says. “In one case a victim living under police escort ended up befriending one of the lads and offered him a job.”

Interdonato, who sees the minors once or twice a week, says the aim is not to get the youngsters to turn on their families though the mothers of some children sent away do just that, becoming police informants.

“No one wants the blood ties to be cut or for youngsters to hate their fathers. We say: ‘You must love your father, but you must choose your future for yourself.'”

RECOMMENDED