Archive Month: November 2018
Nov 29 , 2018 / By :

Committed investment in the resources sector has reached a new record of $268b, helped by a wave of multibillion-dollar liquefied natural gas projects, official figures show.
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However, further growth in the investment pipeline is under threat from a double whammy of falling commodity prices and rising costs, the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics says.

New figures published on Wednesday said 87 major projects worth a total of $268b had been given the green light to proceed, up from $260b in April.

Separately, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said completed construction work rose 1.7 per cent in the September quarter, with engineering construction the strongest sector.

BREE said this increase in the value of committed investment was driven by the approval of a second processing facility at the Australia Pacific LNG project in Queensland, worth about $9b.

Cost blow-outs also contributed to growth in the value of committed investment, while the number of committed projects fell from 98 in April to 87.

With investors increasingly anxious about a looming peak in resources investment, BREE also reported a slowing in the number of projects that had progressed from being potential to committed developments.

In the past six months, 10 projects worth $13.2b had been approved, it said, compared with 21 projects worth $45 billion that received approval in the six months before April.

The Resources Minister, Martin Ferguson, said the total investment was equivalent to the amount the United States spent on the Apollo Moon Program in the 1960s and 1970s, but he also warned on costs.

“Even with such a pipeline of investment, there is no doubt that we are entering a challenging phase,” Mr Ferguson said.

“In the face of lower commodity prices, the delivery of this pipeline of projects is contingent on keeping production costs down, providing access to skilled labour and increasing our productivity and efficiency”

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Nov 29 , 2018 / By :

If there is money to be made in the field of government-regulated assets such as toll roads, electricity and gas, it doesn’t take long for Macquarie Bank to show its hand. And with the likelihood of a rollout of smart meters in NSW, the bank is only too keen to help.
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The introduction of these meters is under way in Victoria, and this week the NSW government disclosed it has established a working party to study its introduction in NSW.

So-called smart meters can be read remotely, with the power supply also controlled remotely. As a result, they promise significant savings for power companies, but there is doubt about their benefit for most households.

The poor experience in Victoria – where the cost of the meters has risen to more than $2.3 billion and households have seen little benefit – threatens to derail the proposal in NSW.

In a bid to drive change, the body that oversees power industry, the Australian Energy Markets Commission, opened the door to the possibility of taking meters out of the hands of the power distributors and putting them into independent ownership.

This would involve taking the metering business out of the hands of the distributors such as Ausgrid or Endeavour Energy in NSW, or Citipower, Jemena or Powercor in Victoria, in favour of having the retailers such as EnergyAustralia, Origin Energy and AGL run it.

Macquarie Bank believes electricity retailers are the natural owners of the smart meters, since they already hold the supply contracts with electricity consumers.

In a submission to the Productivity Commission review of electricity networks, Macquarie argued power retailers were better placed to assess and manage the risk of introducing smart meters – and to face the loss of customers and market share if they have an uncompetitive product.

For most power users, the lack of clear benefits from smart meters means there is natural concern their introduction will emerge as a new revenue stream for power companies.

Coming as electricity prices rise to fund an upgrade to the electricity network, resistance will be acute.

One of the mistakes in Victoria was to mandate the introduction of these meters just before their price collapsed. These units now cost significantly less than $100 each, depending on their functionality, while in Victoria they cost more than double this.

According to some estimates, the largest single benefit from smart meters would be that meter readers would no longer need to visit every property. The meters would also eliminate theft of electricity.

The gains here would be significantly greater than any savings from reduced power consumption – supporters of the technology claim it would help cut power bills by eliminating overinvestment in poles and wires.

The readily apparent gains could explain why Macquarie Bank, the millionaires factory, has a big stake in the metering industry in Britain.

There, it owns more than 500,000 smart meters in a total portfolio of more than six million gas and electricity meters. But perhaps what is good for Macquarie is not necessarily good for the rest of us.

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Nov 29 , 2018 / By :

Buyers are walking away from sales and losing their deposits.Melbourne’s outer-suburban property market is facing a serious slump as distressed buyers and builders cancel one in every three new home purchases.
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The collapse in sales could have serious repercussions for the state economy and the building industry, which employs more than 250,000 Victorians.

“We’ve never seen this before, so it’s a very strong signal that the fundamentals are wrong,” said Colin Keane, director of analyst group Research4, who compiled the new research.

He said the current cancellation rate of more than 30 per cent compared to an average two years ago of about 5 per cent.

Developers have had nearly 1800 lots returned to them this year as buyers have aborted plans to build homes in the city’s housing estates, according to the National Land Survey Program.

While buyers who walk away from sales are losing their deposits, developers are left trying to re-sell the land as demand wanes.

The cancellation rate on land deals hit more than 30 per cent in the September quarter, up from an average of 5 per cent before the 2009-2010 property boom ended. It had been averaging about 23 per cent over the past year.

Driving the problem were sales policies that allowed buyers to put down only a $500 or $1000 “holding deposit” on a block, industry operators say.

“It’s the developers who were taking these holding deposits that are really experiencing the problem,” said Rory Costelloe of Villawood Properties.

“It also doesn’t help that the prices being charged for the land rose way too high, too fast when these blocks were being sold 12 or 18 months ago.”

Others buyers have had to walk away from settlements – and much larger deposits worth up to 5 per cent of the purchase price – after failing to get financing on blocks of land that have lost 10 to 20 per cent of their value since they signed the contract.

The problem has worsened despite some developers reportedly offering big cash hand-outs in a bid to help buyers make up the difference between what they initially agreed to pay and the land’s current value when qualifying for a loan.

“The developers are basically trying to buy their settlement. It’s easier to pay them the difference than to try to sell the block again,” said a valuer, who asked to remain anonymous.

Mr Keane said builders were also having to return land to developers when buyers backed out, and it became clear they couldn’t settle on the house and land packages they were selling.

“The dramatic increase in lots being returned to developers highlights the pressure the Melbourne new home building industry is currently under,” he said.

Housing estates in the city’s west and north are experiencing the highest cancellation rate, the research shows.

Melbourne’s new-home market has been weathering a downturn since late 2010, which has seen construction activity and land sales fall well below historic averages.

The value of residential building is expected to fall by 20 per cent this financial year, shedding $4 billion worth of construction spending, according to the Australian Construction Industry Forum.

Developers have been frantically trying to prime the pump with hefty buyer incentives that include cash rebates, cars, and furniture and landscaping packages.

Industry lobby groups have also been calling for a boost to the First Home Owners Grant for new homes, which was slashed from $20,000 to $7000 in July.

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Nov 29 , 2018 / By :

Honda Accord. JD Power
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Japanese car brands are better at keeping customers satisfied, according to a new report from a leading international market research company.

The JD Power Asia Pacific study ranked the nation’s 12 biggest car brands for their levels of customer service – and the top five are Honda, Toyota, Subaru, Mazda and Mitsubishi.

The study measured satisfaction on a 1000-point scale, with Honda and Toyota both scoring 809 points. Subaru, which previously topped the list, came in third with a score of 805, while Mazda scored 801 and Mitsubishi came in fifth at 791 – the same score as the industry average, which was two points lower than last year.

Volkswagen was the lowest-ranked of the 12 manufacturers, with a customer service satisfaction score of 757, 34 points below the industry average and seven points lower than last year. The score gels with a number of Volkswagen owners who have contacted us this year with problems regarding servicing costs and the overall service experience with the German brand.

The study of 4300 owners looks at overall satisfaction when getting the car serviced by examining the quality of servicing, vehicle pick-up, staff, service initiation and the workshop. It looked at 12 of the most popular brands on the Australian automotive scene.Read our fixed-price servicing investigation here

Findings of the JD Power study suggested buyers appreciated knowing how long a car service would take (satisfaction increased by 105 points if they did), and liked being reminded by the dealership that their car was due for a service (satisfaction jumped by 40 points).

“Proactive communication during pre-service helps pave the way for a highly satisfying vehicle owner experience,” says Mohit Arora, the executive director of JD Power Asia Pacific.

“Owners prefer to be updated by the network on their service due dates, as well advised during vehicle drop-off of the time to pick up the vehicle. These simple steps help to create a positive first impression about the network’s ability to deliver a quality after-sales experience.”

Some manufacturers go to amazing lengths to get customers to return for their next service.

The survey also found owners were more likely to go back to the same dealership for a service, even after the end of the factory warranty period. Of those who ranked their experience above 895 points, 81 per cent said they “definitely would” go back to their dealer, and 69 per cent said they would recommend that service centre to friends and family.

At the other end of the scale, just 12 per cent of owners who ranked their service experience “highly dissatisfied” (scores of less than 713) said they would go back, and only 4 per cent would recommend the workshop to their friends. Follow Drive南京夜网.au on Twitter @Drivecomau Like Drive南京夜网.au on Facebook

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Nov 29 , 2018 / By :

The Footy Show consistently wins its 9.30pm time slot.In a provocative move that will instantly escalate the ratings stakes on Thursday nights, Channel Nine will shift their veteran sports-comedy franchise The Footy Show to a permanent primetime slot next year.
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From the start of the next AFL season, the program fronted by Garry Lyon, Sam Newman and James Brayshaw will air each week at 8.30pm. The move means the show, entering its 19th year on-air, will be pitted against Ten’s footy comedy, Before The Game.

Ten moved Before The Game from Saturdays this year.

The Footy Show has aired at 9.30pm since its inception in 1994 and has consistently (and remarkably) won the timeslot. However it regularly runs overtime and can be on air as late as 11.30pm. The network believes the move to 8.30pm is an opportunity to reset the show and broaden its appeal outside its admittedly large rusted-on fan base.

Intriguingly, the alteration in schedule comes as ABC2 announced last week that its much-loved Thursday night footy program The Marngrook Show would not return next year. Industry scuttlebutt suggests SBS may pick up the show next year.

The new Footy Show strategy was announced at Nine’s 2013 programming launch in Melbourne on Tuesday.

Aside from previously disseminated announcements regarding series such Power Games: The Packer-Murdoch Story and the telemovie Schapelle, both of which are yet to be cast, Nine also flagged a change in the programming of their international cricket coverage.

The network will broadcast next year’s Ashes series from England, which begins in July, live in primetime on its digital high-definition channel Gem.

Covering the Ashes out of England has been a contentious television broadcast issue for the past few tours. Nine has been criticised for favouring Wimbledon coverage and for not starting its live broadcast of the cricket until too late in the evening.

But with Seven now covering Wimbledon, Nine is free to give the Ashes the attention cricket fans believe it deserves.

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