By Dominic Powell and Emma Koehn.
The government’s $6.2 billion levy on Australia’s biggest banks has passed the Parliament.
The levy was announced in the budget last May, and will apply to ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, NAB, and Macquarie Bank. The government has also indicated the tax of 0.5 basis points will apply to any foreign bank in Australia, provided it meets the indexed threshold of $100 billion.
Treasurer Scott Morrison rejected requests by the banks to review the levy after two years, along with recommendations to allow the Treasurer to suspend the levy if the banks fall on tough times, reports AAP.
Morrison told ABC radio there was “no need” for such implementations.
“The bank levy has been legislated as I said it would be,” he said.
Payphones “anachronistic”: Productivity Commission
The Productivity Commission has recommended Australia’s payphone network be shut down given the widespread use of mobile phones and high-speed internet access.
In its review of the Telecommunications Universal Service Obligation released on Monday, the commission said the network was “past its use by date” and “anachronistic and costly”.
“The evidence of the demise of payphones is clear. Juxtaposed with the extensive coverage of mobile services, the continuation of a blanket payphones USO (universal service obligation) cannot be justified from a community-wide perspective,” the commission said.
The government currently spends $44 million each year on the payphone service, a figure the PC would like to see saved by 2020.
Telstra is currently contracted by the government to provide payphone services via a $3 billion dollar contract until 2032, funding for which the Commission says is “unclear and disputed”.
“With regard to payphones, there is a strong case for winding back Telstra’s contractual obligations as soon as practicable.”
OrotonGroup starts strategic review
Troubled handbag retailer Oroton has told the ASX after engaging Moelis and Company to conduct a strategic review of the business, “numerous parties” have expressed interest in possible future options for the brand, including a sale, refinancing of debt or a recapitalisation of the business.
The Oroton board is inviting additional parties to “participate” in its strategic review process, highlighting in an update released to the market this morning it is expecting full year earnings to come in at between $2 and $3 million.
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The business has also provided details of its $35 million debt facility with lender Westpac, which is due to expire in April 2018.