THE NEWS WRAP: Budget to force long-term jobless to re-engage with employers

In anticipation of tonight’s Federal budget, it’s been revealed that Treasurer Wayne Swan will force the long-term jobless to re-engage with employers or lose their benefits.


Training and participation reforms are expected to dominate tonight’s budget, as Labor braces for a fight over deepening deficits over the next two years.


Greens leader Bob Brown has questioned the urgency of a return to surplus by 2012-13, and is demanding Labor squeeze more tax from miners to provide additional funding for health, education and public transport.


Coles says online shopping push an added convenience


Supermarket giant Coles has joined the slew of large retailers going online, announcing an ambitious plan to turn its national network of 620 petrol stations into pick-up points for goods purchased online.


Under the plan, currently being trailed, customers buy their groceries online before collecting them at selected Coles Express outlets.


Coles hopes the service will appeal to those who work in central business districts but live in the suburbs, with Coles’ Keith Louie stating: “Potentially it could change the way people shop.”


SMEs fail to manage currency risk


A new survey reveals as many as 60% of Australian business say at least a quarter of their business is internationally focused, yet only 39% have a strategy in place to protect themselves against the dollar’s fluctuations.


The research was completed by American Express FX International Payments, with a company spokesperson saying the results are certainly surprising.


Around a third of the 500 Australian businesses surveyed didn’t believe they conducted enough international business to justify the exercise, while around a quarter believed managing risk was “too big a hassle”.


The markets


The Australian sharemarket finished flat yesterday as investors backed off ahead of the Federal Budget, with the ASX200 index up 13.8 points, with the All Ordinaries up 15.6 points.


Meanwhile, the dollar was trading around US50 cents higher this morning, pushed up by rising commodity prices. At 7am, the dollar was trading at US108.09 cents, up from US107.62 cents at the close yesterday.



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