Abbott pleads with business to back budget; Vocation chair quits: Midday Roundup

Abbott pleads with business to back budget; Vocation chair quits: Midday Roundup

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has called on the business community to help the government sell its economic agenda, as he faces a continued struggle to pass several of his government’s key budget measures.

Abbott last night asked attendees at an Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry dinner for their support and urged them to be not just interested “but engaged in 2015’’, The Australian reports.

“Your choices and your statements count. Our country needs a strong business voice about as much as it needs good government and government, to some extent, depends upon it,” Abbott said.

Fairfax reports the Prime Minister recently echoed that statement at a Business Council of Australia event, where he said: “Reform or stagnation, budget repair or endless deficits. More tax or less. Your choices and your statements count.”

Vocation chair quits

The troubles are continuing for higher education producer Vocation, with former federal education minister John Dawkins resigning as chairman this morning.

Fairfax reports Dawkins will be replaced by fellow director Doug Halley. Dawkins will continue to advise the company as a consultant.

Dawkins said he considered shareholder views in his decision to stand aside, following weeks of poor trading in which more than $360 million has been wiped from Vocation’s market capitalisation.

“In making my decision to resign I took into account shareholder views that Vocation needs to rebuild the support of its shareholders and instigate board renewal,” Dawkins said.

Law firm Maurice Blackburn launched a class action against Vocation earlier this month, after the training provider was forced to forfeit $19.6 million in government funding.

Shares up on open

Aussie shares have made small gains in morning trading, following a quiet night on Wall Street.

Tristan K’Nell, head of trading at Quay Equities, said local investors were keeping a close eye on a series of economic data releases today.

“In the first of economic release of the day, we saw the Housing Industry Association show new home sales rising 3%, following a flat result in September,” K’Nell said.

“The data actually saw a slight dip in the index, ahead of the more anticipated third quarter capital expenditure (capex) data.”

K’Nell said the market did bounce in response to the capex release, which showed a rise of 0.2% instead of an expected drop of 1.9%.

“The result is a pleasing one for the markets, in particular the RBA, which may be a little more comfortable that we may see some on-mining businesses increase spending into next year,” he said.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark was up 9.4 points, or 0.2%, to 5405.6 points at 12.20pm AEDT. On Wednesday, the Dow Jones closed 12.81 points higher, up 0.07% to 17827.8 points.

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