Inflation weak and consumer prices only inch up despite carbon tax: Midday roundup

The TD Securities-Melbourne Institute’s measure of inflation rose only modestly in July even as the introduction of the carbon tax sharply lifted utility costs.

The index inched up 0.2% in July, from June when it fell by 0.2%. The annual pace of inflation actually slowed to a three-year low of 1.5%, below the Reserve Bank of Australia’s long-term target of 2% to 3%.

TD Securities head of Asia-Pacific Research Annette Beacher said the start of the carbon tax on July 1 came at a time when most price pressures were weak.

Treasury modelling showed that the $23 a tonne price for carbon pollution would add about 0.7% to consumer prices in 2012-13.

“For the July inflation gauge, utility prices rose 10.3%, while food prices and airfares, so far, remain unaffected,” Beacher said.

Small Business Minister says business will benefit from APEC meeting in St Petersburg

The Federal Minister for Small Business, Brendan O’Connor is currently at the Asia Pacific Economic Co-Operation Small and Medium Enterprises Ministerial Meeting in St Petersburg, Russia, and he claims Australian small businesses will benefit from his attendance.

“The forum provides an opportunity for Australia to reinforce the importance of trade enhancing reform, so we can help all Australian exporters,” O’Connor said.

“Australia has more than two million small businesses, employing almost five million Australians, and many of them are looking to expand their export markets across the Asia-Pacific region.

“The Gillard government is committed to ensuring Australia takes full advantage of its unique position to leverage maximum benefits from the Asian Century, and APEC’s objectives are consistent with this approach.”

Ministers instructed officials to continue to remove barriers to trade, strengthen global supply chains and improve access to markets.

Complaint triggers $350,000 back-pay for almost 400 workers

A single complaint from a service technician in South Australia has resulted in the discovery that almost 400 of the woman’s co-workers had been underpaid more than $354,000.

The employees worked for Pink Hygiene Solutions, owned by Sydney-based Rentokil Initial Pty Ltd, at locations in South Australia, NSW, Victoria, Western Australia, Queensland and the ACT.

In March, 2010, the Fair Work Ombudsman received a complaint in Adelaide from a former employee about underpayment and non-payment of overtime.

In response, a self-audit by Rentokil revealed inadvertent errors in applying overtime provisions had resulted in 396 current and former employees being underpaid a total of $354,494 between July 1, 2007 and December 31, 2009.

The underpayments ranged from as little as $8 to as much as $5200.

Share market up 1.5%

The Australian sharemarket has opened 1.5% stronger following a strong performance on Wall Street over the weekend, after better-than-expected jobs figures boosted sentiment.

At the official market open, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index rose 1.5% to 4,284.8 points, while the broader All Ordinaries Index lifted 1.44% to 4,304.3 points.



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