Armed gunmen are currently holding 20 people hostage in the Lindt Chocolat Cafe in Martin Place, Sydney, reportedly forcing them to hold up a jihadist flag.
Nearby buildings have been evacuated and streets have been cordoned off, according to Fairfax Media.
At least one gunman stormed the premises and is forcing hostages to hold up an Islamic flag that has been co-opted by jihadist groups. The flag is not an Islamic State flag, as initially reported.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has released a statement saying: “New South Wales Police and the Australian Federal Police are currently responding to a reported hostage-taking incident in Martin Place in Sydney.”
“This is obviously a deeply concerning incident but all Australians should be reassured that our law enforcement and security agencies are well trained and equipped and are responding in a thorough and professional manner.”
ACCC and Coles to settle supplier disputes
Grocery suppliers could receive refunds from supermarket giant Coles, with Coles and the competition watchdog to apply to the Federal Court today for consent orders to resolve two disputes over unconscionable conduct.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission commenced proceedings against Coles in May, alleging the retailer had engaged in unconscionable conduct by the way it sought rebates suppliers participating in its Active Retail Collaboration program.
In October, the ACCC alleged Coles had engaged in unconscionable conduct against some suppliers in relation to payments for purported profit gaps, waste and markdowns and late and short deliveries.
The ACCC said in a statement this morning the regulator and Coles will seek consent orders from the court in relation to declarations from Coles it engaged in unconscionable conduct and pecuniary penalties.
The ACCC said the parties will advise the court that if the proceedings are resolved, Coles will enter into an enforceable undertaking with the ACCC, which will require an independent review to determine if the suppliers referred to in both proceedings would be eligible to refunds from Coles.
Shares down on open
Aussie shares have traded lower this morning, following a drop on Wall Street on Friday.
Tristan K’Nell, head of trading at Quay Equities, said declines on overseas markets and continued volatility in commodity prices are taking their toll on local stocks.
“We saw broad based losses in all major sectors,” said K’Nell , who said shares in both BHP and Rio Tinto have traded lower this morning, combining with “weakness of 0.5% to 1% in the banks”.
“There was also calls from RBC Capital for BHP to shelve plans for its asset spin-off, given the effect slumping oil and iron ore prices are having on the rest of its business.”
The S&P/ASX 200 benchmark was down 43.7 points to 5175.9 points at 12.01pm AEDT. On Friday, the Dow Jones closed 315.51 points lower, down 1.79% to 17280.8 points.