Shorten accuses Abbott of “undermining small business confidence”; Myer to close four stores: Midday Roundup

Shorten accuses Abbott of “undermining small business confidence”; Myer to close four stores: Midday Roundup

Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has accused Prime Minister Tony Abbott of “undermining small business confidence” by suggesting the Labor Party may not support several measures in the budget’s small business package, including the small business tax cut and accelerated depreciation measures.

Abbott said on Monday some small businesses are “holding back” spending because they fear the opposition may not support the legislation introduced into the Parliament last week by Small Business Minister Bruce Billson.

“So my message to the Parliament is: do the right thing by the small businesses of Australia; do the right thing by the workers of Australia and the families of Australia and get the small business budget boost through straight away,” Abbott said, echoing similar comments made by Billson.

But Fairfax reports Shorten responded in Parliament yesterday by saying Labor had pledged its support for the measures from the outset.

“Since budget night, Labor has supported the government’s small business measures. In fact, a number of these measures were formerly Labor measures,” Shorten said.

“Why are the Prime Minister and his ministers undermining small business confidence by claiming there is any doubt that this legislation will pass?”

The legislation for the planned tax cut and accelerated depreciation measures is expected to pass through the House of Representatives this week but the earliest it can be approved by the Senate is June 15.

 

Myer to close four stores

 

Myer will close its large-format store in Sydney’s Top Ryde City shopping centre, along with three smaller specialty stores, as chief executive Richard Umbers pushes ahead with his plans to restructure the retail chain.

In a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange, Umbers said Myer has been assessing the productivity of all its assets as part of its ongoing strategic review.

“We have recently undertaken an extensive analysis of our current and future customer base, on a catchment by catchment basis that now informs our decision making,” Umbers said.

A spokesperson for Myer said the retailer will exit the Top Ryde shopping centre in late July, with the swift exit facilitated by refurbishment works at the centre.

The three smaller stores, which sold only womenswear, menswear and children’s clothing, are located in the northern Melbourne suburb of Epping.

The spokesperson said the stores had opened on a trial basis and “while significant insights have been gained from the trial”, the retailer will close the stores at the end of August and “focus on the core Myer business in bricks and mortar and online”.

 

Shares down on open

 

Aussie shares have traded lower this morning, despite a positive lead from Wall Street overnight.

Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets, said in a statement the dominant influence on local investors today will be the Reserve Bank’s decision on interest rates this afternoon.

“The RBA is judged unlikely to move interest rates again so soon after May’s cut,” McCarthy said.

“The focus becomes the bias, and traders will examine the statement closely. The RBA avoided typifying its stance in the last statement, with many analysts suggesting this is a ‘soft’ easing bias.”

“The risk today is that the RBA has no such bias and making that explicit could see the Australian dollar rally and shares fall.”

The S&P/ASX 200 benchmark was down 56.6 points to 5678.8 points at 11.48am AEST. On Monday, the Dow Jones closed 29.69 points higher, up 0.16% to 18040.4 points.

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