Shorten pitches to small business; Competition review panel named; Housing affordability down in December quarter: Midday Roundup

Opposition leader Bill Shorten has reached out to small businesses and start-ups in a speech to the National Press Club yesterday, as he admitted Labor’s 2009 changes to employee share schemes had had adverse effects.

Shorten also said Labor would consider simplifying GST reporting requirements, according to The Australian Financial Review.

“Right now, too many scientists and start-ups struggle to commercialise their ideas,” Shorten says, as quoted by The Australian Financial Review.

“By better aligning the tax burden with the likely realisation of equity stakes in a company, we can remove a significant drag on innovation.”

The former Labor government changed the taxation rules around employee share schemes in 2009 so that employees’ share options were taxed as soon as they were received from their employer, rather than when they vested.

Competition review panel named

The federal government has announced this morning the members of the long-awaited competition policy review, with the panel to be headed by Deloitte Access Economics partner professor Ian Harper.

Small Business Minister Bruce Billson announced the panel, with other members including Regional Australia Institute chief executive Su McCluskey, barrister Michael O’Bryan and former Australia Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Peter Anderson.

It is expected the group will produce a final report on Australia’s competition policies within 12 months.

Housing affordability down in December quarter

Housing affordability declined slightly in the December 2013 quarter, according to the Housing Industry Association.

The HIA-Commonwealth Bank Housing Affordability Index fell by 0.5% in the December 2013 quarter, 8.4% higher than in the previous corresponding period.

In a statement, HIA chief economist Harley Dale said house prices were likely to increase as the year progresses.

“In 2014 we are likely to see further gains in residential property prices, but in an environment of subdued household earnings growth and steady interest rates,” he said. “The strong cyclical improvement to affordability for existing participants in the home ownership market has therefore run its course.”

Shares fall on open

Aussie shares have opened lower this morning, as Wall Street closed down yesterday, despite early gains.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark was down 48.1 points to 5328.7 at 11:58am AEDT. Overnight the Dow Jones closed 98.89 points down, losing 0.60% to 16,268.99.


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