Prime Minister Tony Abbott has housed down speculation that Joe Hockey’s position as Treasurer could be in danger, saying the government’s Expenditure Review Committee has “collective responsibility” for next week’s budget.
Abbott was responded to an article in the Australian that said government whip Scott Buccholz had told Abbott two weeks ago some members of the Coalition believe Hockey should be removed from his position if the budget is not well received.
But Abbott said during an interview on radio station 3AW this morning the conversation did not take place.
“It is a complete invention. He didn’t say it to me, I didn’t say anything to him,” Abbott said, according to the Australian.
“I’ve spoken to [Hockey] about this story, it’s a complete invention.”
“The budget belongs to no individual minister, it belongs to all of us but it particularly belongs to all the members of the Expenditure Review Committee.”
ACCC calls for mobile call and text price cut
Mobile calls and texts could become significantly cheaper if a draft decision by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to regulate mobile network prices goes ahead.
The consumer watchdog has issued its draft ruling on the costs network operators charge users for making and receiving mobile calls from other networks or fixed-line services, proposing for those fees to be slashed by almost half.
The ACCC proposed these “terminating” fees be dropped from 3.6 cents per minute to 1.61 cents per minute.
It also called for mobile network operators to regulate the price charged for receiving SMS messages to 0.03 cents per SMS.
A final decision will be handed down in July 2015 and would take effect from January 1 next year.
Shares down on open
Aussie shares have traded lower again this morning, after the ASX 200 fell dramatically in yesterday’s session.
Tristan K’Nell, head of trading at Quay Equities, said in a statement the banking sector is drawing plenty of interest from investors, who are also digesting the latest employment data.
“NAB is the big talking point this morning, with news it is preparing to raise capital of $5.5 billion to boost its capital position,” K’Nell said.
“It will also push ahead with plans to spin off its UK assets.”
“All this news overshadowed a decent first-half profit announcement, [with] NAB posting a cash profit of $3.32 billion in line with expectation … [and] revenue rising 14.6%, while it will pay a fully franked dividend of 99 cents.”
The S&P/ASX 200 benchmark was down 41.9 points to 5650.3 points at 11.54am AEST. On Wednesday, the Dow Jones closed 86.22 points lower, down 0.48% to 17842 points.