THE NEWS WRAP: Federal government ministers warned to expect deep budget cuts

Federal government ministers have been warned to expect deep budget cuts early next year, with deficits likely to surpass $120 billion over the next four years.


The Australian reports that spending growth is running at almost twice the rate claimed as early as May.


It says ministers have said that budget savings measures were being put off until the government’s razor gang could consider cuts proposed by its Commission of Audit.


Wesfarmers sells insurance underwriting business for $1.85 billion


Wesfarmers, the conglomerate that owns supermarket chain Coles, has sold off its insurance underwriting business to Insurance Australia Group for $1.85 billion.


The deal, if approved by competition regulators, will make IAG the largest insurance provider in Australia and New Zealand.


Wesfarmers chief executive Richard Goyder says exiting the insurance business will de-risk Wesfarmers’ portfolio of companies.


Toyota seeks to cut worker entitlements


Car maker Toyota is seeking to cut nearly 30 employee benefits at its Victorian plant to help pay for wage rises due next year.


Toyota has been prevented by the Federal Court from holding a vote of workers on the proposed changes.


The changes include cutting double-time-and-a-half pay on Sundays, extra payments for work considered “unusually dirty or offensive”, four-hour paid leave for employees who donate blood, and lowering the number of training days.


The company has warned it faces “unprecedented pressure” to continue to make cars in Australia following the decision of GM Holden to stop making cars locally by 2017.


The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 0.8% at 15,886.46 points, while the Australian dollar is down at 89.5 US cents.


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