The Business of Fast Fashion

‘Fast Fashion’ refers to clothing and accessories that are designed to reflect current industry trends, yet produced using less expensive materials to ensure a low price tag

Saving our Mothers

In honoring Mother's Day, Save the Children released the 14th annual State of World's Mother report.

Stop Coca-Cocal trashing Australia

Greenpeace Australia made a new coke ad with a twist. It exposes how this drinks giant is willing to let plastic pollution trash our ocean and kill our marine life.

Thanks a Million Australia

The New Zealand tourism industry is saying a big "Thanks a Million"to Australian visitors to celebrate the record of welcoming a million Australians in a 12-month period

People! Zara commits to go toxic free

Zara, the world’s largest clothing retailer, today announced a commitment to go toxic-free following nine days of intense public pressure. This win belongs to the fashion-lovers, activists, bloggers and denizens of social media. This is people power in action

Tuesday, May 12

More New Zealanders with qualifications


Nearly four in five New Zealanders have formal qualifications, according to new 2013 Census analysis released today by Statistics New Zealand.

The proportion of people with formal qualifications increased to 79 percent in 2013 – up from 75 percent in 2006 and 72 percent in 2001.

“More people have a qualification, and more are gaining higher levels of formal qualifications. Twenty percent of adults hold a bachelor’s degree or higher qualification, compared with 16 percent in 2006,” Census Customer Focus Manager Gareth Meech said.

Wellington city had the highest proportion of people with a bachelor’s degree or higher qualification, at 41 percent. Queenstown-Lakes district had the highest percentage of people with a level 5 or 6 diploma, at 12 percent.

More women than men have a post-graduate or honours degree, with women making up 60 percent of this category in 2013. In fact, the percentage of women was higher in most qualification categories. Men, however, made up 71 percent of people with a level 4 certificate qualification (which includes trades certificates).

The proportion of Māori and of Pacific peoples with a qualification is increasing. Almost 67 percent of Māori held a formal qualification in 2013 – up from 60 percent in 2006. For Pacific peoples, the proportion was 70 percent – up from 65 percent in 2006.

Men and women choose different post-school qualification fields of study. “For instance, men are 10 times as likely to study engineering and related technologies as women, while women are nearly five times more likely to study health as men,” Mr Meech said.

Almost 15 percent of New Zealand adults were participating in some kind of study at the time of the census. Of these, 74 percent were studying full-time, up from 66 percent in 2006.

2013 Census QuickStats about education and training has more about highest qualification, post-school qualification field of study, and study participation.

Other key points from the QuickStats report include:
  • Older people were less likely to have formal qualifications.
  • Median personal income was higher for people with a higher qualification.
  • Level 4 certificate had the highest proportion of self-employed people.
  • Management and commerce was the most common post-school qualification field of study.
  • More than half of people in part-time study also worked full-time.

Commonwealth Bank’s Teaching Awards are now open

Commonwealth Bank is giving Kindergarten to Year 12 teachers the opportunity to be recognised and awarded $10,000 to fund an existing or new financial education initiative at their school. 

CommBank’s Teaching Awards celebrate and reward inspirational teachers from across Australia who are making an outstanding contribution to developing the money management skills of their students.

Now in its fourth year, the Teaching Awards have funded a range of exciting and innovative programs. One past award recipient, Elizabeth Bowyer, has established a lawnmowing service in a remote Indigenous community, teaching students how to effectively run a small business by using balance sheets to calculate overheads and determine profit and loss. Another award recipient, Nadine Saul, has helped her students to launch multiple school-based businesses who sell their products at a bi-annual market day.

Ian Narev, Commonwealth Bank Chief Executive Officer said, “Financial education lays the foundation for students to make well-informed, independent financial decisions throughout their lives. We know there are many inspiring teachers who are developing unique and engaging programs, to help build and strengthen this foundation. They deserve recognition, and we are pleased to be a part of that.”

To reward teachers for their contribution to building the financial skills of their students, Commonwealth Bank will award 15 teachers from across Australia with $10,000 each to further develop their financial learning program, as well as $2,000 for each winning teacher.

Applications for the 2015 awards are open until 5.00pm AEST on Monday 27 July 2015. Winners will be announced on Wednesday 30 September 2015. To apply for an award, or for more information, visit www.commbank.com.au/teachingawards.

Thursday, May 7

BORROWERS AND SAVERS BENEFIT FROM COMMBANK RESPONSE TO RBA CASH RATE DECISION


The Commonwealth Bank other day  responded to the Reserve Bank’s cash rate reduction by offering its lowest mortgage rate, while increasing rates for some key savings accounts. As Australia’s cash rate falls to record lows, Commonwealth Bank will reduce its standard variable rate for home loans by 20 basis points and also provide good news for savers by lifting interest rates for its two popular savings accounts by between 5 and 55 basis points.
For home loan customers, our standard variable rate mortgage has reduced to 5.45%, the lowest we’ve ever offered. For savings customers, we’ve lifted our 8 month term deposit rate by 55 basis points to 3.05%. Customers using our popular GoalSaver account will be offered a rate of 3.05%.  Our small business customers, who rely on their homes as backing for their business loans, will see their loan interest rate reduced by 25 basis points. 

Announcing the changes, Matt Comyn, Group Executive Retail Banking Services said: "While the circumstances of each RBA cash rate decision will always vary, we’ve carefully considered the impact of the current environment and moved to balance the needs of our customers.”

“Today we’ve reduced our mortgage rates to a record low and also considered the needs of the almost 7 million Australians who have savings accounts with us.”

“One in three Australians consider CBA as their main financial institution.”

“Lifting the rates for our deposit customers at a time when the cash rate is decreasing recognises the importance of savings income, particularly for retirees and young people.

“As the nation’s leading home loan provider, today’s reduced mortgage rate is the best we have ever offered, and continues our commitment of providing value to our 1.6 million home loan customers,” Mr Comyn said.

Adam Bennett, Commonwealth Bank Group Executive for Business and Private Banking said today’s 25 basis point reduction for residentially secured business loans recognises the importance of the small business sector as a key driver of the Australian economy.

“This lower rate should help underpin confidence in small business owners to continue to invest in equipment, hire additional staff and grow their enterprise,” he said.  

All our new rate offers will be effective from Wednesday May 13.

Tuesday, May 5

All time low - Cash rate

The global economy is expanding at a moderate pace, but commodity prices have declined over the past year, in some cases sharply. These trends appear largely to reflect increased supply, including from Australia. Australia's terms of trade are falling nonetheless.

At its meeting today, the Board decided to lower the cash rate by 25 basis points to 2.0 per cent, effective 6 May 2015. The Federal Reserve is expected to start increasing its policy rate later this year, but some other major central banks are stepping up the pace of unconventional policy measures. 
Hence, financial conditions remain very accommodative globally, with long-term borrowing rates for sovereigns and creditworthy private borrowers remarkably low.

In Australia, the available information suggests improved trends in household demand over the past six months and stronger growth in employment. Looking ahead, the key drag on private demand is likely to be weakness in business capital expenditure in both the mining and non-mining sectors over the coming year. Public spending is also scheduled to be subdued. 

The economy is therefore likely to be operating with a degree of spare capacity for some time yet. Inflation is forecast to remain consistent with the target over the next one to two years, even with a lower exchange rate. Low interest rates are acting to support borrowing and spending, and credit is recording moderate growth overall, with stronger lending to businesses of late.

Growth in lending to the housing market has been steady over recent months. Dwelling prices continue to rise strongly in Sydney, though trends have been more varied in a number of other cities. 

The Bank is working with other regulators to assess and contain risks that may arise from the housing market. In other asset markets, prices for equities and commercial property have been supported by lower long-term interest rates. 

The Australian dollar has declined noticeably against a rising US dollar over the past year, though less so against a basket of currencies. Further depreciation seems both likely and necessary, particularly given the significant declines in key commodity prices. 

At today's meeting, the Board judged that the inflation outlook provided the opportunity for monetary policy to be eased further, so as to reinforce recent encouraging trends in household demand.

Friday, May 1

Western Union Rallies Network to Support Nepal Earthquake Relief Efforts

The Western Union Company today announced a multi-faceted response that leverages its broad connectivity, retail, online, Agents and people to provide support for families and communities most affected by the earthquake in Nepal.

For consumers sending money to family and loved ones in Nepal, from now until the 14th of May 2015, Western Union will activate a no-fee* money transfer transaction program from participating Western Union Agent locations in the: United StatesEuropeSyriaSaudi Arabia, UAE, QatarBahrainKuwait,OmanIraqMaldivesChinaMalaysiaHong KongAustraliaNew ZealandThailand, Singapore Japan,TurkeyIsrael and Lebanon, all countries with a concentration of Nepali diaspora.  

Consumers who use Western Union online services and mobile applications to send money, where available, can also avail of no-fee* transactions to Nepal until 31st of May 2015. Online consumers will need to use the promotion code NEPALRELIEF2015.

The Western Union Foundation is committing US$200,000 to support the relief efforts through discretionary and matching grants in partnership with WU employees, Agents, and business customers.

The Western Union Foundation will provide a dollar-for-dollar match of qualifying contributions from Western Union Agents, business customers and other business partners; and 2:1 employee donations to NGOs providing disaster relief.

The Western Union Foundation will contribute a portion of the relief funding to Mercy Corps. The Mercy Corps response team is currently prioritizing efforts to provide shelter, food and water.

"We are committed to helping the communities we serve. Our thoughts are with the people of Nepaland the Nepali diaspora community around the world, during this time of need," said Western Union Chief Executive Officer, Hikmet Ersek. "In addition to immediate response, we will be working with Western Union Agents, employees and nonprofit partners to provide additional support for long-term initiatives that will help the area recover and rebuild."

Western Union Foundation President, Patrick Gaston, added, "The earthquake in Nepal has caused widespread devastation with significant loss of life, injury and unprecedented damage to property. The Western Union Foundation is responding with support for relief efforts, including programs that provide meals, shelter and clean drinking water to families and children most affected."
*Western Union makes money on the exchange of currencies.
    
Due to the severity of the earthquake, some Western Union Agent locations in Nepal may not be immediately operational  or possess sufficient funds.

OCR unchanged at 3.5 percent


The Reserve Bank today left the Official Cash Rate unchanged at 3.5 percent.

Trading partner growth continues at around its long-term average, but remains dependent on highly accommodative monetary settings.  Policy interest rates are at record lows and many European government bonds are trading at negative yields.  Looking ahead, considerable uncertainties exist in Europe, China and Australia, and on the timing of US monetary policy adjustment, although global growth should be boosted by the decline in world oil prices.  Crude oil prices are almost 50 percent below their July 2014 level, with increasing supply mostly contributing to this fall.

The New Zealand economy continues to grow at an annual rate of around 3 percent, supported by low interest rates, high net immigration and construction activity, and the fall in fuel prices.  House price inflation is elevated in Auckland.  However, lower dairy incomes, lingering effects of drought, fiscal consolidation, and the high exchange rate are weighing on the outlook for growth.

Lower fuel prices, coming on top of the high exchange rate and low global inflation, lowered annual CPI inflation to 0.1 percent in the March quarter.  Underlying inflation remains low and is expected to pick up gradually.  Monetary policy will focus on the medium-term trend in inflation. The Bank expects to keep monetary policy stimulatory, and is not currently considering any increase in interest rates.

We are watching closely the ongoing impact on tradables inflation from global forces and the high New Zealand dollar.  On a trade-weighted basis, the New Zealand dollar continues to be unjustifiably high and unsustainable in terms of New Zealand’s long-term economic fundamentals.   The appreciation in the exchange rate, while our key export prices have been falling, is unwelcome.

The timing of future adjustments in the OCR will depend on how inflationary pressures evolve in both the non-traded and traded sectors.  It would be appropriate to lower the OCR if demand weakens, and wage and price-setting outcomes settle at levels lower than is consistent with the inflation target.

The Bank will continue to monitor and carefully assess the emerging flow of economic data.

5,000 schools estimated destroyed in Nepal quake, as aid distribution continues in hard-hit areas


As the scale of the devastation wrought by Saturday's deadly earthquake in Nepal continues to emerge, nearly 5,000 schools are estimated to have been completely destroyed -- which is expected to have a devastating long-term impact on the lives of children, says Save the Children.

In Gorkha alone, Save the Children staff estimates that 90% of the district's 500 schools have been destroyed or badly damaged, affecting 75,000 school children.

"Nepal's children will need the help of the international community to rebuild 5,000 destroyed schools and repair those that have been damaged -- otherwise, this disaster threatens to deprive thousands of children of their basic right to education for months, or even years to come," says Roger Hodgson, Deputy Country Director for Save the Children in Nepal.

"A routine school environment is one of the best ways to return children to a sense of normality and to talk about their experiences with their peers, helping them to recover from the trauma of the disaster."
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of children spent a fourth night sleeping outdoors in the pouring rain, unable or simply too afraid to return to their homes. Many sustained injuries in the earthquake or have seen their family members hurt or killed.

"At least 11 villages in Gorkha district have been completed demolished -- including 60% of health centres and 80% of households -- leaving desperate people and families braving the elements without any shelter," says Lynette Lim, Communications Coordinator for Save the Children, in Gorkha.

 "We are doing everything we can to provide the most vulnerable with much-needed materials for temporary shelter, as well tarpaulins."

Save the Children is distributing aid in some of the worst-affected areas of Nepal, including Gorkha and Kathmandu Valley. Despite challenges on the ground, the team is bringing in extra supplies via air and road to replenish diminishing stocks. Currently, 136 tonnes of aid are due to land in the country in the next few days -- including jerry cans, buckets, plastic sheeting, soap and medical equipment, along with thousands of blankets and tarpaulins arriving by road from India.

American Red Cross Commits Initial Million Dollars to Help People of Nepal


The American Red Cross is committing an initial million dollars to the Nepal relief operation where hundreds of thousands of families are in dire need after last weekend's devastating earthquake.

The Nepal Red Cross Society is leading the relief effort, providing first aid and search and rescue support, blood to medical facilities and support to first responders. A priority for the Nepal Red Cross has been to distribute emergency tarpaulins which provide basic shelter.

The scale of the devastation is still being uncovered and getting to some of the most severely affected areas is not easy. Due to Nepal's mountainous terrain and poor road infrastructure, reaching affected villages often means using Sherpa's to carry the materials on foot up narrow mountain paths.

Red Cross disaster responders and relief supplies are beginning to arrive, however the main international airport in Kathmandu is a very basic facility and planes often have to wait long hours to land. With the destruction, this situation is even more dire and getting supplies and transporting them within the country is going to be a major challenge.

The American Red Cross is committing an initial $1,000,000 for the relief operation and working closely with the Nepal Red Cross and the global Red Cross network to coordinate additional support. Additionally, eight American Red Cross disaster specialists are on their way to Nepalto support emergency relief, cash transfer programing, information management, recovery planning and IT/telecoms.

The American Red Cross is also providing remote mapping and information management support and is arranging for supplies from its warehouses in Kuala Lumpar and Dubai to be sent to Nepal, including non-food items such as tarps, buckets, kitchen sets and blankets, although logistical transport remains a challenge.

HOW TO HELP To help people affected by disasters big and small, like those impacted by the Nepal Earthquake, visit Redcross.org or contact your local American Red Cross chapter.

HELP FINDING LOVES ONES The Nepal Red Cross Society and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) are working to reunite families separated by the earthquake in Nepal. To learn more, visit the Nepal Earthquake Restoring Family Links page on the ICRC web site.

Monday, April 20

Anzac commemorative coins march out of PostShop and Kiwibank doors

More than three quarters of the coloured circulating commemorative coins minted to mark the Anzac centenary have been taken up by the public.

The Reserve Bank minted one million of the special 50 cent Anzac coins to commemorate the centenary, on 25 April 1915, of the Anzac landings on the Gallipoli Peninsula.

The coins are available for sale online and at PostShop and Kiwibank branches nationwide, and more than 750,000 coins have been distributed since mid-February.

The Anzac coins are sold at their face value – 50 cents – and are legal tender.

Reserve Bank Deputy Governor Geoff Bascand says public feedback about the coin has been overwhelmingly positive, and uptake has been strong ahead of the Anzac centenary next week.

“New Zealanders have been very keen to secure their own coloured circulating commemorative coin as a symbol of the spirit of Anzac which was forged on the shores of Gallipoli a hundred years ago.

“The Anzac coin is legal tender, so you can use it as you would a regular 50-cent coin to pay for goods and services. But we expect many people will choose to keep it as a way to commemorate the centenary and remember those who fought for country, King and Empire.”

Groups representing former and current armed services, including the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services' Association members and Defence Force personnel, were given the opportunity to pre-order coins.

Thursday, April 16

Auckland Airport welcomes Air New Zealand’s new Auckland to Houston service


Air New Zealand has announced today that it will begin flying direct to Houston, Texas from December this year.

The new Air New Zealand service will see a Boeing 777-200ER aircraft operate up to five flights per week between Auckland and Houston, commencing in mid-December.

Norris Carter, Auckland Airport’s general manager aeronautical commercial, says he is delighted by the announcement which will see an additional 126,000 seats added to the American market per year, contributing an estimated $110 million to the New Zealand economy.

“The United States is New Zealand’s third largest international tourism market with 226,600 visitor arrivals in the year ending February 2015.  This is an increase of 10.3 per cent when compared to the same period the year before,” says Mr Carter.

“This new Auckland to Houston service will help stimulate further growth as it provides a direct connection between New Zealand and Texas for the first time,” says Mr Carter.  “It also offers a new gateway for New Zealand travellers visiting popular American East Coast destinations, such as New York, allowing for more one stop connections from Auckland.”

“Very importantly, the new service also provides American visitors from the South and from the East Coast with a one stop option when visiting New Zealand, enhancing the accessibility of our country as a tourist destination.” 

“This new direct service strengthens Auckland’s position as a hub airport for Asia, Australasia and the Americas.  Air New Zealand and its partner airlines offer 54 return flights per week to Asia, 110 return flights per week to Australia and, with the addition of this service in December, 30 return flights per week to the Americas.”

“We congratulate the Air New Zealand team on this Auckland to Houston service,” finishes Mr Carter.

Tuesday, March 17

Commonwealth Bank accepting donations at all branches to support relief efforts for Vanuatu



Commonwealth Bank today announced that it will be accepting donations at all branches across Australia for the Red Cross appeal to support relief efforts in Vanuatu following the devastation of Cyclone Pam.

To kick start the donations, Commonwealth Bank will also be making a A$50,000 donation to the Red Cross appeal.

“Our heart goes out to the people of Vanuatu who have suffered so much loss and devastation caused by Cyclone Pam.  We would like to do what we can to support the Vanuatu community at this time and also help to make it easy for our customers to support the Red Cross appeal,” Mr Andrew Hall, Executive General Manager, Corporate Affairs said.

The funds raised by the Red Cross appeal will help provide humanitarian support to people and communities affected by Cyclone Pam, including:
    • emergency relief and recovery assistance to affected communities, displaced people and host families in Vanuatu,
    • water and sanitation, shelter and health initiatives in affected areas,
    • sending specialist aid workers to assist in initial assessments, relief, recovery and longer-term disaster management operations.