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

Saturday, July 19

COMMONWEALTH BANK RAISES EDUCATIONAL STANDARDS FOR FINANCIAL PLANNERS


Commonwealth Bank has today announced new minimum education standards for Commonwealth Financial Planning Limited (CFP) financial planners, supervisors and managers of planners. 

Since 2011 the Bank has transformed the CFP business. There have been changes in management, structure and culture. We have also invested in new systems, implemented new processes, enhanced adviser supervision and improved training. These new standards are an important step in increasing the educational and professional standards of our financial planners, and exceed current industry requirements.

The new education standards include:
·         All new CFP financial planners, recruited from today, must hold a degree in finance, business, commerce or a related field;
·         All new CFP direct supervisors or managers, recruited from today, must hold a degree in finance, business, commerce or a related field;
·         Existing financial planners authorised under the CFP licence and their supervisors will be required to hold either an Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning (or equivalent) or a degree in finance, business, commerce or a related field by 30 June 2017;
·         Existing Senior Financial Planners will be required to obtain the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® certification with the Financial Planning Association of Australia; and
·         CFP commits to making membership of a relevant financial services industry association a minimum standard required of all CFP financial planners by 30 June 2015.
Executive General Manager Advice, Marianne Perkovic said both the Interim Report of the Financial System Inquiry and the Final Report of the Senate Economics Committee inquiry into ASIC concluded that educational levels across the industry need to be enhanced. Today’s announcement is an important and proactive step to meeting the standards envisaged by those reports.

“The relationship between a financial planner and their customers must be based on trust. The significant transformation in this business since 2011 has been all about building that trust. This is an important next step that continues our investment in the professionalism of the advice industry.”

Thursday, July 10

McCully should stand down while review considers his actions


The Green Party is calling for the review into Foreign Affairs’ handling of allegations of attempted rape by a Malaysian Diplomat to be expanded to cover actions of Ministers, and for the Minister of Foreign Affairs to stand down while the review is being held.

The review also needs to be conducted by an external agency, not the Ministry whose actions and inactions need to be independently examined.

 “The woman at the centre of these allegations, Tania Billingsley, last night called for Mr McCully to resign, saying he had failed to do his job and that she was still waiting for an apology,” Green Party Co leader Metiria Turei said.

“I’m not about to argue against Ms Billingsley’s call. If I was the Prime Minster I’d seriously take note of everything she said last night.

“It is astonishing that Ms Billingsley was still waiting for an apology from anyone in Government yesterday.

“Mr McCully has said he’d apologised, but an off the cuff apology over the TV doesn’t cut it, especially for a generation that doesn’t even watch it. Mr McCully would never have considered a TV apology good enough for the Prime Minister and it’s not good enough for Ms Billingsley.  

“Our position is that the review of MFAT’s handling of this case should be expanded to include Ministers’ actions, and inactions, and that Minister McCully should stand down while this review is going on.

“New Zealand needs those in power to take leadership on the issue of sexual and domestic violence. What happened in Ms Billingsley’s case shows that they didn’t. If Ministers had shown leadership, it’s hard to see that the diplomat would have been allowed to leave New Zealand.

“Ms Billingsley has always said that she wanted him to stay to face trial in New Zealand. We still don’t even know if he’s coming back and that would be understandably distressing for her.  

“The New Zealand Government has let Ms Billingsley down and the lack of leadership shown over her case should cause everyone to be concerned,” Mrs Turei said.

Monday, July 7

Fed Farmers leading wrong way on water

Federated Farmers needs to show greater leadership on water quality, the Green Party said today.

The Green Party is responding to claims by the outgoing and incoming Federated Farmers’ dairy section chairs that ‘there is no need for urgent action” by the dairy industry in improving its environmental performance.

“If you're making a mess, before you start cleaning up, you stop making more mess,” Green Party water spokesperson Eugenie Sage said today.

“It's not helpful to understate the size and seriousness of our water pollution problem. The facts are clear. The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment found that even when farmers use best practice, the sheer scale of increasing intensive agriculture such as dairying, will cause more water pollution.

“We have more than 6.6 million dairy cows in New Zealand, equivalent to a human population of 84 million but without the sewage treatment. We can’t continue to increase the number of dairy cows and their impact on land and waterways.  The solution is in adding value to the milk we produce, not ignoring the pollution problem.”

“Everyone agrees we need to take action urgently, except Federated Farmers.

“New Zealanders want to be able to swim in our rivers. Ignoring the problem won’t fix it,” said Ms Sage.

“Scientists and even Dairy NZ Environment Policy Manager Dr Mike Scarsbrook has called the relationship between intensive farming and river pollution ‘inescapable and undeniable’,” said Ms Sage.

“Federated Farmers need to take a leadership role.

“Instead of putting the brake on change, the industry needs to increase its efforts significantly and recognise that there are limits to growth in cow numbers to prevent further pollution of rivers.”

Friday, July 4

Government underfunding jeopardises recycling


The Government’s underfunding of the TV Takeback scheme jeopardises the whole e-waste drop-off network across the country, the Green Party said today.

The TV Takeback scheme was put in place to deal with the glut of old TVs needing to be recycled arising from the digital switch over. RCN E-Waste Limited the company that processed the TV’s collected for recycling has recently been put into liquidation.

“It costs money to recycle all TVs. Right now TV importers and manufactures are passing the burden of recycling their products onto taxpayers and recycling companies,” Green Party waste spokesperson Denise Roche said.

“Community recyclers have been left with hundreds of old TVs, and out of pocket, and a TV recycling company has gone bust because the Government has not paid for the full cost of transporting and recycling TVs during the scheme.

“Linking the TV Takeback scheme to the digital rollout meant the design of the scheme was rushed. While it ensured thousands of TVs didn’t end up being dumped, the costs varied across the country, and the recyclers were left to carry the costs.

“We need to include the cost of recycling TVs when they are first bought, that way we are not left with old TVs that no one wants to deal with.

“By declaring TVs a priority product and introducing an advance disposal fee on TVs, the recycling cost would be shared between producers, retailers and consumers,” said Ms Roche.

Whaling must be top of agenda for Japan PM visit

New Zealand must make protecting whales a priority during next week’s visit by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Green Party oceans spokesperson Gareth Hughes said today.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will make an official visit to New Zealand next week after recently outlining an intention to aim for the resumption of commercial whaling.

“New Zealand needs to exert diplomatic pressure on the Japanese Government over whaling during Prime Minister Abe’s visit to New Zealand,” Mr Hughes said.

“As one of the countries that took Japan to the International Court of Justice over whaling, and won, we must keep up the pressure on Japan to turn its back on slaughtering whales in the Southern Ocean.

“New Zealanders want to see a strong message sent to Prime Minister Abe that hunting whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary is unacceptable and unlawful.

“While Prime Minister John Key will be no doubt be fixated upon the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement he must also make sure that New Zealand’s opposition to whaling is a priority area during Prime Minister Abe’s visit.

“The Prime Minister must not let his desire to conclude the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement trump New Zealand’s long standing opposition to Japan’s unlawful ‘scientific whaling’ program.

“John Key’s recent visit to the United States showed how his position on important international foreign policy issues can be ‘gone by lunchtime’ after meet and greets with President Obama.

“There must be no such flip flopping during Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit.

“The Prime Minister and New Zealand officials need to make it clear to Japan that any move to resume whaling under the pretext of scientific purposes will not be tolerated by our government.”

Thursday, July 3

Government’s bottom lines for water create a licence to pollute

The Government has pulled the plug on cleaning up our dirty rivers so they are safe for swimming, the Green Party said today.

The Green Party was commenting on the Government’s national bottom lines for water quality released today by Environment Minister Amy Adams. They amend the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management to set a national bottom line for human health of secondary contact recreation. This means that rivers only have to be clean enough for wading or boating but don’t have to be clean enough to swim in.

“New Zealander’s want clean rivers that they can swim in. Around 90 percent of public submissions called for this. Yet the Government’s weak bottom lines have ignored public views and will allow our rivers to become more polluted,” said Green Party water spokesperson Eugenie Sage.

While water quality must be maintained or improved across a region, the minimal acceptable state for rivers is to meet a standard of secondary contact recreation. This means making our rivers and lakes safe for paddling and wading rather than the primary contact recreation standard which means safe for swimming.

“This means that while some rivers in a region are improving, councils can let others degrade to a condition that is too polluted for swimming

“National’s bottom lines for water quality have big gaps and amount to a licence to pollute.

“We have a freshwater crisis on our hands with more than 60 percent of monitored river swimming sites unfit for swimming. The Government’s national bottom lines won’t fix it and instead allow irrigation and intensive agriculture to expand.

“We desperately need effective regulation that prevents further degradation and improves the quality of our rivers and lakes. The Government’s changes to the National Policy Statement won’t achieve this.

“We can have strong national objectives and bottom lines that ensure our rivers are clean enough to safely swim in,” said Ms Sage.

Wednesday, July 2

Wellington Airport to hold aeronautical charges over next five years.


Today Wellington Airport issued its final pricing document, after the decision to re-price, for using the airport’s terminal and runway services from June 2014 to March 2019. Over the next five years the airport will hold the average price per passenger in line with current charges.
"The collaborative consultation with Air New Zealand, Jetstar, Qantas and Virgin has delivered positive outcomes and will see the airport invest $112M over the next 5 years in the terminal’s expansion and apron development. We believe this is a great package for the airlines and travelling public,” said Steve Sanderson, Wellington Airport’s Chief Executive.
“Wellington Airport is committed to improving travel and tourism infrastructure and is consistently rated among the best in Australasia for service quality.”
Starting in September this year the airport will commence construction for the extension to the main terminal. This will add 5200sqm of space, double the width of both southern piers and remove the large air handling units that currently take up a significant foot-print in the main terminal.
“In addition to the major extension, we are also going to improve the domestic lounges at the northern end of the terminal, along with introducing washroom facilities at the gates.”
The airport’s targeted return for the coming five year period would remain within the acceptable regulatory benchmark and the process used by the airport to set new prices is consistent with the Commerce Commission’s.
Last year the airport released its 2013 performance results to the Commission and its return on aeronautical assets was 6.23%, well under the regulatory benchmark of 8%. The airport also announced that it would consult with airlines to set new prices for June 2014 to March 2019.
The Commerce Commission’s review of Wellington Airport’s performance noted its current returns were under the acceptable range and this has always been the case. The Commission also recognised the airport’s transparent and consultative approach to price setting, innovation and delivery of a quality passenger experience.”
“Wellington Airport makes a vital contribution to the local and national economy and it is important that the regulatory regime provides incentives to invest and grow tourism and travel infrastructure over the long term.”

Tuesday, July 1

Index of Commodity Prices - RBA

Preliminary estimates for June indicate that the index declined by 1.8 per cent (on a monthly average basis) in SDR terms, after declining by 1.8 per cent in May (revised). The largest contributor to the fall in June was the decline in the price of iron ore. The base metals subindex rose in the month while the rural commodities subindex declined. In Australian dollar terms, the index declined by 2.8 per cent in June.
Over the past year, the index has declined by 9.6 per cent in SDR terms, largely driven by declines in the prices of bulk commodities. The index has declined by 7.3 per cent in Australian dollar terms over the past year.
As indicated in previous releases, preliminary estimates for iron ore, coking coal and thermal coal export prices are being used for the most recent months, based on market information. Using spot prices for these commodities, the index fell by 2.2 per cent in June in SDR terms, to be around 11 per cent lower over the past year.

Cash rate unchanged at 2.5% - RBA

Statement by Glenn Stevens, Governor: Monetary Policy Decision

 At its meeting today, the Board decided to leave the cash rate unchanged at 2.5 per cent. 

Growth in the global economy is continuing at a moderate pace, helped by firmer conditions in the advanced countries. China's growth slowed a little earlier in the year but remains generally in line with policymakers' objectives. Commodity prices in historical terms remain high, but some of those important to Australia have declined. 


Financial conditions overall remain very accommodative. Long-term interest rates and risk spreads remain low. Emerging market economies are once again receiving capital inflows. Volatility in many financial prices is currently unusually low. Markets appear to be attaching a very low probability to any rise in global interest rates over the period ahead.

 In Australia, recent data indicate somewhat firmer growth around the turn of the year, but this resulted mainly from very strong increases in resource exports as new capacity came on stream; smaller increases in such exports are likely in coming quarters. Moderate growth has been occurring in consumer demand. A strong expansion in housing construction is now under way. 

At the same time, resources sector investment spending is starting to decline significantly. Signs of improvement in investment intentions in some other sectors are emerging, but these plans remain tentative as firms wait for more evidence of improved conditions before committing to significant expansion. Public spending is scheduled to be subdued.

 Overall, the Bank still expects growth to be a little below trend over the year ahead. There has been some improvement in indicators for the labour market in recent months, but it will probably be some time yet before unemployment declines consistently. Growth in wages has declined noticeably. If these and other domestic costs remain contained, inflation should remain consistent with the target over the next one to two years, even with lower levels of the exchange rate. Monetary policy remains accommodative.

 Interest rates are very low and for some borrowers have edged lower over recent months. Savers continue to look for higher returns in response to low rates on safe instruments. Credit growth has picked up a little, including most recently to businesses. Dwelling prices have increased significantly over the past year, though there have been some signs of a moderation in the pace of increase recently. The exchange rate remains high by historical standards, particularly given the declines in key commodity prices, and hence is offering less assistance than it might in achieving balanced growth in the economy. 

Looking ahead, continued accommodative monetary policy should provide support to demand and help growth to strengthen over time. Inflation is expected to be consistent with the 2–3 per cent target over the next two years.

 In the Board's judgement, monetary policy is appropriately configured to foster sustainable growth in demand and inflation outcomes consistent with the target. On present indications, the most prudent course is likely to be a period of stability in interest rates.

Tuesday, June 10

COMMONWEALTH BANK ANNOUNCES APPOINTMENT OF NEW DIRECTORS

Mr David Turner, Chairman of Commonwealth Bank of Australia, today announced the appointment of Mr Shirish Apte and Sir David Higgins as independent Non-Executive Directors of the Bank.  Mr Apte’s appointment is effective as of 10 June 2014, while Sir David will join the Board on 1 September 2014.

The appointments continue the Bank’s move towards greater diversity in experience and background, with both new directors having carried out senior international business roles and both being currently based outside of Australia.

Mr Apte was Co-Chairman of Citi Asia Pacific Banking from 1 January 2012 until 31 January 2014, when he retired from Citi.  (Mr Apte remains a director of Citibank Japan and a member of the Supervisory Board of Citibank Handlowy, Poland.)  From 2009 until 2011, Mr Apte was Chief Executive Officer of Citi Asia Pacific, with responsibility for South Asia, including Australia, New Zealand, India and ASEAN countries.  He was a member of Citigroup’s Executive and Operating Committees.

Mr Apte has more than 32 years experience with Citi, including as CEO of Central & Eastern Europe, Middle East & Africa (CEEMEA) and, before that, as Country Manager and Deputy President of Citibank Handlowy, Poland.  Mr Apte moved to London in 1993 as a senior Risk Manager for CEEMEA before becoming Corporate Finance and Investment Bank Head for CEEMEA, including India.
Mr Apte is a Chartered Accountant from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, and holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree.  He also has an MBA from the London Business School.

Sir David Higgins is currently the Chairman of High Speed Two (HS2) Ltd, the company responsible for developing and promoting the UK’s new high speed rail network.  Prior to that, he was Chief Executive of Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd in London which is involved in the maintenance and development of railway infrastructure throughout the UK.

From 2006 until 2011, he was Chief Executive of the Olympic Delivery Authority where he oversaw the creation of the London 2012 Olympic Games venues, the Olympic Village and transport projects.  Prior to December 2005, he was Chief Executive of English Partnerships, the UK Government’s national housing and regeneration agency for three years.  In 1985, he joined Lend Lease and in 1995, he was appointed Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Lend Lease.

Sir David holds a Bachelor of Engineering (Civil) degree and a diploma from the Securities Institute of Australia.  He was knighted in the 2011 Queen’s Birthday Honours list for services to regeneration.

Mr Turner said: “I am delighted with the appointments of Shirish and Sir David, who are highly respected business figures both in the Asia-Pacific region and globally. Shirish will bring international banking knowledge and experience that will greatly benefit the Commonwealth Bank.  Sir David brings a vast array of high-level business, infrastructure and major project experience.  Both men will be invaluable additions to the Commonwealth Bank Board and I very much look forward to working with them.” 

Tuesday, April 29

High-LVR lending falls to 5.6% over six months

The Reserve Bank today said that high loan-to-value ratio (high-LVR) residential mortgage lending had fallen to 5.6 percent for the six months to the end of March 2014.

Deputy Governor Grant Spencer said: “Our initial assessment is that restrictions on high LVR lending helped reduce house price inflation. A more in-depth assessment of the policy and its impact on the housing market will be included in next month’s Financial Stability Report.”

All banks have complied with rules that restrict high-LVR residential mortgage lending to no more than 10 percent of total new mortgage lending. In September 2013, before the introduction of the new rules, high-LVR lending was approximately 25 percent of all mortgage lending.

The restriction came into force on 1 October last year and 31 March 2014 was the end of the first six month period over which all registered banks had to comply. Future compliance with the high-LVR lending rules will be measured against a 3-month rolling average for banks with more than $100 million per month of mortgage lending (ANZ, ASB, BNZ, Kiwibank and Westpac) and a 6-month rolling average for banks with less than $100 million per month of mortgage lending.

High-LVR loans are those that are made to someone borrowing more than 80 percent of the value of the property that is mortgaged.