Three people have died and thousands evacuated from their homes as storm sparks floods along Australia's east coastThree people have died and thousands evacuated from their homes as flooding caused by the remains of tropical cyclone Oswald battered the east coast of Australia.High winds, including mini-tornadoes, and torrential rain have lashed large parts of southern Queensland and are moving south to the country's most populous state, New South Wales, with Sydney expected to be hit on Monday night.In Queensland, all eyes were on the city of Bundaberg, 300km (190 miles) north of Brisbane, as it prepared for unprecedented flooding after the Burnett river burst its banks. Mandatory evacuation orders were issued in parts of the city, which has a population of 100,000. Helicopters worked throughout Monday to rescue people cut off by rising waters which were flowing at more than 70km/h, making rescue by boat virtually impossible."We believe there is an imminent danger of people being killed and drowned, so that's why we're making the mandatory evacuations," Bundaberg's police superintendent, Rowan Bond, told the Australian newspaper.The Burnett river is projected to reach a peak of 10 metres, more than 2 metres above the peak of flooding two years ago when more than 30 people died across Queensland in floods that covered an area the size of France and Germany combined.The Queensland state premier, Campbell Newman, who was the lord mayor of Brisbane during the 2011 floods, said his state was facing a major disaster crisis.He said "To those in the grip of the disaster, I say to you, you are not alone. We are going to do everything we can to protect you, to rescue you and to stand with you in the days, weeks and months ahead. Together we will get through this," he said.Newman warned that the speed of the floodwaters in Bundaberg was so great, there was a risk that some houses may be swept away."This is a very real prospect. In the 1893 floods in Brisbane, houses were literally lifted off their stumps and then swept down the Brisbane river and that is a real prospect this afternoon or tonight in north Bundaberg," he said.In the state's capital, Brisbane, hundreds of roads were closed and 220,000 homes were without power. The Brisbane river, which deluged thousands of homes two years ago, broke its banks in several areas and water entered some low-lying areas, which were badly flooded in 2011. The river is expected to peak on Tuesday but nearly 7 metres lower than it did two years ago.Evacuations were taking place in other parts of southern Queensland, including in the Lockyer valley west of Brisbane, where small communities were devastated when an inland tsunami up to 7-8 metres high tore through small rural communities in January 2011.The prime minister, Julia Gillard, said the floods had "broken a lot of hearts" in Queensland, and were particularly difficult for Lockyer valley communities, with many facing a second flood in two years."Psychologically, for people who went through the devastating events in the … Lockyer valley, I think this is a particularly difficult time," she said.Further south on Queensland's Gold Coast, 70km south of Brisbane, more than a metre of rain fell in the 24 hours to 9am on Monday. Out to sea waves of 10 metres in height were recorded.The weather system is what remains of tropical cyclone Oswald, which started last week in the Gulf of Carpentaria, at the very top of Australia. As the system moved south across the New South Wales border, rainfall of up to 300mm was expected in the north of the state. Winds of over 100km/h have been recorded in holiday towns including Byron Bay, close to the Queensland border.The wet weather follows a summer of unprecedented heat across large parts of Australia. Just over a week ago, emergency services were issuing fire warnings. Sydney experienced its hottest day on record in January, with the mercury peaking at 46.5C (115.7F). Parts of the southern state of Victoria are still on bushfire alert.Australia's climate commission says global warming is likely to increase the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events.AustraliaNatural disasters and extreme weatherAsia PacificAlison Rourkeguardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds
Australia Roundup: Hundreds of Restaurants Close Rather Than Pay 250% Holiday Rate; Massive Housing Incentive, Still No Buyers
It's time once again to take a look at happenings down under. Restaurants are closing en masse rather than pay double time and a half to stay open on holidays. Please consider Penalties blamed for taking high-end dining off menu. The annual survey of the 7500- member Restaurant and Catering Australia reveals a 33 per cent jump since 2011 in the numbers of restaurateurs saying they cannot afford to open on public holidays. Public holiday penalty rates require employers to pay double time and a half, equating to pay rates of at least $40 an hour. Robert Marchetti, executive chef of Sydney's Icebergs Dining Room and Bar and North Bondi Italian Food and owner of highly acclaimed restaurants in Sydney and Melbourne, said some of his businesses - including Neild Avenue - would be closed today, while those that opened would be providing a "public service". "The government are a bunch of monkeys who don't understand business," he said. "We're not living in the 1960s anymore. Australia has its head stuck up its arse on IR. Following ACTU Secretary Dave Oliver's Christmas Eve call for the Fair Work Act to be changed to enshrine penalty rates as a minimum entitlement, United Voice liquor and hospitality division Secretary Tara Moriarty said the issue was one the industry raised every public holiday. "Penalty rates haven't made the sky fall in yet, despite them constantly making suggestions to the contrary," she said. Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association national secretary Joe De Bruyn said the closure of some businesses on public holidays would simply mean more business for the restaurants that stayed open. "Penalty rates have been part of workers' entitlements for decades," he said. Unions were awaiting the outcome of a Fair Work Australia hearing on penalty rates. "While the unions put up a very strong case for preserving penalty rates, the employers' case was a pathetic performance," Mr De Bruyn said. Double-Time and a Half Insanity You have to love the mentality "the sky is not falling yet" mantra, especially when it clearly is. Who pays for this absurdity? Consumers in general of course. Business owners and employees of businesses who cannot afford to pay double-time and a half, also get hit hard.House and Land IncentivesProperty Observer notes House-and-land incentive and discounts from $5,000 to $126,000 New housing finance and building approval figures suggest there will be no swift rebound in demand for new housing. There was a 10.3% fall in home loan commitments for new dwellings and a 0.3% drop in building approvals for new houses in November, according to seasonally adjusted ABS figures. New home buyers can secure discounts in the thousands and sometimes tens of thousands of dollars on select blocks of lands and new homes in Melbourne, the Gold Coast and Sydney. There are also generous first-home buyer incentives on offer from NSW, Queensland, Tasmanian and South Australian state governments for those buying or building new homes. $30,000 Listed residential developer Peet is offering savings of up to $30,000 on “certain lots” in residential communities on the outskirts of Melbourne. $22,000 Listed developer Devine is offering to pay mortgage repayments for up to a year on behalf of approved purchasers who sign an unconditional contract to purchase a new Devine house and land package before February 28 2013 under its Devine Mortgage Break promotion. Melbourne builder Carlisle Homes is offering a $30,000 discount off the retail price of double-storey homes and $22,000 off the retail price of single-storey homes in its luxury Affinity and T Range collections. There is currently no end date to this promotion.$10,000 Up until February 25 2013, Stockland is offering approved purchasers a $10,000 VISA gift card to spend as they wish.$76,000 - $126,000 Discounts of up to $126,000 are on offer for residential lots in The Highlands community in the Ecovillage, Currumbin Valley on the Gold Coast. Massive Housing Incentive, Still No Buyers Macrobusiness reports Developers Go Completely Mad. Today, Property Observer has provided a comprehensive list of incentives being offered by developers in a bid to lift sales, which are in addition to generous incentives on offer in New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania and South Australia. Clearly, such developer incentives are failing to stimulate demand and could actually be precluding the new home market from functioning properly. Australia’s property development industry appears to be caught in a pincer. If they don’t abandon incentives in favour of transparent land price deductions, financing of new house and land packages will remain problematic and sales will likely continue to struggle. At the same time, reducing the listed price by the same value as the bonuses and incentives being offered could lower their collateral value, potentially triggering the banks to call in more equity from bank-financed developers to bring their loans back to agreed conditions and/or loan terms. Straight price cuts are also more likely to aggrieve recent purchasers that paid higher prices. How Fast the Collapse? The housing bubble in Australia has clearly burst. All that remains to be seen is how fast things collapse. Meanwhile, Australia's unions still cling to an already dead model, oblivious to the fact the boom is over. Mike "Mish" Shedlock http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.comMike "Mish" Shedlock is a registered investment advisor representative for SitkaPacific Capital Management. Sitka Pacific is an asset management firm whose goal is strong performance and low volatility, regardless of market direction. Visit http://www.sitkapacific.com/account_management.html to learn more about wealth management and capital preservation strategies of Sitka Pacific.
Nearly every day I receive emails from "Brisbane Bear" regarding the sorry state of affairs in Australia. Here is another one to consider: Insolvencies for quarter near record high CORPORATE insolvencies hit their second-highest peak on record in the last quarter, as the aftershocks of the global financial crisis continued to flow through the market, The Weekend Australian's Anthony Klan reports. According to the Australian Securities & Investments Commission, there were 2552 insolvencies in the three months to September, which was up 10 per cent on the previous quarter. In last year's September quarter, total insolvencies reached a peak after 2961 companies hit the wall. "All states and territories except the Australian Capital Territory experienced a rise in insolvency appointments compared to the previous quarter," ASIC executive leader of insolvency practitioners Adrian Brown said. According to ASIC, all types of insolvency were up on the previous quarter, led by voluntary administrations (up 17.2 per cent) and receiverships (up 13 per cent). Court-ordered liquidations rose 9.2 per cent in the quarter and director-initiated voluntary liquidations were up 7.8 per cent, according to ASIC. Receivership appointments were driven by rises in NSW and Victoria, up 25.4 per cent and 14.7 per cent respectively.In the past three months, voluntary administrations soared 37 per cent in Queensland, followed by Victoria, which was up 19 per cent. Mortgage funds such as Provident Capital and Banksia Securities were among the highest-profile collapses in the past quarter, owing investors almost $800 million combined. Just a Start of What's Coming I expected this action as did Brisbane Bear who writes "Brisbane is the capital of Queensland so it's no wonder I am so bearish!" For a detailed look why this was easily foreseen (notably the China connection and Australia's housing bubble), please see By 2015 Hard Commodity Prices Will Collapse; Australia's Mining Boom Dies (and the Official Denials Start) 12 Predictions by Michael Pettis on China; Non-Food Commodity Prices Will Collapse Over Next Three to Four Years; Nails in the Hard Landing Coffin? Shades of 2006: That's What Australia Housing Bubble Looks Like From US Perspective The Reserve Bank of Australia, Australian housing bulls, and most economists (Steve Keen a notable exception), did not see this coming. The Reserve Bank of Australia expects all to be well next year.Implications I suggest this is the beginning. Australia's housing bust will smash the commercial real estate market, and the commodity slowdown in China is icing on the cake. The Australian dollar is stubbornly high in the face of these problems, but don't expect that to last. Mike "Mish" Shedlock http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com Mike "Mish" Shedlock is a registered investment advisor representative for SitkaPacific Capital Management. Sitka Pacific is an asset management firm whose goal is strong performance and low volatility, regardless of market direction. Visit http://www.sitkapacific.com/account_management.html to learn more about wealth management and capital preservation strategies of Sitka Pacific.
We are now entirely used to the daily mini-flashes in US equities as algos lose their stabilizer and run one way or another. Recently we noted the same algos-gone-wild had hit the India stock exchange. Tonight, the HFT-bug has moved to Australia, where the open - which just happens to be option expiration - saws a number of major equities (including several of the banks - e.g. ANZ and CBA) get smashed instantaneously higher (by 5-7%) at the open - only to plummet back to normalcy soon after. The cuplrit - it would appear to us - is a market-clearing wipe-out of all resting stops above the multi-year highs that the stocks were at the edge of. Regulatoirs are 'investigating' though their first comment was "it is certainly nothing to do with the trading system." As the Sydney Morning Herald notes a market participant: "Either that or an algorithm has gone haywire, a mistake has been made, or these trades are deliberate.' Either way, do we have an orderly market?" An example of the algo in ANZ: Perhaps this explains it - resting orders just above the multi-year highs (red dotted line) all wiped out... Via SMH: Traders suspect that the share prices of a number of major ASX200 stocks - including ANZ Bank - were manipulated when trade opened this morning. Mystery trades in ANZ pushed the share price of ANZ up $1.67, or 6.5 per cent, when trading began at 10am. ANZ, which closed at $25.79 yesterday, soared to $27.63 per share on the opening bell, before the stock collapsed to $26.16. In the first few minutes of trading about a third of the average daily number shares in ANZ changed hands. Large fluctuations hit the share prices of Ansell, Aristocrat and AGL, while Commonwealth Bank and Bank of Queensland also spiked when the ASX opened. "I've had five of my brokers contact the ASX and they are clueless as to what has gone on," said one of Australia's leading stockbrokers. "They are saying the trades fall within a reasonable range, but if a broker pushed a stock up five per cent we'd cop a $25,000 fine. Right now, I'd say this is in the 'too hard' basket for market control at the ASX." Watchdogs alerted A spokesman for the body in charge of monitoring real-time trading — the Australian Securities Investment Commission — said it was ‘‘aware of a surge in ANZ share prices and was looking into the matter.’’ ‘‘This is not a formal investigation,’’ he said. ASX spokesman Matthew Gibbs said the price jumps were a result of buying orders, and nothing to do with the trading system itself. ‘‘There were a number of large buying orders at the market’s open, and the price of a number of stocks went up,’’ he said. ‘‘Most of them appear to have come down now and are trading at a normal price band. Naturally ASX is monitoring the situation.’’ Mr Gibbs said the ASX was so far aware of a price jump in AMP, ANZ, AGL, Aristocrat and Brambles stocks. ‘‘It’s certainly nothing to do with trading system,’’ he said. Options affected The trades were large enough to affect the price of options traded on the S&P/ASX 200 Index - commonly referred to in the investment world as XJO Index Options. The index tracks shares that form the S&P/ASX 200. The XJO Index rose to 4606 on the back of the moves, before settling back to 4575. A number of brokers noted that those options expire at the close of trade today. The settlement price for those options will be calculated using today's 4606 opening price of the XJO index. "I hope ASIC and the ASX investigate the ANZ open at $27.63 this morning," posted one reader on the BusinessDay markets blog. "It might just be a coincidence that index options expire today." Brokers have called for the trades to be investigated immediately because they caused volatility on markets and could cause substantial losses. "Someone has made big money on the Index trades this morning," said one major broker. "Either that or an algorithm has gone haywire, a mistake has been made, or these trades are deliberate.' Either way, do we have an orderly market?" Brokers have complained that the shift in responsibility for control of the market from the ASX to ASIC meant that nothing was done when trades of this nature caused alarm bells to ring. "We rang the ASX, they said 'Ring ASIC'. We rang ASIC, they said 'Ring the ASX'," said one Melbourne-based broker.