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Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens has signalled interest rates are on their way back up with mortgage rates likely to edge up between half and a full percentage point.

Giving evidence to the House of Representatives economics committee in Canberra, Mr Stevens said the RBA’s focus continued to be on what mortgage rates were offered by commercial banks rather than on the Reserve’s official cash rate.

He said given the commercial banks had lifted rates over and above what the RBA had done, there was still about a half and a full percentage point to go before mortgage rates were back to what the Reserve would consider close to their long term average.

“There’s a little distance to go yet before I think you could characterise the setting of interest rates as normal or average,” he said.

The RBA surprised markets by leaving official rates on hold at its February meeting.

Mr Stevens said on top of the Reserve’s own lift in official rates, the commercial banks actions had effectively delivered three and a half interest rate rises to mortgages cases, and in the case of Westpac customers, four rate hikes.

He said one of the advantages of lifting rates as the RBA did in the last three months of 2009 was that it could hold rates in February and get a clearer picture of how the economy was travelling.

“You get that luxury when you can wait a little a bit further down the line,” he said.

Mr Stevens said Australia had performed much better than even the RBA had expected out of the global recession.

But he warned that meant the economy was now heading into an upswing stronger than otherwise would have been the case.

“With the economy having had only a mild downturn with begin the upswing with less spare capacity than would typically be the case after a recession,” he said.

“There’s less scope for robust demand growth without inflation starting to rise again down the track.

“Monetary policy must be careful not to overstay a very expansionary setting.”

Mr Stevens said the resources sector in particular was looking to grow quickly, with the terms of trade likely to head back to the record highs seen in 2008 this year.

He also highlighted the strength of Australia’s sovereign debt position, hosing down fears the country was carrying too much debt.

“Australia’s position is by any measure very strong indeed,” he said.

The governor also played down fears raised by Opposition finance spokesman Barnaby Joyce that Australia could default on its debts.

Mr Stevens said Australia had never defaulted before and there were no signs it would now.

“I very much doubt there ever will be,” he said. 

“Monetary policy must be careful not to overstay a very expansionary setting.”

Mr Stevens said the resources sector in particular was looking to grow quickly, with the terms of trade likely to head back to the record highs seen in 2008 this year.

He also highlighted the strength of Australia’s sovereign debt position, hosing down fears the country was carrying too much debt.

“Australia’s position is by any measure very strong indeed,” he said.

The governor also played down fears raised by Opposition finance spokesman Barnaby Joyce that Australia could default on its debts.

Mr Stevens said Australia had never defaulted before and there were no signs it would now.

“I very much doubt there ever will be,” he said.

Source www.thewest.com.au

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The new Australian citizenship test which assesses prospective new citizens on their understanding of Australian civics and the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship commences Monday 19 October.

The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, said the new test is based on the pledge of commitment that new Australians make when becoming citizens. Topics include Australia’s democratic beliefs, laws and government as well as the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship.

The 20 multiple-choice questions in the new test have been written in plain English and will be conducted in English only. All test questions have been drawn from the testable section of the revised citizenship test resource book, Australian Citizenship: Our Common Bond, which was launched in September.

The new test is not a general knowledge quiz about Australia,’ Senator Evans said. ‘We want people applying for citizenship to understand the values of Australian society, our democratic beliefs, our rights and our system of law and what it means to be an Australian citizen. ‘All prospective citizens should understand those concepts so all of the questions in the new citizenship test focus on the commitments that new citizens make in the pledge.’

The new test was developed after an independent review of the old citizenship test last year found that it could be improved by focusing on the pledge of commitment. People will now need to answer 75 per cent per cent or 15 of the 20 questions correctly to pass – up from 60 per cent under the old test.

However, the mandatory questions have been removed to make the test fairer. All questions are now equally important and a person can no longer answer 19 out of 20 questions correctly and still fail the test because they answered one of the three mandatory questions incorrectly. A citizenship course is also under development to help a small group of disadvantaged people, who for a range of reasons, such as limited literacy and schooling, are likely to struggle when preparing for and sitting a formal computer-based test.

This will ensure that we encourage people to become citizens without the test being a barrier,’ Senator Evans said. The citizenship test resource book, Australian Citizenship: Our Common Bond, and practice citizenship test are available online.

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THE receiver of ABC Learning Centres has sold the childcare group’s UK arm for an undisclosed sum.

ABC’s UK business, called Busy Bees Group, was purchased by Singapore-based company Knowledge Universe Education, Chris Honey of McGrathNicol said today.  abc

Mr Honey said Busy Bees Group, which is the UK’s largest children’s nursery group, will continue to be operated by its existing senior management.

“As receivers, we are very happy with the value realised for this business, and are pleased to have sold it to an internationally respected childcare provider,” he said.

He said Busy Bees Group was in a similar situation to ABC’s business in New Zealand, as it was not itself in receivership and had continued to trade profitably.

Mr Honey said the sale of the ABC in New Zealand was progressing well and that strong interest from a number of bidders had led to an extension of the sale timetable.

Mr Honey said no decision had been made yet on a timetable for the sale of the Australian business.

“The ABC Learning centres in Australia continue to trade well, with the focus remaining firmly on providing high quality childcare, driven by the local ABC centre staff at a community level,” Mr Honey said.

ABC, Australia’s largest childcare centre operator, went into administration and receivership in November 2008, owing more than $1 billion.

Source www.news.com.au

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Firemen will work through the night to clear petrol from the scene of a massive explosion at a petrol station in the Perth suburb of Maddington.

A petrol tanker exploded at the Caltex station, starting a fire that destroyed parts of the vehicle, the roof of the forecourt and the shop front.article-fire-pic-420x0

A Fire and Emergency Services Authority spokesman told AAP the fire was brought quickly under control by firefighters.

“The focus is now on making the scene safe, which is a very important task,” the spokesman said.

“There was a fair bit of damage to the majority of the building.”

Petrol still left in the 40,000-litre tanker will be drained into another tanker, while specialists work to recover any water that may have been contaminated by the unleaded petrol.

About a quarter of the petrol in the tanker burnt in the fire.

Homes and businesses, including a suburban shopping centre, within a 500-metre radius of the station have been evacuated.

Residents will not be allowed to return until authorities are confident the area is safe and there is no petrol left to ignite.

That is likely to be sometime late on Friday night, the spokesman said.

No one was injured in the incident.

“It is great news. Fire authorities were called very quickly, and they got to the scene in a good time, meaning there were no injuries.

“There were people on the forecourt, in the shop, and of course the tanker driver,” the spokesman said.

The truck will not be removed until Saturday, while the investigation into why the fire started will continue for a few days.

www.news.ninemsn.com.au article

www.watoday.com.au Ben White photo

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NRL personality Matthew Johns has been stood down indefinitely from all his on-air commitments with the Nine Network following the group sex allegations that aired this week.

The announcement was made on the network a short time ago.matthew-johns-05

In a statement, Nine CEO David Gyngell said the mutual decision had been taken in the best interests of the Nine Network, Matthew Johns and his family, the game and its supporters.

“The fact is, whatever the arguments about the details of the New Zealand incident involving Cronulla players in 2002, the conduct and its aftermath was simply unacceptable, fullstop,” he said.

“I fully endorse David Gallop’s comments concerning the indefensible conduct of some players and the lack of respect for women — and the critical focus on all stakeholders to help eradicate it from our game.”

“I join with him in extending my apologies and sympathy to the young woman involved in the incident, who clearly is still distressed as a consequence.”

Mr Gyngell said Johns had agreed the decision was in everyone’s best interests.

 

“I have always had great regard for Matt, but he knows better than anyone that this incident has placed him in untenable position,” he said.

“To his credit he has recognised that and acted upon it.”

Johns’ future has been under a cloud since the ABC’s Four Corners program aired allegations about his involvement in a 2002 group sex incident in New Zealand while he was playing for Cronulla.

The former Test star arrived at Nine’s Sydney offices this morning, along with his manager John Fordham, for the meeting with Mr Gyngell.

www.news.ninemsn.com.au

 

 

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