Coffee at the office

Reserve Bank announces lift to cash rate 

Breaking news is that the Reserve Bank has today announced it will lift Australia’s record-low official cash rate to 0.35 per cent. The Reserve Bank has not increased the cash rate – which influences how banks set their interest rates – since November 2010. It has been at a historic low of 0.1 per cent since November 2020.

As the cash rate rises, variable mortgage rates trend higher, resulting in reduced borrowing capacity and increased mortgage repayments for home buyers. 

Victorian budget released

More breaking news today as the Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas has handed down a budget deficit of $17.6 billion, driven by $44 billion in pandemic spending, with debt to grow to more than $167 billion within four years. The budget bottom line has been helped by Australia’s economic recovery and $15 billion in additional taxes from property.

Winners from the 2022 Victorian budget include; $21.3 billion a year for infrastructure, $1.8 billion for 13 new schools and building upgrades, and $1 billion for low-interest loans and guarantees for up to 6000 new social and affordable housing.

The source of the funds include an extra $15 billion from property buyers in land tax and stamp duty, and an extra $58 million a year slapped on developers from July 2023 as a windfall gains tax on land rezoning.

Intellihub Group buys energy tech GreenSync 

Australian and New Zealand smart metering and energy data business Intellihub Group has acquired leading energy technology company GreenSync in a move that will energise consumer-led renewable energy.

GreenSync’s cloud-based decentralised energy exchange software deX enables the real-time visibility, control and data management required for virtual power plant participation. It is already in operation in solar powered homes across South Australia, helping them to comply with the state government’s emergency backstop measures under the Smarter Homes program.

Intellihub currently has more than 1.2 million smart meters under management across Australia and New Zealand, and by the end of 2022, its goal is to double its smart meter installation rates to 2000 per day.

Atlassian co-founder buys powerful stake in AGL Energy

Billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes, Atlassian co-founder, has bought an 11.28 per cent stake in energy giant AGL Energy, after the firm previously rejected a takeover bid. 

This came on Monday after AGL Energy asked shareholders to back a board plan to split the company into two entities: a green energy retailer named AGL Australia and a coal-fired electricity generator called Accel Energy. Mr Cannon-Brookes is now the largest shareholder and will be voting against the demerger. 

Propic acquires Property Realm 

Australian real estate PropTech innovator Propic is acquiring Property Realm. The takeover will help to automate property manager roles by allowing up to 80 per cent of maintenance tasks and inbound inquiries to be handled by software with human conversation-style artificial intelligence capabilities. The move aims to reduce the high-stress nature of an industry that has in recent times been categorised as “high risk” for the mental health and wellbeing of staff. 

Blackmores gets in on green bank loans 

Vitamins group Blackmores has revealed that around half of its total bank loans are now linked to sustainability and environmental targets. The move comes as part of a $A75 million refinancing where it will pay a lower interest rate if it meets certain milestones. The loan has been arranged by HSBC and Westpac, with National Australia Bank and Bank of China also involved.

Pressure on financial institutions to divest

There is growing pressure on financial institutions around the world to adopt more ambitious climate policies. Last week Swiss investment bank and financial services firm Credit Suisse faced pressure from shareholders arguing that the bank’s current plan to halve fossil fuel financing by 2030 isn’t enough, as the number of major shareholders calling for divestment from fossil fuel infrastructure projects grew to 31, up from 11 in March. The investors, including Europe’s largest asset manager Amundi, collectively oversee more than $US5 trillion in assets. 

La Trobe Uni’s regional campuses reach net zero targets

La Trobe University’s Mildura and Shepparton campuses have announced that they are the first Victorian university campuses to achieve net zero. The announcement is part of the university’s $A75 million commitment to be carbon neutral across all its campuses by 2029. The university claims that all its regional campuses will reach the target by the end of 2022.

“We announced our ambitious plan less than three years ago, in August 2019,” vice-chancellor Professor John Dewar said in a statement. “Many organisations have bold targets for reducing their emissions – but moving from ambition to action can be where the real challenge lies. We’ve set very specific goals, and we’re achieving them through timely actions.”

$5 million funding for recycled materials

New grants are now available to support Victorian businesses, research institutes and industry to create new business opportunities using recycled materials. The $5 million Recycling Victoria Markets Acceleration Fund comes from Sustainability Victoria – and will focus on projects using paper and cardboard, plastics, tyres and glass, all of which are subject to the national waste export bans. The fund is part of a $30.46 million markets acceleration package delivered under the Victorian government’s $380 million Recycling Victoria policy.

Twitter cracks down on climate denial 

Ahead of Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter for $US44 billion ($A62 billion), the platform announced that it will ban ads that “contradict the scientific consensus on climate change”.

“We believe that climate denialism shouldn’t be monetised on Twitter, and that misrepresentative ads shouldn’t detract from important conversations about the climate crisis,” the company said in a statement.

Who’s moving 

Kristy Rogan started at Cleanaway Waste Management as senior sustainability business partner at the end of last week. She previously held the role of senior manager of stakeholder engagement and reporting at Bupa.

Global investment manager Ninety One has announced the appointment of Daisy Streatfeild as sustainability director. She was previously at the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change as programme director, where she helped to establish the Paris Aligned Investment Initiative.

Jennifer Briscoe has been appointed to the Knight Frank Australia team as director of strategic operations for ESG. She previously worked at CBRE Asia Pacific as the general manager of client solutions in the Pacific advisory and transaction services team. 

Liz Cameron-Smith has been appointed chief executive of the The Foyer Foundation, which works to reduce youth homelessness and unemployment. She previously worked at PwC for more than 12 years.
The infrastructure experts have been named partners in KPMG’s infrastructure, assets and places business. Brisbane-based Dan Brown has moved from a director role at PwC. Dominic Arcaro and Andrew Iles will be in the Melbourne office after moving from boutique consultancy NAVIRE. Six NAVIRE staff members will follow the pair to the multinational professional services network.

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