Staying informed is more important than ever as the situation unfolds with Covid-19. Stay tuned here for our live updates, and be sure to let us know what your business is doing to face this unprecedented challenge.


Free childcare for working families

Free childcare for working families

体育在线365 The Federal Government has today announced an extra $300 million in subsidies to allow free childcare for working parents and carers, adding to existing support schemes and $1 billion from the JobSeeker package to assist wages in the sector.

体育在线365 Normally the fees paid to childcare centres are split between the Commonwealth Childcare Subsidy (CCS) and parents.

But today the government has announced it will pay 50 per cent of the sector's fee revenue up to the existing hourly rate cap, which will be based on a point in time before parents started withdrawing their children in large numbers.

体育在线365 The sector would have received an estimated $1.3 billion if current revenues and subsidies had continued, but now that has been lifted to $1.6 billion. 

Childcare eligibility will no longer be means tested and the new measures are expected to assist one million families Australia-wide, not just with traditional childcare and early learning services but also after-school care and vacation care. 

体育在线365 The initiative is designed to ensure anyone with a job can continue to work without needing a trade-off with their family's wellbeing, while also ensuring doors remain open for the sector's 13,000 child care and early learning services

体育在线365 "Relief is on its way for around a million Australian families and thousands of early learning educators and carers," Prime Minister Scott Morrison said, emphasising we would likely be dealing with coronavirus-related restrictions and challenges for the next six months. 

体育在线365 "These services are vital for so many parents so they can provide for their family, and children need as much familiarity and continuity as we can help provide at this unsettling time.

体育在线365 "Priority will be given to working parents, vulnerable and disadvantaged children that need early education more than ever and parents with pre-existing enrolments."

体育在线365 The new system will see payments start flowing at the end of next week. The system will be reviewed after one month, with an extension to be considered after three months. The payments will be paid in lieu of the Child Care (CCS) and Additional Child Care Subsidy payments.

体育在线365 Minister for Education Dan Tehan said the assistance package would ensure services remained open to serve families that needed to work and support vulnerable children.

"The Federal Government is working with states and territories and the sector to minimise the impact of coronavirus," Tehan said.

体育在线365 "This package will help support families during these difficult times, particularly those who have lost their job and are doing it tough.

He said until payments arrive the government would be allowing services to waive gap fees for families who keep their children home, and families will be able to use the 20 extra absence days the government has funded for coronavirus-related reasons without giving up their place in a child care centre.

"If you have terminated your enrolment since 17 February, then I encourage you to get back in contact with your centre and re-start your arrangements," he said.

体育在线365 "Re-starting your enrolment will not require you to send your child to child care and it certainly won't require you to pay a gap fee. Re-starting your enrolment will, however, hold your place for that point in time when things start to normalise, and you are ready to take your child back to their centre.

"We will also make payments of higher amounts available in exceptional circumstances, such as where greater funding is required to meet the needs of emergency workers or vulnerable children."

There is a range of government assistance available to early learning and child care operators. Most services operate as small businesses, with 79.9 per cent of providers operating a single service, while 95.9 per cent operating fewer than five. The available assistance includes:

  • The $130 billion JobKeeper payment;
  • A cash flow boost of at least $20,000 and up to $100,000 with payments equal to 100 per cent of businesses' and not-for-profits' salary and wages withheld; and
  • Loan guarantees so businesses can get working capital.

National Cabinet is also considering short-term intervention for commercial tenancy arrangements.

Updated at 1:59pm AEDT on 2 April 2020.

NSW social distancing powers will last until end of June

NSW social distancing powers will last until end of June

The battle to flatten the Covid-19 infection curve is far from over, with NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller (pictured) announcing the state's strict social distancing measures will be in place for 90 days.

The commissioner told a press conference he won't be seeking an extension at the end of that period and "hopefully people will have gotten the message by then".

Fuller noted there had been three tickets issued in the previous 24 hours relation to isolation.

体育在线365 "Four men in a park drinking alcohol [is] not exercise. Three of the men left, one refused to go, he got a $1,000 ticket. I think it's entirely appropriate," he said.

体育在线365 "I'm reviewing all of these tickets personally, which would never happen again for any other time, and I'll continue to do that and if I think it's unreasonable it will be withdrawn immediately and we will make personal contact.

"But police are out there, we're doing our best to protect the community in a very different way than what we normally do."

He called on the community to work with police and understand they are trying to slow the spread of the virus by minimising unnecessary contact.

体育在线365 "The safest place is at home in isolation, and of course there are lots of carve-outs for people who need to work and we want you to go to work," he said.

体育在线365 "There's been a lot of questions about exercise and I get it, we want people to be able to say fit and physically and psychologically healthy, and we're trying to make sensible decisions in relation to that.

"But of course, if I said it's OK to sit on a park bench then everyone's going to go to the park, and we're going to end up back where we started."

The commissioner explained 500 more people were expected to arrive in the state from overseas today - more than expected, and including military personnel would would go into isolation just like all other arrivals.

体育在线365 There were 116 new cases of Covid-19 reported in NSW in the past 24 hours, taking the state total to 2,298.

Nationwide there are now 5,103 confirmed cases of the virus (NSW 2,298; VIC 1,036; QLD 835; WA 392; SA 367; ACT 84; TAS 72; and NT 19) and there have been 23 deaths.

Yesterday the new national case count was marginally lower at 303, and it is already at 239 today before lunchtime with several parts of the country yet to issue their updated numbers.

Updated at 11:38am AEDT on 2 April 2020.

Radio Rentals to close all stores

Radio Rentals to close all stores

All 62 Radio Rentals stores nationally will close tomorrow until further notice in light of Covid-19 restrictions.

体育在线365 Thorn Group (ASX: TGA), Radio Rentals' parent company, says its focus is on protecting the health, safety and welfare of customers, team members, and the greater public.

"The decision to close the stores is a result of government's moves to limit the spread of the Covid-19 virus across Australia," says Thorn Group.

Radio Rentals' online store will continue to operate through the Covid-19 disruptions with the support of the company's back office customer service staff.

Shares in Thorn Group are down 11.54 per cent to $0.05 per share at 10:40am AEDT.

Updated at 11:01am AEDT on 2 April 2020.

CSIRO starts pre-clinical trials for potential Covid-19 vaccines

CSIRO starts pre-clinical trials for potential Covid-19 vaccines

体育在线365 The first stage of testing Covid-19 vaccine candidates has commenced at CSIRO's high-containment biosecurity facility in Geelong today.

体育在线365 The testing, which is expected to take around three months, is being conducted in partnership with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) - a group that aims to derail epidemics by speeding up the development of vaccines.

体育在线365 In consultation with the World Health Organisation (WHO), CEPI has identified vaccine candidates from the University of Oxford and Inovio Pharmaceuticals to undergo the first pre-clinical trials at CSIRO, with further candidates likely to follow.

"Beginning vaccine candidate testing at CSIRO is a critical milestone in the fight against COVID-19, made possible by collaboration both within Australia and across the globe," says CSIRO chief executive Dr Larry Marshall.

"CSIRO researchers are working around-the-clock to combat this disease which is affecting so many whether it's at the Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL) or at our state-of-the-art biologics manufacturing facility we will keep working until this viral enemy is defeated."

While the focus of the testing program will focus on how effective the vaccines are against the coronavirus the CSIRO is also investigating the best way to administer the vaccine for better protection, whether that be an injection or via a nasal spray.

体育在线365 The CSIRO's work on Covid-19 goes back all the way to January when CEPI engaged the Australian organisation to start researching the virus SARS CoV-2 which causes the disease Covid-19.

体育在线365 Director of AAHL and the leader of the CSIRO's Covid-19 virus and vaccine program Professor Trevor Drew says the team is now in the best position to begin vaccine trials.

体育在线365 "We have been studying SARS CoV-2 since January and getting ready to test the first vaccine candidates as soon as they are available," says Professor Drew.

"We are carefully balancing operating at speed with the critical need for safety in response to this global public health emergency."

体育在线365 CSIRO's COVID-19 research so far:

  • CSIRO was the first research organisation outside of China to generate sufficient stock of the virus using the virus strain isolated by the Doherty Institute to enable pre-clinical studies and research on COVID-19.
  • CSIRO successfully established a biological model in February 2020, the first in the world to confirm ferrets react to SARS-CoV-2. Researchers have quickly progressed to studying the course of infection in the animals a crucial step in understanding if a vaccine will work.
  • CSIRO researchers confirmed, after studying SARS CoV-2's genomic sequence that the virus is presently changing into a number of distinct 'clusters' and are now starting to look at how this may also impact on the development of a vaccine.

Updated at 10:20AM AEDT on 2 April 2020.

Profiteers could face jail under new Government regulations

Profiteers could face jail under new Government regulations

体育在线365 The Federal Government has introduced a raft of measures aimed at dissuading the export and price gouging of items considered "essential" in the fight against Covid-19.

体育在线365 Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton says these practices needs to stop, and the Government has stepped in by introducing tough penalties for those attempting to rip off Australians in need.

"We have acted decisively to address concerns about the hoarding and profiteering of essential goods, such as personal protective gear, disinfectants and other medical products and have introduced tough penalties for price gouging," says Dutton.

"These temporary measures will ensure that essential goods are distributed to those with the highest need, such as vulnerable communities, front line health workers and law enforcement, while safeguarding legitimate trade."

As reported by The Daily Telegraph, changes to the Customs (Prohibited Exports) Regulations 1958 include potential jail sentences of up to five years for those caught exporting essential goods or selling these goods for exorbitant prices.

Minister for Health Greg Hunt has also made a determination under the Biosecurity Act 2015 to allow the Border Force to add essential goods already in their custody to the National Medical Stockpile.

As the practice of price gouging becomes a worry for the Government, Minister Hunt has introduced a requirement that will crack down on those attempting to extort Australian consumers.

体育在线365 The Health Minister's requirement prevents a person who has purchased essential goods at retail on or after 30 January 2020, and for the duration of the human biosecurity emergency period, from selling or offering to sell these goods for more than 120 per cent of the price for which they were purchased.

This measure will not apply to manufacturers or legitimate business activities, ensuring that it does not apply to key suppliers that are vital to maintaining Australia's supply chains.

体育在线365 Where individuals have been found to be engaging in 'price gouging', they will also be required to surrender the essential goods to the Australian Federal Police for provision to the National Medical Stockpile, or destruction if the goods are defective.

体育在线365 "These measures have become necessary because we have seen a small number of individuals engaging in the bulk purchasing of essential goods from retail outlets in Australia, with the intent of profiteering from exploitative exporting and price gouging," says Dutton.

"These goods are essential to preventing the spread of COVID-19."

Updated at 4:32PM AEDT on 1 April 2020.

Grounded Webjet to raise $275 million

Grounded Webjet to raise $275 million

Update (2 April): The institutional component of the offer was oversubscribed raising $231 million. When the retail component of the offer is completed, Webjet is expected to have raised a total of $346 million.

Travel company Webjet (ASX: WEB) hopes a $275 million equity raise will help the group survive the next few months as Covid-19 continues to disrupt tourism globally.

体育在线365 Webjet says proceeds of the raise will be used to strengthen its balance sheet and are expected to be enough to cover operating costs and capital expenditure through to the end of 2020.

体育在线365 The raise, at an offer price of $1.70 per new share (a discount of 32.2 per cent), includes a fully underwritten placement to raise $101 million and a partially underwritten entitlement offer to raise between $174 million and $231 million.

体育在线365 Approximately 195.1 million new shares will be issued under the offer, more than doubling the amount of shares currently issued in the company (135.6 million shares).

体育在线365 New shares will rank equally with existing shares but will not be entitled to the dividend for the six months ended 31 December 2019.

"This equity raising importantly positions Webjet to weather the severe disruption caused by COVID-19 to the travel industry," says Webjet managing director John Guscic.

"Equally significantly, travel is a core part of life and as the travel landscape recovers, this equity will help the company emerge in a strong position relative to its competitors."

To manage the near-term financial impact of Covid-19 Webjet has taken a number of steps to cut costs including reducing board and executive remuneration, deferring the 1H20 dividend payment, making over 440 staff redundant, reducing the working week to four days, and freezing all non-essential spending (including travel, hiring, consultants, contractors, etc).

These initiatives are expected to result in cash flow savings of around $13 million per month, with further cost reduction plans available if the Covid-19 situation drags on longer than six months.

体育在线365 Post-coronavirus Webjet believes its WebBeds hotel booking platform will be in a position to consolidate a larger share of the market should smaller competitors come under financial strain.

As for its main business, the flight booking platform, Webjet says it is well placed to capture the pick-up in travel activity once Covid-19 passes.

"When travel activity begins to normalise, it is expected to occur at various points in time and in different regions due to differences in timing and severity of the impact of COVID-19 in each region," says Webjet.

"As other regions are reaching their peak rates of infection, China is slowly beginning to see early signs of normalization hotel bookings in the week to 1 March 2020 increased 40 per cent over the previous week, while peak daily bookings for domestic flights were up 230 per cent from the lowest level recorded in February."

体育在线365 The Covid-19 crisis has already forced Webjet to withdraw its earnings guidance of between $147 million to $165 million.

Updated at 3:16PM AEDT on 1 April 2020.

Twiggy Forrest's foundation commits $160m for medical supplies

Twiggy Forrest's foundation commits $160m for medical supplies

体育在线365 Mining magnate Andrew 'Twiggy' Forrest's Minderoo Foundation will donate up to $160 million to address Australia's extreme shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), with the first plane loaded with supplies on its way to Perth today.

The foundation has joined forces with Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) - which is 30 per cent owned by Forrest's Minderoo Group - to procure and distribute the life-saving medical supplies and equipment.

The first flight was due to depart from Shanghai today, with two more flights are due to arrive on Friday and Saturday this week. Together they are expected to bring more than 600 cubic meters of supplies with a total weight of more tha 90 tonnes.

This includes more than one million N95-equivalent face masks, 400,000 surgical masks, 2.3 million medical-grade gloves, 100,000 nasal swabs, 200,000 medical coveralls, 10,000 medical goggles, 5,000 touch-less thermometers and over 33 ICU grade ventilators.

Forrest says Fortescue's deep and enduring relationships with China are what allowed the foundation to supercharge procurement efforts, on behalf of and in collaboration with the Western Australian and Federal Governments.

"Unprecedented times cannot be met with a precedented response," says Forrest.

"The trusted relationships, procurement expertise and logistics knowledge of the FMG and Minderoo Foundation teams, have been fundamental in rapidly securing this vital equipment."

体育在线365 He says the country is facing a threat not seen in our lifetimes.

"China's Ambassador to Australia, His Excellency Ambassador Cheng, and the Chinese people have been great mates to Australia," says Forrest.

"They are now doing all they can to help us in our hour of need. I thank the People's Republic of China for protecting our critical medical orders in the face of intense pressure from other nations.

"Without this, there would be no plane loads of equipment that we celebrate today for our first responders and suffering Australians."

Minderoo Foundation co-chair Nicola Forrest says the equitable distribution of supplies will be coordinated with WA Health across key stakeholders in primary and aged care, private and public hospital systems, and other front-line services based on the areas of greatest need.

体育在线365 "We are working with the WA Government, the Australian Medical Association (AMA), WA's private hospitals, National COVID-19 Coordination Commission, National Incident Room and Aspen Medical to determine how we can best meet projected surges in demand for critical supplies," she says.

WA Health Minister Roger Cook has thanked Minderoo Foundation and Fortescue for their "extraordinary support" in finding these "incredibly difficult to obtain supplies" for WA's broader health system, other stakeholders and frontline staff.

"To allow this generous commitment to continue to scale, the WA Government will reimburse Minderoo Foundation at cost for the supplies purchased so that Minderoo Foundation can further leverage its incredible commitment of up to $160 million over the coming weeks and continue to source these critical medical supplies for Australia," says Cook.

Updated at 3:46pm AEDT on 1 April 2020.

Brisbane car engineering firm changes gear to develop ventilator

Brisbane car engineering firm changes gear to develop ventilator

体育在线365 Brisbane-based Triple Eight Race Engineering is steering its manufacturing skills in a new direction in response to the increased strain on the health sector due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

体育在线365 The company's engineering team has developed a low-cost ventilator prototype with input from medical professionals, local intensive care unit experts and the Queensland Department of State Development.

"We were able to utilise in-house 3D printing services provided by our team partner HP and we believe the ventilator could be put into production within a short space of time but we are now continuing development with the help of the Department to improve our unit further," says team principal Roland Dane.

体育在线365 "The Department of State Development have helped us identify and build supply chains for required componentry and ventilator accessories such as alarm circuitry, tubing and masks.

体育在线365 "This is very early days, and we have to make sure all regulatory requirements are met, but we stand ready to help in whatever way we can."

Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning Cameron Dick says the local race car company has been working around the clock for the past two weeks to develop the prototype.

体育在线365 "This is what Queensland manufacturing is all about. Hard work, ingenuity and solving problems," says Dick.

"It's so impressive that, within just a few weeks, this company has transitioned their capability, intellect and resources to a product that could ultimately save lives."

体育在线365 The minister says it is also fantastic to hear Triple Eight has focused on using readily available, local materials.

体育在线365 "Triple Eight suspended its usual operation following the cancellation of the Australian Grand Prix, and the positive, forward-looking approach of this company has been heartening to see," he says.

体育在线365 "I'm so proud of the innovation and agility of my team, and what we can do when we put our minds to it," adds Dane.

Leanne Linard, Member for Nudgee says the prototype is a wonderful initiative by a great local company.

"While there is still a long way to go, I know the engineering capability at Triple Eight is second to none," she says.

"It's great to see so many local companies stepping up at this time."

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Nick Coatsworth says the country currently has 2,200 ventilated beds and is aiming for 7,500. Companies like ResMed (ASX: RMD) have also risen to the challenge.

Updated at 1:32pm AEDT on 1 April 2020.

Agri-exporters receive $110m air freight boost

Agri-exporters receive $110m air freight boost

An explosion of freight costs for agricultural goods and limited capacity have prompted the Federal Government to put forward $110 million to help agricultural and fishing exporters reach export markets.

体育在线365 Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack says the International Freight Assistance Mechanism will help secure freight flights into Australia's key export markets, with an initial focus on China, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and the UAE.

体育在线365 The package will apply to freight leaving Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth, with flights to return loaded with vital medical supplies, medicines and equipment.

In parallel, the government will inject an extra $49.8 million into the Export Market Development Grants (EMDG) program for the remainder of this financial year - a scheme that applies to exporters generally as well as the tourism sector.

体育在线365 Meanwhile, fisheries will have around $10 million in levies waived for the remainder of 2020.

体育在线365 "We are doing everything possible to help our high-value agricultural and fisheries exporters get their produce on airplanes and into overseas markets," says McCormack.

"This will help restore key freight routes for our farmers until commercial capacity can be restored again.

体育在线365 "Everything we are doing as a Government in response to this pandemic is focused on saving lives and saving livelihoods and we know our agriculture industry is key to this."

Federal Trade Minister Simon Birmingham says the Covid-19 pandemic has led to major air freight shortages and had disrupted supply chains around the world.

体育在线365 "This temporary action will help Australian producers to protect the jobs of those who rely upon Australia's export of safe, quality food into the world," says Birmingham.

"Getting our export sector back on its feet is crucial to reduce job losses through the crisis and a critical part of the ultimate economic recovery.

"By getting flights off the ground, full of Australian produce, we're supporting our farmers and fishers who have been hit hard by this crisis."

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud says this initiative will focus on high-demand agricultural and fisheries exports that have been hit hard by the Covid-19 crisis.

体育在线365 "We're backing our farmers by making sure they can get more of their high-quality product into overseas markets," says Littleproud.

"The more agricultural exports we can secure, the more regional jobs we can protect.

"We've seen an explosion in costs of exporting agricultural goods under the belly of planes because of the sheer lack of numbers. The reality is this is a subsidisation; it will not pay for all of it."

He adds Australians should take comfort in knowing the country can not only produce enough food for ourselves here through this crisis, but we can continue to supply the rest of the world.

"This is about showcasing Australian agriculture as not just having the best produce in the world, but also being one of the most reliable suppliers in the world," he says.

"There's a calm confidence out there. The Australian agriculture sector is just getting on the job calmly and methodically producing the best food and fibre in the world - we've got to continue to make sure that supply chains are kept open.

"Farmers still need to make a living. We're a nation of 25 million people who produce enough food for 75 million, so our farmers can't stop exporting. People shouldn't panic about the fact that Australian produce is going around the world - it's a good thing."

体育在线365 Assistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries Jonno Duniam explains the fishing industry was one of the first hit when access to China was cut off in January, bringing many in the industry to their knees.

"Unlocking key international markets will get thousands of fishers, divers, deckhands and processors back on the job, and the levy relief will help to keep fishers financially afloat," says Duniam.

体育在线365 "Our seafood industry has been built on the back of some of the toughest and most resilient Australians, and this assistance will ensure that the sector can build a bridge to recovery."

体育在线365 The $110 million package will come from the Federal Government's $1 billion Relief and Recovery Fund.

Market Development

It is one thing to get agricultural products to market, but cultural differences and supply chain structures mean Australian produce won't necessarily be top of mind for foreign nations grappling with their own health crises due to the pandemic.

This means marketing will be essential.

The additional $49.8 million for the market development program will allow exporters and tourism businesses to get additional reimbursements for costs incurred in marketing their products and services around the world.

体育在线365 "We recognise the current COVID-19 crisis is placing immense pressure on Australian exporters and tourism businesses, many of whom felt the earliest and deepest aspects of the economic downturn," says Trade and Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham.

"This funding injection will put more cash in the pockets of thousands of Australian businesses when they need it most.

"The EMDG scheme has been a popular vehicle to support the costs associated in reaching new markets, and this additional funding will give Australian exporters and tourism businesses extra help in these tough times."

The minister explains businesses who have spent their own money to market and grow Australian exports get back up to 50 per cent of their total eligible marketing expenses.

"This investment addresses the reality that businesses invested in good faith to lift Australia's exports, but are unlikely to see immediate return on those investments. These entrepreneurial and outward looking businesses will be crucial to our future economic recovery," he says.

体育在线365 "This extra $49.8 million to supplement the additional $60 million already committed by the Morrison Government will bring EMDG funding to its highest level in more than 20 years at $207.7 million for the 2019-20 financial year.

体育在线365 "This support is in addition to other measures our Government has announced to help small and medium businesses manage cash flow challenges and retain employees such as increasing the instant asset write-off, cash payments of up to $100 000 and supporting apprentices."

体育在线365 Any business which has incurred eligible EMDG expenses for promotional activities in 2019-20 financial year will be able to seek reimbursement for 50 per cent of these expenses without the Export Performance Test applying, when they apply from July 1.

This is in recognition that many exporters would have spent more on marketing expenses with the expectation they would see export income high enough to meet the export performance test.

体育在线365 More than 200 businesses that will benefit from this change are in the tourism sector, one of the hardest hit sectors of the economy.

Additionally, applications lodged in the 2020-21 financial year can claim expenses even if events have been cancelled due to circumstances beyond a company's control.

体育在线365 Photo: Australian Table Grape Association 

Updated at 12:00pm AEDT on 1 April 2020.

R.M.Williams shuts down Adelaide workshop

R.M.Williams shuts down Adelaide workshop

Iconic Australian apparel brand R.M.Williams has been "stopped in its tracks" by the Covid-19 crisis and forced to shut down all production at its South Australian workshop.

体育在线365 Effective today its workshop in Salisbury, Adelaide, will be closed until further notice, resulting in the standing down of 709 employees.

体育在线365 The company says it is working closely with the South Australian Government to navigate through the financial crisis to ensure it comes out the other end.

R.M.Williams, famous for its leather boots and majority owned by Singapore-based private equity firm L Catterton backed by luxury retail conglomerate LVMG, closed all of its stores and Boot Rooms in Australia, the US, UK and New Zealand on 28 March.

体育在线365 To support its staff the company will be offering all 709 permanent and part-time Australian team members two weeks salary, as well as encashment of accrued annual leave.

体育在线365 Founded in Adelaide in 1932 R.M.Williams has survived its fair share of crises; it has been through the worst of World War II and has continued to operate ever since.

体育在线365 "Now, 88 years later, the Covid-19 crisis has stopped us in our tracks," says R.M.Williams.

"At this moment in these unprecedented times, it is hard to see past the headlines and understand what lies ahead. Australia, and central to that fabric, R.M.Williams, has shown through the decades and through recent times with the drought and bushfires that we are a people who adapt through tenacity, perseverance and a pioneering spirit."

"We will always represent the Australian bush and the spirit of Australia."



The company's customer service team will remain available to field enquiries regarding boot repairs, online services and Made to Order and R.M.Williams' online store continues to be open for business.

While R.M.Williams has made the decision to close down its workshop, fellow iconic Australian brand Akubra says it will continue to work during the crisis.

体育在线365 "We are proudly still manufacturing the Australian Army Slouch hat in these tough times the world is facing," says an Akubra spokesperson.

Updated 11:31AM AEDT on 1 April 2020.


News Corp to suspend 60 community print publications

News Corp to suspend 60 community print publications

A rapid decline in advertising revenue has forced News Corp to suspend 60 community titles in NSW, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia as of 9 April.

In an announcement yesterday the company said community mastheads would continue to publish digitally, with reporters and photographers expanding News Corp's hyper-local news coverage for consumers across Australia.

News Corp Australasia executive chairman Michael Miller said the decision to suspend printing of its community newspapers was not taken lightly.

"The suspension of our community print editions has been forced on us by the rapid decline in advertising revenues following the restrictions placed on real estate auctions and home inspections, the forced closure of event venues and dine-in restaurants in the wake of the Coronavirus emergency,' he said.

体育在线365 Miller noted as consumers increasingly turned to digital for local news, News would be increasing and developing its community coverage.

体育在线365 He said the impact on community print titles came on top of the toll on media from the refusal of digital platforms to pay publishers to use their content.

For now, the group's top priority is to preserve jobs and best position itself to counter the crisis.

体育在线365 "During this unprecedented time it is imperative that we reduce costs while continuing to keep the community informed and doing all we can to retain jobs," he said.

"The print suspension will allow us to assess the shape of the market itself and future conditions, taking into account how the Coronavirus situation unfolds in the coming period."

The announcement follows Elliott Newspaper Group's decision last week to suspend its traditional newspaper publishing in Mildura, Swan Hill and Kerang in response to the pandemic, as reported by the Sunraysia Daily - one of the mastheads affected along with Sunraysia Life, The Guardian - Swan Hill, Gannawarra Times and Loddon Times.

Elsewhere, News Corp's parent company in the States has reached a deal to sell its News America Marketing business to Charlesbank Capital Partners for US$235 million.

Updated at 11:14am AEDT on 1 April 2020.

Rex returns to Queensland skies after State Government performs a barrel roll

Rex returns to Queensland skies after State Government performs a barrel roll

Regional airline Rex (ASX: REX) will resume services in Queensland after the State Government caved in to the carrier's force majeure declaration.

体育在线365 A last minute intervention from the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) will allow Rex to resume full services in Queensland from today, with a reduced schedule to come into place from tomorrow.

While a final agreement between the TMR and Rex has not yet been reached, the airline says it will continue to run the reduced schedule in good faith until 8 April.

If a final agreement cannot be reached Rex will once again suspend all of its services in Queensland.

The change of heart from the Queensland Government came after Federal Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud called upon the Queensland Premier to "show leadership and sit down with Rex".

"The people in remote towns like Birdsville and Bedourie need access to medicine and medical services," said Littleproud.

"The communities of Charleville and Cunnamulla should have the right to the same essential services as those in Brisbane.

"This is not an inconvenience, this is dangerous. The State Government has got to find some way of keeping Rex in the air and keeping regional and rural Queenslanders safe."

The airline first announced it would be pulling all services from Queensland yesterday morning, blaming a lack of State Government support for the shutdown of all services in the State.

The proposed shutdown was going to take place despite a sizeable $198 million support package for Australia's regional air networks which are struggling to stay airborne because of the Covid-19 crisis.

体育在线365 Because the funding from the Federal Government would only to cover one return weekly flight per route for regional airlines Rex said it would be unable to continue operating in Queensland without State Government support.

体育在线365 Rex will continue to service its remaining network in Australia outside of Queensland on a scaled back basis.

Updated at 10:23AM AEDT on 1 April 2020.


NSW Government calls on manufacturers to re-tool for Covid-19

NSW Government calls on manufacturers to re-tool for Covid-19

体育在线365 With global supply chains more or less kneecapped and exports of essential medical supplies in high-demand, the NSW Government is calling on local manufacturers to re-tool.

体育在线365 The State hopes local manufacturers will redeploy spare capacity to manufacture medical equipment and hygiene products that are urgently needed to help fight Covid-19.

体育在线365 NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says the world is running short on hand sanitiser, handwash, soap, gloves, cleaning products, protective clothing, masks, eyewear and paper products.

体育在线365 "This is a call to arms for NSW manufacturers to look at ways to convert production lines into making the items we so desperately need," says Berejiklian.

"We have the ability within NSW to meet our local demand and the Government is moving to help manufacturers re-tool quickly to achieve this.

"Importantly, providing this opportunity to manufacturers will also allow some businesses to keep people in jobs when they may not have been able to do so."

体育在线365 Of particular importance is the urgent need for personal protective equipment and disinfectant, the supply of which will be greatly constrained globally for at least 12 months.

The "call to arms" comes as manufacturers around Australia have re-tooled to manufacture things like masks, gloves and hand sanitiser.

Just yesterday Adelaide food packaging company Detmold announced it will be producing hundreds of millions of respirator and surgical mask for South Australia and the Federal stockpile.

体育在线365 Distilleries nationally have been converting their boozy production lines into high-capacity hand sanitiser factories to meet national demand from hospitals and individuals alike.

体育在线365 Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres says the NSW Government has set up an online portal to connect the supply chain so more finished products can be provided where needed.

"This is an opportunity for businesses to not only diversify their supply but produce incredibly important products for our State in a time of need," says Ayres.

"We will work to find solutions to provide our hospitals and our people with the protection they need, while keeping as many workers as possible in a job."

Businesses can register their interest to manufacture urgently needed goods via the NSW Covid-19 Emergency Supplies registration portal .

The announcement comes as NSW hits 2,032 confirmed cases of Covid-19, with 114 new cases recorded in the state yesterday.

Nationally there are now 4,561 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, with 917 in VIC, 743 in QLD, 364 in WA, 337 in SA, 80 in the ACT, 69 in TAS, and 19 in the NT. 19 people have died of Covid-19 in Australia to date.

Updated at 9:17AM AEDT on 1 April 2020.

Retailers and landlords unite with leasing code of conduct

Retailers and landlords unite with leasing code of conduct

While Australia's banks will be given a $90 billion funding facility from the RBA and the country's Federal and State governments are offering unprecedented stimulus packages, there is still no clear-cut solution as to who foots the bill when retailers struggle to pay rent.

体育在线365 Thousands of retail outlets nationwide have closed in recent weeks including just about any clothing brand you can think of, as well as a raft of discretionary retailers like Michael Hill Jewellers, Adairs and Nick Scali.

In addition, social distancing restrictions have extended restaurant and café bans (except takeaway) to shopping centre food courts.

And while a welcome $130 billion has been pledged to subsidise wages for businesses that are suffering due to the pandemic, this is no panacea to pay the high fixed cost of retail space or the debts of the landlords who own it.

体育在线365 It is an inherently frictional relationship, and one that lends itself to blame game politics.

But the nation's retailers and shopping centre owners have shown goodwill today in an attempt to push through the crisis, following meetings over the past two days to establish a draft Code of Conduct for retail leasing.

The National Retail Association (NRA), Australian Retailers Association (ARA), the Pharmacy Guild of Australia (PGA) and the Shopping Centre Council of Australia (SCCA) have announced their shared commitment to ensuring business continuity.

The groups agreed no two retailers are the same and circumstances needed to be addressed on a case-by-case basis, but in general they agreed to the following leasing principles:

  1. A short term, temporary moratorium on eviction for non-payment of rent to be applied across commercial tenancies impacted by severe rental distress due to coronavirus;
  2. Tenants and landlords are encouraged to agree on rent relief or temporary amendments to leases;
  3. The reduction or waiver of rental payment for a defined period for impacted tenants;
  4. The ability for tenants to terminate leases and/or seek mediation or conciliation on the grounds of financial distress;
  5. Commercial property owners should ensure any benefits received in respect of their properties should also benefit their tenants in proportion to the economic impact caused by Covid-19;
  6. Landlords and tenants not significantly affected by coronavirus are expected to honour their lease and rental agreements; and
  7. Cost-sharing or deferral of losses between landlords and tenants, with Commonwealth, state and territory governments, local government and financial institutions to consider mechanisms to provide assistance.

体育在线365 A full copy of the joint statement by all major Australian retail groups is attached and was sent to all states and territories today, calling for an implementation of the code.

"We sat down immediately after the Prime Minister's announcement to come together in good faith and continue our ongoing discussions to ensure landlords and tenants are working together," says NRA CEO Dominique Lamb.

体育在线365 "Our industry has a track record of working together, including on challenging issues, and this is about working together and assisting policy makers in the next phase given our group's longstanding engagement on retail leasing issues," adds ARA CEO Russel Zimmerman.

PGA national president George Tambassis notes pharmacies are under "immense pressure" as frontline health resources during the Covid-19 crisis, and they need the certainty and consistency that can be provided by this code.

SCCA executive director Angus Nardi highlights the work retailers and shopping centre owners can do to keep business going.

体育在线365 "Shopping centre owners and retailers have a mutual interest in business continuity and it's positive to have a unanimous and timely approach to tackle the pressing challenges we all confront in the current environment in a way that is fair and balanced to everyone," says Nardi.

Updated at 5:07pm AEDT on 31 March 2020.

Adelaide's Detmold Group to produce millions of respirator and surgical masks

Adelaide's Detmold Group to produce millions of respirator and surgical masks

A South Australian food packaging company famous for its Detpak brand will pivot to manufacturing surgical and respirator masks to assist in the fight against Covid-19.

体育在线365 Up to 160 extra staff will be hired at Detmold's Adelaide factory to produce 100 million masks for the Federal Government's National Medical Stockpile and 45 million for SA Health.

Specialised machinery will soon be installed at Detmold's Brompton-based facility, with production expected to commence in May.

Detmold CEO Alf Ianniello (pictured left) says he is proud that he and Detmold can step up to the plate and help fellow Australians in the fight against the coronavirus.

体育在线365 "Detmold is a South Australian company with a long history of employing locals, so to be able to assist with both flattening the curve in this time of crisis and helping keep South Australians in work is immensely rewarding," says Ianniello.

体育在线365 "We expect to have the capacity to manufacture over 20 million masks per month by June, and the facility will produce both surgical masks and respirator masks."

Detmold's pivot to manufacturing medical equipment is the latest example of private industry working with the public sector to achieve outcomes in the best interests for all Australians.

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews says the initiative, spearheaded by SA Health, demonstrates the strength of Australian manufacturers.

"This is a fantastic example of how our strong manufacturing base in Australia puts us in a position to be able to make more of the medical supplies we need during the outbreak of this virus," says Andrews.

While Detmold's focus is on supplying SA Health and the Federal Government's National Medical Stockpile the company says it will be looking for ways to support other businesses and the broader community. Those interested in securing future supply should contact Detmold .

Updated 3:44PM AEDT on 31 March 2020.

Virgin Australia proposes $1.4 billion bailout from Federal Government

Virgin Australia proposes $1.4 billion bailout from Federal Government

Virgin Australia (ASX: VAH) has proposed a $1.4 billion bailout from the Federal Government so it can position itself to survive the Covid-19 crisis.

The 90 per cent foreign-owned airline confirmed a report in today's edition of The Australian体育在线365 where it was revealed Virgin Australia was considering asking for the sum.

The $1.4 billion would come on top of the $715 million support package for the broader aviation industry already announced by the Federal Government.

The request is a "preliminary proposal" according to VAH and remains subject to approval by the company's board.

VAH also confirmed in its ASX statement that the support "may or may not include conversion to equity in certain circumstances".

This would give the Federal Government a sizeable slice of the company which is currently owned by Singapore Airlines, Etihad Airways, Chinese investment group HNA, Chinese airline Nanshan, and Richard Branson's Virgin Group (through British Virgin Islands-based Corvina Holdings).

"Companies like the Virgin Australia Group are taking a range of measures to respond and manage the financial impact," says VAH.

体育在线365 "However, support will be necessary for the industry if this crisis continues indefinitely, to protect jobs and ensure Australia retains a strong, competitive aviation and tourism sector once this crisis is over."

Updated at 1:01PM AEDT on 31 March 2020.

Economic domino effect takes its toll on advertising giant WWP

Economic domino effect takes its toll on advertising giant WWP

With the Australian economy slowing down, especially with regard to retail and other businesses deemed 'non-essential', work is drying up for those dependant on promoting goods and services.

One of Australia's largest creative advertising agencies WWP AUNZ (ASX: WWP) has felt the impact of the coronavirus financial crisis as dominos tumble nationwide.

体育在线365 While the company says it is still too early to have a conclusive view as to the consequences of Covid-19, WWP has put in place measures to stem the flow of cash.

WWP has already cancelled its 2019 final and special dividends in light of Covid-19 as many of the company's clients have reduced marketing and communications expenditure for the financial year.

"The extent of their reduced expenditure is still unfolding but we draw some confidence from the increased communications work we are undertaking for a select number of our high-quality clients across sectors such as government, financial services, insurance, and FMCG, in response to the immediate demands of consumers and change in consumer behaviours," says WWP.

体育在线365 The company has put certain plans into gear to realise immediate cost reductions including:

  • A voluntary reduction in base salaries for paid board directors, the CEO and WWP's leadership team;
  • A voluntary program of nine-day fortnights and four-day weeks and utilisation of employee leave balances across the business;
  • Management of employee costs through a reduction in the use of freelance resources, limited new hires, a significant restriction in salary increases and a commitment to enhanced intra-group resource sharing;
  • A cessation of all international and domestic business travel;
  • Minimisation of capital expenditure; and
  • Reduction in property footprint through consolidation of lease space.

"These actions may change as we gain further clarity over the depth and timing of the COVID-19 financial impact," says WWP.

The company is also hoping to ensure that it has sufficient liquidity and covenant headroom to manage a variety of possible financial scenarios.

At 31 December 2019 WWP had over $300 million of liquidity in the form of undrawn facilities of $228 million plus $74.8 million in cash.

WWP's term debt facility of $270 million does not mature until June 2021 and the company has a rolling $150 million 364 day working capital facility which was only drawn to $10 million at 31 December 2019.

体育在线365 "Whilst we do not at this stage have clarity on the Company's earnings outlook for FY2020, it is our view that our 2019 year-end conservative leverage position, the pre-emptive and prudent decision to cancel the dividend on 24 March 2020, and the cost control actionsput the company in a sound position to weather the current, known impacts of the COVID-19 crisis," says WWP.

Updated at 12:16PM AEDT on 31 March 2020.

Johnson & Johnson sets ambitious Covid-19 vaccine target

Johnson & Johnson sets ambitious Covid-19 vaccine target

US pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has teamed up with a government office to commit more than US$1 billion (AUD$1.62 billion) for research, development and clinical testing of a Covid-19 vaccine candidate.

The company announced yesterday its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies was expanding a partnership with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), with a goal to start the first human clinical studies for the vaccine by September at the latest.

体育在线365 The lead vaccine candidate has been chosen from constructs J&J has been working on since January. 

体育在线365 The company expects the first batches of a Covid-19 vaccine could be available for emergency use authorisation in early 2021, and is scaling up manufacturing capacity in a bid to supply more than one billion doses of a vaccine.

Trials advancing for Covid-19 drug and vaccine research

Covid-19 vaccine trial kicks off in Seattle

BARDA is part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) at the US Department of Health and Human Services.

"The world is facing an urgent public health crisis and we are committed to doing our part to make a Covid-19 vaccine available and affordable globally as quickly as possible," says J&J chairman and chief executive officer Alex Gorsky.

体育在线365 "As the world's largest healthcare company, we feel a deep responsibility to improve the health of people around the world every day. Johnson & Johnson is well positioned through our combination of scientific expertise, operational scale and financial strength to bring our resources in collaboration with others to accelerate the fight against this pandemic."

体育在线365 J&J's chief scientific officer Paul Stoffels says the company greatly values the US government's confidence and support for our R&D efforts.

"Johnson & Johnson's global team of experts has ramped up our research and development processes to unprecedented levels, and our teams are working tirelessly alongside BARDA, scientific partners, and global health authorities," says Stoffels.

"We are very pleased to have identified a lead vaccine candidate from the constructs we have been working on since January.

体育在线365 "We are moving on an accelerated timeline toward Phase 1 human clinical trials at the latest by September 2020 and, supported by the global production capability that we are scaling up in parallel to this testing, we expect a vaccine could be ready for emergency use in early 2021."

体育在线365 The partners are also accelerating their push to find potential anti-viral treatments against the novel coronavirus, through ongoing work in screening compound libraries, including compounds from other pharmaceutical companies.

体育在线365 These antiviral screening efforts are being conducted in partnership with the Rega Institute for Medical Research (KU Leuven/University of Leuven), in Belgium.

Updated at 4:11pm AEDT on 31 March 2020.

15-minute coronavirus test turns fortunes for Cellmid

15-minute coronavirus test turns fortunes for Cellmid

When the share market closed on Friday a little-known Australian life sciences company called Cellmid (ASX: CDY) was in a trading halt after selling at lows not seen since 2009.

体育在线365 The loss-making group has been in the thick of a turnaround strategy that saw its bottom line improve somewhat in the first half of FY20, but investor confidence eroded over the past three months as the Covid-19 crisis took hold. 

That was at least until Friday evening, when a division that normally accounts for just 0.5 per cent of Cellmid's revenue took centre stage.

Diagnostic tests brought in only $18,051 for the company in the last half, dwarfed by the $3.7 million generated by its hair loss brands Jo-Ju and Lexilis along with the évolis-branded range of novel therapies and pharmaceuticals.

But Sydney-based Cellmid had an ace up its sleeve, courtesy of a breakthrough deal with the Australian partner of a Chinese company that developed a rapid diagnostic test for Covid-19.

Just after 7pm on Friday the company announced it had entered a supply agreement for the 15-minute testing kit with Australia Applications, the authorised distributor of Guangzhou Wondfo Biotech.

体育在线365 Australia already has one of the highest testing rates in the world for Covid-19, and if all goes to Cellmid's plan that distinction will be even easier to maintain. 

Requiring only the most basic lab equipment, the test was approved by the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) as a point of care test (POCT) on 25 March.

体育在线365 The Wondfo Covid-19 rapid diagnostic tests are stable at room temperature (2-30°C) for up to one year, which Cellmid claims makes them an attractive option for regional testing or for mobile/rapid screening centers, combined with their ease of use.

体育在线365 Cellmid announced it had placed its first order for the test which could be used either as a bedside POCT, in doctors' surgeries, pathology labs or in remote sites administered by healthcare professionals.

体育在线365 Cellmid buys the tests at a fixed price, and notes it has not entered into any agreement to sell them to customers yet.

But the announcement was enough to send investors into a frenzy, with the share price rising from 10 cents to 31 cents yesterday, and at the time of writing today it had reached 38 cents - a level not seen since October 2018.

体育在线365 "Learning from countries that managed the coronavirus infections well it is clear that widespread Covid-19 testing, isolation of those testing positive and early treatment are the best methods to control the spread of infection, while saving lives and medical resources," says Cellmid CEO Maria Halasz.

体育在线365 "We are excited to be able to contribute to Australia's comprehensive effort to manage this pandemic."

体育在线365 The test consists of a small device that requires only 10 microlitres of patient serum or plasma, or 20 microlitres of whole blood, to be loaded into a receptacle, alongside an included buffer which then mixes with viral S protein fragments and migrates along the device to an area of immobilised capture antibodies.

体育在线365 If virus specific IgG or IgM is present, conjugates are formed, which show up as a distinctive red band on the device.

Updated at 12:22pm AEDT on 31 March 2020.

LiveHire called up to assist with QLD Government staff redeployments

LiveHire called up to assist with QLD Government staff redeployments

As containment efforts against Covid-19 intensify, Melbourne-based talent acquisition platform LiveHire (ASX: LVH) has been called upon to redeploy Government staff into critical roles.

体育在线365 LiveHire has won a crucial Queensland State Government contract under which its platform will be used to profile, match and engage current employees in order to transition them into new crisis-management roles.

体育在线365 All of the 48 Queensland Government agencies will use LiveHire's platform, while the Queensland Public Service Commission will use LiveHire to support its "BeHere4Qld" project to redeploy over 15,000 public sector employees in a broad Government response to the crisis.

LiveHire CEO Christy Forest says the platform's flexibility made it the ideal choice for the Queensland Government.

"At this important time, we have leveraged the proven functionality of our platform to identify in-demand roles to assign well-fitted, available employees into a newly created Talent Community for the Queensland government," says Forest.

体育在线365 "Perhaps most importantly, our proven speed to implement, our ability to quickly engage and place the staff is crucial to our success with the state. We commend Queensland for its responsiveness to the crisis and its use of the latest technology to engage and communicate with its staff in a way that will deliver meaningful outcomes in service to Australians at this critical time of need."

Updated at 4:15PM AEDT on 31 March 2020.


Rex calls force majeure and cancels Queensland flights

Rex calls force majeure and cancels Queensland flights

In a strange turn of events regional airline Regional Express (ASX: REX) has announced it will shut down its Queensland services, just days after thanking the Federal Government for much-needed financial support.

Rex has essentially performed an aerial backflip; over the weekend the company's deputy chairman John Sharp welcomed a $198 million support package for regional air networks.

Now the company is blaming a lack of Queensland State Government support for the shutdown of all air services in the State.

体育在线365 "While the Federal Government has announced several assistance packages for airlines, no concrete details have been forthcoming and more importantly, not a single cent has been disbursed," says Rex.

"Further, the Federal Government is only funding a minimum essential service of one return weekly flight per route, and this reduced schedule approach was rejected by the Queensland State Government."

"With cash fast running out and no immediate prospect of a workable solution from the Queensland State Government, Rex has no choice but to declare a force majeure for the contract and suspend all services on Queensland regulated routes indefinitely until it has the ability to service the contract in a commercially viable manner."

The shutdown of services will take effect from tomorrow and will include the five regulated routes operated under Contract with the Queensland Government. Just last week however Queensland was the only State that Rex intended to operate in体育在线365 specfically because of Queensland State Government support.

体育在线365 Since Rex first contacted the Queensland Government for further assistance the airline says its financial position and cash flow has seen a sharp degradation due to a drop of patronage arising from travel being limited to essential travel only, as well as the border control measures being put in place across the nation.

体育在线365 Affected passengers will have their tickets placed on credit for when services resume.

体育在线365 Rex will continue to service its remaining network in Australia outside of Queensland on a scaled back basis.

Air New Zealand to become a "much smaller airline"

In other aviation news Air New Zealand (ASX: AIZ) has announced it will be reducing its workforce by 3,500 people in the coming months as it grapples with the problems raised by Covid-19.

体育在线365 The impact of losing many international tourists to the country will see the group's annual revenue dive from $5.8 billion to an expected $500 million.

"This has the potential to be catastrophic for our business unless we take some decisive action," says Air New Zealand CEO Greg Foran.

The company is planning on becoming a "much smaller airline" and is transitioning into a domestic airline with limited international services to keep supply lines open for the foreseeable future.

体育在线365 "Our monthly labour cost alone is $110 million," says Foran.

"We have $960 million in cash reserves today, but with very little revenue coming in, our cash balance will fall by tens of millions of dollars each week."

"And I am acutely conscious that a smaller Air New Zealand also comes with a significant impact on many of our suppliers, some of whom will probably have to reduce the size of their workforces because we won't be doing as much business with them."

Updated at 10:30AM AEDT on 31 March 2020.

Nick Scali closes all stores, stands down majority of staff

Nick Scali closes all stores, stands down majority of staff

体育在线365 Furniture retailer Nick Scali (ASX: NCK) has announced it will temporarily shut all stores from the close of business today, standing down the majority of its 500-strong workforce in the process.

体育在线365 The group said it took the decision due to social isolation and distancing measures implemented by governments in Australia and New Zealand, as well as the "increased level of risk for our staff and customers should stores continue to operate".

体育在线365 Stores will be closed until at least 1 May, but distribution centres will continue to operate at normal capacity during April and May to support the delivery of customer orders.

The company has also rolled out the following cost reduction measures:

  • reducing marketing expenses in line with trading;
  • delaying store roll-out and discretionary capex in FY20;
  • engaging with landlords in respect of rent relief; and
  • reducing non-essential general operating expenditure

"The decision we have made today to close stores and stand down loyal team members was not made lightly, but I believe it is the right decision for our people and our Company in the long-term," says Nick Scali's managing director Anthony Scali.

"We thank our customers, suppliers, landlords and most importantly our team members for their understanding and support during this difficult time."

In the company's annual report last year Nick Scali reported a staff count of 515, and in its most recent half year results it noted a store count of 58.

The decision follows similar announcements from other furniture retailers including Matt Blatt and Adairs.

King Living体育在线365 recently announced its showrooms remain open, but with social distancing guidelines implemented along with minimal physical contact between visitors in showrooms.

"King Living product experts will be operating video chat consultations, via Whatsapp, Facetime and Google Duo and all Australian showrooms currently remain open. Please contact your nearest showroom for further enquiries on these services," the company said.

Updated at 6:48pm AEDT on 30 March 2020.

Genetic Signatures sends first shipments of Covid-19 testing kits

Genetic Signatures sends first shipments of Covid-19 testing kits

体育在线365 Specialist molecular diagnostics company Genetic Signatures (ASX: GSS) is sending its first shipments of a new Covid-19 testing kit to labs in Europe and Australia, with its manufacturing facilities in Sydney gearing up for "anticipated initial high-volume orders".

The company announced today it had submitted formal applications to European and Australian regulators to register the kits, and its shares jumped 23.64 per cent to $1.36 each.

Since the beginning of the year when it became apparent the Covid-19 outbreak was a serious global problem, Genetic Signatures has directed resources to develop a test for the coronavirus strain that causes it - SARS-CoV-2.

体育在线365 By supplementing existing assays and utilising its unique 3base technology, Genetic Signatures reports it has been able to specifically identify SARS-CoV-2.

Genetic Signatures' current EasyScreen Respiratory Pathogen Detection Kit and the new SARS-CoV-2 Detection Kit can be used on high throughput instruments that allow for rapid detection of up to 188 patient samples in approximately 4.5 hours with minimal hands-on time for laboratory technicians.

体育在线365 Confirmation from European regulators would allow for the continued marketing and supply throughout Europe and UK, as regulatory exemptions are for a defined period.

The data submitted for European approval will also support a planned FDA EUA (Emergency Use Authorisation) regulatory application in the USA in the near term.

At home, the company has sought inclusion on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG). Licensed Australian laboratories are permitted to self-validate the tests to use the kits commercially.

Genetic Signatures CEO Dr John Melki says the company recently increased its capabilities in Europe and is ready to serve hospitals and test labs across the UK and European Union.

体育在线365 "Customers will be able to use the test to screen for the SARS-CoV-2 on its own or as part of our existing EasyScreen Respiratory Pathogen Detection Kit which identifies more than 14 common respiratory pathogens," says Melki.

体育在线365 "Our hope is it will help clinicians move faster and better manage their urgent work, to detection infection and save lives."

体育在线365 As a global supplier of Covid-19 test kits Genetic Signatures expects it will be classified as an essential service and, as such will not see its operations unduly impacted by increasingly strict lockdowns.

However, the group does note worldwide supply chain constraints could impact its ability to supply product to more remote locations.

Updated at 6:20pm AEDT on 30 March 2020.

PM announces $130 billion job keeper plan to keep businesses alive

PM announces $130 billion job keeper plan to keep businesses alive

体育在线365 Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a $130 billion stimulus package to partially pay the salaries of workers around the nation for the next six months.

体育在线365 The JobKeeper Coronavirus Supplement will see the Government pay Australian employers $1,500 per fortnight - around 70 per cent of the median wage - per employee.

"We will pay employers to pay employees, and we will make sure they do," he said, explaining the package would likely apply to around six million people.

"This is an incentive for businesses to adapt to these circumstances, to keep people on the books."

体育在线365 Payments - which will be at a flat rate - will start reaching Australian wallets in the first week of May and be backdated to today's date (30 March) for wages on the books since 1 March.

Workers who have been stood down since 1 March are still eligible for the supplement.

体育在线365 "Stood down employees should ring their employer and ask whether they are taking part in the JobKeeper scheme," he said.

体育在线365 To be eligible, business revenue needs to have fallen by 30 per cent or more, or 50 per cent in the case of companies with turnovers above $1 billion.

体育在线365 The Supplement is being delivered via the Australian Tax Office (ATO), which has the mechanisms available to follow up on employers.

体育在线365 Morrison says the package is an "economic lifeline" that businesses will need in the months ahead and survive the Covid-19 financial crisis, but notes payments will not include superannuation levies.

体育在线365 "Some will say it's too little, other will say that it's too much. I say we must work together to make this work and to make it go as far as possible," says Morrison.

"We want to keep the engine of the economy running through this crisis.

"In the worst circumstances we may see countries fall into chaos - that will not be Australia."

体育在线365 The $130 billion represents 6.9 per cent of Australia's gross domestic product (GDP) in 2019, adding to existing fiscal stimulus packages and quantitative easing worth around 10 per cent of GDP.

体育在线365 Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says the wage subsidy scheme is unlike those announced by other nations.

"It's more generous than New Zealand's scheme, it's broader than the United Kingdom's scheme, as it applies to all employees - not just those that have been stood down - and it's available to all eligible firms, not just small businesses, as is the case with the Canadian scheme."

体育在线365 Retail mogul Solomon Lew, who chairs Premier Investments, applauded the Prime Minister and the Treasurer for their announcement this afternoon.

"This will give employers like Premier a greater ability to retain team members during the COVID-19 crisis," said Lew, whose company is known for brands such as Jay Jays, Just Jeans, Portmans, Jacqui E, Peter Alexander, Dotti, and Smiggle.

体育在线365 "Premier's 9,000 staff have been stood down due to necessary store closures associated with social distancing and health measures mandated by the Prime Minister, the State Premiers and Chief Medical Officers.

体育在线365 "Premier's employees will now be able to access the Job Keeper subsidy in addition to the special arrangements we have put in place for them to access accrued annual and long service leave entitlements to reduce the financial impact over this time."

Lew added the National Cabinet, led by the Prime Minister, is doing and should continue to do all it can to help Australia survive this crisis.

体育在线365 "We all have a role to play and it's time for everyone to step up and play their part," he said.

"The ability to retain team members during this challenging time will give businesses the best possible opportunity to bounce back and thrive.

"Premier remains focused on the health and safety of its employees, its customers and the broader community and the company is committed to doing everything it can to stop the spread of Covid-19."

Updated at 4:19PM AEDT on 30 March 2020.

Matt Blatt closes all stores

Matt Blatt closes all stores

Matt Blatt is the latest in a long line of retailers to close indefinitely because of Covid-19 and gathering restrictions.

体育在线365 In a letter to customers the furniture retailer said the temporary closures, effective today, are necessary to protect the health of staff, customers and colleagues.

体育在线365 New online orders have also been temporarily suspended but all existing orders will be delivered as normal.

READ MORE: Matt Blatt co-founder Deborah Drexler on the best risks her company ever took

体育在线365 Read the company's full statement below:

Updated at 3:09PM AEDT on 30 March 2020.

Guidance withdrawal update: QBE Insurance, BOQ, Tyro Payments

Guidance withdrawal update: QBE Insurance, BOQ, Tyro Payments

体育在线365 A string of new ASX-companies have today joined the long list of businesses opting to withdraw or suspend earnings guidance due to the uncertain economic outlook with Covid-19.

Click here for a full list of Australia's leading companies that have withdrawn guidance since the saga began.

体育在线365 QBE Insurance (ASX: QBE) and Bank of Queensland (ASX: BOQ) were the two largest groups to pull out today, while others included Tyro Payments (ASX: TYR), Evans Dixon (ASX ED1), ARB Corporation (ASX: ARB), AngloGold Ashanti (ASX: AGG), APN Property Group (ASX: APD) and Atomos (ASX: AMS).

Both QBE and BOQ both highlighted strong capital positions to see them through this time.

"These are extraordinarily difficult times for all of our stakeholders: our customers, our broker partners, our staff, our shareholders and the community at large," says QBE Group CEO Pat Regan.

体育在线365 "Despite the obvious and extreme disruption to normal business practices, our priority is to maintain the health and wellbeing of our staff and continue to support our customers in this time of need."

Similarly to the big four and as part of relief measures announced by the Australian Banking Association体育在线365, BOQ highlighted the following initiatives to support its customers:

  • Deferred repayment periods of up to six months on business loans up to $10m;
  • The option to choose between deferred mortgage repayments or Interest Only repayments
    for an initial period of three months; and
  • Fast track hardship assistance for impacted customers.

体育在线365 "We have a strong balance sheet with solid capital and funding, and robust risk management," says BOQ managing director & CEO George Frazis.

"We will support our customers in any way we can, especially at a time when some are feeling at their most vulnerable. We are here for our customers and will work with them through the challenges ahead."

Evans Dixon, which has been struggling with an underperforming US fund, noted it had seen a significant increase in trading activity by clients over the past two months, generating strong brokerage revenues.

"However, revenue in Wealth Advice will likely be impacted in coming months on the back of a significant reduction in the market value of funds under advice," the company said.

"In Funds Management, revenue from managing equities portfolios will likely be impacted as a result of market weakness."

体育在线365 Tyro Payments' decision came despite recording transaction growth through the first few months of this year.

体育在线365 "We are in the midst of a rapidly evolving situation and a prime focus is continuing to provide such assistance we possibly can to support those of our merchants experiencing hardship and keeping our team together in what are extraordinary times," says Tyro managing director and CEO Robbie Cooke.

"I am pleased to be able to say we continue to operate on a business as usual basis, providing the level of service, availability and support our merchants have come to expect from our team and we have in fact have increased our customer support teams in place 24 hours a day to assist our merchants.

"We had been on track to deliver our Prospectus forecast, however the unfortunate reality of the measures being implemented to contain COVID-19 have compressed our transaction growth rates and, with the current uncertainty both as to the duration of the pandemic and the extent to which it will continue to impact our merchants, we can no longer be assured of achieving our forecast."

Updated at 3:45pm AEDT on 30 March 2020.

Ansell maintains guidance as glove demand stays strong

Ansell maintains guidance as glove demand stays strong

Glove and protective equipment manufacturer Ansell (ASX: ANN) saw its shares surge 17 per cent this morning after reaffirming earnings guidance and noting "very strong demand" for its AlphaTec range.

The company explains that despite the unprecedented uncertainties and implications from the unknown extent of the Covid-19 pandemic, it still expects to deliver earnings per share (EPS) of US112¢-US122¢.

体育在线365 In addition, demand has been high for Ansell's Microflex and TouchNTuff single-use examination gloves, as well as its Gammex and Encore surgical gloves.

体育在线365 This however will likely be offset by declining demand for some industrial products, temporary lockdowns, export restrictions within the EU and elsewhere, and other restrictions relating to the outbreak.

体育在线365 The group explains its teams are working closely with government authorities around the world so they can continue to manufacture protective products and distribute them to areas where they are needed most. 

Selective investments in new capacity are also being made, and the company expects to be able to continue to ship large quantities of product to key markets by leveraging locations that are not affected.

"As a safety company, the safety of our Ansell team members and the millions of customers we protect around the world remains our top priority," says Ansell's managing director and chief executive officer Magnus Nicolin.

"We are working to keep our Ansell people safe through home working where possible, social distancing and by providing PPE equipment and monitoring the health of all.

"This in turn, allows us to do even more to protect millions of customers worldwide."

Ansell used to be known for its condom brand which was sold in 2018. Reuters 体育在线365reports a condom shortage may be looming due to a factory shutdown for the world's biggest manufacturer, Malaysia's Karex Bhd.

体育在线365 Karex reportedly has not produced a single condom in a week, meaning shortfall of 100 million condoms that are normally distributed under the Durex brand.

Updated at 12:57pm AEDT on 30 March 2020.

WOTSO to benefit from BlackWall rent deferrals

WOTSO to benefit from BlackWall rent deferrals

体育在线365 BlackWall Property Trust (ASX: BWR) has announced it will be offering rent abatements or deferrals to tenants suffering due to the Covid-19 crisis, with co-working provider WOTSO WorkSpace set to be one of the key beneficiaries.

The trust has put forward a strategy to give its tenants the best chance of survival while limiting the impact on its property owners.

"Our approach is to provide rent abatements for all small businesses where economic survival is at risk and to offer rent deferrals to those tenants needing cash flow support," the group said.

体育在线365 "Accordingly, we have advised the 10 coffee shops and restaurants in our portfolio  that no rent will be payable for April.

"We will review this on a monthly basis until the crisis passes. Some other small or vulnerable tenants have also been provided with rent abatements while others have been offered a mix of rent abatements and rent deferrals."

体育在线365 The company noted it will look to its larger and more secure tenants to meet their commitments during this time so that it can support those that are more vulnerable.

体育在线365 WOTSO is a significant tenant in BlackWall's portfolio and is expected to have its cashflow "severely impacted".

"WOTSO has offered all members the opportunity to suspend their memberships at  this  time with offices and or desks preserved  for when members return.

体育在线365 "WOTSO rents space to some essential services so, as long as the law permits, WOTSO will remain open regardless of the number of members on site.

体育在线365 "Rent for all WOTSO facilities in our portfolio will be deferred subject to review on a monthly basis."

BlackWall joint managing director and COO Jess Glew tells Business News Australia体育在线365 that of the 17 WOTSO sites Australia-wide, 10 are within BlackWall properties including eight within its property trust and two within the broader group.

She says WOTSO normally accounts for around 30 per cent of the trust's rental revenue. 

BWR explains it has adequate cash reserves, but to be prepared in uncertain times the trust has arranged an additional debt  facility for the group which is being drawn today.

"BWR will then have $22 million cash on hand and will continue to retain significant capacity to expand with gearing at 24 per cent (up from 20 per cent at 31 December 2019)."

Updated at 12:29pm AEDT on 30 March 2020.

Australian banks extend loan deferrals to 30,000 more businesses

Australian banks extend loan deferrals to 30,000 more businesses

体育在线365 More than 30,000 Australian businesses can now access the six-month loan repayment deferral program after the Australian Banking Association (ABA) decided to extend the relief.

体育在线365 Businesses with total loan facilities of up to $10 million (up from the $3 million small business threshold initially announced on 20 March 2020) will now be able to defer repayments for loans attached to their businesses for six months.

体育在线365 The ABA's support now extends to 98 per cent of all businesses with a loan from an Australian bank, and will apply to an additional $100 billion of business loans. This will bring the combined total of loan repayments deferred by Australian banks to $250 billion.

体育在线365 During this period banks have also agreed to not enforce business loans for non-financial breaches of the loan contract (such as changes in valuations). 

体育在线365 The new measures will apply in all sectors of the economy, and on an opt-in basis, under the conditions that: 

  • For commercial property landlords, they provide an undertaking to the bank that for the period of the interest capitalisation, they will not terminate leases or evict current tenants for rent arrears as a result of COVID19;
  • the customer has advised that its business is affected by COVID-19; 
  • the customer was current in terms of existing facilities 90 days prior to applying; and
  • interest is capitalised (meaning either the term of the loan is extended or payments are increased after the deferral period).

"As this crisis has deepened and more businesses are affected we are building on the Small Business Relief package to ensure more businesses are given a lifeline to help them survive through the coronavirus pandemic," says ABA CEO Anna Bligh.

体育在线365 "Banks are expanding their support to an extra 30,000 thousand businesses by raising the threshold of those who qualify for the six month deferral of loan repayments from $3 million to up to $10 million in total loan facilities. 

体育在线365 "This will help protect many more thousands of small businesses from being evicted if they are struggling to pay the rent as it covers approximately 90% of commercial property owners who have loans with an Australian bank."

Updated at 11:30AM AEDT on 30 March 2020.

PM announces moratorium on evictions, gatherings restricted to two persons only

PM announces moratorium on evictions, gatherings restricted to two persons only

体育在线365 Australian commercial and residential tenants impacted by Covid-19 have been given a six month reprieve as the country's total number of confirmed coronavirus cases creeps closer to 4,000.

The National Cabinet has agreed to a moratorium on evictions over the next six months for both commercial and residential tenancies in financial distress who are unable to meet their commitments due to the impact of coronavirus.

The Government has encouraged landlords and financial institutions to collaborate with tenants on coming to an agreement to ensure businesses can make it to the other side of the coronavirus crisis.

A common set of principles, endorsed by the Federal and State Treasurers to guide these discussions includes:

  • A short term, temporary moratorium on eviction for non-payment of rent to be applied across commercial tenancies impacted by severe rental distress due to coronavirus;
  • tenants and landlords are encouraged to agree on rent relief or temporary amendments to the lease;
  • the reduction or waiver of rental payment for a defined period for impacted tenants;
  • the ability for tenants to terminate leases and/or seek mediation or conciliation on the grounds of financial distress;
  • commercial property owners should ensure that any benefits received in respect of their properties should also benefit their tenants in proportion to the economic impact caused by coronavirus;
  • landlords and tenants not significantly affected by coronavirus are expected to honour their lease and rental agreements; and
  • cost-sharing or deferral of losses between landlords and tenants, with Commonwealth, state and territory governments, local government and financial institutions to consider mechanisms to provide assistance.

体育在线365 The moratorium decision comes ahead of yet another stimulus package, expected to be announced by the Federal Government today.

体育在线365 As reported by the ABC, the scheme will include a new wage subsidy for businesses and workers impacted by the coronavirus. Businesses are expected to be paid up to $1,500 per fortnight, per employee, for the next six months.

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says the package will be an Australian-style system and will not mirror the approach taken by the United Kingdom whereby the Government is paying 80 per cent of businesses' wage bills. 

体育在线365 In addition the National Cabinet has restricted indoor and outdoor public gatherings yet again to two persons only.

Exceptions to this limit include:

  • People of the same household going out together (who together are able to meet with one person maximum);
  • Funerals (a maximum of 10 people);
  • Wedding (a maximum of 5 people);
  • Family units.

体育在线365 Playgrounds, skate parks and outside gyms in public places will be closed while bootcamps will be reduced to two persons, including the trainer.

In Australia there are now 3,966 confirmed cases of Covid-19, with 1,791 in NSW, 769 in VIC, 656 in QLD, 311 in WA, 287 in SA, 77 in ACT, 61 in TAS, and 14 in NT.

$1.1 billion to supporting mental health and domestic violence services

体育在线365 The Federal Government has also announced $1.1 billion will be given to mental health, Medicare and domestic violence services.

体育在线365 "As we battle coronavirus on both the health and economic fronts with significant support packages in place and more to come, I am very aware many Australians are understandably anxious, stressed and fearful about the impacts of coronavirus and what it brings," said  Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

体育在线365 "We are focused on saving lives and saving livelihoods and this new support package will provide much needed care and help to so many Australians facing hardship at no fault of their own.

体育在线365 "We will get through this crisis by staying together, by supporting each other and ensuring that no Australian, even though we have to be isolated, should have to go through this alone."

Medicare-subsidised telehealth services for all Australians will be expanded by a $669 million cash injection to further encourage the population to stay home as much as possible.

体育在线365 The Federal Government hopes the funding will take the pressure off hospitals and emergency departments, and allow people to access essential health services at home.

Domestic violence services like 1800RESPECT and Mensline Australia will receive $150 million.

According to the Federal Government Google is seeing the highest magnitude of searches for domestic violence help that they have seen in the past five years with an increase of 75 per cent and some services are already reporting an increase in demand.

Updated at 9.58AM AEDT on 30 March 2020.






Contact us

Email News Update Sign Up Contact Details

PO Box 1487
Mudgeeraba QLD 4213

LoginTell a FriendSign Up to Newsletter