Master Builders say first home buyers' access to superannuation 'will work'

THE COALITION GOVERNMENT'S proposed home ownership policy will help to keep the dream of homeownership within reach of Australians while maintaining the integrity of the country's world class superannuation system, according to Master Builders Australia.

“The success of this policy is that it is aligned with the intent of superannuation which is to provide sufficient retirement income,” Master Builders Australia CEO Denita Wawn said.

“People who own their home, particularly in retirement, are significantly more secure financially than those who do not. They enjoy a higher standard of living.

“This policy will mean that many Australians who do not currently own a home will not have to choose between the benefits of home ownership and an adequate super balance in retirement,” Ms Wawn said. 

“It will be a step up for all the aspirational people on middle incomes who yearn to own their own home but need to overcome the deposit gap and who are not eligible for current schemes.

“Master Builders also commends the Coalition on its policy to assist seniors to ‘right size’ into more suitable housing for their stage of life,” Ms Wawn said.

“Senior Australian’s want to remain in their own home as long as possible and they will welcome the Coalition’s policy to support them in achieving that aspiration,” she said.

“Master Builders has been calling for policies to help address the lack of supply of housing for families and we commend the Coalition’s move to address this issue in its policy,” Ms Wawn said.


Releasing super for first home buyer deposits can only work if supply is increased says FSC

PRIME MINISTER Scott Morrison's announcement to allow access to superannuation, for first home buyers to fund a deposit, will undermine the purpose of the superannuation system and could force up to 5.3 million young Australians to decide between owning a home or their retirement savings, the Financial Services Council (FSC) has warned.

FSC CEO Blake Briggs said,  “The FSC is concerned the (Federal) Government’s proposal weakens the sole purpose of superannuation, which is to provide higher standards of living in retirement. 

“The FSC recognises there is a correlation between renting in retirement and poverty amongst older Australians, but Australians should not have to choose between a home and their retirement savings. 

“The government’s own majority report into Housing Affordability and Supply in Australia concluded that superannuation should only ever be used for housing if there were commensurate measures to increase supply. 

“The government’s supply measure only extends downsizing to 1.3 million households, whilst potentially allowing approximately 5.3 million under 35-year-old Australians that do not yet own a home access their superannuation to buy a first home.

“The government has an obligation to do more to boost supply, otherwise unleashing superannuation savings on the housing market risks driving prices higher still.”

The FSC is a peak financial services industry body which sets mandatory standards and develops policy for more than 100 member companies. FSC's  full members  represent Australia’s retail and wholesale funds management businesses, superannuation funds, life insurers and financial advice licensees. Supporting members represent professional services firms such as ICT, consulting, accounting, legal, recruitment, actuarial and research houses in the financial sector.


DiviPay gives financial flexibility to SMEs

By Leon Gettler, Talking Business >>

THE BIG MISTAKES start-ups make is focusing on their good idea instead of what their customers want and need.

That’s the advice from Russell Martin, the co-founder and chief technology officer (CTO) of digital expense platform DiviPay,

DiviPay, which began in 2017, is an all-one virtual corporate card and expense management platform for small business which allows finance teams to better manage, control and streamline their spending across their organisation.

It is a very easy to use web and mobile application that allows a business to instantly issue corporate cards for employees and pay bills. It automates expense management workflows

Mr Martin  said small business had been neglected in expense management and DiviPay was created to fill that gap. 


Mr Martin developed the idea that eventually became DiviPay when he worked at the innovation space at Westpac.

“We learned a lot of skills about identifying customer needs, what their jobs to be done are, what problems they were having in their life and how we might be able to build prototypes and viable products around these problems using different types of technology,” Mr Martin told Talking Business.

“I think a trap that a lot of start-ups fall into is being very attached to their idea and thinking their idea is the most important thing but what is important is understanding the problems the customer has in their life, building a small solution around that and then validating whether that solution has called what called ‘product market fit’. That is, do your customers adopt your product, are they willing to pay you for it, and does it have the growth potential to make a successful company?

“We’ve been very focused on making sure the things we build have product market fit.”

He said when DviPay spoke to its customers about expense management workflows, it learned these companies had a number of expense workarounds like employees paying for expenses out of pocket, and being owed by their employer for long periods of time and sharing one or two company cards around the office.

“We have a funny story of a customer who had a photocopy of a credit card in filing cabinet for about 30 different people, and eventually that corporate card was compromised, they couldn’t work out who was spending what,” Mr Martin said.

“Just hearing stories of ways people are trying to solve problems in their life, and then honing in on how can we do that better?

“How can we identify a solution that solves that particular problem for this customer in a new way.”


Mr Martin said DiviPay had customers ranging from companies with one to two employees all the way through to medium sized businesses with 500 to 1000 employees. It covers small to medium sized businesses of all types.

“These expense management workflows are common themes across any type of business, whether you run a trade business, whether you run a digital marketing company, or a consultancy, everyone is looking for ways to optimise and do things more efficiently,” Mr Martin said.

One of the benefits of DiviPay for small business was the speed of onboarding. 

“We onboard customers in under an hour where that customer may have been in the seventh or eighth week of the application process with a big four bank,” Mr Martin said.

“It’s really that lack of access to financial products that a lot of fintechs have set out to solve, where – through new technologies, new compliance and processes –  e can actually serve smaller customers that have been under-served by large institutions.”


Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at


REIQ chief accuses Qld Govt of 'milking the property cash cow' again

THE Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ) is accusing the Queensland Government of "dipping into the piggy bank of property owners yet again" with a new land tax regime which "is a slap in the face to the very sector that is propping up the economy".

The REIQ's reaction has come off the back of the Queensland Government pocketing soaring stamp duty revenue with $5.38bn in transfer revenue this financial year, as announced by State Treasurer Peter Dick. It will increase overall from $16.53bn to $19.93bn over the forward estimates.

REIQ CEO Antonia Mercorella said disappointingly the government had not consulted with relevant property stakeholder groups on this new land tax regime, which was "the wrong move at the wrong time". Under the Treasurer's announcement, interstate property investors with multiple landholdings across different states would have their annual land tax assessment based on the worth of all their land, rather than just the worth of their Queensland property. However, primary places of residence would continue to be exempt. 

“This treatment of property investors as an endless money pit is outrageous – the government is raking in a huge stamp duty windfall, then relying on private investors to provide the lion’s share of housing supply, and now they’re slapping investors yet again with new taxes,” Ms Mercorella said.

“How can the government possibly justify slugging property investors with tax for land they own that isn’t even within our state borders? It’s utter nonsense that there’s a 'loop hole' to close.

“From a practical standpoint, it’s also baffling to understand how on earth they intend to get this data in order to double-tax investors who are already paying this tax elsewhere.”

Ms Mercorella said that property investors were tired of being the ATM for the State and given the flagged second wave of tenancy rental reforms, many could decide to vote with their money.

“There is no other state or territory that takes this approach, and by treating property investors with contempt like this time and time again, investors may very well pull up stumps,” Ms Mercorella said.

“All this is doing is deterring people from investing in Queensland and instead, opting to invest where no multi-jurisdictional land tax applies.

“For those not scared off from investing in Queensland, and current investors brave enough to stick around, this tax will make their holding costs more expensive and the logical consequence of that is that rent goes up.

“In the midst of a rental crisis, it beggars belief that this would be the lever the government pulls. It shows the government lacks the ability to think outside the square and come up with alternative and innovative solutions to find new revenue streams.

“You only have to look at the timing of this bombshell legislative reform to see the government is clearly trying to sneak this in under the radar at a time most people have clocked off for the year.”



CPAs see business and economic sentiment rising - along with doubts

CONFIDENCE in Australia’s economic outlook has increased over the past six weeks but accountants are still more likely to be worried, according to a new survey by professional accounting body, CPA Australia.

In early October, CPA Australia surveyed 144 accounting professionals as part of a longitudinal survey of economic and business sentiment, coinciding with the implementation of the National COVID-19 Response Plan. CPA Australia's previous survey was conducted in August.

“General economic sentiment has lifted, which is positive, however accountants remain more likely to be pessimistic notwithstanding rising vaccination rates,” CPA Australia chief executive Andrew Hunter said.

“We think this reflects ongoing uncertainty about re-opening requirements and what they’ll mean for businesses, their employees and customers, as well as how future outbreaks will be managed.” 

About 32 percent of respondents are confident in the performance of the Australian economy over the next three months, compared with 20 percent in August, while 42 percent are worried compared with 51 percent in August.

The level of optimism increases as longer outlook periods are considered. About 44 percent expressed confidence in the state of the economy in 12 months time,  up from 30 percent in August.


Respondents were more enthusiastic when it came to their own workplaces. About 68 percent were fairly or extremely confident in the performance of their business over the next three months. Only 14 percent are fairly or extremely worried.

About 31 percent of respondents expect their business’s or employer’s revenue to increase this month, compared with 29 percent in August. Meanwhile, 44 percent expect revenue to decrease, which was the same in August.

In an unexpected result, less than one third of respondents (28.5%) reported that government business supports have had a positive or very positive impact on their business and business clients.

“This surprised me, and I can’t say for certain why respondents feel this way," Mr Hunter said. "But from talking with members and businesses, I’d suggest that it’s a consequence of challenges associated with the design, roll-out and administration of support and grant programs, and the fact that many businesses weren’t eligible despite experiencing difficulties.

“Issues such as these have left a sour taste in the mouth of many accountants. They’ve been the ones trying to make hastily designed and often vague support schemes workable for business. Our members have worked incredibly hard over the past 18 months assisting their clients or employers access this much needed support quickly.

“We encourage governments to consult early, openly and often with professional and industry associations on the design, structure and administration of support schemes before implementation. This will enhance their effectiveness once introduced.”

Respondents working in businesses remain very confident in their employer’s ability to repay any debts over the next three months. This is despite the closure of several grant programs since that time and the impending closure of others. Only 14 percent expect their business to have difficulty in repaying their debts over the next three months.

“The good news is that business solvency isn’t a major factor at this time," Mr Hunter said. "This suggests we don’t need to be overly concerned, at least for now, about an upcoming insolvency cliff after supports roll off. That said, we know many businesses will face very tough trading conditions for some time.”


The short-term employment outlook is also positive. Respondents are now more likely than they were in August to expect their employer to increase employee numbers over the next three months (33% compared with 23%). Respondents were also more likely to forecast an increase in staff hours over the next three months, as well as work outsourced to contractors.

“Businesses in locked-down states are making plans for the return of customers," Mr Hunter said. "This increases the urgency for governments to provide answers about what they can and can’t do when they re-open.”

CPA Australia has previously published 10 questions businesses need answers to before re-opening, and is seeking answers to these from governments.

Although confidence in the economy, business and employment grew over the past two months, there remain numerous short-term challenges for businesses. The number one difficulty continues to be uncertainty around lockdowns, followed by attracting and retaining staff. About 62 percent of respondents also said border closures had a negative, or very negative, impact on their businesses.

“With international travel slated to resume in November under the National Response Plan, albeit slowly, this should alleviate some issues for businesses," Mr Hunter said. "However, relief may be way off yet for businesses in states which have said they may remain closed into the new year.”   

Although awareness of the National COVID-19 Response Plan has increased from CPA's previous survey, respondents were more likely than before to find it unclear, at 46 percent compared with 39 percent in August.



Two out of three investors believe cryptocurrency will grow against the dollar

AUSTRALIAN financial pundits overwhelmingly believe that crypto currencies -- not particularly Bitcoin -- will continue to rise against the dollar and will also become a valuable asset in a diversified portfolio.

Research by international cryptocurrency platform Gemini has also found about 32 percent of investors said they would invest more when cryptocurrencies are regulated. About 34 percent said they would also invest when they have more information about such currencies.

However, Bitcoin's erratic moves confuse the issue. The meteoric rise and subsequent volatility of Bitcoin has many Aussies considering whether digital assets have a place in an investment portfolio, often comparing cryptocurrencies against more traditional asset classes, such as property.

Now, as concerns grow over inflation and an economic slump – motivating many investors to look for new ways to protect their assets – the latest survey reveals that 63 percent of Australian cryptocurrency enthusiasts view crypto as a valuable asset in a diversified portfolio, and 59 percent believe its value will outpace the dollar. 

The findings are derived from a survey of an independent panel of 1,010 Australians who have, or currently do, invest in crypto, commissioned by global crypto platform Gemini. Respondents comprised 55 percent of people who invest in crypto and 45 percent who have invested in crypto before.

The survey revealed that millennials, in particular, value cryptocurrency as an investment option: 72 percent of 25–34-year-olds believe it is a valuable asset in a diversified portfolio, compared with 57 percent of over-55s.

More than half (59%) of respondents believe crypto, like gold, will continue to grow against fiat currencies over the long term, while a further 8 percent believe crypto is a better investment than gold.

Gemini Asia-Pacific managing director, Jeremy Ng said, “Both cryptocurrency and gold are often seen as ways to hedge against inflation. Gold has historically been considered a safe-haven asset. However, Bitcoin and several other cryptocurrencies have experienced meteoric growth and offer unique, innovative features that make them stand out.

“Some cryptocurrencies have the potential to benefit investors by creating tools and resources that support the growth and exchange of value outside of traditional financial institutions, without the need for an intermediary. The blockchain technology that underlies crypto can be applied to a large range of industries, beyond simply money and finance," he said.

The total global cryptocurrency market cap in September 2020 was at around A$529 billion. As of September 2021, it was A$2.9 trillion -- according to the report Total Cryptocurrency Market Cap, 2021 ( -- almost one trillion dollars more than Australia’s GDP as outline in an Austyrade report.

Given this exponential growth, Gemini has found through the survey that Aussies are torn when deciding whether it is too late to invest in Bitcoin at its current price (A$46,000 at the time of the survey), with 51 percent of respondents believing it was too late.

However, Mr Ng said crypto was still only in the early stages of development.

“We are beginning to see the gradual adoption of cryptocurrency into the mainstream," he said. "As technology continues to develop, so will money and the systems that underpin it. While fiat currency remains the dominant form of money, cryptocurrencies and the blockchain technology that supports them may very well represent the next step in the evolution.”

Criticism levelled against fiat currency is that its perceivable worth is directly influenced by decisions made by central authorities, namely governments and central banks, making it susceptible to inflation. Most cryptocurrencies, on the other hand, are decentralised, meaning no single authority can dilute their value by simply issuing more. He said Bitcoin, in particular, was an appreciating asset due to its strictly limited supply, leading many people to hold rather than use it as a currency. Bitcoin is even being referred to as digital gold or Gold 2.0.

Respondents were also asked what factors would influence them to invest in cryptocurrency. Gemini found that Aussies were looking for increased education on the topic, with 34 percent of respondents who don’t invest in crypto saying they would invest once they had more information and could understand cryptocurrencies as an investment. One third (32 percent) of those who don’t invest in crypto said they would when it is regulated.

Despite the exciting growth and developments within the crypto space, Mr Ng caveats that investors shouldn’t look at their crypto investments as get-rich-quick opportunities.

“The cryptocurrency space is still in its early stages and is therefore subject to much more volatility than the traditional asset classes like the stock market," Mr Ng said. As a result, it is possible for individuals to see short-term losses.

"I personally recommend doing thorough research to understand the fundamentals and use-cases of crypto assets prior to investing, take a long-term investment view and never invest more than you can afford to lose.”

The Gemini digital currency platform was launched by the Winklevoss twins, Cameron and Tyler, who are also billion dollar investors in Bitcoin. Its value has trebled since their investment. The Winklevoss twins are probably best known for winning a major settlement with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg over the technological origins of the social network.


 Respondents comprised 55% of people who invest in crypto and 45% who have invested in crypto.

Total Cryptocurrency Market Cap, 2021.

 AusTrade, 2021


Small Business Ombudsman welcomes CBA announcement on least cost routing

THE Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Bruce Billson has welcomed the announcement by the Commonwealth Bank (CBA) that it would automatically lower costs incurred by small businesses and family enterprises with a turnover of less than $250,000. 

The Ombudsman has repeatedly called on banks and other financial institutions to adopt what is known as least cost routing to slash the high and hidden costs associated with electronic card payments for small operators and family enterprises.

“I congratulate the Commonwealth Bank for hearing the feedback from the small business community and taking this first step which will help a section of the small business community. There is a lot more to be done though, and I urge all banks and financial institutions to address this critical issue,” Mr Billson said.  

“I also welcome the Commonwealth Bank’s announcement that it will waive three months of merchant fees for those small businesses hardest hit by COVID-19 lockdowns. This is a terrific early Christmas present.

“The use of cashless transactions, particularly tap-and-go payments, has dramatically increased due to COVID-19 and it is vital to ensure that all small businesses are being offered the lowest cost options from their service provider or financial institution," he said.

“Many small businesses and family enterprises already operating on tight margins and battling the disruption to their businesses caused by COVID-19 can’t afford the added burden of paying higher than necessary fees for their financial transactions.

“The cost of these higher and hidden charges across the economy is many millions of dollars – money that could be better put to work to grow business and employment prospects.”



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