Talking Business August 27 2021

Talking Business: August 27 2021

University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Centre says the rise in mental health problems caused by the lockdowns in Victoria and NSW have already cost $1 billion in lost productivity and those aged 15 to 25 are likely to be the worst affected



Welcome to Talking Business, a podcast produced in Melbourne Australia. The podcast is available on the Acast app, the Apple Podcast store or wherever you go to get your podcasts. Or you can get it at the Business Acumen website at

I am Leon Gettler. My job is to review and monitor      the week’s news in business, finance and economics. I bring it all to you, every week.

This is episode number 30 in our series for 2021 and today’s date is Friday August 27.

Today I’ll be talking to Alicia Kennedy, managing director of Naked Wines. And I’ll be talking to Indeed economist Callam Pickering about the latest jobs figures.

But now, let’s talk to Alicia Kennedy.




The rise in mental health problems caused by the lockdowns in Victoria and NSW have already cost $1 billion in lost productivity and those aged 15 to 25 are likely to be the worst affected, according to updated modelling by the University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Centre. The figure builds on earlier modelling by the centre that estimated the productivity cost of the COVID-19 pandemic at more $20 billion a year due to a projected increase in psychological distress, hospitalisations and suicide. The centre’s modelling considers the initial and ongoing cost of increased mental health illness to the health system and the wider economy. This includes estimates of the costs of increased suicide; the costs of caring for the increases in people self-harming and having suicidal thoughts; and estimates of the reduction in productive output of those affected by mental illness. Professor Ian Hickie, the former Mental Health Commissioner, warned the growing COVID-19-related mental health crisis, especially for young people, had become a “shadow pandemic”.




Business support for mandating Covid vaccinations in workplaces is growing, with a national survey of 700 companies finding a quarter would like compulsory jabs of their employees. An Australian Industry Group survey of business attitudes to mandatory Covid vaccination in workplaces found more than half were in favour of some form of mandating. 24% said they would like to mandate Covid vaccinations for some or all of their employees; and 27% said they would like Covid vaccinations to be mandated only through a health order related to their industry.

Almost 7000 COVID-19 jabs have been administered to critical workers in the food and freight sectors from Sydney’s hardest-hit local government areas  Co-operation between major employers and the federal government’s Operation COVID Shield rollout effort has seen staff of supermarket and food giants Coles, Woolworths, Aldi, OzHarvest and Metcash vaccinated across 19 sites. About 1000 doses have been administered to employees at freight firms Linfox and DHL, according to federal government data. Ahead of a major expansion of workplace vaccinations in coming months, about 6000 Commonwealth Bank and Westpac employees in hotspot local government areas are being jabbed in a pilot phase. Rollout boss Lieutenant General John Frewen  is working with the retail and university sectors on workplace vaccinations, and sporting bodies in AFL, tennis, soccer and netball are expected to be included.

Hutchison Ports and DP World have told wharfies they must get the jab to come to work next week as new rules introduced by the NSW government ratchet up pressure on employers to mandate vaccinations. The stevedores advised hundreds of workers they could not work at their Port Botany terminals, located in one of the hotspot local government areas in south-western Sydney, from August 30 if they have not had their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccination. The directions confirm what employer groups suspect thousands of employers might be forced to do after the introduction of rules requiring authorised workers in 12 Sydney local government areas to be vaccinated if they work outside their LGA, unless their workplace uses rapid antigen testing.


Fully vaccinated travellers will be able to claim 1000 Qantas frequent flyer points, 15 status credits to move up the loyalty tiers and a $20 discount on Qantas and Jetstar flights from tomorrow. It is part of a new initiative from the airline to encourage vaccinations. Frequent Flyer members who claim the rewards will automatically enter a prize draw to get free accommodation at Accor hotels and free fuel from BP service stations. Prize winners will also get a free international flight on Qantas or Jetstar when borders re-open, projected for mid next year. There will be 10 winners overall – one selected from each state and territory, with another two winners chosen from a national pool.


The Porsche-driving mortgage broker who filmed dying police officers at a horrific multi-vehicle accident last year has been banned by the corporate cop from providing financial services or credit for at least a decade. Richard Pusey, whom a judge dubbed “the most hated man in Australia”, was banned from performing any function relating to carrying on a financial services or credit business earlier this month by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. An investigation found the 43-year-old mortgage broker and insurance salesman had given the regulator as many as seven false statements in licence applications and compliance documents. The regulator declared he “is not a fit and proper person to participate in the financial services and credit industries”. In a statement, ASIC said Mr Pusey “has no regard for the law”, “lacks the attributes of good character, honesty, and judgment” and “cannot be relied upon to comply with directions issued from authorities”. ASIC added Mr Pusey “is likely to contravene credit legislation and financial services legislation”. Mr Pusey is in custody awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to assaulting a woman at his home, and two road rage incidents. Mr Pusey also pleaded guilty to menacing a Westpac bank employee in a series of messages in 2019 following a credit card dispute.

Australian electric car charging network JOLT plans to install 5000 free fast chargers across capital cities after Blackrock, the world’s largest asset manager, bought a stake in the company and pledged an initial $100 million towards building the network. Drivers using JOLT chargers would receive 7 kWh – equivalent to about 45 kilometres of driving – for free, and be charged for power drawn after that. JOLT would also make money from advertising sold on its charging stations. All the power it sells will be renewable and the installation of the charging points is expected to begin in Sydney in September. JOLT operates charging stations in Adelaide. Charlie Reid, a managing director of BlackRock’s Global Renewable Power team, said for the world to reach net zero emissions by 2050, the last internal combustion car engine would need to be sold by 2035. He said this would happen globally and in Australia, whatever government policies were in place, as Australia imported its vehicles.




Supermarket giant Woolworths has responded to the push by many shoppers for faster online deliveries, striking a deal with Uber Eats for groceries and fresh fruit and vegetables to be delivered from some of its Woolworths Metro outlets within an hour. Woolworths is starting a trial for Uber Eats drivers to deliver goods ordered from 12 Woolworths Metro stores in Sydney and Melbourne. It aims to roll out the service to about 200 Woolworths outlets by early next year. Woolworths operates 996 large supermarket outlets and 78 Woolworths Metro stores, which have a smaller footprint and are generally positioned in inner-city locations to capture customers and commuters buying smaller amounts of groceries, but more frequently. But the Woolworths Metro format has suffered in the pandemic as more people worked from home and CBDs emptied out. Woolworths in June booked a $50 million write-down on the value of 13 Metro locations located in CBDs or near major train stations, which have borne the brunt of the work-from-home shift.

Right-wing extremists are using platforms such as YouTube, PayPal and Buy Me A Coffee to raise money to support their nefarious activities, says the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, which is calling for anti-money-laundering laws to apply to more technology businesses. ASPI analyst Ariel Bogle wants the federal government to develop a centralised hate crime and statistics database to track and understand the financial activities of extremists operating in Australia.  She is also calling for regulators to consider whether emerging platforms have obligations under laws such as the Anti-Money-Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act and the Proceeds of Crime Act.

About 7000 truckies at Toll Transport will strike across the country on Friday, disrupting parcel and food deliveries at the height of the pandemic. The Transport Workers Union confirmed drivers would stop work for 24 hours after Toll refused to drop bargaining claims in crisis talks on Monday, including that part-time staff work up to 38 hours a week without overtime and new drivers work six to 12 month contracts. The stoppage is the first national strike in road transport in more than a decade and comes as home deliveries have surged following stay-at-home orders for more than 14 million people in NSW and Victoria.

And the profit reporting season continues. Kogan’s net profit plunged 87% to just $3.5 million in 2021. Takeover target Afterpay has widened its net loss to $159.4 million in financial 2021, versus $22.9 million in the prior year. Australia’s biggest smash repair outfit AMA Group reported a $99.1 million statutory loss for the year.  Chorus EBITDA rose slightly to $NZ649 million during the year, up only slightly on $NZ648 million in the 2020 financial year. Its net profit after tax fell to $47 million, from $NZ52 million, and operating revenue dipped to $NZ947 million, from $NZ959 million   Reliance Worldwide revenue rose 15.3% to $1.16 billion while net profit climbed 110.5% to $188.2 million. oOh!media’s revenue for the period was up 23% to $251.6 million, while earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation more than tripled to $33.3 million. The company reported a $9.3 million net loss after tax compared to a loss of $28 million in the prior comparable period. GPI Property Group’s net profit fell to $22.96 million, down from $66.74 million a year earlier. NIB’s underlying revenue rose 2.9% to $2.6 billion however its net profit rose 84.5% to $160.5 million. Hotels and cinemas operator Event Hospitality and Entertainment has posted a 45.4%  fall in financial 2021 revenue to $449.3 million. It narrowed its statutory loss 15.7% to $48 million on EBITDA of $27.2 million. Mining contractor MACA’s net profit after tax jumped 219% to $20.7 million following the $17.4 million loss it reported last year. Ampol’s EBIT rose to $340 million, from $221 million a year ago. Michael Hill’s net profit rose 15-fold to a record $45.3 million in 2021. Charter Hall reported post-tax operating earnings of $284.3 million. Latitude delivered an 81% rise in cash profits, to $121 million. Ansell sales rose 25.6% to $US2.02 billion while EBIT climbed 56% to $US338 million and profit firmed 57.5% to $US246.7 million. Perenti Global’s net profit after tax and amortisation in the second half of the 2021 financial year improved by $75.3 million from a first-half statutory loss of $63.8 million to a statutory gain in the second half of $11.5 million. Underlying net profit after tax and amortisation fell from $211.7 million to $170.8 million. HUB24 reported net profit after tax of $15 million, up 53%, and underlying group earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation of $36.2 million which was a 47% increase on FY20.  Monadelphous Group’s  revenue rose 18% to $1.75 billion while profit climbed 29% to $47.1 million. The Westfield Australia real estate trust Scentre Group has reported its operating profit for the half year to June 30 climbed 27.5% to $460.1 million on property revenue up 21.3% to $1.064.8 million. Total revenue fell 1.2% to $1081.4 million. Alumina’s net profit dipped 19% to $US73.6 million. Carbon Revolution revenue declined 10% to $34.9 million as the company reported a $32 million loss after tax. Oil Search’s revenue climbed 7% to $US667.7 million in the first half of the year while core net profit soared 463% to $139 million. Nanosonics’ full year revenue was up 3% to $103.1 million for the period with an operating profit before tax of $11 million, down from $12.4 million in FY20. Voice communication software provider MNF Group’s recurring revenue rose 12% to $113.2 million, while EBITDA increased 13% to $43.1 million, sitting at the top end of market guidance. Estia Health’s revenue rose 4.4% to $665.4 million while profit after tax rose to $6 million following a $116.9 million loss a year earlier. Austal’s net profit after tax came in at $81.1 million, down from $89 million in FY20. Superloop’s total revenue rose 2.9% to $110.7 million during the year however it still reported a loss of $31.9 million for the year. Sleep treatment specialist SomnoMed has narrowed its full-year net loss to $1.18 million and lifted revenue 9% to $62.7 million for financial 2021. ReadyTech’s underlying net profit after tax and amortisation rose 27% to $10.6 million. Local fund manager VGI Partners delivered a normalised net profit after tax of $42.9 million for the half-year to the end of June. Fertility specialist Monash IVF has hiked its adjusted net profit 61.5% to $23.3 million on revenue up 26.3% to $183.6 million for financial 2021. Statutory net profit climbed 116.9% to $25.5 million, with the adjusted profit number excluding the impact of JobKeeper subsidies. Viva Energy’s gross profit firmed 17% to $788.9 million. Mt Gibson’s sales revenue dipped to $329.7 million, from $445.2 million a year earlier, while net profit slid 24% to $92.1 million. Wagner Holdings reported net profit after tax of $10 million. Financial software player Bravura Solutions reported 13.8% fall in financial 2021 profit to $34.6 million. Northern Star’s net profit climbed 299.7% to $1.03 billion.  Medibank Private’s net profit advanced 39.8% to $441.2 million. Sky City’s reported profit dipped 33.7% to $NZ156.1 million. Seven Group’s net profit firmed 447.6% to $631.4 million. Zircon miner Iluka Resources has posted a half-year net profit up 61.7% to $129 million. Orocobre’s losses widened 14.7% to $US59.6 million. IDP Education’s earnings before interest and tax were $64.1 million, a 41% decrease on FY20. Adbri’s net profit firmed 94.5% to $56.6 million. National Storage REIT grew underlying earnings by 28% to $86.5 million for the financial year that ended in June. Nine Entertainment’s net profit firmed 76% to $277.5 million. APA Group’s profit after tax 98.8% to $3.68 million due to significant one-off items. Engineering Group Worley’s net profit fell 50% to $86 million in financial 2021.  IVE Group’s net profit rose to $29.5 million, improving on the $20.2 million loss from a year earlier. Growthpoint Properties has posted a financial 2021 statutory net profit of $553.2 million, versus $272.1 million in the prior year. McMahon Holdings’ Statutory net profit rose 19% to $77.2 million. Ferries and bus operator Sealink reports its underlying net profit climbed 152.6% in financial 2021 to $74.7 million. Aurelia Metals’ net profit firmed 46% to $42.9 million. Green whistle painkiller merchant Medical Developments has swung to a net loss of $12.6 million. Clearview Wealth reported a 54% increase in underlying net profit after tax to $22.7 million. Dalrymple Day Infrastructure reported net profit of $113.2 million. Sunland Group’s net profit after tax surged from $2.4 million in FY20 to $24.9 million in FY21. Ridley’s EBITDA climbed $9.6 million to $69.1 million while total comprehensive income climbed to $29.9 million following a loss of $10.7 million a year earlier. E-commerce business MyDeal has swung to a $5.9 million loss. Zip Co has reported a staggering $652.5 million loss. Pent-up demand for youth fashion helped Universal Store lift net profit by 90% to $24.4 million in 2021.

And that’s it for this week. And next week, I’ll be talking to Cat Long, the CEO of Trace, a company set up to help businesses and individuals reduce and/or offset their carbon footprint. And I’ll be talking to economist Nicholas Gruen about ways to manage our superannuation,

In the meantime you can catch me on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. And if you want leave a comment. Wishing you all a safe and healthy week. And looking forward to bringing you Talking Business next week