Data from research firms show the number of people using X daily is falling, more than a year after tech billionaire Elon Musk bought the app formerly known as Twitter.



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

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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 9 in our series for 2024 and today’s date is Friday March 29. And yes, it’s Good Friday.

First, I’ll be talking to Ndevr Environmental founder, Matt Drum, and his views on climate change and the impact this will have on the private sector.

And I’ll be talking to economist Nicholas Gruen about how Australia Post can improve its services in the bush by letting in some competition

But first, let’s talk to Matt Drum..

So what’s happening in the news?


The number of people using X daily is falling, more than a year after tech billionaire Elon Musk bought the app formerly known as Twitter.  Data from two research firms and figures published by Musk and X suggest a deteriorating situation for X by some metrics. Musk has marketed it as the world’s “town square,” but in number of users it continues to lag far behind social media rivals that focus on video, such as Instagram and TikTok. In February, X had 27 million daily active users of its mobile app in the U.S., down 18% from a year earlier, according to Sensor Tower, a market intelligence firm based in San Francisco. The U.S. user base has been flat or down every month since November 2022, the first full month of Musk’s owning the app, and in total it’s down 23% since then, Sensor Tower said. The numbers were nearly as bad worldwide, as daily active users on the mobile app fell to 174 million in February, down 15% from a year earlier, the firm said. The worldwide user base has been flat or down every month during Musk’s tenure began except one, when it grew slightly in October and then resumed falling, according to Sensor Tower.  Other social media apps experienced modest increases in their worldwide user bases during the same period, according to the research, with Snapchat growing 8.8%, Instagram 5.3%, Facebook 1.5% and TikTok 0.5%. Those apps all experienced declines over that period in the U.S., but none was as steep as the decline on X.  X had “the most material decline in active users compared to its peers,” Abe Yousef, a senior insights analyst at Sensor Tower, wrote in a research report.  “This decline in X mobile app active users may have been driven by user frustration over flagrant content, general platform technical issues, and the growing threat of short-form video platforms,” he wrote.  Under Musk’s ownership, X has relaxed content moderation rules that previously limited hateful content such as white supremacist imagery, and Musk has welcomed back to the platform some users whom the old Twitter management had banned. In December, he reinstated the accounts of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his Infowars website and then held a public audio-only event with Jones.

Australia’s monthly headline consumer price index indicator flat-lined at 3.4% in annual terms in February, unchanged from the previous month, undershooting consensus forecast of 3.5% and 3.6%.

Unions will push for a 5% increase to the minimum wage for more than 2.9 million workers, while employers will demand a major pay slowdown to offset record increases that “overcompensated” for inflation. The Australian Council of Trade Unions announced it will call on the Fair Work Commission to lift the national minimum wage from $23.23 to $24.39 an hour this year and the full-time annual rate by $2295 to $48,200. The increase, which would flow on to more than 100 industry awards, would cement Australia as having one of the world’s highest minimum wages in nominal terms, second only to Luxembourg. It comes as unions in NSW, including those representing construction workers and 15,000 RailCorp workers, pursue pay rises of between 5% and 8% a year in moves officials hope will trigger broader wage rises across the country. Despite last year’s record increase of 5.75%, ACTU secretary Sally McManus said workers on awards were still $5200 worse off after inflation had eaten away their pay rises over the past three years.

Jacqui Lambie will demand the Liberals agree to boost transparency in Tasmania’s political system, and rethink plans for a $715 million AFL stadium in Hobart, in exchange for a deal to return Premier Jeremy Rockliff to power. In the wake of Saturday’s inconclusive election result,  , the Liberals are on track to take up to 15 seats in the expanded lower house of 35 members. As many as three Jacqui Lambie Network candidates are expected to win seats, potentially offering Mr Rockliff a path through the chaos. But the federal senator said they would push for the state’s integrity commission to get new powers and calls for tax breaks for small business. Truth in political advertising laws and faster turnaround times for freedom of information requests are also on the table. Senator Lambie said the state’s Integrity Commission needed to be given new powers, suggesting it had “basically never heard a case”.She will also push for more transparency around the AFL stadium development, demanding the contract be provided to new MPs. Any changes to the agreement with the league over the stadium, which was a key issue in the campaign, could be a political nuisance for Mr Rockliff. “I am hoping there’s a prospect that it can certainly be adjusted because Tasmania just cannot afford that,” she said. “We do not have a resource sector like Western Australia does, we don’t have gold-plated road.

Peter Dutton has committed the Coalition to develop laws that could extend to forcibly breaking up Coles and Woolworths after he stepped in to stop the Nationals working with the Greens to rein in supermarket power. Mr Dutton intervened with Nationals leader David Littleproud this week, blocking fledgling co-operation with Greens senator Nick McKim on proposed forced divestment laws. He has previously stressed any changes must benefit consumers, but promised action on market concentration. “It will come as no surprise that it is a principle of our party not to look to the Greens for leadership on how to manage the economy,” the Opposition Leader told Coalition MPs at Parliament House. This development coincided with the companies facing intense scrutiny on their pricing practices from shoppers and parliament and new Australian Bureau of Statistics data on Tuesday showing that some of the claims of price gouging were exaggerated, with the costs of food and non-alcoholic beverages in Australia increasing by less than those in New Zealand, the UK, Canada, the US and the EU.

CoreLogic’s Home Value Index has shown an impressive growth of 8.9% over the past year, boosting the national median dwelling value by about $63,000 to $765,762 and reaching a new peak in February, driving up the cost of rent over inflation     . That’s despite worsening affordability, rising cost of living and rate hikes. This has also increased the cost of rent. CoreLogic has attributed this to the increasingly entrenched undersupply in housing stock, and above-average demand thanks to strong net migration.

The team at Oxford Economics Australia says that a combination of factors is exacerbating the housing construction crunch, including a 40% increase in construction costs, high upfront charges, higher interest rates, and savage competition for skilled labour from Australia’s booming infrastructure sector, which faces a skills gap of about 230,000 people. The profitability of developers and builders is poor, but high interest rates mean affordability is also poor. The lack of supply feeds through to Oxford’s forecast for house prices, which it expects will rise 2.4% in 2024. But senior economist Maree Kilroy says the prospect of interest rate cuts will boost affordability in 2025 and 2026, when she expects national house prices to rise between 7% and 8%. Rental growth is expected to remain above the rate of inflation until 2026. Interest rate cuts will provide more relief. But if Oxford’s price predictions are right, those locked out of the market will find any affordability benefit from lower rates will instantly disappear due to higher prices.

Commonwealth Bank has invested in a start-up working with global banks to create standards for screening for financial crime and cross-border payments against international sanctions lists. CBA, which has put an executive onto the board of the three-year-old London-based Global Screening Services, joins Japanese bank MUFG as a shareholder after backing its $US47 million ($72 million) capital raising. It could deploy GSS for international payments next year, once final testing is completed with around 40 global banks trying to reduce the number of legitimate payments being blocked. Sanctions lists – which include the names of people and companies governments prevent banks from dealing with – have swollen on the back of rising geopolitical risks including Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. They were also a favoured foreign policy tool of Donald Trump’s White House. The proliferation of sanctions makes banks nervous of unwittingly facilitating criminal activity, exposing them to stiff penalties and reputational damage. Over the past five years, the number of names on 50 major global government sanctions lists has grown by 300%, GSS estimates. Australia’s own “consolidated list” managed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, has 9500 names. Meanwhile, the US list, managed by the Office of Foreign Assets Control inside Treasury, runs to 2000 pages. Mistakes can be costly; French bank BNP Paribas was fined almost $US9 billion in 2014 after pleading guilty in the US to conspiring to violate US sanctions against the governments of Sudan, Iran and Cuba. ANZ Bank has also run foul of the US over transactions linked to Sudan and Cuba between 2004 and 2006, which resulted in a $7 million settlement in 2009.

An Australian medical company is teaching cutting-edge trauma surgery to Ukrainian doctors as they grapple with the reality of a war dominated by deadly unmanned drones, which have fundamentally altered the battlefield. Canberra-based Aspen Medical has partnered with the US-based Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine to undertake a study into Ukraine’s combat casualty care and the lessons from the first large-scale country-to-country conflict fought in Europe since World War II. Commissioned by the US Department of Defence, the findings are being used to buttress Ukraine’s medical capabilities through data analysis and training and develop lessons for US and allied forces. Aspen Medical’s chief of mission in Ukraine Terry Rauch said a critical early finding stemmed from the tactical use of drones on the battlefield, an early hallmark of the conflict. Drones limit timely movement as they scour battlefields hunting for troops, leading to complications from tourniquet use. Where in Iraq and Afghanistan severely wounded people were airlifted to treatment quickly, reducing this risk, Ukrainians are being forced to wait for hours on the battlefield before receiving early care. Ukrainians face multi-day journeys from the war-torn east to safe care in the county’s west. An estimated 25,000 people in Ukraine have lost limbs to conflict-related amputations. A key outcome of the Aspen Medical-led research has been the adaptation of tactical combat casualty recommendations by Allied forces for the use of tourniquets.  More than 40 medical clinicians working in Ukraine have been trained in advanced trauma care under the $US10 million Aspen-Medical led program, which is preparing them for the intricacies of the battlefield injuries that appear on their operating tables. Noting the high amputation rate since the war began, the Alcoa Foundation in February announced a $300,000 grant with Aspen Medical to partner with the First Medical Union of Lviv to provide prosthetic limbs, tailored to meet individual needs along with the necessary rehabilitation care. The Wartime Medical Care Study also includes monthly symposia in Poland’s capital Warsaw, bringing together experts including civilian and military physicians, nurses, hospital administrators and policy makers. Politically-astute Aspen has always seized opportunities. During Covid, it got $57 million in coronavirus contracts. This included the provision of 35 surge staff to contain an outbreak at the Newmarch House aged-care facility in Sydney’s west; setting up 100 pop-up respiratory clinics around the country; screening and testing crew members on the cruise ship Ruby Princess; and sourcing personal protective equipment (PPE) for the federal government’s national medical stockpile. Founded by former Australian Defence Force (ADF) member Glenn Keys in 2003, the Canberra-based Aspen Medical has since become a major privatised medical provider. It has worked as a defence contractor, and as an operator in Australia’s offshore immigration detention network, providing medical services at Nauru hospital. The company has strong political ties. Michael Wooldridge, a former Howard government Health minister, spent 10 years as a director of Aspen over two periods between 2007 and 2019.


And that’s it for this week. And next week, I’ll be talking to Gartner VP of HR Advisory Aaron McEwan to talk about the future of work, people strategy, talent management strategies and practices, wellbeing and mental health, and employee value propositions.

And I’ll be talking to Indeed economist Callam Pickering about the latest unemployment figures.

For the most exclusive access to leading economists and business leaders from around the world, subscribe to Talking Business from my website

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Wishing you all a safe and healthy week, And please, have an Eggs-elent Easter with your friends and family. And looking forward to bringing you Talking Business next week