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THE NEWS WRAP: Westfield boss Frank Lowy backs calls for GST on online sales

By James Thomson
Friday, 10 December 2010

Westfield chairman Frank Lowy has jumped on the bandwagon with regard to lowering the GST tax threshold for online goods, saying the government “should and probably would” adjust the laws to even out the retail playing field.


The move comes after an extraordinary meeting yesterday to approve plans for Westfield to spin off the $12.2 billion Westfield Retail Trust, which will house the group’s Australian and New Zealand assets.


NBN reprieve for property sector


The property industry has won a $4.8 billion reprieve from the cost of helping to build the NBN, with the Gillard Government deciding it will carry the expense of connecting new homes to the service. Previously, the Government had told developers they would be responsible for passing on the cost of connecting new homes to the network. The cost has been put at $2,500 a house.


The NBN Co. is charged with the huge cost of connecting about 1.9 million premises estimated to be built during the construction phase of the network.


Government to reform free trade push


Federal Trade Minister Craig Emerson will today announce changes to the Government’s approach to free trade agreements, with the Government determined to pursue free trade agreements only if they deliver significant economic benefits, and not just because Australia has a political relationship with that country.


The changes, to be announced in a speech today, are likely to see Australia prioritise free trade agreements with Japan, South Korea and China.


The markets


Wall Street has fallen slightly overnight, despite new data showing the number of jobless claims in the US fell by 17,000. The Dow Jones Industrial average fell by 0.23%, although the S&P 500 was up by 0.06%. The Australian dollar increased to US98.68c after yesterday’s strong jobs data.



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