THE Australian Export Tourism Council (ATEC) has welcomed Tourism Australia’s innovative new campaign targeting UK visitors which draws on the strengths of one of the country's 'national treasures': actor and singer Kylie Minogue.

“Australia has had a long and strong connection with visitors from the UK and the new ‘Matesong’ campaign will help to strengthen that bond,” ATEC managing director Peter Shelley said.

“Putting Australia in front of the British audience at a time when everyone is watching is a masterstroke in timing that will provide great exposure for our destination.

“We have so many assets -- from our beaches to our wildlife, our food and wine -- and TA’s latest campaign featuring the much loved Kylie Minogue uses one of our great human assets to remind Brits of our strong connection," Mr Shelley said.

“The UK remains one of our largest spending markets and despite a softening which has coincided with the Brexit uncertainty, it will continue to be a valuable source for our industry in the coming decade.
“This campaign will remind Brits they can retreat from the cold of the English winter and the turmoil of political uncertainty to our ‘sun drenched’ destination where they are always warmly welcomed.”


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HOUSES in southeast Queensland are enjoying higher demand and improved capital growth as buyer confidence rises.

According to the latest RiskWise Property Research Risks & Opportunities Report, housing finance in Queensland is showing signs of improvement with an increase of 16.9 percent since February 2019 after a reduction of 7.7 percent relative to August 2018.

However, according to RiskWise CEO Doron Peleg, at this stage only modest (i.e. 3-5%) price growth is expected with the likelihood for strong (i.e. double digits) price increase low.

Mr Peleg said while the Sydney and Melbourne markets were experiencing continued (while improving) issues in relation to housing unaffordability, southeast Queensland enjoyed a more stable market, good population growth and healthy rental returns, making it attractive to both home buyers and property investors.

However, he said while houses were enjoying a resurgence in demand, this was not the case for units.

“Units in Queensland, particularly in high-supply areas and other places where the demand for units is consistently low (and houses enjoy strong popularity as a dwelling alternative), also carry a higher level of risk,” he said.

“One of the reasons for this is because the demand for units among owner-occupiers is low.

“Also, in addition to APRA’s lending restrictions, units in some suburbs are also subject to voluntary lending restrictions by major lenders, such as lower loan-to-value ratio due to oversupply.

“Units in inner-city Brisbane have the highest level of risk with a very large number of properties in the pipeline and increased rates of defaults for those bought off-the-plan. In fact, many areas with oversupply have been labelled 'danger zones' by lenders and also have low sales volumes.”

Mr Peleg said with many of these over-supply areas also presenting a major financing barrier due to requirements for large deposits, in particular off-the-plan units, there was a high level of risk that should be further assessed based on the absorption of the current supply into the market in the next two years and the reduction in commencements.

He said the impact in the short to medium term would be gradually mitigated by a reduction in these dwelling commencements alongside strong population growth.

Mr Peleg noted that the Queensland market greatly varied between high and low-performing areas and special attention should be given to the different job markets across the state, particularly since the unemployment rate had risen from 5.9 percent in April to 6.5 percent in October.

“This is especially the case in the mining towns in Central and North Queensland, that generally experience low demand, versus houses in popular beachside suburbs on the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast that have delivered strong capital growth,” he said.

“It is important to remember that a softer employment market is well connected with low population growth, lower demand for dwellings and price reductions.

“The risk associated with the Queensland market should be monitored closely at the SA4 level, as deteriorating employment conditions are likely to have a significant negative impact on dwelling prices.

“The mining towns still present a relatively higher investment risk due to a very large proportion of investors with negative equity and insufficient growth drivers since the end of the boom.”


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MACQUARIE Telecom Group Limited (ASX: MAQ) has entered into an agreement with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to provide Secure Internet Gateway (SIG) and cyber security services estimated to be worth approximately $20 million over the initial three-year term.

The Secure Internet Gateway is a critical service to securely manage the connection between the ATO’s IT environments and the internet, protecting the ATO’s IT environments from security threats.

The deal will leverage Macquarie’s Australian 24x7 Security Operations Centre (SOC), its sovereign data centres and its ASD-certified cloud computing platforms. Services will commence in 2020.

Aligned with its ongoing investment in its Government business, Macquarie will invest in upgrading its whole-of-government Secure Internet Gateway to support this deal and introduce the latest cyber security technology for all its Government customers.

Total Group Capex, excluding IC3 East, is now expected to be between $61m-$64m for FY20.


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EQUITY crowd-sourced funding platform Capital Labs is powering a new era in Australian healthcare innovation with a successful raise of more than $800,000 for medicinal cannabis start-up Greenfield MC Global. 

Greenfield MC Global raised a total of $828,476 from 547 investors by partnering with Capital Labs, surpassing its minimum target of $500,000 days before the raise closed on Thursday December 12.

“At Capital Labs, we partner with strong companies creating innovations with impact, who are ready to scale-up,” said Joseph Barry of Capital Labs.

“We know the challenge for many innovators is accessing the expertise that’s needed to future-proof their company with a realistic valuation and capital raise, marketing strategy and solid brand recognition. This is where we are more than a platform; we’re a full-service capital raising partner,” Mr Barry said.

Part of The iQ Group Global investment enterprise, companies which partner with Capital Labs gain access to investment banking experts who structure the raise for future exit opportunities, such as a public offering, and marketing expertise to generate publicity and reach untapped like-minded audiences.

“When we partnered with Greenfield MC Global, they accessed our in-house experts as part of their full-service capital raise, including a bespoke marketing and media campaign, video production service and audience development strategy," Mr Barry said.

“The targeted campaign didn’t just result in a successful raise beyond their minimum $500,000 target, it generated publicity and investor spread that has set them up for a future listing, slated in their offer document for 2021, so that Greenfield MC Global can drive a new future in patient care for Australia,” Mr Barry said.

One of the first ASIC authorised equity crowd-sourced funding (CSF) platforms in Australia, Capital Labs only partners with companies launching technology and innovations that have a positive impact on Australia’s future. For investors, Capital Labs provides access to early-stage retail investment opportunities in innovative companies and technologies in a variety of sectors for as little as $100.

“Capital Labs has a unique competitive advantage by leveraging the group’s in-house expertise in asset management and investment banking. This intellectual property is not typically afforded to start-ups but is critical for creating value for investors and ultimately for delivering life-changing innovations to the world,” The iQ Group Global chairman and CEO, George Syrmalis said.

After their successful raise with Capital Labs, Greenfield MC Global is ready to hit the ground running next year.

“Capital Labs’ robust full-service offering enabled us to achieve nationwide outreach to a crowd of passionate investors who we otherwise could not have reached and who could not have otherwise accessed the investment offering,” Greenfield MC Global chairman and president, Arjun Chhabra said.

“With this raise and our new community of investors, we are thrilled to be a force in redefining the healthcare landscape in Australia from 2020.”


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CHRISTMAS is often a time associated with increased financial stress for many Australians. A time of year when household budgets blow out due to presents, special events and summer holidays.

The problem is now amplified with so many different ways to pay – from credit cards and digital wallets to buy-now-pay-later schemes like Afterpay and zipMoney. 

One Australian fintech is using 'open banking' to deliver fairer repayments for people faced with larger than expected bills this holiday season or, in some cases, significant debt.

Split Payments, a Byron-based company which has won accolades in 2019 - including the Australian FinTech Award for Payments Innovation - have created a platform that can eliminate dishonours and deliver a happier path for those struggling to get on top of their bills. 

Kristofer Rogers, Split’s CEO, explained, "By using open banking connectivity, we have created a world-first capability to perform a balance check prior to processing a bank payment. If there are insufficient funds in a customer’s account, we simply notify the merchant and don’t process the payment. This avoids that unhappy path of bank fees for both the customer and the merchant, which is a game changer."

Open banking is a regulatory change being implemented in Australia that requires banks and financial institutions to allow approved third parties to securely access a customer’s transactional data, with their approval, to obtain better financial services. Such a move should level the playing field for financial services providers but also helps technology companies like Split Payments innovate and create unique capabilities. 

Mr. Rogers said, "Without giving away too much of our secret Santa recipe, we have built an enduring consent platform that allows customers to agree to specific terms that allow merchants to perform balance checks and gain a better understanding of spending behavior via machine learning. Ultimately, this technology delivers a fairer outcome. It has also modernised direct debit payments, which were antiquated and not really suitable for the digital economy that we live in today."

Since launching in January 2018, Split Payments has already processed more than 14 million transactions and works with businesses including Australia Post, MoneyMe and illion to deliver new direct debit products.

"We are really proud to sprinkle a little bit of payments magic this Christmas to help Australians doing it tough," Mr Rogers said.


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