Financials, tech stocks drive Australian market higher

(Reuters) – Australian shares settled higher on Tuesday for the seventh straight session, as financials jumped on some economic optimism and dividend hopes, and technology stocks tracked Wall Street higher.

FILE PHOTO: Pedestrians are reflected in a window displaying stock prices at the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) in Sydney, Australia, February 13, 2018. REUTERS/David Gray

The S&P/ASX 200 index .AXJO rose 1% to 6,195.70, adding about 7% during the seven sessions of gains through Tuesday.

Financials .AXFJ closed 1.7% higher, after having hit their highest level since Aug. 12 earlier in the session, with the “Big Four” banks adding between 1.7% and 3.3%.

“There are some signs that there is a bit of optimism for the economy moving forward, and that’s helping banks have a pretty good run,” said James Tao, a market analyst at CommSec.

Last week, the Australian government pledged billions in tax cuts and measures to boost

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Australian transport union accuses Amazon Flex of underpaying drivers

Transport Workers Union (TWU) has hit out at Amazon, accusing the global e-commerce giant of underpaying Amazon Flex drivers.

Amazon Flex was launched in Australia at the start of the year. At the time, Amazon Australia boasted it would give individuals the chance to earn money while delivering Amazon packages to customers.

Much like Uber, individuals are required to use their own vehicles, and at a minimum, are required to have personal car insurance and compulsory third-party personal injury.

When these compulsory insurance requirements are met, Amazon also provides delivery partners with Amazon Insurance Coverage at no additional cost, which includes auto liability coverage, third-party property damage, and contingent comprehensive coverage. But the coverage is only applicable when individuals are using Amazon Flex to deliver packages or return undelivered packages back to a designated location.

While it is unclear how much individual contractors earn or whether Amazon will take a

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ACCC code sees Google pause Australian rollout of News Showcase

Google has paused the Australian rollout of News Showcase, which is a news-based service pitched by the company as benefiting both publishers and readers.

News Showcase was only announced earlier this month, and when it was initially launched in Germany and Brazil, CEO Sundar Pichai explained the platform was aimed at paying publishers to “create and curate high-quality content for a different kind of online news experience”.

Although Google said it signed several agreements with Australian publishers for News Showcase in June, it has decided to pause its Australian plans as it is not sure if the product would be viable under the impending media bargaining code of practice published by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

Google has held firm that it is against the News Media Bargaining Code, saying previously it would force the tech giant to provide users with a “dramatically worse Google Search and YouTube”,

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Australian science and technology sectors talk of ‘revival’ as Federal Government splashes the cash in Budget

It was 2013 and the Coalition, under the leadership of Tony Abbott, had just taken power.

The new prime minister unveiled his cabinet, what he called one of the most experienced in Australian history.

But one portfolio was missing.

For the first time since 1931, there was no minister for science.

The CSIRO, and the country’s climate science body was significantly watered down.

A year later, the science portfolio would be reinstated, but for many in the science community, the damage was done.

Fast forward to today and it’s a different story: the Morrison Government is winning widespread praise from the science and technology sectors.

As soon as the Budget landed this week the praise started flowing from science bodies across the country.

The Budget would spur a “research revival”, according to Science & Technology Australia, Australia’s peak body for science and tech industries.

It said it was a “shot

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Australian pro surfer Matt Wilkinson’s narrow escape from shark caught on camera | Environment

Drone footage has captured professional surfer Matt Wilkinson’s narrow escape from a 1.5m great white shark off the coast of Ballina in northern New South Wales.

The world championship tour surfer was paddling on his board near Sharpes Beach on Wednesday when a shark swam quickly up behind him.

“I heard a splash and a noise and looked around and couldn’t see anything,” Wilkinson said, according to a statement from Surf Life Saving NSW.

Surf lifesavers were operating a drone overhead and were able to broadcast a warning from the aircraft’s speakers.

“The drone came down and told me that there was a dangerous shark in the area, return to the beach,” Wilkinson said.

“I got to the shore feeling a bit weird and the lifeguards showed me the footage and I realised how close it came without knowing it was there. It looks like it’s going for my leg

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Feisty Tasmanian Devils Roaming Australian Mainland Again After 3,000 Years

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Tasmanian devils, the carnivorous marsupials whose feisty, frenzied eating habits won the animals cartoon fame, have returned to mainland Australia for the first time in some 3,000 years.

“Seeing those devils released into a wild landscape — it’s a really emotional moment,” said Liz Gabriel, director of conservation group Aussie Ark, which led the release effort in partnership with other conservation groups.

The 11 most recently released devils began exploring their new home once they were freed from round, white cages at the nearly 1,000-acre Barrington Tops wildlife refuge in New South Wales state, about 190 kilometers (120 miles) north of Sydney.

Tasmanian devils, which were once called Sarcophilus satanicus or “Satanic flesh-lover,” went extinct in mainland Australia before the arrival of Europeans. Scientists believe the introduction of carnivorous dingoes, a surge in the indigenous human population, and a devastating dry season cause by a prolonged

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Feisty Tasmanian devils roaming Australian mainland again

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Tasmanian devils, the carnivorous marsupials whose feisty, frenzied eating habits won the animals cartoon fame, have returned to mainland Australia for the first time in some 3,000 years.

“Seeing those devils released into a wild landscape — it’s a really emotional moment,” said Liz Gabriel, director of conservation group Aussie Ark, which led the release effort in partnership with other conservation groups.

The 11 most recently released devils began exploring their new home once they were freed from round, white cages at the nearly 1,000-acre Barrington Tops wildlife refuge in New South Wales state, about 190 kilometers (120 miles) north of Sydney.


Tasmanian devils, which were once called Sarcophilus satanicus or “Satanic flesh-lover,” went extinct in mainland Australia before the arrival of Europeans. Scientists believe the introduction of carnivorous dingoes, a surge in the indigenous human population, and a devastating dry season cause by a prolonged

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Australian Treasurer Says Budget Assumes Virus Vaccine Next Year

(Bloomberg) —



a row of computer equipment on a table: Glass vials move along a conveyor at the Gerresheimer AG medical glassware factory in Buende, Germany, on Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020. Gerresheimer has built up capacity and most of its factories are operating around the clock as the company holds talks with pharma companies, working on a coronavirus vaccine.


© Bloomberg
Glass vials move along a conveyor at the Gerresheimer AG medical glassware factory in Buende, Germany, on Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020. Gerresheimer has built up capacity and most of its factories are operating around the clock as the company holds talks with pharma companies, working on a coronavirus vaccine.

Australia’s budget forecasts will assume a coronavirus vaccine will be developed in the next year, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says.

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“The budget takes into account the possibility that is the case,” Frydenberg told Sky News Australia in a segment from an interview to be broadcast Monday”. “We have factored in those issues related to the vaccine and those will be available on budget night.”

Assuming a vaccine is available in 2021 will be a positive for the economic outlook, as it may signal a return to international travel and foreign tourist spending. Frydenberg is set to

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Australian state worried about mall outbreak

MELBOURNE, Australia — The COVID-19 figures in Australia’s Victoria state continue to show improvement but officials are concerned about an outbreak at the country’s largest shopping center.



A heath worker attends a patient in an intensive care unit designated for people infected with COVID-19 at a hospital in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Friday, Oct. 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)


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A heath worker attends a patient in an intensive care unit designated for people infected with COVID-19 at a hospital in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Friday, Oct. 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

Victoria reported three more COVID-19 deaths and eight more cases on Saturday. The figures take the state toll to 805 and the national death count to 893.

Melbourne’s latest 14-day average stood at 12 cases, and there have been 11 cases with an unknown source in the past two weeks up to Wednesday.

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said a recent outbreak linked to southeast Melbourne’s Chadstone Shopping Centre showed why it was unsafe to ease restrictions.



Women perform the "Morenada" dance at an exhibit of folk costumes during the partial lifting of restrictions amid the COVID -19 pandemic in La Paz, Bolivia, Friday, Oct. 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Juan Karita)


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Women perform the “Morenada” dance at

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Five Australian universities launch project to improve voice assistants for kids

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A joint project between five Australian universities, called AusKidTalk, has been launched to improve the performance of voice recognition systems when being used by children.

The universities involved in AusKidTalk are University of New South Wales, the University of Sydney, Western Sydney University, Macquarie University, and the University of Melbourne.

As part of the project, they aim to build a database of Australian children’s voices by recording samples of typical speech, including the repeating of words, digits, and sentences, as well as disordered speech such as unscripted storytelling spoken by 750 children aged between three to 12.

UNSW School of Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications senior lecturer Beena Ahmed explained that up until now, speech recognition software, which underpins virtual assistant technologies such as Google Assistant, Alex, and Siri, have always relied on samples of adult voices and the accuracy of these systems had been poor when it came to interacting

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