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Australian News

Woolies and Coles reintroduce buying limits to stop Qld panic buying


Panic buying sparked by a snap three-day lockdown of Greater Brisbane has pushed supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths to reinstate purchase limits on a range of toiletries, essential items and frozen goods.

The new measures come as Brisbane residents swarmed supermarkets on Friday after the Palaszczuk Government put Greater Brisbane into a three-day lockdown from 6pm.

Car parks were jammed and long queues formed as supermarket shelves were stripped clean in panic buying reminiscent of crazy scenes during Brisbane’s first lockdown early last year.

Among the long list of items now limited to two per customer at both Woolworths and Coles are toilet rolls, paper towels and liquid soap.

Woolworths Supermarkets Director of Stores Rob Moffat said they had no choice but to act following the rush on certain items on Friday.

“We understand this is an anxious time for Brisbane residents, however we want to reassure our customers we will remain open as an essential service to support their food and grocery needs during the temporary lockdown,” he said.

“We have stock to draw on from our suppliers and distribution centres and it will continue to flow into stores in large volumes.

“We encourage everyone to continue shopping as they usually would and only buy what they need.”

He said Woolworths would monitor demand and look to remove the limits as soon as possible.

Anyone visiting a Woolworths store after 6pm on Friday, must wear a mask, he said.

“We ask our customers to follow all social distancing and hygiene measures while shopping in our stores,” he said.

Coles said in a statement they needed to introduce a limit to manage the run on certain goods and, like Woolworths, their limits are for online as well as in-store.

“To help manage demand for key staple items, a two-pack per customer limit is now in place at all Coles supermarkets and Coles Express stores in Greater Brisbane, as well as Coles Online orders for all Queensland customers,” Coles said.

Selected items that are limited to two per person at both Woolies and Coles:

– Toilet Rolls

– Paper Towels

– Tissues

– Liquid Soap

– Fresh and Long Life Milk

– Eggs

– Pasta

– Rice

– Flour

– Sugar

– Canned Vegetables

– Canned Fish

– Meat

– Mince

– Burgers

– Chicken Breasts and Thighs

– Pre-packaged Seafood

– Frozen Vegetables

– Frozen Chips



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Australian News

cash boost from buying local products


Households spending an extra $50 a week buying Australian-made goods would deliver a $30 billion boost to fuel the nation’s COVID-19 recovery and create tens of thousands of jobs.

Australia’s coronavirus recession has caused widespread financial hardship but also helped many people and businesses earn and save more, and economists say diverting some to local products has positive flow-on impacts.

One potential source is the $32 billion Aussies spent on overseas holidays in 2019, before border closures stopped this spending in 2020, and KPMG chief economist Brendan Rynne said households had been saving one in every five dollars they earned.

“Buying locally-made provides a broader benefit than just the economic numbers,” he said.

The $30 billion sales boost that would be provided by each household spending an extra $50 weekly on Australian products would result in higher wages, profits and tax revenue, Dr Rynne said.

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Separate economic modelling by analytics group AlphaBeta director Andrew Charlton found a one-off $100 purchase of locally-made products by every Australian would create more than 3000 jobs.

“COVID is an opportunity for Australian consumers to buy local, for Australian businesses to make their supply chains more resilient and sustainable, and for Australian state and federal governments to invest in Australian manufacturing,” Dr Charlton said.

Minister for Industry Karen Andrews said it was Australians’ nature to want to help each other in tough times.

“When you buy Australian Made, you’re not just supporting that manufacturer and its workers but Aussie businesses and workers right along the supply chain – from farmers to truckies to graphic designers,” she said.

“This is not about closing ourselves off to the rest of the world. It’s about providing a solid customer base for our manufacturers, so they can take on the world.”

The Australian Made Campaign says manufacturing now employs 844,000 people, down 50,000 since the start of the pandemic.

“When you buy Australian Made products you are supporting thousands of Australians … from local makers and growers to wholesalers and retailers,” Australian Made CEO Ben Lazzaro said.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry says just one job created in manufacturing produces three to four jobs in other parts of the economy, while new Roy Morgan data shows nine out of 10 consumers would prefer to buy products from Australia than other countries.

CommSec senior economist Ryan Felsman said government and industry should take advantage of a new nationalism around manufacturing and re-educate consumers about the benefits of buying Australian products.

“Typically people just shrug their shoulders as they walk through aisles of the supermarket,” he said.

“At the end of the day most Australians are happy to help.”



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Australian News

AFL grand final to be played at the Gabba in Brisbane — here’s what we know about buying tickets


It’s official — this year’s AFL grand final will be held in the Sunshine State.

The Gabba will no doubt be packed with local fans, eager to witness a historic sporting moment play out before their eyes, rather than on a television set.

But the unprecedented move has sparked several questions as to how the event will be executed.

How hard will it be to snag one of the 30,000 seats? Will a ticket cost you an arm and a leg? What about the Brownlow Medal?

Here’s what we know so far about this year’s Queensland AFL grand final.

How much will tickets cost?

This is the first time in the AFL’s 124-year history of grand finals that Queensland will play host, so tickets to this historic event won’t be cheap.

The crowd will also be a lot smaller this year, meaning there will be fewer tickets up for grabs.

A Test match at the Gabba grounds in Brisbane.
The Gabba can seat about 30,000 people.(ABC Rae Allen)

The MCG holds about 100,000 people, whereas the Gabba only seats about 30,000.

To get a gauge of what ticket prices might be like this year, we looked at last year’s grand final sales where the cheapest adult ticket was $155 and the most expensive was $422.

On average, ticket prices tend to go up each year, so you can expect to pay more than that in 2020.

Can anyone buy a ticket?

Having the money might not be enough to score a ticket, AFL Fixtures boss Travis Auld said the code would prioritise club members.

“We’ll have to see who makes the grand final and allocate tickets with the membership base in the state.”

A young Brisbane Lions fan waves a flag as he smiles in the stands at the Gabba.
AFL Fixtures boss Travis Auld says “good luck” to Brisbane Lions fans hoping for a seat at the grand final.(AAP: Darren England)

Will the match be played at night?

For the first time, the grand final will be played under lights with first bounce tipped to be at 7:00pm on Saturday October 24.

Traditionally, grand finals are played at 2:30pm AEST, but there was some pressure among AFL decision-makers to make it a night-time event.

AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan said an evening match would give the code the “opportunity to make it a truly unique event”.

He said if there was success in holding the match at night this year, he would consider making it a new tradition for future grand finals.

There have also been calls for Australian musicians to perform at half-time, but there have so far been no hints as to which Aussie acts might grace the stage.

Will the Brownlow Medal also be held in Queensland?

We don’t know yet.

AFL fixtures boss Travis Auld said there had been discussions around the “format” of the Brownlow, which suggests the AFL’s most prestigious awards night could look slightly different to previous years.

He said the awards night would not be held in Melbourne, but said the new location would largely depend on the “format” of the event.

Nat Fyfe and Brad Hill smile while sitting at a table with suits on.
Nat Fyfe won the 2019 Brownlow Medal which is typically held at the Crown Palladium in Melbourne.(AAP: Michael Dodge)

At this stage it’s unclear whether players and their partners will be able to physically attend the event due to coronavirus restrictions.

“We just need to think about how we do that,” Mr Auld said.

“We need to work out whether we run it as an event with people attending, and we’ll work closely with the Queensland Government again on how that might occur.”

Will it be moved online, like many other events this year? Or will Queensland snag yet another major sporting event?

We’ll have to wait and see.

Will Victoria still get its public holiday?

Yes, Victorians can relax knowing they will still get a day off on October 23.

But this year, the state’s Premier, Daniel Andrews has renamed the holiday to ‘Thank You Day’.

Last month, Mr Andrews said Victorians had earned their public holiday after a “really, very, very difficult year”.



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Business

How the pandemic is changing the way we shop and what we’re buying


But the dash from cash is just one of the big consumer trends at work right now. The pandemic is profoundly re-shaping the way we spend.

The disruptions to daily life have forced us all to do things differently and that has affected our consumption patterns.

Millions have used alternative stores, products and brands for the first time. Retail industry insiders call it a massive “loyalty shock”.

A recent survey by the McKinsey consultancy found a majority of Australians have tried “new shopping behaviours” since the onset of the pandemic and most intend to continue with them.

Fresh habits tend to stick once they’ve been consistent for a few months. So, as the crisis drags on, our new spending behaviours will become entrenched.

We’ll keep going to different stores, buying different products and using different purchasing channels long after the crisis abates.

Australians were relatively slow to adopt online shopping.

Australians were relatively slow to adopt online shopping.Credit:James Alcock

Perhaps the most striking shift is our embrace of e-commerce.

Australia had been something of a laggard on this front – the prevalence of online shopping here has been lower than in many comparable places including the US and Europe.

But the restrictions that came with COVID-19 compelled a whole new group of Australians to get a login and make purchases online for the first time. Many who shopped online occasionally have become more frequent users.

“The increased use of online shopping, either through necessity or preference during the ‘stay at home’ period, seems likely to be a permanent shift,” said the RBA’s Michele Bullock.

Surveys show a clear increase in the use of online shopping and online services by older age groups which have been hardest to convert. Alternative payment methods, such as buy now pay later, also appear to have thrived during the pandemic.

“By some estimates we have vaulted ten years ahead in consumer and digital business penetration in less than three months,” said one McKinsey report.

The sharp increase in online shopping has triggered a boom in delivery services.

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The standout example is food delivery via mobile phone apps.

A spending tracker developed by analytics firm AlphaBeta, a part of Accenture, and credit bureau illion, showed national spending on food delivery in the week of August 2-9 was 342 per cent higher than the weekly norm before the pandemic.

It’s likely some of the curbside pickup and drive-through services which have flourished during the pandemic will also be more prevalent in future.

But the shift to e-commerce runs much deeper than simply purchasing things online.

The pandemic has nudged us towards more digitally driven lifestyles.

This includes everything from “tap and go” payments at the local cafe to attending medical appointments via a laptop.

Our digital consumption is higher than ever and a lot of it is done sitting on the couch. The AlphaBeta-illion spending tracker shows demand for subscription television, apps, games and music has been especially strong during the pandemic.

There’s also been a well-publicised spike in online gambling – it was 95 per cent higher than the pre-pandemic-norm during the week of August 3-9, the spending tracker shows.

COVID-19 restrictions have forced us to try out new forms of digital interaction like online gatherings with family and friends, telemedicine and streamed gym classes. A recent poll found a majority of consumers who have done fitness activity online during the pandemic intended to use the service longer-term.

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“There’s been a shift towards a more digital life in all its aspects,” says AlphaBeta director Andrew Charlton.

Much consumer behaviour disrupted by COVID-19 will drift back towards the pre-pandemic norm once health risks decline.

But the many changes that do persist will accelerate structural changes already at work in the broader economy, and potentially create new ones.

A substantial, lasting increase in the share of shopping conducted online, for instance, will affect the retail sector, one of Australia’s biggest employers. The need for in-store workers may decline while demand for logistics and delivery staff increases.

New online purchasing habits might reduce the overall number of visits to shopping centres meaning smaller, and possibly fewer, bricks and mortar retail spaces are required.

The pandemic-induced changes to our spending habits will cause lasting disruption.

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Woolworths brings back purchase limits amid panic buying


Supermarket giant Woolworths has announced it will be reimposing buying limits on essential items in Victoria, with whispers the state is heading into Stage 4 restrictions.

Woolworths has reinstated a purchase limit of two items per customer across at least 50 product categories in Victoria.

“We understand this is an anxious time for our Victorian customers, but we encourage everyone to continue shopping as they usually would and only buy what they need,” Claire Peters, Woolworths Supermarkets Managing Director, said in a statement on Sunday.

“Stock will continue to flow from our distribution centres and as an essential service, Woolworths supermarkets remain open to support customers’ food and grocery needs.”

The move follows an increase in demand across Victorian stores in the last 24 hours.

RELATED: Follow for the latest coronavirus updates

Woolworths is enforcing purchase limits of two items across the following product categories:

  • Toilet paper
  • Paper Towel
  • Baby Wipes
  • Tissues
  • Anti Bacterial Wipes
  • Liquid Hand Wash
  • Disinfectants
  • Bleach
  • Cleaners
  • Disposable Gloves
  • Sponges & Scourers
  • Rice
  • Pasta
  • Flour
  • Sugar
  • Frozen Vegetables
  • Frozen Potato
  • Frozen Fruit
  • Frozen Fish
  • Frozen Poultry
  • Long life Milk
  • Long life Milk (Speciality)
  • Noodles (Mainstream)
  • Cooking Oil
  • Pasta Sauce
  • Vinegar (White)
  • Packet Side Dish – Pasta & Sauce
  • Indian foods and sauces
  • Mexican Dinner kits
  • Salsa
  • Canned Tomato
  • Canned Vegetables
  • Canned Legumes
  • Canned Fruit
  • Baked Beans & Spaghetti
  • Dairy Milk
  • Dairy Milk (Specialty)
  • Chilled Juice
  • Bacon Prepacked
  • Eggs
  • Mince (fixed weight only)
  • Sausages
  • Burgers, Rissoles and meatballs
  • Carrots Prepacked
  • Potatoes Prepacked
  • Onions Prepacked
  • Bread (loaves) including in-store
  • Frozen Seafood

Additionally the following limits apply across the meat category:

  • 2x packs Pork
  • 2x packs Lamb
  • 2x packs Beef
  • 2x packs Chicken

More to come …



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Business

Macquarie accused of buying company to kill extortion allegations


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The bank has strenuously denied these allegations and was seeking to have the case dismissed before the transaction was struck.

The man who was driving the case brought by Vantage, Vic Ferreira, has now been sacked by the new ownership group and an independent panel is reviewing the case “due to the affiliation between the new owner and Macquarie”. The court has stayed the matter until the review is complete.

New York-based Vantage and its owners Big Apple and Clear Choice provide financing to several large energy companies in the US so that they can bridge the gap between when they bill customers and when they are paid. Macquarie is a key player in this space.

Macquarie was the lender and advisor to Vantage before the collapse of Big Apple and Clear Choice. Vantage had borrowed $US50 million from Macquarie and Big Apple had borrowed $US25 million. The same Macquarie banker who brokered the debt deals was also the financial adviser to Big Apple in its acquisition of Vantage.

Mr Ferreira was the boss of Big Apple before the acquisition of Vantage. Big Apple entered into bankruptcy in 2018 after Macquarie called in its legal rights over breaches of the loan agreement.

Vantage hit Macquarie with the civil claim earlier this year which included very serious allegations of misconduct against the Australian bank.

“Macquarie engaged in multiple predicate criminal acts, including criminal interference with commerce by threats of violence through the use of extortion and strong-arm fear tactics, putting Vantage, its customers, and Vantage through extortionate threats to customers, in fear of economic loss and ultimate financial ruin.”

Vantage alleges Mr Ferreira and Big Energy was misled by their Macquarie banker into buying Vantage.

“In short, the Macquarie defendants… desperately needed to cover up a bad investment in Vantage to avoid losses by making sure that internal numbers stayed high and bonuses would continue to be paid,” court documents allege.

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“Macquarie covered the loss the only way it could, by lying to and bullying one of its other clients that had a strong balance sheet and also relied on Macquarie’s capital to keep operating its business and coerced them to “acquire” Macquarie’s bad investment.

“The ultimate result of that coerced transaction was the bankruptcy of two entities and clients of Macquarie, Big Apple and Clear Choice, and the destruction of Vantage.”

It is alleged the purchase of Vantage by Big Energy was brokered by a Macquarie banker who advised both sides of the transaction while also being a director of Vantage.

Mr Ferrira claims that banker complained to him on several occasions that the bad debt in Vantage had blown out his division’s cost of capital and was harming their bonuses.

“If [the banker] was successful in securing a payment on the legacy debt, his group’s cost of capital would be lowered resulting in higher profits for [the banker] and Macquarie.”

Macquarie described the case as frivolous in its legal response to Vantage’s claim.

‘This litigation was filed in a transparent attempt by Vantage’s former CEO to disrupt the sale of Vantage in Big Apple’s bankruptcy,” it lawyers said.

It said the allegations of racketeering, extortion and corporate sabotage were completely meritless. Despite Mr Ferreira’s allegation against his Macquarie advisors, Macquarie said that it showed he made the decision with advice.

“Notwithstanding these outrageous claims, the further amended complaint makes clear that Big Apple, Vantage, and Ferreira acted voluntarily and in their own economic self-interest at all times.”

A spokeswoman for Macquarie declined to comment as the matter was before the courts.

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Local News - Victoria

Supermarkets brace for second wave of panic buying


Coles said shoppers in locked-down areas, in Melbourne and Mitchell Shire, would only be able to buy one pack of toilet paper from Wednesday morning.

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There are also two-item limits on pasta, rice, flour, sugar, milk, chicken, eggs, frozen food, tissues, hand sanitiser and liquid soaps.

Woolworths returned product limits to all Victorian stores.

“The move follows a surge in demand across Victoria overnight and will help ensure more customers have fair access to fresh food and essentials at Woolworths,” the supermarket said on Wednesday.

“We have more than enough stock flowing from our distribution centres into stores to support all our customers’ food and grocery needs. We encourage all our customers to continue shopping as they usually would.”

Shoppers at Woolworths stores will only be able to buy two packets each of frozen food, pre-packed meats, carrots, potatoes, milk, sliced bread, tissues, chilled juice, pasta, eggs, flour, rice, sugar, paper towel, and hand sanitiser. Toilet paper was still limited to two at Woolworths stores around the country.

A packaged salad shelf at Coles in Prahran on Tuesday night.

A packaged salad shelf at Coles in Prahran on Tuesday night.Credit:Paul Sakkal

Coles said it would continue to monitor stock at other stores and asked shoppers to treat staff with respect and adhere to social distancing in stores.

Melburnians depleted stock of some supermarket products following the announcement of renewed restrictions on Tuesday night, but many items remained in plentiful supply. Supermarket workers said frenzied buying was mild compared to the initial bout in March.

Toilet paper, potatoes, tomatoes and bread were running low at six supermarkets across inner-eastern Melbourne. Meat and pasta stocks appeared largely unaffected and most items were still widely available, bar a few exceptions.

Workers at Woolworths in Hawthorn East and Coles in Richmond said there was a rush of customers in the late afternoon and early evening. Both workers said supermarkets were better prepared for over-buying and had extra stock to replenish shelves.

The stock of onions was running low at Coles in Richmond on Tuesday night.

The stock of onions was running low at Coles in Richmond on Tuesday night.Credit:Paul Sakkal

Hitesh Palta – owner of the IGA Altona store in Melbourne’s south-western suburbs, the first store in Australia to introduce elderly-only hours at the start of the pandemic – said there were signs that some people had begun unnecessarily filling their shopping trolleys again.

“There are some customers getting panicked but we do tell them there’s plenty of stock,” Mr Palta said on Tuesday afternoon, shortly after Premier Daniel Andrews announced stage three lockdown would return from 11.59pm on Wednesday.

Shoppers at Coles in Richmond on Tuesday.

Shoppers at Coles in Richmond on Tuesday.Credit:Joe Armao

“We’ve got plenty of stock, nobody is going without anything. Everything is fully stocked up.”

Sales jumped about 20 per cent in the past two weeks, compared with the previous fortnight, but he said that was nothing compared with the 300 per cent jump his store experienced in March.

Mr Palta hoped stores don’t experience that rush again. “There’s no need to panic buy, just buy what you need,” he said.

Coles had earlier struggled to get chilled and fresh produce on the shelves of Victorian and Tasmanian stores after a cluster of six coronavirus cases was connected to its chilled distribution centre in Laverton.

A significant proportion of staff at the distribution centre self-isolated at home as a precaution, which meant the centre could not operate at normal capacity.

Lincoln Wymer, the operations manager of the Reddrop Group, with 17 independent supermarkets in Victoria and NSW, spent Tuesday afternoon preparing for the lockdown announcement.

He had yet to see a reaction from shoppers.

There had been an increase in toilet paper sales again over the past two weeks, he said, but he hoped that would just be a blip after the initial panic-buying in March.

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Local News - Victoria

Supermarkets brace for second wave of panic buying


Major supermarkets assured customers supply would be maintained and stores would remain open.

Workers at Woolworths in Hawthorn East and Coles in Richmond said there was a rush of customers in the late afternoon and early evening. Both workers said supermarkets were better prepared for over-buying and had extra stock to replenish shelves.

Panic buying surged in March as coronavirus cases began to spread, with shoppers stripping shelves of toilet paper and pantry items such as canned goods, eggs and flour.

A packaged salad shelf at Coles in Prahran on Tuesday night.

A packaged salad shelf at Coles in Prahran on Tuesday night.Credit:Paul Sakkal

Hitesh Palta – owner of the IGA Altona store in Melbourne’s south-western suburbs, the first store in Australia to introduce elderly-only hours at the start of the pandemic – said there were signs that some people had begun unnecessarily filling their shopping trolleys again.

“There are some customers getting panicked but we do tell them there’s plenty of stock,” Mr Palta said on Tuesday afternoon, shortly after Premier Daniel Andrews announced stage three lockdown would return from 11.59pm on Wednesday.

The stock of onions was running low at Coles in Richmond on Tuesday night.

The stock of onions was running low at Coles in Richmond on Tuesday night.Credit:Paul Sakkal

“We’ve got plenty of stock, nobody is going without anything. Everything is fully stocked up.”

Sales jumped about 20 per cent in the past two weeks, compared with the previous fortnight, but he said that was nothing compared with the 300 per cent jump his store experienced in March.

Shoppers at Coles in Richmond on Tuesday.

Shoppers at Coles in Richmond on Tuesday.Credit:Joe Armao

Mr Palta hoped stores don’t experience that rush again. “There’s no need to panic buy, just buy what you need,” he said.

Only this week Coles and Woolworths removed some purchase restrictions after a second bout of panic buying slowed.

The stores have repeatedly asked shoppers to treat staff with respect and only buy what they need, while adhering to social distancing in-store.

Altona IGA owner Hitesh Palta, left, with a customer. His supermarket was the first to introduce an elderly-only shopping hour.

Altona IGA owner Hitesh Palta, left, with a customer. His supermarket was the first to introduce an elderly-only shopping hour.Credit:Jason South

Coles removed all limits on its products nationally from Tuesday, while Woolworths retained its two-pack-per-person limit on toilet paper for the time being.

Coles, Woolworths and Aldi have not announced that purchasing limits would return following Mr Andrews’ announcement on Tuesday.

“We know it’s an anxious time for Melburnians, but they can be assured our stores will remain open just as they did throughout March and April,” a Woolworths spokesperson said on Tuesday night.

“We have more than enough stock flowing through from our distribution centres and into our stores to support all our customers’ grocery needs.

“We encourage all our customers to continue shopping as they usually would.”

Coles had struggled to get chilled and fresh produce on the shelves of Victorian and Tasmanian stores after a cluster of six cases was connected to its chilled distribution centre in Laverton.

A significant proportion of staff at the distribution centre self-isolated at home as a precaution, which meant the centre could not operate at normal capacity.

“We thank customers for their patience and understanding while the limits were in place to help us manage increased demand in stores and temporary delays in our Victorian supply chain,” a Coles spokesperson said on Monday.

Lincoln Wymer, the operations manager of the Reddrop Group, with 17 independent supermarkets in Victoria and NSW, spent Tuesday afternoon preparing for the lockdown announcement.

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He had yet to see a reaction from shoppers.

There had been a milder rush in toilet paper sales again over the past two weeks, he said, but he hoped that was just be a blip after the initial panic-buying in March.

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Foreign Investment Review Board figures show foreign investors buying up Qld


Newly released data has revealed Queensland’s agricultural land and water entitlements are being swept up by foreign-owned entities at what some say is an alarming rate.

Recently released Foreign Investment Review Board figures for the 2019 financial year have exposed 20 per cent of Queensland’s water entitlements are now foreign-owned and out of all states and territories, Queensland tops the leaderboard when it comes to foreign-held agricultural land.

In 2019, foreign-held water entitlements across the state measured in at 1301GL. This was up 6.7 per cent from the previous financial year. While NSW trailed close behind at 1260GL, all other states and territories fell behind considerably.

When it came to foreign-owned agricultural land, Queensland led the charge with 15,490ha of its land held by foreign entities, the Northern Territory landed closely behind at 14,307ha.

Kennedy MP Bob Katter said the figures in the report “made him sick” but he believed the data to be “wildly inaccurate”.

“They (FIRB) don’t take into account the shareholding of Australian companies that belong to foreigners, which would make the overall foreign ownership of water entitlements and land much higher,” he said.

“Nearly everyone I meet is sick of the sale of our assets.”

Earlier this year, Mr Katter introduced the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeover Amendment to federal parliament.

The bill would amend the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act 1975 by preventing foreign persons or entities from acquiring a 10 per cent or greater interest in Australian assets of “strategic economic or defensive significance”.

It would also introduce a Foreign Ownership Assessment Board, which would determine the significance of said assets – composition of this board would be decided by a majority of the Senate.

“If the Government has any sense of sovereignty or national pride they’ll bring on the bill for a vote at the next sitting and support,” Mr Katter said.



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Mum spots bizarre detail after the panic buying shortage


An Aldi shopper is convinced there’s something different about the discount supermarket chain’s loo rolls – and it has ignited debate online.

The topic was raised on the Aldi Mums Facebook group this week when a woman shared some photos of Quilton brand toilet paper compared with Aldi’s Confidence brand, including one Confidence roll purchased several months ago and one bought two weeks ago.

The woman is convinced the Confidence rolls had changed in the wake of the coronavirus-fuelled stockpiling frenzy, and asked fellow group members for their thoughts.

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“Has anyone noticed the difference in the Confidence toilet paper? If you asked me a month ago about the Aldi toot paper I would have said it’s Quilton with a cloud pattern instead of the rose flower,” the woman posted on Facebook.

“Now the toot paper is nowhere near as good.”

She explained that the first picture she shared showed a Quilton roll on top with an older Confidence roll in the middle – which she said “looks and feels exactly like Quilton” – and a new one on the bottom.

“It is not the same … the feel, the colour and even the cardboard roll in the middle is different,” she claimed.

“Please tell me others have noticed, I will go back to Quilton for sure if this is a permanent change.”

An Aldi spokeswoman poured cold water on those claims.

“Aldi has not made any changes to the specifications of our existing Confidence brand toilet

paper in recent months,” the spokeswoman said in a statement sent to news.com.au.

However, the post sparked a flurry of replies, with one Facebook user suggesting there may have been a “different supplier” involved while another said it “looks like it’s gone from 3 ply to 2 ply”.

“I’ve noticed the change but put it down to COVID and panic buyers. We also still can’t get our usual pack size we need either,” one Facebook user wrote, while another posted: “Yes they have changed it the old one was better quality and softer”.

“I thought it could be to do with the shortage. I’m very disappointed with the size of the rolls of Confidence, I’m back to buying Quilton,” another said, while another wrote: “I thought it was only me but there is a big difference.”

The debate comes hot on the heels of a UNSW study which found Australians were the worst panic buyers in the world during the peak of the coronavirus crisis when it came to toilet paper and canned soup.

University of New South Wales academics Mike Keane and Tim Neal used statistics from 54 nations from January to April to compile a “panic index” which revealed just how intense the stockpiling behaviour was in different countries.

“The experience of Australia is notable for the incredible speed and scale with which panic took hold in early March,” the research found.

“Unlike in other countries, the escalation in panic does not appear to correspond with any significant increase in domestic COVID-19 cases.”



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