New disaster relief payments for locked down workers


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New disaster relief payments announced for locked down workers, and Telstra to fork out $25 million for slow internet speeds.

Here are five things you might've missed this week.

Federal disaster relief payments

coronavirus disaster relief payments

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced new disaster relief payment for workers in New South Wales, with the possibility of extending it to other states should they go into similar lockdowns.

Those who would have worked more than 20 hours in the week of a lockdown can receive $500, while those would have worked fewer than 20 hours can receive $325.

"This [lockdown] is now going into a third week and with further decisions to be taken, the Commonwealth recognises that and the liquid access test will not apply to access to those payments," says Morrison.

"It doesn't matter what funds you've got available to you, you can access those payments."

Residents living in the first Sydney areas to go into lockdown can access the payments from July 8.

Eligible residents in the broader Sydney metropolitan area will be able to access the payments from July 11.

To apply, you'll need a MyGov account linked to a Centrelink online account. More information can be found on the Services Australia website here.

Telstra leaves customers in the dark

Telstra will refund $25 million to customers for failing to give almost 50,000 customers a heads up about slower NBN speeds.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) found that Telstra was in breach of its obligations to notify customers when speeds are slower than what is advertised under their plan. Notifying customers entitles customers to move to a lower speed plan or exit the contract at no cost.

The telco is currently providing remedies to the impacted customers, which include refunds.

"The ACMA is very concerned with this conduct as these customers have been paying for a level of service they were not receiving," ACMA chair Nerida O'Loughlin said in a statement.

"Telstra denied these customers the opportunity to downgrade their plan or exit their contract."

Telstra faces penalties of up to $10 million if it fails to comply with the ACMA Remedial Direction, which in addition to restitution involves changes to its reporting systems.

"We will take a very close look at the results of the independent audit to make sure we are satisfied that the action Telstra has taken will adequately address the flaws that led to the problems," says O'Loughlin.

Aussies' life insurance lies

Finder estimates that 3.8 million Aussies are fibbing on their life insurance applications.

The survey of 1000 respondents found that 20% lie on their life insurance applications in order to get a cheaper policy. Extrapolate that out to the whole population, and you get 3.8 million.

Men are far more likely than women to lie on the application, at 29% and 11% respectively, while mental health (9%) and smoking (9%) were found to be the biggest reasons for lying.

James Martin, insurance editor at Finder, warns lying on insurance applications is fraught with danger.

"Insurance premiums are based on the risk you represent," he explains.

"If you've previously lied about your circumstances when filling out your insurance application, your insurer could well void your claim."

Westpac cops $87 remediation bill for bungled advice

The failure of Westpac's former advisers to pass on corporate actions to clients will see the bank pay out $87 million in remediation.

Corporate actions include events such as dividends, entitlement offers, reorganisations of capital and capital returns.

The remediation affects 32,000 customer accounts, according to the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC). It's believed as many as 328,000 potential corporate action notifications were not passed on to clients between 2005 and 2019.

Affected Westpac subsidiaries include Securitor Financial Group, Magnitude Group and Westpac Banking Corporation (known as BT Financial Advice).

Westpac had first notified ASIC of the errors in July 2019.

"Compensating customers affected by misconduct is a very important part of licensees' obligations to act fairly, honestly and efficiently. We are pleased to see that Westpac has taken action to remediate affected customers regardless of how much time has passed," says ASIC commissioner Danielle Press.

"We encourage affected customers to engage with the communications from Westpac to understand how they were impacted and to seek further information from Westpac if required."

ASIC is urging customers who are not satisfied with their outcome to reach out to the Australian Financial Complaints Authority.

UniSuper open to all Australians

The country's fifth-largest fund, UniSuper, is now officially open to members outside the higher education and research sector. This coincides with the fund surpassing $100 billion in funds under management.

"Hitting $100 billion in FUM [funds under management], including over $12 billion in our sustainable options, as we open our doors to all Australians, marks a significant milestone for UniSuper," says UniSuper CEO Kevin O'Sullivan.

"The continued growth and popularity of our three sustainable investment strategies along with the exceptional investment returns of almost 50% from our unique Global Environmental Opportunities option have contributed to the fund hitting this key milestone."

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David Thornton was a journalist at Money from September 2019 to November 2021. He previously worked at Your Money, covering market news as producer of Trading Day Live. Before that, he covered business and finance news at The Constant Investor. David holds a Masters of International Relations from the University of Melbourne.