More dining vouchers up for grabs for Sydney residents: What you've missed

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Sydneysiders offered more dining handouts, and Verve Super invests in gender equality.

Here are five things you might have missed this week.

More dining vouchers

sydney cbd friday lunch voucher

According to The Daily Telegraph, the NSW government is set to offer 500,000 vouchers valued at $100, which will be split up into four $25 vouchers, for use at hospitality venues in Sydney's CBD.

This is separate and in addition to the Dine and Discover sheme, essentially the same thing but redeemable through the whole of NSW.

"A free Friday lunch on the government will entice workers into the CBD and boost business, not just for hospitality venues but for many other businesses in the city on days when the city streets are still very empty in the nation's once thriving economic driver," Acting Executive Director of Business Sydney Damian Kelly said in a statement.

"The CBD is still running below 70% of pre-Covid capacity, considerably less on Mondays and Fridays, so the incentive for workers of four $25 vouchers to enjoy a lunch in the 2000 postcode will be money well spent in this pre-budget stimulus."

The vouchers will be made available via the Service NSW app.

US Federal Reserve changes its tone

Markets collectively shivered this week when US Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell noted that policymakers present in the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) had discussed how far the US economy had moved towards its threshold for scaling back the $120 million in monthly bond purchases, otherwise known as quantitative easing. While  "...reaching the standard substantial further progress is still a ways off, participants expect that progress will continue," he said.

Front of policymakers' minds is the risk that the US economy will overheat due to rising inflation.

"The Fed appears to have staved off - for now - a charge of what my good friend Ian Cassie describes as 'inflacency' (complacency about inflation)," says GSFM investment strategist Steve Miller.

"However, there is in my view still the potential for a future dislocation in markets borne of 'inflacency' on the part of both the Fed and financial markets."

218 property markets join the million-dollar club

CoreLogic's inaugural Million Dollar Markets report has revealed 2018 markets where either house or unit median values in a suburb reached the million-dollar mark in May 2021 compared to May 2020.

Sydney boasts 340 house and 79 unit markets with a current median value of $1 million or higher at May 2021, 25.4% more than this time last year, while Regional NSW has 55 suburbs with a median property value of $1 or more, a massive 267% higher than a year before.

Despite the lockdowns, Melbourne boasted 184 house and 8 unit markets with a current median value of $1m and above, up 34.3% on last year.

Perth is also faring well with a 61.5% uptick on last year.

Meanwhile, Queensland is the only state that has its cities and regional markets split roughly evenly. It has 51 suburbs across Brisbane with a median house value of at least $1 million, compared to 46 house and unit markets across regional Queensland.

"Australia's current housing boom has led to property value increases ranging from 5.0% across greater Melbourne dwellings to a 20.3% rise in values across Darwin, pushing a more vast range of markets up to, and beyond, the million-dollar mark," says Corelogic head of research Eliza Owen.

"In the last 12 months 218 markets joined the million-dollar club; 198 of which were house markets and 20 unit markets. A quarter of the markets that ticked over the million-dollar-median were in Sydney, with 54 suburbs seeing either house or unit median values in a suburb join the million-dollar club."

Verve Super invests in gender equality

Aussie superannuation fund Verve is now adding gender equality to its investment filter process, through its new Verve Gender Equality Investment Index, which draws on data from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA).

"For decades research has shown that companies that promote gender equality and inclusion perform better, yet no Australian super fund has previously taken that information seriously in terms of how they invest. That's a major missed opportunity," says Christina Hobbs, Co-Founder and CEO of Verve Super.

"Our members know all too well that money equals power, and they don't want their own super savings invested in companies that are failing women. It's not good enough to keep supporting the status quo - where there are more Andrew's in CEO positions in the ASX 200 than women."

An end to car repair monopoly

New laws passed in federal parliament will force car manufacturers to offer third-party repairers the same diagnostic, repair and servicing information they give to their own dealers, thereby providing consumers with the choice to drop in their wheels at their preferred mechanic.

"When your car needs fixing, it should be your choice as to who repairs it," says Alison Elliott, a consumer rights expert at CHOICE.

"The complicated nature of modern car design means many manufacturers have locked out third party repairers from helping people because they have not had access to the information necessary to fix new cars."

"This means that Australians can once again have access to independent vehicle repairers and know that the repairer has access to the information they need to ensure that the repair will be effective and safe."

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David Thornton is a journalist at Money magazine and is one of the hosts of the Friends With Money podcast. 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.