No time to read and digest the glut of business news swirling in the online jet stream? Here’s a quick roundup of Australia’s most pressing and interesting business news in August 2023.

What does the end of 3G mean for Australian businesses?

Not everyone is aware that the 3G network is about to be switched off across the country in favour of 4G and 5G.

Here are the major Australian telco dates for switching off 3G:

  • Vodafone: December 2023
  • Telstra: June 2024
  • Optus: September 2024.

What does this mean for those who still rely on 3G? While many Australians who live in major centres and capital cities may not be as affected, there will be a real effect felt in rural communities, many of which are already underserved in terms of telecommunications infrastructure.

Unreliable internet and phone services are already a plague on the rural landscape – (and 3G is often the only option available.)

With businesses relying on trustworthy internet to run cloud applications, websites, eCommerce, and a variety of other modern business functions, there are fears of additional pressures if 3G is switched off prematurely or internet access is disrupted.

Better Internet for Rural, Regional and Remote Australia (BIRRR) co-founder Kristy Sparrow said rural communities, like her own in Alpha, western Queensland, were already waiting for tower upgrades and many remain skeptical that they would be covered by 4G promptly.

“Members have seen declining Internet coverage or have had to spend money on boosting equipment and antennas to get coverage,” she said.

However, Telstra’s regional general manager in southern Queensland, May Boisen, indicated areas covered by 3G would continue to get coverage, saying that,

“When we switch off the 3G network, you will have the 4G coverage there in your area.”

But it’s not just rural Australia that will be affected – there’s a plethora of people and businesses that still use 3G phones, ATMs, and even medical devices. Watch this space.

Michele Bullock to replace Philip Lowe as RBA governor as a shakeup begins

Amid a recent review into the functioning of the RBA, it seems we’re about to see the back of Phillip Lowe and welcome RBA veteran Michele Bullock as she steps into the lead role. Bullock, currently the deputy, will be the RBA’s first female governor.

Often viewed as the face of recent inflation and interest rate rises, Lowe courted criticism when his prediction that rates wouldn’t rise until 2024 fell woefully short.

The new appointment, announced by Treasurer Jim Chalmers and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, came off the back of a review of how the RBA functioned, which released a report in March 2023.

Treasurer Chalmers praised ‘fiercely independent’ Bullock’s approach:

“Michele is an outstanding economist and an accomplished and respected leader. Her appointment best combines experience and expertise with a fresh leadership perspective at the Reserve Bank as well.”

The government sought a new governor to oversee what could be extensive changes at the RBA.

One of the key changes will see two RBA boards replace the current one, with a specialised board to oversee the setting of interest rates.

Mortgage holders in further strife as special offers dry up and banks protect their profits

Replete with rising interest rates, we’re now reaching the point in this recent inflationary upheaval where a sizeable chunk of borrowers are coming off low-interest fixed rates.

(In recent times, banks and lenders rolled out special offers for new customers, attempting to pull them away from their existing lenders, but this bubble began to burst heavily at the beginning of 2023.)

And now, those deals are fast ending, meaning mortgage holders looking for more favourable rates and better deals, are losing out.

“At the peak, we saw 35 lenders offering cashback deals to new customers willing to refinance over to them,” says RateCity’s research director Sally Tindall. “Today, that number is just 12.”

The rolling back of such special deals began with Commonwealth Bank in March 2023. Since then, many lenders have followed suit. As Ms. Tindall noted,

“When CBA says ‘jump’, often the banks say, ‘how high?'”

The result? CBA, among other lenders, is currently experiencing record profits, largely driven by rising net interest profits (aka the gap between the interest it pays and charges).