ACCC takes more time on Apple, big bank iPhone stoush

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The ACCC has raised that Apple may be acting anti-competitively by making the iOS platform exclusive to Apple Pay, preventing the big Australian banks from providing their own versions of digital wallets. However, the ACCC has also argued that some Australian banks have also acted anti-competitively by negotiating together with Apple to access their ‘near field communication’ antenna which could compromise the security of its hardware. In evaluating anti-competitive conduct on part of Apple and the Australian banks, the ACCC will need to consider if it would be in the best interests of consumers.

How does this relate to the HSC syllabus?

  • The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) protects consumer and business rights and monitor industries for anti-competitive behaviour (HSC Topic 4 – Economic Policies and Management).
  • By restricting access to its platform to Apple Pay, Apple effectively creates a monopoly among iPhone users (Preliminary Topic 3 – Markets). This means that iPhone users would only be able to use Apple Pay as their payments app which restricts consumer choice. As a result, consumers are worse off.
  • Collective negotiation can be considered anti-competitive as those involved in the negotiation would increase their bargaining power to the exclusion of others. As such, the banks that collectively negotiated with Apple, including Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, NAB, Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, would be more likely to access iPhone’s ‘near field communication’ antenna which sends signals to ‘tap and go’ payments terminals.
  • While both Apple and the banks have acted anti-competitively, the central question is whether these activities will benefit consumers.

Jobless rate eases to 5.7% in July

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The unemployment rate has fallen from 5.8% to 5.7% as a result of a surge in part-time work. Better than expected employment figures support those arguing that no further rate cuts were required. However, youth unemployment and underemployment remains high and growth in hours worked has slowed. A clear disparity emerged between the states with NSW, Victoria, Queensland and WA’s unemployment rates at 5.2%, 5.9%, 6.1% and 6.3% respectively.

How does this relate to the HSC syllabus?

  • Given that the participation rate has remained stable, a reduction in the unemployment rate signifies a decrease in the number of people unemployed rather than a decrease in the labour force (Preliminary Topic 4 – Labour Markets; HSC Topic 3 – Economic Issues). This may suggest that the economy is growing since labour is a derived demand. That is, as a result of their growth, businesses hire more employees to increase their growth.
  • Due to the better than expected employment figures which can be attributed to growth in the economy, some are suggesting that monetary policy does not need to be loosened further to stimulate the economy.
  • Although there has been a reduction in the unemployment rate, full time work has decreased by 45,400 jobs while part-time work as surged. This is reflective of the trend of casualisation of labour. This trend indicates the weakness and uncertainty in the economy as employers are reluctant to enter into longer term contracts.
  • Youth unemployment remains particularly high given that it is one of the groups more susceptible to unemployment. Given that youths generally have limited skills, it would be less likely for the youth to secure a job than it would be with an adult with some skills.
  • A significant issue as a consequent to the casualisation of labour has been underemployment (Preliminary Topic 4 – Labour markets; HSC Topic 3 – Economic Issues). Underemployment occurs when people are not working the hours they would like to but is not reflected in the unemployment rate. Underemployment can be viewed as an inefficiency in the market as resources are not being used to full capacity.
  • The disparity of unemployment rates between the states demonstrates the varying growth between the geographical regions. Given that NSW and Victoria have strong services sectors, their unemployment rates are lower as the services sector is currently growing. Conversely, the slowing down of the mining sector in WA and Queensland eliminates the probability of finding employment, therefore increasing the unemployment rate.

Scott Morrison credits ‘flexibility’ for low jobless rate

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The fall in the unemployment rate has been attributed to labour market flexibility according to Scott Morrison. Official data showed a large increase in the number of people working less than 35 hours a week, indicating the trend towards the casualization of labour. Shadow employment minister Brendan O’Connor comments that Australia has a problem creating full-time work which could make people worse off. Promoting a ‘flexible’ workforce has already been threatened by claims lodged by unions at the Fair Work Commission that encompass a push to introduce a minimum four-hour shift for casual and part-time workers, allowing casual workers to become permanent after 6 months and banning employers from taking on extra staff without offering more hours to current staff first.

How does this relate to the HSC syllabus?

  • Scott Morrison credits the fall in unemployment to the flexibility of the labour force. Given that people are working less hours and on a casual basis, employers have been willing to increasing their hire rates as these forms of employment are less costly (Preliminary Topic 4 – Labour Markets; HSC Topic 3 – Economic Issues). The reduced cost comes from the fact that these people are working fewer hours and the fact that additional benefits such as health cover do not need to be paid for.
  • Concerns about the casualisation of labour has been raised, as the reduction in income and benefits decreases household incomes and standards of living. These concerns have been magnified by the fact that the government is seeking to lower penalty rates, which reduces the pay employees receive when they work overtime, further decreasing the incomes earned by these employees.
  • In response to the casualisation trend, unions have submitted to the Fair Work Commission moves to introduce more regulation into the labour market via modern awards, including minimum periods of shifts and enabling casual workers to become permanent after six months. However, these moves may cause increased unemployment in the market as employers would be reluctant to hire more casual workers with the knowledge that they would be obliged to convert them to permanent employees six months after. It is estimated that these changes would cost the economy $3.7 billion a year a reduce full-time equivalent jobs by 19,000.


Theresa Dang is an economics mentor at Keystone Education. She attended Sydney Girls High and achieved an ATAR of 99.70 in 2012. She is now studying Commerce and Law at the University of Sydney. She has experience in a global technology firm and a mutual fund.


Gary Liang is the founder and director of Keystone Education. He attended Sydney Boys High and achieved an ATAR of 99.95 in 2012. He achieved 5 state ranks in Mathematics, Mathematics Ext 1, Mathematics Ext 2, Chemistry and Economics. He is now studying Economics and Science (Advanced Mathematics) at the UNSW Australia, where he is the recipient of four scholarships.