Qantas have announced that international travel will recommence from mid-December 2021. It is predicting Australia will reach 80 per cent vaccination – the trigger for reopening the international border – by then, allowing it to resume flying to well-vaccinated countries including Britain, Singapore, Japan, Canada and even the United States.

But travel to countries where vaccination rates are lower, such as Indonesia and Vietnam, will be delayed.

It has a lot riding on those outcomes with the airline industry one of the heaviest hit throughout COVID. Qantas reported a $2.3 billion pre-tax loss for the 2021 financial year, which takes its total losses during the pandemic north of $5 billion… ouch.

Either way, we think it’s great that there’s some light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to international travel in the future.

We mentioned a few weeks back that there would be an infrastructure boom as our governments spend their way out of the pandemic. The Victorian government made a massive announcement on that just last week, confirming the first stage of the suburban rail loop will be completed by 2035 at a cost of $34.5 billion!

The whole project – which connects Cheltenham in the south-east with Werribee in the west in a loop around the city – is expected to cost $100 billion. It will be the biggest infrastructure project in Australia’s history. HUGE news for Melbourne.

At the other end of the travel spectrum, Google revealed last week that Logan – located halfway between the Gold Coast and Brisbane – is becoming the poster-suburb for delivery services, with a Google company using it as ground zero for its unmanned flying technology.

Apparently, there have been 50,000 deliveries in the past eight months done via drones that fly at about 110 km/h about 45 metres above the grounds. One coffee shop alone has delivered 10,000 cups of coffee. Game changer, and we love that Logan – where a lot of us Custodians have invested – is at the forefront of this innovative technology.

A few questions came in last week on the Melbourne auction clearance rate compared with Sydney. Specifically, the Melbourne clearance rate has been sitting at between 35 to 45 per cent over the last few weeks, well below the 70 per cent plus, that we’d seen for most of the year. Sydney, on the other hand, has been sitting above 80 per cent for the last month or so despite being in a similar state of lockdown.

The difference can be explained by the contrasting positions on inspections. In Melbourne, one on one inspections are not allowed, whereas in Sydney it is. You can imagine most people would be wanting to inspect a property before they buy it, particularly with Melbourne’s median house price nearing $1 million.

The final bit of news for the week is not a typo.

We saw history during the week with the first ever sub-2 per cent variable home loan introduced by one of the major banks in Australia.

Westpac Bank released a 1.99 per cent variable home loan rate for borrowers with a 70 per cent LVR or less.

There’s so much competition between the banks right now – all trying to compete for borrowers’ business in a low interest rate environment. It really does pay to shop around and ask your bank if they can do better on your interest rates.

The RBA reported last month that the average borrower is paying 3.07 per cent on a variable rate home loan. That’s a difference of 1.08 per cent on the Westpac variable rate. With the median house price in Australia now $815,000, the average borrower would be paying $7,000 per annum more than they would on the lower rate.

Just think what you could be doing with an extra $7,000 at Christmas each year – or how much better that money would look sitting in your offset account!

Interested in knowing more? Check out the weekly podcast we do at  The Double Shot Podcast.

James and Alex

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