11/12/2008 - 06:53

Today's Business Headlines

11/12/2008 - 06:53

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WA set for slowest growth in a decade; Battle on electricity pricing; New hope of economic recovery; Company tax may be cut in Henry review; More cash for ABC Learning

WA set for slowest growth in a decade
West Australian Treasurer Troy Buswell has warned the state may suffer its slowest growth in almost a decade next financial year, with slumping demand for commodities and fragile consumer and business confidence expected to slash the pace of growth by about two-thirds. The Fin Review

Battle on electricity pricing
Energy companies are demanding an overhaul of regulations they fear will limit their ability to tap financial markets for billions of dollars to comply with the Rudd government's emissions policies and ensure a secure power supply. The Fin Review

New hope of economic recovery
Hopes that the economy may be starting to turn the corner have been boosted by fresh figures pointing to a partial recovery in the housing market and a bounce in consumer confidence. The West

Company tax may be cut in Henry review
Company tax rates are likely to be cut, ordinary workers may not have to fill out income tax returns and royalty payments made by mining companies could be revamped as part of a "decades-long" reform of the tax system foreshadowed by Treasury secretary Ken Henry. The West

More cash for ABC Learning
The Rudd government has been forced to bail out the childcare industry again - giving ABC Learning $34 million yesterday to guarantee care for 20,000 children until the end of March. The Australian

 

THE WEST AUSTRALIAN:

Page 1: Taxpayers secretly footed a $190,000 superannuation tax bill for former Governor-General Michael Jeffery when he retired three months ago after he complained to the Rudd government.

Thousands of WA jobs are under threat after mining giant Rio Tinto last night blamed the "unprecedented" global economic meltdown for its drastic decision to slash 14,000 jobs worldwide and freeze its dividend.

Page 3: Senior WA public servants are under investigation by police over allegations that millions of dollars of taxpayers' money earmarked for the state's premier technology development centre are missing.

Page 4: Hopes that the economy may be starting to turn the corner have been boosted by fresh figures pointing to a partial recovery in the housing market and a bounce in consumer confidence.

More than 150 workers have lost their jobs at the Carrier Air Conditioning factory in Redcliffe, with the company blaming the economic slump for its decision to close the business and sell the property.

Page 6: Taxpayers will pump another $34 million into 241 ailing childcare centres, including 21 in WA, in a desperate bid to keep them open as part of the carve-up of the crumbling ABC Learning empire.

Page 10: Company tax rates are likely to be cut, ordinary workers may not have to fill out income tax returns and royalty payments made by mining companies could be revamped as part of a "decades-long" reform of the tax system foreshadowed by Treasury secretary Ken Henry.

Bank customers will be told how much they will be charged to use an ATM from next year under a plan the Reserve Bank says will reduce fees.

Page 11: Fortescue Metals Group and its contractors at a railway construction camp in the Pilbara have pleaded not guilty to causing the death of two workers during a cyclone.

Page 14: Construction companies fear proposed industrial relations laws will lead to a return to the days when union delegates called the shots at building sites.

People can be gaoled for a year for a range of offences, including the use of "insulting language" to a member or a delegate of Fair Work Australia, under the federal government's proposed new penalties.

Page 19: A group of 60 property owners is prepared to take the state government to court to overturn recent massive rises in their land tax bill.

Business: Rio Tinto has issued a dire warning to rivals BHP Billiton and Fortescue Metals Group about Chinese iron ore appetite next year after flagging that its Pilbara production was only likely to slightly exceed this year's already reduced figure because of low customer demand.

Fairfax Media has promised an assault on its $2.5 billion debt after confirming Brian McCarthy as chief executive at a board meeting yesterday.

BankWest's besieged UK parent was planning to scale back its $1 billion east coast expansion even before Commonwealth Bank lodged a $2.1 billion takeover bid for the lender.

The "merger of equals" set to combine WA coal play Aviva Corporation and Canada's Northern Energy and Mining has fallen over, amid a worsening for resources projects.

Shares in Amcom Telecommunications jumped 11 per cent higher yesterday as Futuris Corp confirmed it had finally quit its stake in the telco through an institutional placement at 9.5 cents a share.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW:

Page 1: Rio Tinto will slash 14,000 jobs from its global workforce and may be forced to sell several of its most attractive assets in a desperate bid to pay down its crippling debt levels and restore investor confidence in the battered mining group.

Treasury secretary Ken Henry has played down the need to cut the company tax rate and conceded that excluding the goods and services tax from his landmark review of the nation;s tax system would constrain the options for reform.

Energy companies are demanding an overhaul of regulations they fear will limit their ability to tap financial markets for billions of dollars to comply with the Rudd government's emissions policies and ensure a secure power supply.

Page 3: ABC Learning Centres' lenders could inject $35 million in additional funds to keep the company's 720 profitable centres operating until they can be sold, after the federal government promised as much as $34 million to prop up 241 loss-making centres until the end of March.

Indonesia has called on Australia to show stronger leadership on climate change, as expectations mount that the federal government will opt for a cautious start to emissions trading.

Page 4: Financial turmoil and falling investment returns have sparked a dramatic surge in disputes between consumers and financial services providers.

Page 5: West Australian Treasurer Troy Buswell has warned the state may suffer its slowest growth in almost a decade next financial year, with slumping demand for commodities and fragile consumer and business confidence expected to slash the pace of growth by about two-thirds.

Page 8: The resources sector could benefit from major tax changes aimed at curbing the use of fixed government charges in favour of more flexible royalty fees that would lighten the tax load on new projects.

Page 11: BHP Billiton has thrown its weight behind employers' calls to retain the Office of the Australian Building and Construction Commissioner, citing risks to its multi-billion-dollar pipeline of resource projects.

Page 12: A shock fall in the pace of China's producer price inflation in November, to just 2 per cent year on year, has raised the threat of potential deflation in 2009.

Page 15: The board of Qantas Airways has agreed to further merger talks with British Airways on creating an $8 billion cross-continental carrier.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN:

Page 1: The Rudd government has been forced to bail out the childcare industry again - giving ABC Learning $34 million yesterday to guarantee care for 20,000 children until the end of March.

Page 2: Billionaire miner Andrew Forrest's Fortescue Metals Group will defend charges over the deaths of two workers last year when Cyclone George flattended one of the company's railway camps in the Pilbara.

Page 3: Fifty-five ABC Learning childcare centres will be closed at the beginning of next year, while another 241 are being propped-up by the federal government.

Ron Walker, the former Melbourne lord mayor and Liberal Party treasurer, has held on to his position as chairman of Fairfax Media in spite of his long support for the ousted chief executive David Kirk.

Finance: Mining giant Rio Tinto will slash 14,000 jobs, and cut capital expenditure, as it tries to ease investor fears about its balance sheet.

National Australia Bank will inject $1.58 billion into its Clydesdale Bank in Britain to comply with capital requirements in the nation's credit guarantee scheme.

Fairfax Media will cut its full-year dividend by 80 per cent - with little market expectation of a return to normal payouts for at least two years - as the company attempts to tackle its $2.5 billion debt burden.

OZ Minerals is going downhill at an alarming rate.

The Qantas board has given airline executives a green light to continue talks on the $8 billion merger with British Airways.

Australia's largest steelmaker, BlueScope Steel, will cut jobs as the demand for steel rapidly deteriorates - plunging up to 25 per cent last month.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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