Today's Business Headlines

02/04/2009 - 06:40

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Rudd plans third stimulus; State pulls the plug on rebate to save water; Budget plan to help small business; Kimberley project on shaky ground; Allco high-flyers seize aircraft

Today's Business Headlines

Rudd plans third stimulus
Treasury is preparing the ground for a massive new burst of fiscal stimulus in next month's budget, declaring that the measures to date have averted a plunge in consumer spending. The Australian

State pulls the plug on rebate to save water
A rebate scheme that is expected to save 85 billion litres of water and has helped more than 350,000 households will be axed by the state government. The West

Budget plan to help small business
The Rudd government will use the May budget to offer more support for the nation's two million small businesses in an effort to stem a decline in corporate investment and build on a $2.7 billion tax break due to end this year. The Fin Review

Kimberley project on shaky ground
Premier Colin Barnett has bluntly told Kimberley Aborigines that only a few days remain if a liquefied natural gas project and millions of dollars in compensation are to be realised. The Australian

Allco high-flyers seize aircraft
Two former Allco executives have been accused of financially hijacking 68 international jet airliners worth about $3 billion in a bid to get themselves a bargain deal from the receivers of collapsed leasing company Allco Finance Group. The Australian

 

THE WEST AUSTRALIAN:

Page 1: Beer, wine and brandy drinkers will be targeted by the federal government under a $3 billion budget swoop on so-called "sin taxes", which is also likely to revive the levy of alcopops.

Page 3: A rebate scheme that is expected to save 85 billion litres of water and has helped more than 350,000 households will be axed by the state government.

Page 4: Premier Colin Barnett yesterday backed down on his threat to forcibly acquire land for a controversial LNG gas hub on the Kimberley coastline.

The state government has issued 12 notices to close operations at BHP Billiton facilities in the past two weeks as part of a tough new approach after five deaths at the company's sites since July.

Page 6: The nation's shoppers stopped spending in February as they waited for more handouts from the federal government, figures show.

The Business Council of Australia has thrown its support behind Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's handling of the economic crisis but warned against the temptation to over-regulate the Australian financial sector amid an international backlash against reckless banks and insurance companies.

Page 9: Police fear crime syndicates are targeting Perth automatic teller machine customers after finding a second skimming device at an ATM.

Page 11: The state government is seeking urgent legal advice to see if it can overturn plans by electricity retailer Synergy to move up to 160 jobs to India.

Page 16: The nurses' union claims the state government's new freeze on real wages breaks the spirit of their pay deal, which was expected to deliver a significant rise after a review this year.

Business: OZ Minerals expects to remake itself as a one-mine company and potential takeover target on par with copper miner Equinox Minerals after it agreed to sell the bulk of its assets to China Minmetals for $US1.2 billion ($1.75 billion).

Part of the Australian Securities Exchange website turned Chinese yesterday in what may have been an April Fool's joke, a political statement, or a stuff-up.

Australasian Resources has suffered a big blow in its attempt to become one of WA's biggest magnetite producers after its Chinese partner failed to meet a financing deadline for the $2.7 billion Balmoral South Project at Cape Preston.

Kerry Stokes' Seven Network has increased its stake in West Australian Newspapers by nearly 1 per cent through the publisher's new dividend reinvestment plan.

Eneabba Gas shares doubled in value yesterday after the Mid West power station proponent said it had offloaded its exploration tenements to underground coal gasification group Carbon Energy.

Nearly two years after Fortescue Metals Group struck the landmark deals to open its Pilbara infrastructure to junior miners, the pressure is on for it to deliver on its promises, with a decision on whether to allow BC Iron on its railway expected within days.

This week's 11th-hour market surge in Macquarie Group's satellite funds helped the investment bank avoid taking as much as $440 million in write-downs just as it was ruling-off its first-half accounts.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW:

Page 1: The Rudd government will use the May budget to offer more support for the nation's two million small businesses in an effort to stem a decline in corporate investment and build on a $2.7 billion tax break due to end this year.

US President Barack Obama is facing a searching test of his global leadership capabilities as divisions grow among the Group of 20 nations over spending and regulatory priorities.

Page 3: The federal government is unable to specify how many people will lose their jobs and how many businesses face a loss of Commonwealth-funded contracts today under an overhaul of the $4 billion employment services system.

Page 4: The federal government is considering delaying the expansion of anti-money laundering laws to a range of businesses and professions because of the recession.

Page 5: The High Court will decide tomorrow whether tax bonuses worth $8 billion over two years aimed at boosting the economy are constitutionally valid and should be paid to millions of taxpayers next week.

Page 7: Retailers are hoping that post-Easter trade will be fuelled by the federal government's impending handout to consumers, after retail data showed spending in February dropped more than expected.

Page 9: West Australian Premier Colin Barnett has warned that a multi-billion dollar gas-processing precinct planned for the Kimberley will never go ahead unless an in-principle agreement is stuck within days, increasing pressure on the region's traditional owners to agree to a compensation package.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN:

Page 1: Treasury is preparing the ground for a massive new burst of fiscal stimulus in next month's budget, declaring that the measures to date have averted a plunge in consumer spending.

Recalling the days when women were forced to leave work once they married, biologist Kathy Traianedes is taking the troubled Australian Stem Cell Centre to the Federal Court, alleging she was fired because she is married to the centre's former CEO.

Barack Obama has declared an end to the economic era in which the world could rely on the "voracious consumption" of the US to fuel international economic growth.

Fears that Chinese spies could compromise the joint Australian-US intelligence operations at Pine Gap may have underpinned the Rudd Government's decision to reject OZ Minerals' takeover by China Minmetals, according to the country's leading intelligence expert.

Page 2: Calls for Canberra to adopt more ambitious greenhouse emissions reductions have been triggered by a key US congressional committee, which has proposed a trading scheme with tougher targets than those in Australia's bill.

A British parliamentary committee has condemned the new "independent" method used to make appointments to the ABC and SBS boards as open to ministerial manipulation.

Laurie Short was feted yesterday as a man ahead of his time who saw through the facade of Joseph Stalin's brutal Soviet regime years before others were willing to.

Page 3: The federal government has torn up its politically correct curriculum for children in day-care, quietly replacing it with a family-friendly guide for carers and parents.

About 10 million computers worldwide infected by the mysterious Conficker worm are waking up and "calling home" as instructed by an unknown master controller, who used April Fool's Day as the trigger.

Page 4: Canberra has left the door open to a second attempt at passing its failed alcopops bill through parliament to repair its battered budget and curb binge drinking.

The staff at Afghan Interiors in Sydney's trendy inner suburb of Newtown don't have to look very far to see evidence of the economic downturn.

Page 5: Temporary skilled migrant workers will earn the same wage as local workers under a tightening of the 457 visa program announced by the Rudd Government yesterday.

Page 6: Public dental services are so overloaded that one-quarter of patients waiting for treatment in NSW have been on the list for more than two years while their teeth continue to deteriorate.

Private patients have jumped queues for treatment at NSW public hospitals, with their willingness to pay improving their chances of shorter waiting times and of having their cases classed as more urgent.

Page 7: Premier Colin Barnett has bluntly told Kimberley Aborigines that only a few days remain if a liquefied natural gas project and millions of dollars in compensation are to be realised.

Business: Two former Allco executives have been accused of financially hijacking 68 international jet airliners worth about $3 billion in a bid to get themselves a bargain deal from the receivers of collapsed leasing company Allco Finance Group.

OZ Minerals' battle-scarred shareholders have lost the financial upside that China Minmetals' original takeover bid would have delivered, as the revised $1.7 billion rescue package offers less immediate value.

A last-minute surge in retail demand for Fairfax Media's $650 million capital raising has ensured the stake of the company's flagship shareholder, John B. Fairfax, will be diluted to less than 10 per cent.

Rio Tinto and Chinalco will no doubt closely scrutinise the detail of Wayne Swan's approval for the state-owned Hunan Valin Iron & Steel to pump $1.2 billion into Andrew Forrest's Fortescue Metals, boosting its stake to 17.55 per cent, to see if it may have any implication for their proposed $US19.5 billion ($28 billion) tie-up.

Fletcher Building, one of the world's leading formica makers, has laid off 1850 staff in the past 12 months - including 400 in Australia - as it looks to the market to raise $NZ505 million ($408.8 million) amid the global housing slump.

The West Australian government has ordered an unprecedented clampdown on mining giant BHP Billiton after five deaths in eight months at its Pilbara mine sites, instructing its inspectors to shut any site where even a minor safety breach has occurred.

Rio Tinto could have tapped alternative debt options instead of pushing its $US19.5 billion ($28.2 billion) tie-up with Chinalco if the global downturn had been shorter, according to chief Tom Albanese.

Citi's Australian investment banking and trading business has been savaged by the global financial crisis, with a loss of $120 million in 2008 as fees generated from deals dropped by almost $80 million.

Macquarie Group's bid to offload its communications satellite fund could face strong resistance, with the offer from a Canadian investor deemed too cheap.

 

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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