11/05/2009 - 06:46

Today's Business Headlines

11/05/2009 - 06:46

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Budget sets up election battleground; Anti-China stance is hurting nations - Jones; WA dashes hopes of quick revival; Trade insurers run for cover; Telstra fence-mending drive

Today's Business Headlines

Budget sets up election battleground
A $260 million-a-year government paid parental scheme in the budget tomorrow night will be funded by tough across-the-board restrictions on superannuation, welfare and health benefits designed to underpin a return to budget surplus and set the political battleground for the 2010 election. The Fin Review

Anti-China stance is hurting nations - Jones
Veteran WA mining figure and Gindalbie Metals chairman George Jones says the country is missing out on investment in resource projects because of anti-Chinese sentiment among politicians and in the media. The West

WA dashes hopes of quick revival
Western Australia will forecast this week that its economy will remain stagnant or in recession for at least another two years, in a blow to hopes that the state might quickly lead the nation out of the downturn. The Fin Review

Trade insurers run for cover
Vulnerable retailers and suppliers across a raft of industries face a potential cash-flow crisis as trade insurance underwriters, most notably industry leader QBE, curtail their exposure to the sector. The Australian

Telstra fence-mending drive
Telstra will embark on a series of high-level meetings with key investors and government ministers as its new leadership seeks to restore value to the company by repositioning its role in the federal government's $43 billion national broadband network project. The Fin Review

 

THE WEST AUSTRALIAN:

Page 1: Treasurer Wayne Swan will turn off the tap to wealthy Australians in tomorrow's budget in a raft of changes aimed at restricting welfare eligibility.

Page 4: Electricity prices already rising by an average of $246 per household this year would go up "significantly" again next year, Premier Colin Barnett warned yesterday.

The state government will spend $300 million over the next four years on projects to revitalise major towns in the Pilbara.

Page 5: Unions and business groups have welcomed the federal government's commitment to paid paternal leave to give newborns at least four-and-a-half months at home with their primary carer.

Page 6: Treasurer Wayne Swan will deliver the nation's single biggest budget deficit tomorrow, economists expect, with the Rudd and Howard governments under fire for wasting the revenue generated by the mining boom.

Page 11: Desperate Wheatbelt farmers and South West fruit growers are praying for cooler weather and rain in the driest start to autumn for 15 years.

Page 14: Taxpayers will be forced to pay the multi-million-dollar cost of road and rail upgrades for magnate Len Buckeridge's planned private port despite the work being done to handle goods for his company BGC, the state opposition says.

Business: Veteran WA mining figure and Gindalbie Metals chairman George Jones says the country is missing out on investment in resource projects because of anti-Chinese sentiment among politicians and in the media.

It doesn't take much to get tongues wagging in this town and Avoca Resources boss Rohan Williams did just that last week when he talked up the need for consolidation among WA's mid-tier gold miners.

The Australian sharemarket could punch through the 4,000-point barrier today for the first time in six months after US shares jumped nearly 2 per cent on Friday night on better-than-expected employment figures and higher commodity prices.

The global agricultural economy could be starting to bounce back, with the so-called BRIC countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China leading the way, according to a visiting US agricultural expert.

Goldman Sachs Group shareholders have rebuffed the board of directors for the first time since the firm went public in 1999, voting to back a proposal that would let a simple majority enact changes at the company.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW:

Page 1: A $260 million-a-year government paid parental scheme in the budget tomorrow night will be funded by tough across-the-board restrictions on superannuation, welfare and health benefits designed to underpin a return to budget surplus and set the political battleground for the 2010 election.

Telstra will embark on a series of high-level meetings with key investors and government ministers as its new leadership seeks to restore value to the company by repositioning its role in the federal government's $43 billion national broadband network project.

Superannuation funds are considering changes to their investment strategies in the wake of the recent volatility in share prices in an attempt to protect older savers from prolonged downturns in financial markets.

Page 3: The largest companies protected by the ban on short selling have now raised more than $30 billion in capital, removing the key reason for the corporate regulator to extend the ban.

Page 5: Western Australia will forecast this week that its economy will remain stagnant or in recession for at least another two years, in a blow to hopes that the state might quickly lead the nation out of the downturn.

Page 10: Goldman Sachs Group shareholders rebuffed the board of directors for the first time since the firm went public in 1999, voting to back a proposal that would let a simple majority enact changes at the company.

Page 13: Rio Tinto chairman Jan du Plessis will meet British and Australian shareholders over the next three weeks to test the waters on whether the company should proceed with a shareholder vote on the controversial $US19.5 billion ($25.4 billion) tie-up with Chinese aluminium group Chinalco.

Page 15: Woolworths has installed its controversial pay-at-the-pump petrol system in almost 80 per cent of the company-owned sites and is set to extend the system to sites owned by its petrol alliance partner, Caltex.

Page 16: For the past four years the brewers at Little World Beverages have been left to mash, lauter, ferment and filter their beer in peace - despite the looming presence of Lion Nathan on its share register.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN:

Page 1: Wayne Swan has promised help for the poor in a "very Labor" budget tomorrow, but will also use the economic blueprint to demolish what he describes as John Howard's contentious system of middle-class welfare.

When Wayne Swan hands down his second budget tomorrow night, he will have to confront an anomaly.

A 6 per cent pay top-up is being considered for High Court and Federal Court judges this year - above any across-the-board pay rise set to be awarded to all judicial officers.

Page 2: State approval for Gunns Tasmanian pulp mill is invalid and wide open to legal challenge, according to an analysis to be published by a leading administrative law expert.

The Rudd government has appointed a prominent former public servant to chair its troubled commercial property bailout fund.

Page 3: After Google Earth, the internet behemoth is reaching for the stars with a mobile phone application that identifies distant planets and galaxies.

Page 4: Unions have launched a national advertising campaign after expressing deep concern that federal and state Labor are about to wind back health and safety protections for workers.

A pay dispute between a shipping company and its Filipino crew has left 60,000 tonnes of iron ore destined for China sitting off Western Australia's north coast since Thursday.

Page 6: Tax revenue will fall $22 billion this year with the budget set to remain deeply in deficit for many years, according to Access Economics.

Canberra has executed a major shift on strategy with Beijing after Australia's senior negotiator quit stalled free trade agreement talks with China.

Page 7: Universities are increasing efforts to attract more private financing into the sector amid fears that a boost to recurrent funding in this week's budget will be spread out over time.

A wind-back of the private health insurance rebate would push more people on to public hospital waiting lists and hurt more than just the wealthy, according to the Australian Health Insurance Association.

A 10 per cent reduction in the number of government cars handed out to Western Australia's public servants will result in less productivity and more stress for workers, a union has warned.

Page 8: The Rudd government's plans to start construction of the navy's next generation of destroyers is in jeopardy, with one of the shipbuilders struggling to secure backing finance for its stake in the $8 billion project.

Business: Vulnerable retailers and suppliers across a raft of industries face a potential cash-flow crisis as trade insurance underwriters, most notably industry leader QBE, curtail their exposure to the sector.

Berkshire Hathaway has suffered a loss of $US1.5 billion ($1.95 billion) in the first quarter, compared with a profit of $US940 million a year earlier, as the conglomerate run by billionaire Warren Buffett continued to suffer amid the weak US economy and shaky markets.

There's nothing like a crisis to force reform. MLC chief executive Steve Tucker has been calling for an end to product-based commissions in the superannuation industry for three years in favour of a fee-for-advice model.

A shiver ran through world bond markets on Friday after a US Treasury auction of $US14 billion ($18 billion) in 30-year bonds on Thursday night struggled to find buyers, pushing long-term rates up by 15 basis points to 4.26 per cent.

Middle-class Australia is nervously awaiting the budget, counting down to what could be a swingeing cut in tax breaks if market rumours can be taken as a guide.

Wingecarribee Shire Council has won the right to proceed with attempts to uncover Lehman Brothers' insurance policies, as it fights to recoup millions of dollars lost in financial products it bought that were smashed in value by the US subprime crisis.

Troubled property trust GPT Group has been buoyed by strong support for its deeply discounted capital raising, despite widespread concerns that there may be more bad news to come.

Prospects are rising for a swath of investment around Oakajee port facilities in Western Australia, following review board approval of substantial Chinese participation in Gindalbie Metals' $1.8 billion Karara magnetite iron ore project.

Anyone who came back from the Christmas break with enough nerve to bet on base metals miners should have at least doubled their money, shares steaming ahead of the recovery in the metals themselves.

 

 

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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