Today's Business Headlines

20/08/2009 - 06:50

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Garrett last Gorgon bar; Qantas to jettison $1.5bn in costs; State tax in reform mix, says Henry; Write-downs cruel Iluka result as zircon sales fall; Major store deals 'real barrier to competition'

Garrett last Gorgon bar
The welfare of the Barrow Island mouse, the spectacled hare wallaby, the golden bandicoot and burrowing bettong -- not to mention the flat-back turtle -- is all that stands in the way of the $50 billion Gorgon gas contract with China. The Australian

Qantas to jettison $1.5bn in costs
Qantas Airways is targeting a further $1.5 billion in cost cuts over the next three years after posting its worst annual profit since privatisation in 1995 as it battles the toughest global aviation market over two decades. The Fin Review

State tax in reform mix, says Henry
Ken Henry has called for a complete overhaul of federal finances, with the possibility that states will be allowed to levy their own income taxes. The Australian

Write-downs cruel Iluka result as zircon sales fall
Iluka Resources' sales of zircon, its key commodity, are expected to fall to their lowest level in "recent history" this year, the Perth mineral sands miner has warned. The West

Major store deals 'real barrier to competition'
A competition expert has urged Premier Colin Barnett to ban big supermarkets from doing deals to exclude rival businesses from shopping centres, claiming such deals are the real barrier to retail competition in WA. The West

 

 

THE WEST AUSTRALIAN:

Page 4: A competition expert has urged Premier Colin Barnett to ban big supermarkets from doing deals to exclude rival businesses from shopping centres, claiming such deals are the real barrier to retail competition in WA.

Page 6: The full extent of the benefit that the Gorgon gas project cold have on WA's finances started to emerge yesterday when it was revealed the state would get an advance on its $100 million a year in royalty payments.

WA Liberal MPs staged a walkout in protest against Prime Minister Kevin Rudd claiming credit for the $50 billion Gorgon deal, saying the Howard government has laid the groundwork with its lobbying and industrial relations regime.

Woodside Petroleum has thrown down the gauntlet to the owners of WA's $50 billion Gorgon liquefied natural gas project, saying its rival Pluto venture near Karratha has the potential to be 40 per cent bigger.

Page 11: The state government's move to impose recreational fishing fees suffered a blow last night as signs emerged that it lacked support in its ranks to pass the regulation.

Page 17: Qantas' low cost airline, Jetstar, is to be expanded significantly after emerging as the shining light in the national carrier's worst profit results since its privatisation in 1995.

Business: Iluka Resources' sales of zircon, its key commodity, are expected to fall to their lowest level in "recent history" this year, the Perth mineral sands miner has warned.

Qantas, one of the world's few profitable airlines, offered an insight to the troubled state of the aviation sector yesterday when it paid no final dividend, declined to give earnings guidance and revealed another round of cost cutting.

Woodside Petroleum has surprised with a better-than-expected interim profit and flagged improved oil and gas production in the second half.

Avoca Resources last night secured effective control of takeover subject Dioro Exploration after the target's second-biggest investor vended most of its 12.6 per cent stake into the offer and other shareholders followed suit.

Bank of Queensland will raise $340 million to bolster its balance sheet but has opted to go it alone amid signs global credit markets have improved.

CSL will struggle to handle any extra demand for its swine flu vaccine, saying yesterday it was already over-stretched under contracts from the US and Australian governments.

Origin Energy's electricity retailing business has slumped after customers cut their power use to cope with the downturn and the Queensland government botched a tariff ruling.

THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW:

Page 1: Corporate Australia has surpassed expectations so far this reporting season as healthy margins, low interest rates, government hand-outs and cost cutting have helped companies navigate the economic slowdown.

Qantas Airways is targeting a further $1.5 billion in cost cuts over the next three years after posting its worst annual profit since privatisation in 1995 as it battles the toughest global aviation market over two decades.

Woodside Petroleum plans to dramatically expand its flagship $14 billion Pluto liquefied natural gas project to meet increasing Asian demand for gas.

Page 3: The clean energy industry was given the green light to proceed with an estimated $20 billion expansion over the next decade after the federal government yesterday secured coalition support for its 20 per cent renewable energy legislation.

Page 7: The $50 billion Gorgon gas project in Western Australia will start a period of unprecedented development in the state that will help pull the entire country out of the economic downturn, WA Premier Colin Barnett has predicted.

Chinese state media lashed out at the Australian government again yesterday, despite the $50 billion Gorgon sale, as the federal government and opposition squabbled over who could claim responsibility for the record trade deal.

The opposition has warned the $50 billion Gorgon project could be jeopardised by unions, which it claimed were mounting a campaign of disruption in West Australian resources projects.

Page 9: Unions that present the same log of claims to multiple employers during wage negotiations are not necessarily engaging in pattern bargaining, the industrial regulator has ruled.

Page 15: Building materials maker Boral is counting on a recovery in housing demand at home and in the United States even as tougher borrowing conditions weigh on commercial construction.

Page 17: Mineral sands miner Iluka says demand for its products has improved markedly after the first half of its year was adversely affected by the global economic crisis and associated falls in customer purchases.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN:

Page 1: Julia Gillard is preparing to intervene in another industry facing spiralling costs from Labor's overhaul of awards, after the horticulture sector warned the revamp would send thousands of fruit and vegetable businesses across the country to the wall.

Ken Henry has called for a complete overhaul of federal finances, with the possibility that states will be allowed to levy their own income taxes.

Labor's overhaul of the nation's award system is proving a recurring political migraine for Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard.

The Nationals have discussed quitting the Coalition amid growing frustration with the Liberal Party and the opposition's poor performance in opinion polls.

Kevin Rudd has called Australia's ambassador to China, Geoff Raby, back to Canberra for an emergency summit as Sino-Australian relations continued to deteriorate, with the country's state-run English language newspaper accusing Canberra of being the "champion of an anti-China chorus" and siding with terrorists.

Page 2: The welfare of the Barrow Island mouse, the spectacled hare wallaby, the golden bandicoot and burrowing bettong -- not to mention the flat-back turtle -- is all that stands in the way of the $50 billion Gorgon gas contract with China.

Malcolm Turnbull faces new claims that his leadership authority has collapsed after West Australian MPs walked out of question time en masse in an apparent fit of pique over a $50 billion gas export deal.

Page 3: A federal government crackdown on vocational colleges and universities could leave thousands of international students looking for somewhere else to study or needing refunds as rogue operators are shut down.

Relief may be in sight for renters who have been hit by skyrocketing rents over the past few years. There has been a small decrease in rental rates across Australia's capital cities over the June quarter, suggesting rental yields may have hit their peak, according to leading property statistics agency RP Data.

Page 4: Complaints of forgery, shonky workmanship and overpricing have forced the federal government to write to 185,000 home owners asking if they have had problems with insulation work under the $4 billion energy efficient housing program.

Page 5: The International Monetary Fund believes the tax treatment of housing is too generous and has called for capital gains tax to be levied on the family home.

Labor's chief climate change adviser, Ross Garnaut, has declared that the granting of too many free emission permits will worsen the budget deficit or cause the government to cut spending in the core areas of defence, education and health.

Business: Qantas plans to embark on a $1.5 billion cost-cutting drive, after the global economic downturn forced Australia's flagship carrier into the red in the second half and sent annual profit plunging almost 90 per cent.

Woodside Petroleum is storming ahead with plans to expand its Pluto liquefied natural gas project at Karratha in Western Australia, announcing plans to triple its size by 2014 through a potential $8 billion investment that would beat both Chevron's Gorgon and Wheatstone LNG plants into production.

CSL has strengthened its position as the world's second-biggest maker of blood plasma products, reporting a solid 63 per cent jump in full-year net profit after tax to $1.15 billion on the back of strong demand for its specialist therapies and foreign exchange gains.

China's will abandon its disastrous experiment of putting the China Iron & Steel Association in charge of iron ore price negotiations this year.

Origin Energy boss Grant King says Gladstone will not be able to support all the ambitions of Queensland's coal-seam gas proponents and time is running out for merging the four major liquefied natural gas projects planned at the Queensland industrial hub.

The Bank of Queensland plans to use a $340 million capital raising to build its residential and small business lending book, as it attempts to break down the dominant mortgage market share held by its major rivals.

Boral has suffered a 42 per cent fall in full-year net profit as the building materials company slashed jobs and dividends to help it ride through one of the worst global housing downturns in the US and Australia.

Money from the now-failed Elderslie Finance Group -- which was chaired by former Liberal leader John Hewson -- had been used to pay American Express credit card bills racked up by the wife of the company's owner.

Macquarie Group has taken its long-anticipated step into the emerging Chinese infrastructure sector by establishing two funds in partnership with Hong Kong-based securities firm Everbright seeking $US1.5 billion ($1.8bn) from investors.

Discount variety retailer The Reject Shop has booked a 14 per cent rise in annual profit thanks to continued expansion of its store network and budget consciousness among consumers.

Wealthy US citizens using a tax-evasion amnesty program have identified almost 10 Swiss and European banks where their accounts are held, opening new fronts in the Internal Revenue Service's probe into potential tax crimes.

Hewlett-Packard posted a 19 per cent drop in quarterly profit as sales fell sharply in several of its key businesses.

The Australian sharemarket closed flat despite a boost to energy stocks from buoyant investor sentiment over the $50 billion Gorgon liquefied natural gas deal with China.

 

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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