Today's Business Headlines

28/08/2009 - 06:47

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Gillard delays pain on penalties; Crown jewels turn to paste; PM revamps stimulus package; Virgin Blue posts $160m loss; Mining services groups surprise on the upside

Today's Business Headlines

Gillard delays pain on penalties
Julia Gillard has moved to address the key concerns of business over the Rudd government's overhaul of the award system, explicitly directing that proposed extra costs for retailers be phased in over five years, and requesting more flexible work hours in the horticulture sector. The Australian

Crown jewels turn to paste
A $1.7 billion write-down on assets bought by Crown, owner of Crown Casino, reveals the scale of the disaster of James Packer's forays into the US and British gambling markets. The Age

PM revamps stimulus package
Kevin Rudd has dramatically reconfigured his $43 billion economic stimulus package after warnings it could expose taxpayers to unacceptably high costs delivering promised new school buildings. The Australian

Virgin Blue posts $160m loss
Virgin Blue says it expects to break even this financial year after posting a full year loss due to a decline in demand for travel and costs associated with V Australia. Courier-Mail

Mining services groups surprise on the upside
With just a few stragglers, including VDM Group, Coote Industrial and RCR Tomlinson, due to hand down results today, analysts say the mining services sector has fared better than expected this reporting season. The West

 

 

THE WEST AUSTRALIAN:

Page 1: The new Perth the Bunbury highway will be saturated with multanovas, hand-held speed cameras and police drug and breath testing patrols when it is opened next month.

Page 3: Australia will go ahead with mandatory fortification of bread with folic acid within weeks, despite a decision yesterday by New Zealand to break from bilateral food safety laws and delay it.

Page 9: State schools struggled to cope with the influx of children of foreign workers who had little or no English, Education Department staff told a parliamentary committee yesterday.

Page 17: The federal government will spend an extra $1.5 billion upgrading primary schools in an overhaul of its $42 billion stimulus plan despite growing evidence that businesses are ramping up their infrastructure spending to boom-like levels.

Business: A sister offering to Woolworths' Platinum Blonde beer label will hit the shelves next month, in yet another move by the retailer to steal share from its branded competitors.

The federal government has backed calls by Australia's petroleum industry to make capital-intensive LNG plants cheaper to develop.

Aviva Corp executive Mark Chatfield will face trial in Queensland next year over allegations relating to his purchase of shares in another WA group, PearlStreet.

A $1.7 billion write-down on assets bought by Crown reveals the scale of the disaster James Packer's forays into the US and British gambling markets.

James Packer's Consolidated Media Holdings is keeping its cards close to the chest over its strategy to fend off Kerry Stokes's Seven Network, declining to say yesterday whether there would be steps on top of a planned share buyback to cement Mr Packer's control.

Virgin Blue's long-haul carrier, V Australia, underlined the tough competition on the Pacific route when it posted a pre-tax loss of $124 million in its first four months of operations.

With just a few stragglers, including VDM Group, Coote Industrial and RCR Tomlinson, due to hand down results today, analysts say the mining services sector has fared better than expected this reporting season.

Three Australian property companies yesterday gave cautiously optimistic outlooks for the real estate market, sending shares in the sector higher.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW:

Page 1: A $1.7 billion blow-out in the cost of the government's school infrastructure spending has put pressure on the Rudd government's fiscal credentials, overshadowing other areas of its massive $42 billion stimulus program that have been efficiently delivered under the forecast cost.

Woolworths will spend an extra $1.5 billion this year to protect its market leadership in the face of competition from arch-rival Coles and newcomers such as Costco, as it prepares to move into the $24 billion hardware sector and venture into new international markets.

Page 3: The Rudd government has ordered big changes to award modernisation to ease employer fears of wage blow-outs in major industries such as retail and horticulture.

Page 4: A group of climate change sceptics is rushing to register a political party so it can field a candidate in the by-election sparked by former opposition leader Brendan Nelson's decision to quit federal politics.

Page 9: Business investment has surged unexpectedly thanks to generous federal government tax breaks, putting the economy on track to record a second consecutive quarter of growth and increasing the risk of a pre-Christmas interest rate rise.

Page 11: Business uncertainty over plans to reduce carbon emissions must be removed quickly, irrespective of the outcome of talks in Copenhagen in December, a former climate change director for the UK government insists.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN:

Page 1: Kevin Rudd has dramatically reconfigured his $43 billion economic stimulus package after warnings it could expose taxpayers to unacceptably high costs delivering promised new school buildings.

The resources boom is gathering a new head of steam and may prompt the Reserve Bank to start raising interest rates earlier.

Julia Gillard has moved to address the key concerns of business over the Rudd government's overhaul of the award system, explicitly directing that proposed extra costs for retailers be phased in over five years, and requesting more flexible work hours in the horticulture sector.

Australia's largest medical negligence insurer has warned Queensland doctors it will not cover them for doing "criminal" drug-induced abortions.

Woolworths is confident of maintaining double-digit earnings growth this year after the government's economic stimulus packages helped it deliver a 12.8 per cent rise in annual net profit to a record $1.83 billion on sales of almost $50bn.

Page 2: Members of a new national representative indigenous body would be subject to unprecedented probity checks to avoid the corruption problems that besieged ATSIC, under a blueprint handed to the Rudd government yesterday by Social Justice Commissioner Tom Calma.

Union heavyweight and CBus industry super fund director John Sutton has been accused of seeking to destroy a joint venture between the $13 billion fund and property developer David Marriner so he could ''call all the shots''.

Page 3: Australia's largest medical negligence insurer has warned Queensland doctors it will not cover them for ''criminal'' drug-induced abortions.

Personal bankruptcies appear to be on the wane, although experts warn it may be too early to declare the worst is over in the global financial crisis.

Page 6: Any changes to school building projects in the Rudd government's $16.2 billion education infrastructure program must be sanctioned by the federal education department, under revised guidelines released yesterday.

Eight hundred fewer homes for the poor will be built than first planned under the government's stimulus package after its social housing budget was cut by $750 million yesterday.

Page 7: Lavishly subsidised Chinese solar cells are flooding the world market and creating a glut that threatens to hamper the Rudd government's efforts to foster a solar cell industry in Australia.

Business: James Packer's gaming group Crown has shelved expansion plans in North America for at least the next year, after admitting its disastrous US expansion strategy had been ill-timed and made at the top of the market.

Businessman Peter Willcox left the board of Telstra yesterday as court orders banning former James Hardie executives and non-executive directors came into force.

Consolidated Media Holdings has deflected suggestions it is interested in a second share buyback that would allow its major shareholder, James Packer, to fend off a challenge from Kerry Stokes's Seven Network.

Australia's leading retailer Woolworths is confident of maintaining double-digit earnings growth this year after the government's economic stimulus packages helped it deliver a 12.8 per cent rise in annual net profit to a record $1.83 billion on sales of almost $50bn.

OZ Minerals is sitting on $1 billion in cash as it decides how to move forward, and is determined not to repeat past mistakes that forced it to sell most of its assets to China.

A former director of HIH Insurance, Robert Stitt QC, has had his disqualification by APRA overturned by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, meaning he should be treated ''as if he had never been disqualified from being or acting in a senior insurance role''.

A slimmer and healthier GPT Group yesterday confirmed its earnings guidance of $365 million for 2009, after reporting first-half earnings of $183m -- 22.1 per cent lower than the corresponding half in 2008.

Macquarie Group is aiming to become a major offshore player in China's burgeoning financial markets by attracting billions of dollars to a new trust fund.

Macquarie Telecom has smashed previous years' profit postings by reporting an annual net profit of $7.5 million as the company continues its push into high-margin product lines.

Toll Holdings foresaw good takeover opportunities as the freight transport company announced it had returned to profitability for the full year.

Borrowing in US dollars has become cheaper than borrowing in Japanese yen for the first time in 16 years, a sign that fear in the credit markets, which drove borrowing costs sharply higher, has eased significantly.

The Australian sharemarket closed flat yesterday after gains on financial and industrial stocks countered falls in the resources sector following weaker commodity prices.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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