Today's Business Headlines

17/09/2009 - 06:49

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Unions declare war on BHP, each other; Labor plan to break up Telstra divides coalition; Cowboys not welcome in WA; ATO targets wealthy in trusts blitz; Stimulus to be felt for decade

Unions declare war on BHP, each other
Industrial tensions have escalated in the resources sector, after unions declared ''open season'' on BHP Billiton over the 51 per cent pay rise granted to chief executive Marius Kloppers, and a brawl ignited between unions over coverage of workers at the massive Gorgon LNG project. The Australian

Labor plan to break up Telstra divides coalition
The Rudd government's plan to break up Telstra gained momentum yesterday as the idea divided the coalition and won support from a key independent senator, while shareholder fears eased and analysts tipped a compromise over the telco's future. The Fin

Cowboys not welcome in WA
Premier Colin Barnett has admitted that Western Australia's rapid economic growth over the past five years has compounded the state's cowboy image and has warned the business community - and his fellow MPs - that he expects higher standards of behaviour. The Fin

ATO targets wealthy in trusts blitz
The Australian Tax Office has launched an assault on tax planning using trusts in a crackdown that could force thousands of investors, business owners and wealthy families to pay millions of dollars in extra tax. The Fin

Stimulus to be felt for decade
Australia's economic stimulus package is delivering a bigger boost to employment than those of any other advanced country and the benefits could be felt for up to a decade, according to the OECD. The Australian

 

THE WEST AUSTRALIAN:

Page 3: The Cottesloe Beach Hotel is back on the market after owner Brookfield Multiplex decided to end a five-year battle to redevelop the prime site.

Page 4: Telstra chief David Thodey has vowed that the company will remain "the cornerstone of the country's communications infrastructure" despite government attempts to split the company in two.

The average household in Perth will pay an extra $165 on their annual water bills within three years under a plan by the economic watchdog to recover the increasing cost of supply and encourage responsible consumption.

Page 6: The North-West industrial towns of Karratha and Dampier will be transformed into modern cities with marinas, high-rise apartments and cappuccino lifestyles if Regional Development Minister Brendon Grylls gets his way.

The State Government is failing to prepare for the coming boom because its training strategy will lead to only 5,000 extra apprentices and trainees by 2012, the opposition claims.

The Rudd Government's $52 billion stimulus package has won a huge tick of approval from the OECD, with research revealing the spending was among the best in the world at protecting jobs in the face of the global recession.

Page 7: The Australian bid to host the soccer World Cup is struggling to get 12 venues that can each hold at least 40,000 spectators plus corporate, media and broadcast facilities.

Page 11: The State Government has bowed to community pressure to water down its contentious recreational fishing package by slashing proposed fees for fishing licences although it has tightened bag limits on at-risk species.

Page 17: Bassendean and Thornlie could be the nation's next property hot-spots, a new study has found, with potential residents and investors likely to find both suburbs to their liking in the next 12 months.

Business: WA's oldest shoe retailer has quietly closed its doors, underlining the growing clout of big shopping centres and providing a nostalgic reminder of the days when the street-level shopping was king.

BHP Billiton remains uncertain about near term demand for commodities because of the lingering impact of the global financial crisis.

Two Top WA wineries are in negotiations with Great Southern's receivers over a plan to take grapes from the failed group's vineyards in exchange for funding urgent maintenance work.

Agribusiness stocks are expected to outperform the wider market over the next 12 months as the impact of a better than expected profit season and forecasts for a bumper crop drag the sector out of its malaise.

The Ted Ellyard-chaired Perth geothermal explorer New World Energy is pursuing a public float before the end of this year after yesterday picking up 18 permits in the Perth and Carnarvon basins.

Chevron has started talks with the world's biggest buyer of LNG, Korea Gas Corp, about the sale of an equity stake in its massive Wheatstone gas project off WA's North-West.

Carnarvon Petroleum received a $51 million boost yesterday as investors applauded news that two oil discoveries in Thailand were commercial in size.

Extract Resources managing director Peter McIntyre has officially stepped down form the top job on a day when shares in uranium junior soared to a new all-time high.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW:

Page 1: The Rudd government's plan to break up Telstra gained momentum yesterday as the idea divided the coalition and won support from a key independent senator, while shareholder fears eased and analysts tipped a compromise over the telco's future.

The Australian Tax Office has launched an assault on tax planning using trusts in a crackdown that could force thousands of investors, business owners and wealthy families to pay millions of dollars in extra tax.

US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke has said the deepest US recession since the Great Depression is probably over, but he warned that the recovery might not be strong enough to reduce the country's stubbornly high jobless rate.

Page 3: A high-level meeting of business and tax leaders has been called by the head of the government's tax-transfer review, Treasury secretary Ken Henry, to thrash out the final reform options before recommendations are delivered to the government in December.

The union representing coalminers has declared "open season" on pay claims after the 50 per cent pay rise given to BHP Billiton chief executive Marius Kloppers in 2009, which boosted his pay to $US10.4 million ($12.2 million).

Tighter regulation of advisers could lead to a "lot of peoploe leaving hte financial services industry, Australian Securities and Investments Commission chairman Tony D'Aloisio told a parliamentary inquiry yesterday.

Page 4: Premier Colin Barnett has admitted that Western Australia's rapid economic growth over the past five years has compounded the state's cowboy image and has warned the business community - and his fellow MPs - that he expects higher standards of behaviour.

Page 5: Chevron has entered another multi-billion-dollar deal to supply liquefied natural gas from Western Australia's Gorgon project to a major Asian buyer, just days after formally agreeing to proceed with the huge development on Barrow Island.

The advanced economies are expected to dump up to an extra 10 million jobs by the end of next year.

Page 7: Stockbrokers and analysts have slammed proposals by the corporate regulator to clamp down on rumours in the stockmarket, labelling them a "cop out", "meddling" and "regulating by decree after the event".

Thousands of university employees went on strike yesterday to press for better pay, ligher workloads and greater job security, but campus executives insist disruptions were minimal.

Page 15: Building materials group Boral has sprung a surprise by selecting Mark Selway, an external candidate relatively unknown in Australian corporate circles, to succeed outgoing chief executive, Rod Pearse.

Ron Walker has moved to end speculation about his future as chairman of Fairfax Media by announcing plans to step down in August next year.

Page 16: The new managing director of FerrAus says the junior iron ore explorer has a leading role to play in the consolidation of the Pilbara region's smaller companies, with deals poised to roll out in the next three to six months.

Lihir Gold's $US900 million ($1.05 billion) expansion of its flagship mine in Papua New Guinea to produce 1 million ounces a year is on track to be completed on shedule and within budget by the end of 2011, the goldminer says.

Page 47: More than half of Australia's institutional and private investors believe the nation is past the bottom of the propert cycle, Colliers International says.

THE AUSTRALIAN:

Page 1: Senior Nationals have warned Malcolm Turnbull he can no longer take their support for granted, strongly attacking his '' contempt'' for their outright opposition to carbon emissions trading.

Competition watchdog Graeme Samuel yesterday hailed as a telecommunications revolution the strengthened powers that would enable him to impose pricing settlements on Telstra, ending two decades of '' repetitive strain injury'' litigation pursued by the company.

Industrial tensions have escalated in the resources sector, after unions declared '' open season'' on BHP Billiton over the 51 per cent pay rise granted to chief executive Marius Kloppers, and a brawl ignited between unions over coverage of workers at the massive Gorgon LNG project.

The Rudd government has suffered a setback in its push to allow individual workers to secure more flexible working conditions, after Campbell's Soup buckled to union opposition to Labor's new workplace flexibility clause.

Page 2: Competition experts have joined the Coalition in criticising the Rudd government's plan for Telstra and the proposed national broadband network, arguing that it will result in yet another government-owned monopoly and generate limited benefits.

The $43 billion price tag on the national broadband network was designed to open the bidding in the government's poker game with Telstra with a royal flush.

Telstra has offered pay rises of up to 11 per cent over the next three years to employees, with the potential of further yearly bonuses of 2.5 per cent for '' top performers''.

The wireless technologies to power the national broadband network won't be known until an implementation study is completed next February.

Page 3: Ipswich City Council has vowed to vigorously fight James Hardie in court after the industrial giant launched legal action against the council in an attempt to share blame for illnesses caused by its asbestos products.

Page 4: The opposition will have the support of business to push for '' material changes'' to the government's emissions trading laws, Andrew Robb has promised, as hostility to the scheme strengthens on the Coalition back bench.

The Bank of Queensland last night staunchly defended its role in lending money to customers who invested with Storm Financial, despite admitting the bank had no direct contact with many of them.

Page 5: Australia's economic stimulus package is delivering a bigger boost to employment than those of any other advanced country and the benefits could be felt for up to a decade, according to the OECD.

Small businesses are failing to reap benefits from the federal government's home insulation stimulus measures, with large corporations hoarding insulation batts and independent tradesmen unable to access materials.

The private contractor hired to recruit for Defence terminated its $405 million five-year contract yesterday, just 13 months after winning the job.

The Productivity Commission has launched a robust defence of its conclusion that removing import restrictions on overseas book imports would result in lower prices, as federal cabinet seeks a compromise solution on the contentious issue.

Business: Telstra could benefit from the government's regulatory assault -- particularly if it cooperates with the national broadband network -- experts declared yesterday, as the market dramatically reversed its verdict on the impact of Canberra's plans to break up the industry giant.

Macquarie Group plans to take full advantage of the shakeout in global financial markets by dramatically expanding the size and scope of its North American business, according to chief executive Nicholas Moore.

Macquarie is recruiting on Wall Street and across Asia to supplement its offshore push.

As chairman of the construction industry watchdog, John Lloyd's place in any list of the union movement's top five greatest botherations is understandably assured.

The federal government's sweeping reforms of the telecommunications access regime will end concerns that Telstra would use its market power to hinder the rollout of the national broadband network, industry lawyers and the telco's rivals say.

BHP Billiton has escalated its quest to wipe out yearly-reset iron ore contracts to coking coal, saying it has converted some long-term contracts to quarterly deals.

Gorgon project operator Chevron has signed a preliminary deal to sell Korea Gas a potential $30 billion of liquefied natural gas from the huge West Australian development, as the project's mammoth trade deals keep rolling in.

Virgin Blue chief executive Brett Godfrey believes the airline group will quickly benefit from an uptick in the economy and says it is still aiming for a 50 per cent share of the Australian market.

Building materials company Boral has appointed an outsider, Mark Selway, boss of Scottish engineering firm Weir Group, to be its new chief executive to replace Rod Pearse, who retires at the end of the year.

Advertising industry revenues fell 8.5 per cent to $6.1 billion across all media in the June half, the biggest decline in the 50 years that research firm CEASA has been collecting the data.

 

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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