Labor pledges add $1.7b to debt: Treasury – The West; Foreign worker row 'damaging Asian strategy' – The Aus; Labor braces for run of budget deficits – The Fin; Cloud on Water's wind deal – The West; BHP Billiton prepares to join international $1.5bn rush into shale gas – The Aus
Labor pledges add $1.7b to debt: Treasury
Labor's election spending commitments would add $1.7 billion to state debt and erode future budget surpluses by a combined $1.25 billion to June 30, 2016, according to the WA Treasury. The West
Foreign worker row 'damaging Asian strategy'
Julia Gillard’s attack on foreign worker visa rorts is jeopardising Australia’s global standing and risks reinforcing perceptions of racial and religious intolerance. The Aus
Labor braces for run of budget deficits
The Gillard government is preparing for a budget in May that will foreshadow future deficits because falling commodity prices and the high dollar have made it harder to deliver on expensive policy promises. The Fin
Cloud on Water's wind deal
Water Corp's ability to manage complex electricity contracts is under fresh scrutiny after it emerged the utility signed a contract to take the entire output of the delayed Mumbida wind farm near Geraldton – despite state-owned power retailer Synergy rejecting the same deal. The West
BHP Billiton prepares to join international $1.5bn rush into shale gas
BHP Billiton is set to join the $1.5 billion rush by international oil companies to gain a foothold in the nation’s burgeoning shale gas industry, flagging it would start taking land positions in Australia in the wake of its of US shale acquisitions in 2011. The Aus
THE WEST AUSTRALIAN
Page 1: Labor's election spending commitments would add $1.7 billion to state debt and erode future budget surpluses by a combined $1.25 billion to June 30, 2016, according to the WA Treasury.
Page 4: First-homebuyers in WA are flocking to the property market in droves and borrowing more than their eastern states counterparts to do it, according to a new national housing snapshot.
Page 6: Mark McGowan yesterday fell back on the privatisation of Alinta Gas 15 years ago as evidence for his claim that the Liberal Party had an unstated privatisation agenda as Colin Barnett again branded the claim a lie.
Page 7: Mark McGowan has denied Colin Barnett's accusations that Labor had questioned his health, saying it was the Premier's own allies who put the issue in the spotlight.
Page 12: Ted Baillieu has quit as Victorian premier and former state Liberal leader Denis Napthine has moved into the top job on his birthday.
Page 16: Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr is demanding his department urgently introduce “red flags” for Australians who apply for multiple passports under different names.
Page 17: High Court justices have cast doubt on a key plank of Andrew Forrest's constitutional challenge to the mining tax as hearings opened yesterday.
Business: Water Corp's ability to manage complex electricity contracts is under fresh scrutiny after it emerged the utility signed a contract to take the entire output of the delayed Mumbida wind farm near Geraldton – despite state-owned power retailer Synergy rejecting the same deal.
Global industrial services provider Cape plc has taken a $250 million hit from its Australian operations and slashed overheads after losing ground in the resources sector.
Sirius Resources' biggest backer Mark Creasy has seen the value of his stake in the Nova and Bollinger nickel-copper discoveries on the Nullarbor soar by almost $300 million in the past week as Australia's best exploration story shows no sign of running out of puff.
Gina Rinehart may be Australia's richest person and rank among the world's wealthiest but the iron ore billionaire has been snubbed by a new women-only rich list on the grounds that she inherited most of her fortune.
Saudi Arabia's Agriculture Minister will visit Australia this month with the demise of the live explore trade between the two countries one of the hot topics on his agenda.
A Bell Potter investment adviser yesterday testified at an insider trading trial that stockbrokers told clients about rumours when there were none.
Investors pushed up GR Engineering Services shares by 11 per cent after the company won its biggest contract on Wolf Minerals' Hemerdon tungsten and tin project in Britain.
THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW
Page 1: Denis Napthine will be Victoria's next premier following the shock resignation on Wednesday night of Ted Bailieu, who lost the support of his fellow Liberal MPs.
The Gillard government is preparing for a budget in May that will foreshadow future deficits because falling commodity prices and the high dollar have made it harder to deliver on expensive policy promises.
One of China's top economic planning officials has promised to accelerate the shift of people from the countryside to cities to drive demand for steel, aluminium, cement, glass making and cocking coal, industries which are operating well below their optimal capacity.
Page 5: The financial scandals in the Health Services Union did immense harm to the reputation of unions but most are honestly run, according to a review of union governance commissioned by the Australian Council of Trade Unions.
Page 6: West Australian business leaders are calling on the next state and federal governments to usher in an era of legislative and policy stability.
Days out from Western Australia's election, sexagenarian Premier Colin Barnett has been forced to confront the age issue, hitting out at campaign whispers that his age has become a liability.
Page 7: Managing director Mick Crowe says the 457 work visas being criticised by unions strengthen the economy and he is opposed to any changes that would jeopardise the program's role in plugging skills gaps and bringing valued migrants to Australia.
Page 9: Prime Minister Julia Gillard appeared unperturbed at receiving Pauline Hanson's endorsement for her stance on foreign workers while big business has slammed the present debate on 457 work visas for demonising companies and providing a platform for xenophobes.
Page 11: Treasurer Wayne Swan has slapped down business calls for an urgent outside review of government spending, saying its only purpose would be to justify “brutal” public service cuts.
The minerals resource rent tax was a “crude form” of federal control of states' power over their mineral resources and was unconstitutional, Fortescue Metals Group claimed in the first day of its High Court challenge to the scheme.
Page 12: Nearly 50,000 homes and businesses scheduled to be able to receive fibre connections to the national broadband network will have to wait until after the federal election for faster broadband, NBN Co's own figures show.
Page 17: The federal government is being urged to allow small-scaled nuclear reactors to power remote mining projects in the outback.
An employer group has asked federal Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus to intervene in the appointment of two new vice-presidents to the Fair Work Commission, arguing that it would undermine its role as an independent umpire.
Page 23: Four and a half years after the moment widely viewed as the height of the global financial crisis – the collapse of Lehman Brothers – the Dow Jones Industrial Average is back at a record high.
Page 25: Investors and analysts have queried Woolworths' claim that it has not lifted its share of the $86 billion food and grocery market in five years despite heavy investment in new stores, customer loyalty offers and lower prices.
Page 26: Veteran prospector Mark Creasy appears on his way to becoming Australia's next mining billionaire following the latest exploration success at Sirius Resources' Fraser Range nickel-copper project in Western Australia.
BHP Billiton could be in a position to ramp up production of its United States dry gas deposits again in the next 12 to 18 months if prices continue to recover, according to petroleum boss Mike Yeager.
Page 1: Denis Napthine was last night sworn in as Victorian Premier after Ted Baillieu succumbed to the turmoil that has pushed the Coalition government close to collapse.
Julia Gillard’s attack on foreign worker visa rorts is jeopardising Australia’s global standing and risks reinforcing perceptions of racial and religious intolerance.
In a diplomatic about-face, Australia has told North Korea it will no longer be allowed to open an embassy in Canberra because of its increasingly erratic and rogue behaviour.
Page 2: Exports of iron ore and coal are roaring ahead, but the rest of the economy is being left behind as households and business restrain their spending.
Julia Gillard’s mining tax is a ‘‘crude’’ form of control on the states and inhibits them from making decisions about the use and development of their own resources.
The head of Australia’s largest rural livestock company has warned that relations between Indonesia and Australia have been so damaged by the 2011 live cattle trade ban that only a change of government in both countries will restore normality.
Anti-coal-seam gas group Lock the Gate today will launch its federal election campaign with a demand for an immediate freeze on the industry until water, farming and other land issues have been resolved.
Page 3: The internationally recognised Quinkan rock art on Cape York has been spared the threat from minerals exploration after Gina Rinehart’s company removed the sites from its exploration application.
Page 4: Julia Gillard makes no apology for ‘‘putting Aussie jobs first’’ but there’s one catch: first, you’ve got to find Aussies to fill them.
Mining industry leader Mike Young says he is ‘‘sickened’’ by the debate over Julia Gillard’s pledge to crack down on the use of 457 temporary work visas that are used to plug skills shortages in the resources sector.
Kevin Rudd has thrust himself into the debate on immigration policy, urging an end to intolerance of different cultures and a celebration of a multi-faith Australia.
Page 5: Labor MPs are demanding Wayne Swan deliver a ‘‘substantial’’ rise in the dole payment in the budget, arguing that battlers need a suite of assistance measures not just increased incentives to work.
Business: Investors took a record high for US stocks — the bellwether Dow Jones Industrial Index eclipsing its pre-global financial crisis peak — as confirmation that the US economic recovery is gathering strength and sent the local market to its highest close in 4½ years.
BHP Billiton is set to join the $1.5 billion rush by international oil companies to gain a foothold in the nation’s burgeoning shale gas industry, flagging it would start taking land positions in Australia in the wake of its of US shale acquisitions in 2011.
Westpac's plain-speaking London economist James Shugg remains as gloomy about the global economy as he was over a year ago, when he said the Australian dollar could plunge to US80c and a break up of the eurozone would prompt a ‘‘global catastrophe’’.
Oil and gas producer Santos says it expects to avoid a writedown of its coal-seam gas assets in NSW, despite growing expectations that its stalled progress could prompt a revision of their value.
Woodside Petroleum chief Peter Coleman says Asian LNG demand is strong enough to support Australian projects, despite a raft of potential competitors in the US and East Africa, where he says similar cost challenges will be present.
Iron Ore Holdings is in talks with several potential investors over its Buckland project in Western Australia and could use a recent deal with Mineral Resources over a separate deposit as a development template.
Leighton Holdings chief executive Hamish Tyrwhitt has pledged there is ‘‘absolutely zero’’ chance of the group having more writedowns like its painful experience on Airport Link and the Victorian Desalination Plant, and says the relationship with its major shareholder Hochtief is the best it has ever been.
Asciano has indicated it is on the hunt for acquisitions, as the rail and ports group warned offshore investors are ‘‘bewildered’’ by Australia’s industrial relations regime and the rising cost of projects could see the nation ‘‘price ourselves out’’.
THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD
Page 1: Two high-ranking DFAT officials broke their own department rules by leaving Australian-Israeli citizen Ben Zygier's consular care in the hands of spy agency ASIO, though they knew he had been jailed in Israel. The NRL season opener has been overshadowed by continuing speculation that several Cronulla Sharks players may face six-month bans.
Page 2: Minnie Harmour, 106, is one of the increasing number of Australians living long lives.
Page 3: A Sydney water fountain designer has been cleared of murdering a former employee who set up a rival company.
World: The death of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez has left the country in a state of political crisis.
Business: A surge on Wall Street has fuelled Australian market optimism.
Sport: The Cronulla Sharks are in lockdown as the anti-doping authority ASADA continues to interview club staff amid rumours several players face six-month bans.
THE DAILY TELEGRAPH
Page 1: There are claims as many as 14 Cronulla Sharks players implicated in the anti-doping authority's investigations could be forced to stand down.
Page 2: The NRL season opener between the Roosters and the Rabbitohs has been overshadowed by doping allegations.
Page 4: Victorian premier Ted Baillieu has resigned.
World: Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez has died, aged 58.
Business: Economists say the Australian market is on the way to recovery.
Sport: Reports have emerged that up to 14 Cronulla Sharks players and eight players from other clubs could be stood down over allegations they took performance-enhancing drugs.
THE HERALD SUN
Page 1: Ted Baillieu quits; secret tapes claim the premier.
Page 2: Hells Angels and their associates among the targets of police raids in Melbourne.
Page 3: One in seven Australian women still smokes during pregnancy.
World: Former bus driver with a thick moustache may hold the key to the future of Venezuela, reeling after the death of its left-wing president Hugo Chavez.
Business: Australian economy suffers its weakest quarter of growth in almost two years as poor consumer demand takes a heavy toll.
Sport: As many as 14 NRL players from Cronulla implicated in ASADA's anti-doping investigation threatened with immediate suspension.
Page 1: Ted Baillieu resigns as premier, replaced by Denis Napthine, as a direct consequence of Frankston MP Geoff Shaw's shock resignation from the Liberal party. Complaint about former federal treasurer Peter Costello lodged with Queensland's Crime and Misconduct Commission highlights potential conflicts of interest.
Page 3: Just when you thought the situation couldn't get much worse for Ted Baillieu, it did.
Page 4: Victoria's economy slumps into recession. Member of St Petersburg's gay community may be flown to Australia by Melbourne City Council to discuss conditions for homosexuals in the Russian city under tough new anti-gay laws.
World: Venezuela in crisis as President Hugo Chavez dies of cancer.
Business: Australian stocks soar and the dollar rebounds from Monday's surprise dip after the US Dow Jones hits record high on Tuesday night.
Sport: Don Argus, whose review of Australian cricket charted a course back to world domination, urges selectors and administrators to hold their steel.
THE ADELAIDE ADVERTISER
Page 1: Households face a further $15-a-year increase to the average power bill over the next two years because the state's electricity distributor wants more money to trim trees.
Page 3: Nearly 60,000 fewer speeding fines were issued to SA motorists in the past year, new figures show.
World: Malaysian security forces scouring rugged terrain in Borneo yesterday briefly battled armed Filipino intruders who were on the run after being bombarded with airstrikes and mortar fire.
Business: The billions of dollars invested in mining over recent years is starting to pay off, after a lift in exports helped to buoy the economy in the final months of 2012 when other major economies went backwards.
Sport: Football's lawmakers are on the brink of introducing a concussion substitute rule after identifying head trauma as the most concerning issue in the game.