for-phone-onlyfor-tablet-portrait-upfor-tablet-landscape-upfor-desktop-upfor-wide-desktop-up
Oil Report

PRESS DIGEST-Australian General News - Nov 14

Compiled for Reuters by Media Monitors. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.

THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW (www.afr.com)

Prime Minister, John Howard, has defended the Coalition’s election promises, saying the Government can keep a budget surplus well above 1 percent of gross domestic product even after honouring its spending commitments. “People have overlooked that the projected surplus in future fiscal years is likely to be higher than what is projected,’ Mr Howard said. An analysis of Coalition promises shows the Government has already accounted for almost A$12 billion of budget surpluses projected to average A$15 billion over the next four years. Page 1.

--

BHP Billiton BHP.AXBLT.L chief executive, Marius Kloppers, will travel to Shanghai next week in a bid to convince Chinese steel mills that the miner's proposed merger with Rio Tinto will be beneficial for them. While in London on Monday, Mr Kloppers said that iron-ore supply would be increased if the deal was successful, but a Chinese mill insider raised concerns that it would give BHP greater control over supply. Analysts estimate the merged entity would account for almost 40 percent of China's total iron-ore imports. Page 1.

--

Telstra TLS.AX has launched legal action in the High Court to challenge the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's (ACCC) power to regulate the amount it can charge rivals to use its broadband network. It argues the ACCC's setting of prices from A$3.20 a month – so competitors can re-sell phone or broadband services to their own customers – is too low for it to make a commercial return. Access to Telstra's network allows competitors to provide more than half a million services per year. Page 3.

--

Employee shareholders from five aviation unions and retail investors may question the board of Qantas Airways QAN.AX about plans to spin-off parts of the group, such as freight joint ventures and frequent-flyer programs. At today's annual meeting, the Transport Workers Union will demand that no jobs be lost under any future company break-up, while the Australian Services Union will raise concerns that further staff cuts will compromise service standards. The Qantas board is also expected to be questioned about a failed A$11 billion private-equity takeover bid. Page 3.

--

THE AUSTRALIAN (www.theaustralian.news.com.au)

New South Wales Supreme Court documents released yesterday have revealed Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers were so desperate for information about suspected bomb-plotter, Faheem Lodhi, that they unlawfully targeted medical student, Izhar Ul-Haque. Judge Michael Adams ruled on Monday that the AFP grossly misused its powers to detain and interrogate Mr Ul-Haque, whom they believed would turn informant if he were charged with a terrorism offence. Following the ruling, all terrorism charges against Mr Ul-Haque were withdrawn. Page 1.

--

Prime Minister, John Howard, has defended the Government’s pledge to spend A$6.3 billion on tax rebates for private school fees. Tim Hawkes, headmaster of Sydney’s elite Kings School, argued that the rebate should be means-tested, but Mr Howard said all parents deserved compensation for sacrifices made to afford their children’s education expenses. Opposition Leader, Kevin Rudd, is expected to detail his education funding policy during the Australian Labor Party’s official election campaign launch in Brisbane today. Page 1.

--

News Corp chairman, Rupert Murdoch, yesterday warned against a pullout of Australian troops from Iraq, saying such a decision would also “rupture’ the coalition campaign in Afghanistan. “On the ground in Iraq and in Afghanistan, we are almost at the point of saying, “you have almost won it...you see this out’,’ said, Mr Murdoch, who refused to offer a view on which political party he would prefer to see win this month’s federal election. Mr Murdoch, who is now based in the United States, was in Adelaide yesterday for an Australian shareholders’ meeting. Page 2.

--

West Australian Police have publicly apologised to Ben Cousins after they were forced to drop a second and final charge against the Australian Football League (AFL) player. A drug possession charge was dropped on October 19 after police were advised prescription-only medication found in Mr Cousin’s vehicle last month was not illegal in tablet form. Although a lesser charge of refusing to undergo a driver assessment was withdrawn because detectives did not follow proper procedures, Mr Cousins faces possible disciplinary action by the AFL. Page 3.

THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD (www.smh.com.au)

Australian Labor Party candidate for Wentworth, George Newhouse, could face a by-election if he wins the eastern Sydney federal seat, because his nomination may be invalid. Under the Constitution, a candidate must resign from any office of profit under the Crown at least 24 hours before the Electoral Commission formally declares the nomination. New South Wales Fair Trading Minister, Linda Burney, said Mr Newhouse’s resignation from the state’s consumer disputes tribunal was received on November 2, the day the commission announced the nominations. Page 1.

--

Training groups have echoed concerns in a University of New England study, which has found first-year apprentices are earning just A$20 per week more than they would receive on the dole. “Apprentices wages are well behind the market in what it takes to provide a realistic standard of living,’ said Dusseldorp Skills Forum spokesman, John Spierings. Employer group, Australian Business Limited, defended apprentice wages, saying they “account for the fact these young people are learning and not fully productive.’ Page 1.

--

An inquiry into the outbreak of equine influenza has heard a veterinarian warned in 2003 that truck drivers and others handling horses arriving at Sydney Airport needed to take precautions against spreading the disease. In a memo, Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) veterinary officer, Phil Widders, recommended people handling horses at the airport wear overalls, shower regularly and change clothes. The virus, which first appeared on August 17, may have been spread by a truck driver, groom, or AQIS officer who had been in contact with horses. Page 2.

--

More than 100 doctors have signed an open letter to patients saying emergency departments in New South Wales (NSW) public hospitals are desperately overcrowded and understaffed. In the letter, Health Minister, Reba Meagher, and Health Director-General, Debora Picone, are urged to appoint a leading emergency specialist to overhaul the system. One of the doctors who signed the letter, Sue Ieraci, said a lack of resources was a major problem and that more attention needed to be paid by health officials to the recommendations of front-line staff. Page 3.

--

THE AGE (www.theage.com.au) Federal Opposition Leader, Kevin Rudd, is expected to detail plans for a A$500 million fund to help develop and commercialise renewable energy during the Australian Labor Party’s official campaign launch in Brisbane today. The fund would help develop technologies in areas such as solar, wind, geothermal and wave energy, and deploy them to the national power market. The Opposition’s launch is also expected to target education and industrial relations policy, and a timeframe for the retirement of Prime Minister, John Howard. Page 1.

--

The Australian Building and Construction Commission has been accused of acting as a political watchdog after the industry regulator ordered stickers and posters critical of Prime Minister, John Howard, to be removed from building sites. Construction union spokesman, Bill Oliver, said it was fair for workers to display the stickers and posters in question because they had “been bombarded with A$116 million in taxpayer-funded Government advertising.’ The commission ruled the offending material breached freedom-of-association provisions. Page 2.

--

Drought has adversely affected bush services and infrastructure, with 16 of Victoria’s 20 most cash-strapped councils in drought-stricken areas, according to the Municipal Association of Victoria’s annual report. Association president, Dick Gross, said the councils in stress generally had small populations, lower-than-average annual incomes, large geographic areas and extensive road networks. Drought-declared municipalities that had sought to minimise rate rises now had inadequate funds to maintain roads and bridges, and to repay debts. Page 2.

--

for-phone-onlyfor-tablet-portrait-upfor-tablet-landscape-upfor-desktop-upfor-wide-desktop-up