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North Australia Digest – 6/9/12

by 6 September 2012

Here is a digest of today’s major stories that impact North Australia:

Australian Financial Review

Fortescue Metals Group is under increasing pressure to raise equity to shore up its balance sheet, despite its decision to delay part of its $US9 billion expansion project to conserve cash.

Falling iron ore prices may prompt the Reserve Bank of Australia to bring forward interest rate cuts if commodity prices fail to recover.

Australian iron ore exporters are facing increasing pressure to sell their product at discounted rates, with Fortescue Metals Group now believed to be sending shipments to customers in China without guaranteed payment.

Resources Minister Martin Ferguson backed Gina Rinehart’s statements about high operating costs in the Australian mining industry as Prime Minister Julia Gillard mocked the heiress’s wish for cheap labour.

A contraction in the mining industry, triggered by lower commodity prices, and tighter household spending more than halved economic growth last quarter, and Treasurer Wayne Swan admits it is becoming harder to deliver a budget surplus.

Australia has a strong regime for regulating foreign investment but failure to explain this could undermine community support and risk future investment flows, former Treasury secretary Ken Henry says.

Federal cabinet’s leading advocate of liberal foreign investment policy, Trade Minister Craig Emerson, has used his involvement in an international forum on the threat of global food crisis to call for the rejection of a Nationals party-led campaign to keep Australian food production in Australian hands.

The federal opposition is considering Gina Rinehart’s push for a special economic zone in Australia’s north.

Treasury Secretary Martin Parkinson has weighed into the heated political debate about Chinese purchases in Australia, warning the country would have much lower living standards without foreign investment.

The Australian

The latest dramatic shift in Labor policy – involving billions of dollars, long-term investment decisions and impacts on the daily lives of workers – highlights the thread of uncertainty that has run through the Rudd and Gillard governments: sovereign risk.

Industrial disputes have undercut the nation’s economic performance as other countries leap ahead of Australia on a global competitiveness survey that is used to guide business investment.

The government’s Asian Century white paper looks like arriving too late. Asia’s skyrocketing growth, on which it is premised, is fading as the government’s document, originally due for release mid-year, is prepared for cabinet.

Mining billionaire Gina Rinehart’s bold plan for northern Australia to become a special economic zone with tax and red-tape exemptions has failed to win support from Labor or the Coalition.

The latest survey of the nation’s leading law firms shows they believe the resources boom is past its peak.

Investors have lost faith in predictions of a rebound in iron ore prices and bullish outlook on another decade or two of Chinese steel growth, wiping $4 billion from the value of local iron ore stocks yesterday.

Treasury secretary Martin Parkinson and his predecessor Ken Henry have criticised  “populist” objections to foreign investment as the Greens yesterday lined up with Nationals senator Barnaby Joyce to oppose the sale of Cubbie Station to a Chinese company.

Herald Sun

Terry McCrann defends Gina Rineheart: ‘Gina Rinehart did NOT call for Australian wages to be cut to $2-a-day African levels.’

The Age

Fortescue Metals has had to reassure a range of international banks about its stretched financial position after plunging iron ore prices forced it to cut its expansion plans and sell assets to reduce its high levels of debt.

The slight fall in the overall sharemarket yesterday masks a severe downturn that is taking place in the construction, engineering and mining services sector.

Barnaby Joyce last night resisted strong pressure from Opposition Leader Tony Abbott to back off his public attacks on the sale of Cubbie Station to the Chinese, as the Nationals prepare for a crisis meeting on the issue, which is deeply dividing the Coalition.

Sydney Morning Herald

Treasurer Wayne Swan has leapt on Coalition division over the sale of the huge cotton-producing Cubbie Station to Chinese investors, as Nationals Senate leader Barnaby Joyce condemned it as against Australia’s national interest.

NT News

The Greens have backed Nationals senator Barnaby Joyce on opposing the sale of Cubbie Station to foreign owners.

North Australia Digest – 5/9/12

by 5 September 2012

Here is a digest of today’s major stories that impact North Australia:

The Age

In another blow to the Australian resources sector, Fortescue Metals has dramatically scaled back multibillion dollar expansion plans and cut several hundred jobs. The move has promoted fears other miners could follow suit if Chinese demand for iron ore fails to pick up and comes just weeks after BHP shelved $30 billion worth of projects, including the massive Olympic Dam expansion and its outer harbour expansion at Port Hedland.

Elizabeth Knight points out that as one of the great mining optimists, the move by Fortescue Metals is a sure sign that the mining booms has been derailed. Because of its particular financial situation Fortescue has had to undertake a radical response. However, if commodity prices do not improve other miners will also have to rethink projects.

The Australian

Julia Gillard has further inflamed tensions with the resources sector, using a speech to a major mining conference in Perth yesterday to promote her school funding program, rather than addressing mounting concerns about rising taxes and high costs in a climate of falling commodity prices.

Sharp falls in iron ore and coal prices have shaken the Reserve Bank’s confidence in China. Glenn Stevens’ statement yesterday added to concerns that Asia is being swept into a global downturn, however the bank kept its cash rate steady 3.5 per cent.

Indigenous miners are the unintended victims of the resources pull back. Fortescue Metals yesterday flagged 1000 job cuts as a result of the fall in iron ore prices, however, the miner also confirmed that it would not be able to fulfil its commitment to award $1 billion in contracts to Aboriginal businesses.

Former Queensland treasurer Keith DeLacy has declared he would be surprised if the government got a “single red cent” from the mining tax this year as plummeting commodity prices and soaring costs squeeze the profits out of iron ore and coal projects.

Peter Van Onselen describes the Prime Minister’s speech to the Mining and Exploration conference yesterday as a “classic case of not understanding one’s audience”. In a bizarre move, the PM’s 20-minute speech, opening the conference, hardly made mention of the resources sector, instead concentrating on education.

Reports from China’s biggest steelmaking province say the industry is in “extreme depression”. The Hebei Province is unlikely to recover for some time as steel mills undergo a long-awaited restructure.

The Australian Financial Review

The Reserve Bank is considering cutting interests rates because of concern about falling commodity prices, the deteriorating outlook for the global economy and conditions in China.

BHP Billiton chief executive Marius Kloppers has expressed “categorical” confidence the iron ore price will rebound from current lows by the end of the year. Mr Kloppers said Chinese spending on fixed assets would bounce back up, leading that nation’s steel mill to restock raw materials in the near term.

The West Australian

The ripple from BHP Billiton’s decision to shelve more than $20billion of Pilbara expansion projects has become a wave, with one of the mining company’s engineering contractors moving to slash 500 jobs.

The lead Aboriginal organisation in talks with the State government over the proposed $40 billion gas hub at James Price Point has appeared against the Environmental Protection Authority’s approval of the project. The Kimberley Land Council said the EPA’s report was “virtually silent” on the project’s social and cultural effects and traditional owners could be forced to withdraw their support.

The Courier Mail

The Prime Minister has said that Australia will not compete with Africa on mining wage rates, but has other advantages to encourage investment.

North Australia Digest – 4/9/12

by 4 September 2012

Here is a digest of today’s major stories that impact North Australia:

The Australian Financial Review

A plunge in the prices of Australia’s export commodities as well as high labour and construction costs will stall $100 billion of mining and energy projects, as companies ­scramble to reassess their long-term investment pipelines.

BHP Billiton has not asked the South Australian government for an extension on the agreement covering royalties for the $US20 billion-plus Olympic Dam expansion, amid expectations it could take years for the miner to finalise a viable new development plan.

The Australian

Engineering contractors are continuing to fill their order books on the strength of the committed expansion plans of the Pilbara iron ore producers despite the free fall in prices since April.

BHP Billiton chief executive Marius Kloppers presented a bleak outlook for an expanded Olympic Dam mine ever operating in South Australia.

The Age

Miners are spending less searching for minerals for the first time since the global financial crisis. The ABS yesterday said spending on exploration in the June quarter fell by $53 million to $1.02 billion after hitting a record high in March.

Herald Sun

BHP Billiton chief Marius Kloppers has declared the group will “work with undiminished vigour” to extend Olympic Dam despite spiking its colossal expansion plan.

Courier Mail

BHP Billiton chief executive Marius Kloppers has reassured South Australians the company is not walking away from the Olympic Dam mine project.

Darwin house prices second highest in Australia

by 29 July 2012

If something isn’t done to bring housing prices down in Northern Australia, the region will never be able to reach its full potential.

(more…)

National Food Plan lacks vision for northern agriculture

by 27 July 2012

The National Food Plan green paper released last Tuesday shows that the federal government is completely lacking in vision when it comes to Northern Australia. Released earlier this month, the paper again ignored any possibility of developing the region’s agricultural potential, which could feed a growing Asian population to our north. (more…)

When will North-West Australia have a permanent naval base?

by 30 June 2012

Australia’s North West Coast continues to be left devoid of any permanent naval bases despite being home to so much of the nation’s natural wealth.

(more…)

Welcome to the new Australians for Northern Development and Economic Vision blog!

by 5 June 2012

Welcome to our new website and to our new blog.

On this blog and website, we want to give you an opportunity to participate in building and shaping our future.

Australian politics has suffered from a lack of vision and no clear plans for nation-building. Our aim is to advocate for positive advancement and development of Northern Australia.

(more…)

Unemployed Greeks seek opportunities in Darwin

by 27 May 2012

There are reports emerging since the weekend that Darwin is seeing an influx of Greek migrants fleeing the debt-ridden eurozone economy in search of new economic opportunities for themselves and their families. (more…)

63% of Australians think North Australia will benefit from more people

by 25 May 2012

Newspoll: 63% of Australians think North Australia will benefit from more people

In a landmark Newspoll conducted exclusively for the Institute of Public Affairs, 63% of Australians said that increasing the population of North Australia would be a good thing for the area. Only 15% said that a higher population would be bad for North Australia.

Clearly public opinion is firmly on the side of a higher population in North Australia. (more…)

BHP sounds the same warning as ANDEV

by 17 May 2012

17 May 2012

BHP Billiton Chairman Jac Nasser has confirmed what Australians for Northern Development and Economic Vision has been saying for over eighteen months.

At an Australian Institute of Company Directors lunch in Sydney yesterday, Mr Nasser described Australia as “one of the higher-cost countries in the world” for mining. He warned that if input costs in the resources sector remain high and the regulatory environment uncertain, BHP would move investment offshore. (more…)