North Australia Digest – 9/10/12

We’d love to know what you think about today’s major stories that impact North Australia:
The Australian
The ACTU has demanded Treasury advance plans for an economy-wide super profits tax, drawing widespread opposition from the mining and business sectors.
The coal-seam gas lobby warns that ‘Australia is in danger of losing its competitive edge internationally’ and that governments should ‘stop changing the rules on the nascent industry’. David Byers, Chief Executive of the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association, says that Australia is one of the most expensive countries to produce ‘due to regulation’.
The Prime Minister has announced her intentions to ‘seal the deal’ with Japan on what would be Australia’s biggest bilateral free trade agreement. Ms Gillard says that the FTA would make ‘Japan an even more affordable export destination for Australian farmers’.
Former Treasury Secretary Ken Henry has issued a strong defence of foreign investment saying it has ‘built Australia’, and that investment from China ‘promises to be highly beneficial to people in both economies – highly beneficial to people in China and highly beneficial to people on Australia’.
At least two eastern state federal Liberal MPs are expected to join their West Australian colleagues in urging the reconsideration of opposition to the abolition of the industry’s export authority.
Mike Smith, Chief Executive of ANZ Bank, Andrew Bassat, Chief Executive of online employment agency Seek, and Owen Hegarty, former head of Rio Tinto Asia, have supported Labor’s proposal to dramatically upgrade Australia’s trade relationship with China.
The mining industry has rejected calls for government to ‘give priority’ to the nation’s best resources projects at the expense of others but say the state and national approvals process still needs an overhaul.
Australian Financial Review
Greg Earl writes of Prime Minister Gillard’s call for progress on the Free Trade Agreement between Australia and Japan.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has declared that the Coalition is sticking to ‘judgement call to delay deregulation of the wheat industry’, noting that the party has a strong commitment to deregulation but wanted a ‘managed transition’.
Queensland Natural Resources and Mines Minister Andrew Cripps will detail a plan to ‘auction oil and gas exploration licences for cash’ at a coal seam gas (CSG) conference in Brisbane later today.
The Age
BHP Billiton plans to cut jobs from its iron ore division following a recent slump in the global iron ore price.
The West Australian
The West Australian also reports of Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s declaration that the ‘internal debate on the (wheat export industry’s deregulation) issue over’.
Peter Klinger reports BHP Billiton is preparing to cut up to 200 positions from its iron ore operations in the wake of a slowdown in the industry.
Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett is pushing for a third party contractor to oversee the construction of an iron ore port in West Pilbara.
The Courier Mail
A recent Green Pool Commodity study has found that national sugar consumption has fallen more than 9 per cent since 2004. Steve Greenwood, Chief Executive of Canegrowers, believes the local industry will remain unaffected as the ‘Asian markets would take everything Australians could produce and more’.
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