North Australia Project – 28/11/2012

The Australian
Attorney-General Nicola Roxon has axed funding for a scheme that provides legal representation for Native Title claims to pastoralists. The plan has attracted the ire of groups including the NT Cattlemen’s Association, the Pastoralists and Graziers Association of WA and AgForce Queensland, who believe the cessation of funding will mean native title claims will end up in protracted court cases instead of being settled by consent.
WA premier Colin Barnett has confirmed that Shell is pushing to develop the enormous Browse gas field through its revolutionary floating LNG gas solutions. Speaking at the In The Zone conference in Perth yesterday, Mr Barnett expressed his dismay at the plans, “[w]e would be stark raving mad as a country not to have Australian participation in the development of Australian resources.”
China’s new leadership regime is expected to continue moving the country along its economic growth path and maintain high demand for Australia’s iron ore by encouraging continued urbanisation in the country’s interior, according to Nev Power, chief executive of Fortescue Metals Group.
Chinese companies have an opportunity to counter fear of foreign investment in Australia through grass roots interaction with local communities, according to the head of Australia Chian Business Council, Frank Tudor. “When you have that good constructive community engagement it reflects well on the investment being made by the Chinese,” Mr Tudor said.
Finance professionals and academics have thrown their support behind a new register of foreign ownership of Australian land believing it will help dispel public anxiety surrounding increased foreign investment, especially from China.
Labor’s Asian Century White Paper has been branded “simplistic” and “patronising” by WA premier Colin Barnett. Barnett went on to say that WA had forged links with Asia over 20 years ago. In his first detailed response to the white paper, the West Australian Premier told local and international business leaders yesterday that he found the document underwhelming and lacking in analysis and objectivity.
The Australian Financial Review
The end of the commodity price boom will lead to a crunch in the living standards of Australians without taxation reform, the OECD has told the federal government. Living standards could stagnate or even tumble without productivity-enhancing reforms to tax, infrastructure and innovation, the Paris-based research group says in its latest economic assessment.
Ann Pickard, the head of Shell Australia, has dismissed Collin Barnett’s criticism of the companies floating LNG technology, saying it could be the saviour of the local industry. Shell considered the technology “the most cost-competitive solution” for new LNG projects in Australia, which are under pressure from the high dollar, lagging labour productivity and regulatory uncertainty.
A report today from the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics has found investment in major resources and energy projects in Australia has increased to a record $268.4 billion. There are 11 ‘mega projects’ ($5 billion or more) identified in the report that account for $201 billion, or 76 per cent of the total committed investment in resources and energy major projects. Most are LNG projects located in the Pilbara region of Western Australia and Gladstone in Queensland.
The West Australian
With rains forecast, WA grain farmers are working around the clock to harvest their wheat crop. The crops are estimated to bring $3.3 billion to the state’s economy.
Colin Barnett has called on the broader Browse Basin gas industry to shoulder more of the load in developing a land-backed processing hub at James Price Point, saying they could help cap surging capital costs and unlock new fields. In a sign of his determination to see off threats to his preferred site, including Royal Dutch Shell’s floating LNG technology, Mr Barnett also said he was “hypothetically” open to extending the Woodside consortium’s retention lease until construction costs fell.
Courier Mail
Business and community leaders are describing the QLD state government’s call for fresh interest to mine bauxite at Aurukun on Cape York as giving indigenous people of the region new hope, prosperity and jobs. (No link)