Thursday, October 24, 2013

Land in Qld's Bowen Basin released for coal mining exploration - Business - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Land in Qld's Bowen Basin released for coal mining exploration - Business - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

The State Government has released nearly 1,300 square kilometres of land in central Queensland for coal mining exploration.
The seven parcels of land released for exploration are spread across the northern Bowen Basin.
Two sites east of Middlemount, two small allotments between Nebo and Moranbah, and three large areas west of Glenden have all been made available by the Department of Natural Resources.
It follows State Government changes to the way exploration permits were assessed, speeding up the approval process.
Mines Minister Andrew Cripps says tenders can now be compared against each other, ensuring land is allocated to the best company for exploration.
He says the tender process also gives the opportunity for junior explorers to make their mark.
Mr Cripps says his department has cleared a backlog of about 1,400 exploration permits across Queensland since the changes.


  1. It is looking increasingly likely Abbott will have to face political reality and stand Don Randall down and have him undergo a "Slipper" like investigation - OR have to wear the scorn of a very cynical electorate.

    He acts tough but has he got the balls for this?


    Don Randall, who watched AFL on taxpayer-funded trip, defends entitlements use

    Federal Liberal MP Don Randall, caught up in a parliamentary entitlements row, has revealed he attended an AFL game in Melbourne with his wife on another taxpayer-funded trip.

    Last week it was revealed Mr Randall, who represents the WA electorate of Canning, had spent more than $5,000 on a separate trip to Cairns with his wife last year for what he said was "electorate business".

    Not long after the trip he disclosed that he'd taken possession of an investment property in Cairns.

    Mr Randall, who has finally broken his silence on the issue, speaking to two newspapers, and insists he's done nothing wrong, although he has promised to repay the money for the Cairns trip.

    He told a WA newspaper and the Armadale Examiner that he went to Cairns in his capacity as Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Local Government to speak to the Opposition Whip Warren Entsch about "a whole range of issues", including council amalgamations.

    Neither MP will say what was discussed.

    He defended the trip to Melbourne for what he said was "sittings of parliament".

    He said he stopped off in Melbourne on his way to Canberra while his wife flew home to Perth.

    Mr Randall told the Examiner he has never fallen foul of over-spending, but acknowledged the controversy surrounding MP entitlements could lead to an overhaul of the system.

    He is one of a number of MPs, including Prime Minster Tony Abbott, who have recently paid back entitlement claims, including allowances used to attend the weddings of colleagues.

    Mr Randall said he had been avoiding the media because reporters were looking for a "gotcha moment".

  2. "Sweaty" Joe Hockey and "Tangles" Abbott have set up their Audit committee and stacked it with big business leaders who dream of the GST being increased and broadened giving them a cut in the company tax rate and allowing them to retain their concessions and perks.

    There will only be one outcome from this - and we all know what that will be.


    Give Joe an Oscar for the crisis that wasn't

    TONY Abbott and Joe Hockey are very good persuaders. Over the past three years, in particular, they convinced a majority of Australians that the country was in the midst of a crisis. Labor's debt levels were unsustainable.

    Trucks with huge posters showing the ever-increasing debt levels trundled up and down our streets, frightening the horses and the children. Our Treasurer was a more than convincing "Hanrahan". He played the role of doomsayer to perfection. Most of us believed we would all be ruined if the Coalition were not elected. After this week's announcement that the debt ceiling will be increased to $500 billion only one conclusion can be reasonably drawn - the Coalition's rhetoric over the past three years was straight out of a screenplay and Hockey gave a performance worthy of an Oscar.

    If our nation were in such dire straits and there had indeed been a Coalition frontbench committee studying options for all the tough, hard, brutal cuts to bring our budget back into the black, surely by now those cuts would be implemented or at least announced. That's what you do when there is a crisis. You act quickly and decisively because time is at a premium. I must agree with the Prime Minister and Treasurer on one point. Labor was wrong to accept the leaks that suggested the Coalition was going to cut $70bn of government expenditure to get the budget back into surplus at breakneck speed.

    Now we are told by the same people who said that the No 1 priority was to achieve that surplus as a matter of urgency that we are not to fret if the surplus does not happen for another three or four years. Only a few months ago, Abbott and Hockey would have branded as either an idiot or a traitor anyone who dared to suggest achieving a surplus at about the same time as Labor deemed it possible. What really riles me about all this is that there is no doubt whatsoever that the new government will get away with it. The honeymoon is still on and the relief at ousting Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd is still palpable.

    The government will be aided and abetted in this great escape by its cheer squad in the media. Committed Liberal voters everywhere are already adjusting their positions. You will be told that it is not the debt level that matters but what you borrow the money for that counts. Under a Coalition government, this theory goes, the borrowings would be better spent and invested. These government apologists will completely and conveniently ignore what their champions said on more than a thousand occasions over the past few years. The Coalition made the size of the debt the central issue in the economic debate. The ease with which the Coalition and its cheer squad have ditched this holy writ is truly breathtaking. The hypocrisy involved in this about-face goes without saying.

    Being a great thespian is not the only weapon in Hockey's political arsenal. This bloke is no dope. He is as intelligent as he is agile. The Audit Commission he announced was smart politics. Campbell Newman won virtually every seat in the Queensland parliament, so he could afford to have Peter Costello conduct his audit into Labor profligacy. When you are as far in front as he is you don't have to worry about claims of bias. The federal Treasurer has carefully crafted his Commission of Audit to make complaints of bias almost impossible to sustain.

  3. Give Joe an Oscar for the crisis that wasn't


    Making Tony Shepherd the chairman was a masterstroke. He is popular in Labor circles because he gives all the appearances of a man intent on getting his job done rather than scoring political points. He has put new life and credibility into the Business Council by engaging with the media in a way his predecessors would never have approved. Tony Cole once worked for Paul Keating and was Health Department secretary when I was minister. Even the choice of Amanda Vanstone as the resident Liberal was inspired. She is not seen as a hardliner and does have the occasional capacity to see out of both eyes. The only real criticism of the commission from Labor is that small business is unrepresented. The fact big business would come to the fore here should come as no surprise. Big business desperately wanted the Gillard/Rudd team out. It donated in grand style to make it happen and would have expected nothing less than the rewards it is now reaping. The irony for me is that small business overwhelmingly supports the Coalition. Small-business people are the backbone of what branch structure exists and they are tremendous supporters on the ground. I hope they are fervent in their religious beliefs and accept their just deserts will come in heaven because they won't be coming any time soon on the ground here.

    It will be interesting to see how Bill Shorten, Chris Bowen and Tony Burke set about their attack on the government for creating the crisis that wasn't and raising the debt ceiling by such a large amount. It must be hard to formulate an argument when you know no one is listening. The job that Abbott and Hockey did on Labor's economic credibility was matched only by Labor's own efforts. Every attempt that Labor makes to undermine the government's economic performance will be met with derision. The number of times Gillard and Wayne Swan promised a surplus will get a run every question time. By the same token the attack on Labor's debt levels will need to be muted somewhat and that may be the only relief the opposition gets during next month's parliamentary sitting.

    Readers of this column will recall that for most of the past few years I belted the political incompetence of the Labor government time and again. I believe I have proven I am able to see through eyes cleared of the jaundice which colours so much political opinion. I await with interest what Warwick McKibbin, Judith Sloan, Henry Ergas, Terry McCrann and their ilk have to say about the time it will take to return to surplus and the lift in the debt ceiling. Abbott and Hockey won't have much to worry about. The cheer squad will no doubt fall in line.

    Graham Richardson hosts Richo on Sky on Wednesdays.

  4. Liberals eager to keep the boom alive

    GROWING alarm over the resurgent dollar could lead to more resource projects being shelved or lost to rivals, including North America and Africa, adding further pressure to the federal budget.

    With Joe Hockey this week moving to raise the debt ceiling and increase cash reserves at the Reserve Bank as insurance against a possible US-led economic downturn, The Australian can reveal that economic forecaster BIS Shrapnel will today downgrade forecasts of construction work.

    BIS Shrapnel will forecast that engineering construction work will decline 7.6 per cent in 2013-14, compared with the 5.4 per cent decline it was predicting in March. It will cite weaker outlook for resource projects, particularly coal and other minerals, and for publicly funded projects as state governments struggle with weak revenues and high debt levels.


    The Australian understands the government is concerned about the prospect of a drop in mining investments and its effect on budget revenues, already tracking below levels forecast before the election.


    Tony Abbott promised on winning office he would "reboot" the mining boom, but about $150 billion worth of resources projects have already been shelved, with some of the nation's biggest future resource projects reaching important junctures.

    It is understood there are concerns within government about projects such as Gina Rinehart's Roy Hill iron ore operation in Western Australia. Roy Hill Holdings - 70 per cent owned by Mrs Rinehart's Hancock Prospecting - is trying to secure debt financing for the $10bn iron ore project in the Pilbara by the end of the year to begin production by September 2015.

    Yesterday, the Treasurer argued that the policies to dump the mining and carbon taxes were crucial to growth.

    "Getting rid of things like the mining tax and the carbon tax will help to grow the Australian economy, there is no argument about that," he said. "You have got to get rid of the speed humps. Speed humps are excessive regulation, excessive taxation and ultimately poor, inconsistent government. We are addressing all of those things."


    On Wednesday, the government tipped $8.8bn into the RBA to ensure it could perform its core functions in a climate of higher volatility on financial markets.

    Company leaders seized on the fears over the dollar to urge Labor and fringe parties in the Senate against obstructing plans to axe the mining and carbon taxes.

    Minerals Council of Australia chief executive Mitch Hooke said an appreciating dollar meant that "returns are dropping" for investors and this made it important to address underlying issues of economic reform.


    Anglo American advisory board director Graham Bradley echoed the concerns about the potential impact of a strong currency, while former Macarthur Coal chairman Keith De Lacy said the currency rise made economic reform "much more urgent".


    Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association acting chief executive Noel Mullen said the gas industry was under increasing competitive pressure from North America and East Africa. "A higher Australian dollar will increase project costs right around the country and add to a growing list of hurdles that limit our ability to compete in the world market."

    Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott said economic reforms "need to be taken regardless of the value of the Australian dollar, which has been high for some time now and looks set to remain high".

    "The parliament needs to allow the government to carry through on its reform agenda," she said.

    To ensure projects were built, the BCA wanted Labor's costly labour market requirements for 457 visas unwound, streamlined environmental approvals and workplace relations arrangements that allowed businesses to "manage their workforce and capital effectively", she said.


    1. So the panic continues on all fronts with the now exposed and shonky BIS Shrapnel (who's your Daddy) coming out with another panic report tailor made for the business leaders who want to slash everything except their salaries and perks.

      This is being repeated elsewhere around the globe and is being used to justify all sorts of shonky deals and basically to maintain the "atmosphere of haste" and allow destructive projects to get up under the banner of "needed for our survival" when in fact these projects threaten our way of life and very survival.

      The panic driven lunacy continues.

  5. Retailers puncture post-poll optimism

    HOPES that the retail sector would bounce back after the election have been dashed, with Wesfarmers and Pacific Brands both warning that conditions remain tough.

    Wesfarmers boss Richard Goyder said spending had fallen before the September 7 election and had then picked up briefly afterwards -- but the surge was short-lived.

    "In the last two to three weeks prior to the election there was some impact, probably in discretionary more than non-discretionary," Mr Goyder said.

    "The week after the election was very strong for us, but it went back to normal pretty quickly."

    Mr Goyder said the "wealth effect" of rising house prices, the impact of the rising stockmarket on superannuation accounts and continued low interest rates could all help boost spending, but retailers were yet to see it.

    "Australians continue to save, and there seems to be . . . a fair amount of cash sitting around, so hopefully people will bring their wallets out in the next couple of months," he said.

    The less than exuberant comments came as Pacific Brands, owner of clothing labels including Bonds, Berlei and King Gee, warned that there had been no improvement in business conditions since the start of the financial year and first-half profit would be "materially down" on last year.


    Shale gas will transform energy market, says experts

    A SHALE gas revolution is likely to transform the Australian energy market in the medium-to-long term but a "more attractive'' tax regime is required to ensure it happens, international experts and industry figures say.

    After the Coalition revealed it will keep Labor's tax for onshore gas production in place when it scraps the mining tax, Santos vice president of strategy Peter Cleary said governments needed to ensure it remained viable to develop shale gas wells.

    "I think governments always look for the right balance between taxation and encouraging people to go out there,'' Mr Cleary told a Committee for Economic Development of Australia forum in Adelaide yesterday.

    "I think America shows you that when you promote a system where there's fair returns available to all (and if) you encourage people to go out and there and take risk, then that will happen.''

    A shale gas boom in the US has set that country on a path to energy independence by the end of the decade. It has created a large shift from coal to gas-fired power plants, which experts believe was responsible for a 3.8 per cent drop in energy-related emissions last year.

    Santos last year became the first company to begin commercial production of shale gas in Australia, after developing a well near its conventional gas activities in the Cooper Basin, which straddles South Australia's border with Queensland.

    Chatham House energy expert Paul Stevens said a strong shale-gas industry in Australia could be expected in the medium-to-long term, and a more attractive tax regime should be implemented to ensure it happens.

    Professor Stevens said the shale gas revolution in the US had developed while companies were receiving a US$0.50 tax credit for producing unconventional gas until 2002.

    "Government's can't change geology, but they can change the commercially of the geology,'' Professor Stevens told The Australian after the event. "Tweaking the fiscal terms is quite a good way of doing it.''

    Australia has about 396 trillion cubic feet (TCF) in potential shale-gas reserves.

    Proven conventional gas reserves which do no require "fracking'' - a process in which fluids and sand are injected into rocks to split them in order release gas trapped inside - are about 133TCF.

    The US has about 827TCF of recoverable shale gas.

  6. BHP Billiton challenged over climate strategy

    BHP Billiton has rejected claims by a board candidate that the resources giant is burying its head in the sand over the risk climate change poses to its profitability.

    Former coal and oil industry executive and BHP board hopeful Ian Dunlop told the company's annual meeting in London that climate change had the ability to “completely turn the company on its head or indeed destroy it”.

    The former Australian Coal Association chairman turned environmental campaigner argued the current board was “ill-equipped to deal with this challenge”.

    But BHP Billiton boss Andrew Mackenzie, addressing his first AGM as chief executive after replacing Marius Kloppers earlier this year, rejected the criticism.

    “We can, and will, continue to adjust the shape of our portfolio to match energy demand, meet society's expectations, preserve the progressive base dividend and maximise shareholder returns,” Mr Mackenzie told shareholders.

    After the meeting he told reporters BHP wasn't investing in thermal coal, even though it stayed in the portfolio, with the focus being to “maximise returns with what we've got”.

    The Scottish businessman said over the next two years BHP expected to increase overall resources production by eight per cent annually.

    Over the next 15 years global commodity demand was expected to grow by up to 75 per cent driven by China's rise, Mr Mackenzie said.

    The current board has urged shareholders to vote against Mr Dunlop, who admits he'll struggle to get elected.

    But Mr Dunlop is worried BHP isn't doing enough to prepare for a low-carbon future.

    The world is on track for a 4C temperature rise that would reduce the population from seven billion to just one billion, the 71-year-old former Shell executive told shareholders.

    “It's basically a world where business is not possible in the normal sense.”

    Mr Dunlop said to meet the UN's target of a 2C rise companies had to stop investing in fossil fuels and withdraw from existing projects.

    That meant there was indeed a “carbon bubble” of coal which should never be burnt, he said.

    “Essentially the result of that is going to be substantial write-downs and stranded assets.

    “Politics is not going to deliver (on climate change) ... it's going to be up to business and its own self-interest to actually do it.”

    Votes from London's AGM will be added to those cast in Perth in November before a result on Mr Dunlop's bid is announced.

    Company chairman Jac Nasser insisted BHP fully recognised the “strategic nature of this issue”.

    But he admitted previously describing climate change as a “single issue” wasn't a good look and didn't fully recognise its importance.

  7. The bullshit that is Wall Street - it is just feeding on itself and has been for some time.

    US stocks climb amid mixed earnings reports

    US stocks closed higher amid a mixed bag of earnings reports from leading companies.

    At the closing bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 93.56 points (0.61 per cent) to 15,506.89. The broad-based S&P 500 tacked on 5.61 (0.32 per cent) at 1751.99, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index increased 21.89 (0.56 per cent) to 3928.96.

    Thursday's batch of quarterly earnings reports continued to paint a mixed picture of economic conditions. Automaker Ford and industrial and consumer-product company 3M exceeded expectations, while United Continental and Dow Chemical fell short.

    Peter Cardillo, director of investment research at Rockwell Global Capital, said the market was “feeding on itself'' amid recent momentum and confidence the Federal Reserve will maintain an aggressive stimulus policy.

    “We're in a market that has a momentum, going up fast, it's going to have to pause someday,'' Mr Cardillo said. “But right now, it's all about easy money, cheap money, as long as the Fed doesn't taper.''


    The reckoning on how much of the oil and gas reserves can be burnt still hangs like a death shadow over them.


    Paranoia gone mad?

    Snowden strikes again.

    NSA 'eavesdropped on 35 world leaders'

    US SPIES eavesdropped on the phone conversations of 35 world leaders after White House, Pentagon and State Department officials gave them the numbers.

    A classified document provided by fugitive intelligence leaker Edward Snowden says the National Security Agency worked closely with the "customer" departments of the US government to secure the phone numbers of leading foreign politicians, the Guardian newspaper reported.

    One unnamed US official handed over 200 numbers, including those of the world leaders who were immediately "tasked" for surveillance by the NSA, according to the document.

    The latest revelations come amid a furore over allegations that the US had tapped the mobile phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and after revelations the NSA had monitored the Brazilian and Mexican leaders' communications.

    Start of sidebar. Skip to end of sidebar.

    End of sidebar. Return to start of sidebar.

    The White House has refused to say whether it had eavesdropped on Merkel in the past following an outcry in Germany and at a European Union summit.

    MERKEL: German leader slams 'spying between friends'

    The NSA memo, cited by The Guardian, indicated that surveillance was not isolated and the agency routinely tracked the phone numbers of world leaders.

    The 2006 memo was circulated among staff in the agency's Signals Intelligence Directorate under the heading "Customers Can Help SID Obtain Targetable Phone Numbers," outlining how agents could mine contact information gathered by officials in other branches of government.

    "In one recent case, a US official provided NSA with 200 phone numbers to 35 world leaders," the memo noted.

    "Despite the fact that the majority is probably available via open source, the PCs (intelligence production centres) have noted 43 previously unknown phone numbers. These numbers plus several others have been tasked."

    The memo acknowledged, however, that the eavesdropping had gleaned "little reportable intelligence".