The Border Watch : February 11th 2014
Business Rex calls for help to prevent collapse PERTH: Regional Express has called on the federal government to prevent the collapse of more regional airlines after flagging a steep fall in first-half profit. Shares in the nation’s largest independent regional airline closed down 8c, or 8.89 per cent, at 82c after it said its pre-tax profit in the first half of the financial year would be about 60 per cent lower than the previous corresponding period. “The entire aviation industry is financially haemorrhaging right now and approaching collapse,” Rex’s chief operating officer Garry Filmer said after the market closed on Friday. “We have already seen the collapse of two of Australia’s oldest regional carriers during this financial year – Aeropelican and Brindabella – and in today’s toxic aviation environment, more will likely follow suit.” Mr Filmer urged National’s leader and minister for infrastructure and regional development Warren Truss to fulfil his election commitment to regional aviation, saying the coalition government had made little progress improving the economy. “Many regional carriers have little time left before they face the same fate as Brindabella,” Mr Filmer said. For many parts of regional Australia, this would spell the end of regular air services under the National’s watch. The domestic airline industry is under severe pressure after Virgin Australia foreshadowed a $49 million loss for the first half of the financial year and Qantas recently flagged a $300 million underlying loss for the six months to the end of 2013. Regional Express transports passengers and freight and operates 40 aircraft to 35 Australian destinations. AAP in Brief Rising honey prices lifts Capilano profit BRISBANE: Australia’s largest honey company Capilano’s half-year profit has more than doubled on the back of escalating honey prices in Australia and overseas. The strong result saw Capilano’s shares jump 23.7 per cent to a record $4.90 yesterday before losing some gains later in the afternoon. The honey seller, which moved from the Bendigo exchange to list on the ASX in July 2012, said local and international retail markets were driving its profit growth. Honey prices have risen significantly after drought and adverse weather hampered the Australian crop and limited production. Failed bid: Billionaire mining magnate Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest unsuccessfully argued mining would cause environmental damage to his cattle station in the Pilbara. Twiggy loses mine battle Billionaire fails to stop mining on his cattle station in Pilbara PERTH: Billionaire mining magnate Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest has lost a fight to prevent mining on his cattle station in the Pilbara. Perth-based Onslow Resources, Yarri Mining and Quarry Park have been granted conditional approval to mine for mineral sands in the Ashburton River bed and surrounds, despite Mr Forrest saying it would cause environmental damage to the Minderoo pastoral station near Onslow. Mr Forrest, who owns a third of Pilbara iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group, argued mining operations would affect parts of the Ashburton River, deprive him of using land and harm the pastoral business which runs more than 3000 head of cattle. It would also “sterilise and degrade the land” and “cause environmental damage,” Mr Forrest’s submission to the WA Warden’s Court said. “Forrest regards the Ashburton River to be significant to its pastoral operations on Minderoo as a source of water and from the overall benefits it brings to all aspects of the surrounding environment,” his submission says. But Magistrate Stephen Wilson dismissed Mr Forrest’s objections and recommended the WA mines minister grant mining leases to the three parties Unemployment rate to creep up, again SYDNEY: Jobs growth in January is expected to have bounced after a weak result in December but economic growth is still staying at a below-average pace. Official labour force figures, to be released on Thursday, are expected to show that the number of people with jobs rose by 15,000 in January, after a surprise fall of 22,600 in December. January’s unemployment rate is forecast to rise to 5.9 per cent, from 5.8 per cent the month before, an AAP survey of 12 economists shows. ANZ head of Australian economics Justin Fabo said the pace of jobs growth was not enough to bring the unemployment rate down. “Overall, most labour market indicators still suggest underlying employment growth remains soft,” he said. “The expected rise in employment in January would still be shy of the roughly 20,000 per month necessary to maintain a stable employment-to-population ratio. It’s also worth noting the past two January reports have shown strong rises in employment which may be associated with a change in seasonal patterns that the seasonally adjustment processes are slow to capture.” JP Morgan Australia chief economist Stephen Walters said there were many indications pointing to employment growth still being weak. 8 - The Border Watch, Tuesday, February 11, 2014 subject to conditions such as filling in drill holes and rehabilitating land. Onslow Resources, which is directed by Warren Slater, and Quarry Park plan to mine river sand from the the riverbed of the Ashburton River during the dry season to supply concrete sands to Boral for the massive Chevron-operated Wheatstone gas project nearby. The Ashburton River runs through the entire 240,000ha Minderoo pastoral lease, effectively dividing it in half. Five years ago Mr Forrest secured the Minderoo pastoral lease for $12 million and he has since worked to restore the massive property. His family connection to Minderoo stretches back to the 1870s. The magistrate’s decision on January 31 in the WA Warden’s Court is the latest round in a series of battles between Mr Forrest and the privately owned Onslow Resources and other parties. The WA Warden’s Court hears disputes about exploration and mining leases. Uranium miners Paladin Energy and Cauldron Energy have also expressed interest in exploring Minderoo and a ruling on Cauldron’s application is expected to be delivered later in the year. Mr Forrest can now appeal the most recent decision to the Supreme Court. Toyota to pull out of Australia by 2017 MELBOURNE: Toyota will stop building cars in Australia by the end of 2017. “This is devastating news for all of our employees who have dedicated their lives to the company during the past 50 years,” Toyota Australia President and CEO Max Yasuda said. “We did everything we could to transform our business, but the reality is there are too many factors beyond our control that make it unviable to build cars in Australia.” About 2500 manufacturing AAP workers are expected to lose their jobs because of Toyota’s decision, while corporate jobs may go too after a review of the company’s operations. Toyota cited the high Australian dollar for making exports unviable, as well as the high costs of manufacturing within one of the most fragmented markets in the world. Mr Yasuda said manufacturing operations in Australia had continued at a loss despite efforts to turn things around. Toyota’s announcement follows Ford and Holden’s decision – leaving Australia without a local car manufacturing industry by 2017. National AMWU vehicle secretary Dave Smith said the decision would have devastating impact on everything from road transport to shipping and beyond. AAP AAP Picture: AAP Greencross set to continue expansion MELBOURNE: Veterinary and pet products group Greencross will continue to expand its network of clinics and retail stores in the second half of the 2013-14 financial year, keeping it on track to reach its full-year profit guidance. Greencross operates 103 veterinary practices and 130 large-format pet retail outlets in Australia and New Zealand. The company in January acquired specialty pet care retailer Mammoth Pet Holdings, making the combined entity Australasia’s largest integrated consumerfacing pet care company. iSelect to take earnings hit MELBOURNE: Insurance comparison website iSelect says it will take a hit to its earnings after a new deal with lower commission rates from a car insurance supplier. But iSelect said it believed the cheaper rates would ultimately increase the number of people using its website that go on to buy new car insurance policies. The company said yesterday it had signed a two-year agreement with Auto & General, providers of car insurance products, extending a five-year deal. ACCC would review Myer/DJs merger SYDNEY: Australia’s consumer watchdog says it would investigate the impact of a potential tie-up of David Jones and Myer on competition if the department store chains decided to pursue a merger. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission yesterday distanced itself from suggestions it would be unlikely to object to a possible merger between the two retailers, saying it had not formed a view on the issue.
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