Port of Tauranga named best in region

By Anne Gibson

11:50 AM Tuesday Jan 21 , 2014Morningstar has rated the Port of Tauranga as the most productive, efficient port in Australasia.
Morningstar has rated the Port of Tauranga as the most productive, efficient port in Australasia.

Port of Tauranga has been called the most productive, efficient port in Australasia in a glowing report which pegs it as having excellent prospects in the next few years.

The glowing report just out from Morningstar said trade volumes in 2012 had increased by 20 per cent. The amount of cargo handled from 15.4 million tonnes to 18.5 million tonnes, in the face of subdued international trade.

“Container volumes have been particularly impressive as the company continues to gain market share. Log and forestry volumes have been on an up trend due to increased demand from Asia, a trend that should continue for the foreseeable future. We estimate trade volumes to double in 12 years, given that shipping lines are increasingly favouring the company over its rivals due to significant cost advantages,” Morningstar said.

“Through the cycle, we believe the company will comfortably earn returns in excess of its cost of capital and there is virtually no competition on the horizon, leaving us confident that the firm has a wide economic moat.”

Last week, the port announced a continued national expansion by buying up 15ha of commercial land in Canterbury to create a new inland port, partly to capitalise on the lucrative dairy export trade.

The company is buying land in the Izone Industrial Park at Rolleston, 12km south of Christchurch, for a freight hub or village, after last year spending $21.6 million to buy a half-share of Prime Port Timaru and $37.2 million expanding at Onehunga, where it already has its MetroPort inland port operations.

Chief executive Mark Cairns said the new Rolleston site would be an export hub for primary products and particularly dairy exports, fish and fruit and the business could spend about $20 million on the land and infrastructure although no price was disclosed because the deal remains conditional.

The site is in the middle of a diary mecca, north of one of Fonterra’s largest sites, Clandeboye, processing up to 13.2 million litres of milk a day, about 40 per cent of all Fonterra’a South Island milk. Synlait’s plant is south at Rakaia and Cairns noted how Westland Milk Products was also at Rolleston.

The Warehouse has its South Island distribution centre at Rolleston and Cairns indicated the train line to Timaru was a key component of the new deal, because containers would travel between Timaru and Rolleston by rail.

 

The New Zealand Herald

France sells down stake in Airbus

10:17 AM Friday Jan 17, 2014

Airbus CEO Fabrice Bregier. The European aerospace conglomerate said it delivered 626 planes last year, a company record but still 22 fewer than U.S. rival Boeing. Photo / AP

Airbus CEO Fabrice Bregier. The European aerospace conglomerate said it delivered 626 planes last year, a company record but still 22 fewer than U.S. rival Boeing. Photo / AP

The French state has raised 451 million euros (NZ$735.18 million) by selling a one per cent stake in European aircraft and defense corporation Airbus Group, the economy minister says.

The divestment, of around eight million shares to institutional buyers, brings France’s stake in the publicly traded group to 11 per cent – the same as Airbus Group partner Germany.

Airbus Group – the new name for what used to be known as EADS – has seen its shares gain 74.63 per cent over the past year, to 56.44 euros per share, in large part thanks to management reforms carried out in 2013.

French Economy Minister Pierre Moscovici late Wednesday announced the sale, saying it would lower the French government’s stake to a level on par with that of Germany’s, as per a bilateral pact. Germany recently raised its stake to the 11 per cent level.

Spain’s government holds a smaller stake, of just over four per cent in the European group.

Moscovici on Thursday revealed that 451 million euros had been raised from the stake sale.

France has been selling off some of its state holdings in companies in a bid to bring down its debt mountain, which is equivalent to 94 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP). Last year it raised 2.4 billion euros through divestments, nearly half of that through an earlier sell-off of Airbus Group shares.

Airbus Group is riding high after announcing this week its best commercial performance in its history, with notably 2013 being a record year for orders of Airbus aircraft, though deliveries still trailed those of US rival Boeing.

 

The New Zealand Herald

Air New Zealand chief takes seat on Virgin board

By Tamsyn Parker

12:39 PM Tuesday Jan 21, 2014
Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon at the Air New Zealand head office in Auckland City. Photo/ APN

Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon at the Air New Zealand head office in Auckland City. Photo/ APN

Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon is to take up a seat on the board of Virgin Australia after receiving an invitation to do so.

The offer was widely expected as part of a A$350 million rights issue completed by Virgin last year in which Air Zealand, Singapore Airlines and Etihad increased their stakes from 62.6 per cent to 67 per cent.

The issue created a furore across the Tasman with Qantas claiming it gives Virgin an unfair advantage and the Australian Shareholders Association saying a cap on smaller retail investors disadvantaged them.

ASA spokesman Stephen Mayne applied to the Takeovers Panel, arguing the equity-raising had been structured to concentrate control of the company in the hands of the foreign airlines.

He had sought orders removing the cap for retail investors and blocking Etihad from lifting its stake in Virgin.

But the complaint was rejected in December clearing the way for the capital raising.

The panel concluded that any shortfall would be dispersed effectively between Air New Zealand, Etihad Airways and Singapore Airlines through sub-underwriting arrangements and that the outcome of the entitlement offer would be to maintain substantially the structure of Virgin Australia’s share register. It said the plan was not against the public interest and declined to make a declaration of “unacceptable circumstances.”

Air New Zealand’s stake in Virgin is now close to 25 per cent. Air New Zealand said Luxon would take up the seat once the appropriate protocols were in place.

Air New Zealand shares last traded at $1.69 and have risen 36 per cent in the last year.

 

The New Zealand Herald

Do you practise good sleep hygiene?

January 15, 2014 – 12:55PM

Nicole Elphick

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Photo: Tetra Images

As any insomniac knows, lying awake in bed when you want to fall asleep can be incredibly frustrating (and the under-eye bags the next day aren’t so great either!) One of the keys to getting a great night’s sleep can be in practicing better sleep hygiene, which simply means cleaning up any sloppy sleep habits that might be getting in the way of resting properly. Here are a few tips to help you get some superior shut-eye…

 

Have a routine

Going to bed and waking up at roughly the same time – even on weekends – helps get your body into a regular routine so sleep will come easier. You should be expecting to get between seven and nine hours of sleep a night (though everyone is different). It can also be useful to end the day with a bath or fifteen minutes of reading as both of those help the body and mind start to wind down for the day.

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Get the right mattress

A too hard or too soft mattress is not going to create a pleasant atmosphere for slumber and can lead to tossing and turning throughout the night. You should look for a mattress that you find comfortable, but which also offers an appropriate level of support so you are not putting undue stress on your spine and muscles.

 

Skip the alcohol and caffeine

Consuming alcohol and caffeine in the evening hours before bed is a bad idea, so try to avoid them for at least four to six hours before sleep. Caffeine is a stimulant and so makes it difficult to relax. And while some believe alcohol makes you sleepier (hence the idea of a nightcap), it actually gives you a worse quality of sleep.

 

Avoid napping

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news – but ‘nanna naps’ are a no-no. Just like how if you ate a snack before dinner you’re less likely to be hungry, naps similarly disrupt your sleep routine and mean that you are less likely to be tired come bed time. If you really must have one make sure it’s before 3pm and doesn’t last longer than 45 minutes.

 

Only sleep in your bed

Your bed is not a makeshift office or giant couch for watching TV. If you use your bed for non-sleeping activities your body could become conditioned to not associating lying down in bed with sleep.

 

The Age

Victoria’s Grampians bushfire contained

January 21, 2014 – 10:09AM

NSW, Australia

The large bushfire burning in Victoria’s Grampians region has been contained.

Emergency crews will now turn their focus to returning fire-affected residents to their homes and opening roads so the areas are open to tourists ahead of the long weekend.

The 52,000-hectare fire, believed to have been sparked by lightning on Wednesday, has destroyed 27 homes.

Incident Controller Mark Gunning said crews spent the past few days working on back burning around the Mt Difficult Range near Halls Gap and strengthening containment lines.

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Mr Gunning said the work was important to complete during the milder conditions before warmer weather and northerly winds this Thursday.

“As with any fire, the situation can change at any time,” he said.

“While we don’t expect any further spread of the fire, it is important that people stay up-to-date with local conditions.”

Crews will continue patrolling the fire and removing dangerous trees, with the clean up to continue for days.

A separate fire burning in the area at Black Range, Bunjils Cave Road south-west of Stawell is not yet contained.

Advice messages remain in place for Roses Gap, Cherrypool, Dadswell’s Bridge, Laharum, Ledcourt, Pomonal, Zumsteins, Wartook, Bellfield, Lake Fyans, Glenisla, Halls Gap and Brimpaen.

AAP

The Age

New South Wales government cancels mining licences tainted by Eddie Obeid, Ian Macdonald corruption scandals

January 21, 2014 – 1:51AM

Sean Nicholls, Michaela Whitbourn

NuCoal has foreshadowed legal action against Ian Macdonald and others.

The O’Farrell government has cancelled mining licences approved by former Labor minister Ian Macdonald. Photo: Jon Reid

Premier Barry O’Farrell will use special legislation to tear up three coal licences worth hundreds of millions of dollars issued by corrupt former Labor minister Ian Macdonald and deny the companies that own them any compensation.

The announcement is likely to spark legal action against the government by listed company NuCoal and private miner Cascade Coal, which claim their investors are being punished unfairly.

On Monday night Cascade, which has previously valued its exploration licences at $500 million, said the decision was grossly unjust and would cause ”irreparable damage to the reputation of NSW and raise significant questions of sovereign risk”.

Bylong Valley residents like Stuart Andrews were cautiously optomistic when an ICAC report into the Mount Penny mine recommended the licences under the former Labor state government be cancelled.

Bylong Valley residents like Stuart Andrews were cautiously optomistic when an ICAC report into the Mount Penny mine recommended the licences under the former Labor state government be cancelled.Photo: Ryan Osland

A NuCoal spokesman said there had been ”zero consultation” between the government and the company over the matter and it would ”pursue all legal avenues to obtain compensation”. It has previously suggested it would seek at least $500 million if its licence was cancelled.

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But residents affected by the proposed mines, including Bylong Valley Protection Alliance secretary Craig Shaw, said the decision was a ”victory for the people of NSW”.

”Hats off to O’Farrell and his government for making this move,” Mr Shaw said. ”It was really the only logical move that was possible after the ICAC findings. But, as they say, it ain’t over ‘til the fat lady sings and we were holding our breath just waiting to see.”

On Monday, Mr O’Farrell said the move drew ”a line under this sorry saga of Labor politics and corruption in NSW”.

After sensational public inquiries last year, the Independent Commission Against Corruption found Mr Macdonald and his political ally, former Labor MP Eddie Obeid, acted corruptly by agreeing in 2008 to create a mining tenement over the Obeid family’s farm at Mount Penny in the Bylong Valley.

The decision delivered the Obeids $30 million with the promise of at least $30 million more.

ICAC also found Mr Macdonald acted corruptly in 2008 in granting a licence at Doyles Creek to a company, Doyles Creek Mining, then chaired by former union official John Maitland. In December, ICAC advised the government that the licences – and another at Glendon Brook that formed part of the inquiry – were so ”tainted by corruption” they should be cancelled.

It recommended the government legislate to give itself the power to confiscate profits made by those with knowledge of the corruption and compensate ”any innocent person” affected by the cancellation.

In a statement after cabinet met on Monday night, Mr O’Farrell said the government would introduce legislation to cancel the licences but ”no compensation” would be given.

Five of the investors in Cascade – coal mogul Travers Duncan, businessman John Kinghorn, lawyers John McGuigan and John Atkinson, and investment banker Richard Poole – were found by ICAC to have acted corruptly by concealing the Obeids’ involvement in the mining tenement.

The government has not indicated whether it will also pass special laws to claw back profits from those who benefited from corrupt conduct. Such laws would go further than existing legislation to seize proceeds of crime because they would not require proof of illegality.

Mr O’Farrell said the bill would require the companies that now own the licences – NuCoal, which acquired Doyles Creek in 2010, and Cascade Coal in the case of Mount Penny and Glendon Brook – to hand over all exploration data and be responsible for rehabilitating the sites.

”There is no intention to immediately re-release the affected areas but any future process for issuing licences will be consistent with the NSW government’s implementation of the ICAC’s recommendations on probity,” the government statement said.

”The legislation will indemnify the taxpayer from any possible claims relating to the issuing or cancellation of the licences.”

A US investment fund, Ventry Industries, which holds 2.43 per cent of NuCoal, has said NSW would breach a section of the US-Australia free trade agreement dealing with confiscation of property without just compensation and due process. Managing director Rob Roy has threatened to lobby Congress and the US government over the matter.

Cascade argued ICAC’s reasoning for recommending the cancellation of Mount Penny and Glendon Brook was flawed and warned of long and costly litigation.

The Sydney Morning Herald

Brisbane set for another scorcher

January 21, 2014 – 9:21AM

Marissa Calligeros

brisbanetimes.com.au reporter

The sun rises ahead of a very hot day at South Bank Parklands on Tuesday. Photo: Michelle Tapper/Seven News, via Twitter.

The sun rises ahead of a very hot day at South Bank Parklands on Tuesday. Photo: Michelle Tapper/Seven News, via Twitter.

It’s going to be another scorcher in Brisbane, with the mercury tipped to hit 36 degrees on Tuesday – six degrees above average.

By 8.30am on Tuesday, it was 29.3 degrees in Brisbane.

But it felt hotter, with the apparent temperature, which takes the humidity into account, at 32 degrees.

A top of 41 degrees is expected in Gatton, while a maximum of 39 degrees is forecast for Ipswich.

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The heat is due to hot northerly winds gusting across the state from central Australia.

‘‘It’s really going to be quite hot today, with fairly warm morning temperatures,’’ Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Peter Otto told 612 ABC Brisbane.

‘‘It will be fairly hot again tomorrow with 35 [degrees] expected for the city.’’

There will be a slight reprieve come Thursday and Friday, when the mercury will dip to 31 and 30 degrees, before conditions heat up again over the long-weekend.

A maximum of 35 degrees is forecast for Brisbane on Saturday.

It will be worse out west, with 15 centres expected to reach 40 degrees or more on Tuesday, including Longreach, Charleville and Birdsville.

Meanwhile, 26 local government areas, covering almost 65 per cent of the state, have been drought declared.

Barcaldine mayor Rob Chandler said many graziers were in real trouble.

‘‘There have been some very isolated falls of rain, but this is one of the best droughts mother nature has put on and there are some people in some real strife,’’ he told ABC radio.

‘‘Some places had only 50mm for the full year last year and when you’ve got an average rainfall of 19 inches, that’s way below par.’’

– with AAP

The Brisbane Times

George Brandis vows not to read documents ASIO seized

January 21, 2014 – 7:57AM

Tom Allard

National Affairs Editor

George Brandis.

George Brandis. Photo: Andrew Meares

Attorney-General George Brandis has given an extraordinary undertaking not to read highly sensitive documents seized by ASIO agents in a raid on East Timor’s lawyer last year as Australia tries to thwart the fledgling nation’s bid in the International Court of Justice to have the material returned.

East Timor’s objections to the raid are to be put to the International Court of Justice in The Hague on Monday evening amid burning anger in the impoverished nation over the raids.

As well as getting the documents returned to them – and any copies destroyed – East Timor wants the ICJ to require Australia to cease any continuing spying on its lawyers.

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The raid on lawyer Bernard Collaery, and a second one on a former senior officer of the Australian Secret Intelligence Service, in Canberra on December 3 were part of an escalating dispute between Australia and East Timor over $40 billion of oil and gas reserves in the Timor Sea amid allegations of dirty dealings and espionage.

The ASIO raids stunned many observers because they occurred in the middle of legal proceedings between Australia and East Timor and included correspondence between East Timor’s legal advisers, which were seized.

Moreover, Senator Brandis, who authorised the raids, is in charge of ASIO and the legal case being run by Australia against East Timor in The Hague.

Court documents obtained by Fairfax Media show the unusual lengths Senator Brandis will go to to justify the raids and keep the documents, which Australia denies are covered by legal professional privilege.

The documents reveal he told the arbitral tribunal in The Hague that he would undertake not to “make myself aware or otherwise seek to inform myself of the content of the [seized] material”.

If there was any change, he would inform the tribunal and offer further undertakings.

One of the documents reveals that ASIO agents only “briefly inspected” the documents they took during the raids, aware that their conduct was likely to lead to objections by East Timor.

Along with the documents, a smartphone, USB stick and laptop were removed from Mr Collaery’s office by ASIO, according to a property seizure record obtained by Fairfax Media.

“With one exception, all materials were then placed in sealed envelopes and have remained sealed to the present day,” according to the written observations Australia presented to the ICJ last week.

Senator Brandis argues that legal professional privilege did not apply to the documents because they disclosed national security information and “therefore involve the commission of a serious criminal offence under Australian law”.

Any objections by East Timor to the raids should be heard in an Australian court or another arbitration tribunal in The Hague, rather than the ICJ, he adds.

Reflecting the seriousness of the case, and the oil and gas revenues ultimately at stake, Australia has a 16-person team of lawyers and assistants representing it at the ICJ, including some of the world’s leading international law experts.

Even so, some observers say the perceptions are bad for Australia, not least because East Timor is an impoverished nation and Australia a wealthy one.

“This is going to be pretty hard on Australia’s image. It’s not exactly glorious for them,” international law expert Olivier Rentelink from The Hague’s Asser Institute told Agence France-Presse.

East Timor wants a 2006 treaty that carves up the reserves declared invalid, saying it is unfair and not completed in good faith as Australia bugged its government’s offices during negotiations.

The former ASIS agent, who was interrogated and had his passport suspended, is East Timor’s key witness.

The former spy allegedly led a bugging operation of East Timor cabinet rooms during oil and gas treaty talks in 2004.

Australia’s lawyers will be heard on Tuesday night, while both sides will sum up on Wednesday.

Senator Brandis’ office declined to comment.

The Canberra Times