Chief Correspondent, Sydney
Michael's Feed
May 10, 2011

Australia seeks to harness mining boom, avoid inflation

CANBERRA, May 10 (Reuters) – Australia expects a fiscal
surplus in 2012/13 and will seek to ease a shortage of skilled
workers that threatens to fuel inflation as the economy rides an
historic resources boom, the minority Labour government said in
its first budget on Tuesday.

Treasurer Wayne Swan said Australia — the only major
developed nation to avoid recession during the global financial
crisis — faced major hurdles in handling the Asia-led resources
boom, a soaring Australian dollar and a two-speed economy that
has left non-mining industries struggling.

Apr 19, 2011

Australia PM Gillard to focus on energy in Nth Asia

SYDNEY/BEIJING, April 19 (Reuters) – Australian Prime
Minister Julia Gillard is expected to issue guarantees of energy
security this week when she visits major trading partners in
north Asia, where unrest in the Middle East and a disaster in
Japan have raise fears of supply disruptions.

Japan, South Korea and China are three of Australia’s top
four export markets, all currently hungry for its mineral and
energy resources to power their economies, and analysts say this
could be a make-or-break trip for Gillard.

Mar 25, 2011

Australia’s ruling Labor headed for state election “bloodbath”

SYDNEY, March 25 (Reuters) – Australian Prime Minister Julia
Gillard’s Labor party looks set to suffer a big defeat on
Saturday in elections in the nation’s most populous state,
leaving three out of six states under Labor as she
tries to bring in a national carbon price and mining tax.

A Labor “bloodbath” in the New South Wales (NSW) election
will politically damage Gillard, who holds a one-seat majority,
thanks to independents and Green MPs.

Feb 10, 2011

Australia urged to use catastrophe bonds as disaster risk rises

SYDNEY, Feb 10 (Reuters) – Global reinsurance giant Swiss Re
said Australia’s natural disaster risk was increasing
and urged its governments to cover the rising damages bill using
insurance instruments like “catastrophe bonds” as opposed to
one-off disaster levies.

“Mounting exposure in Australia to catastrophes…we feel
requires a pre-emptive approach to financing disaster relief,
particularly with government assets,” Mark Senkevics, head of
Swiss Re in Australia and New Zealand, said on Thursday.

Feb 9, 2011

Australia aims to delink economic growth and pollution

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Soaring carbon emissions mean Australia must put a price on carbon and invest more in clean energy to ensure a growing economy does not have to mean growing fossil-fuel pollution, the climate change minister said on Wednesday.

But the government faces continued opposition to its climate policy despite extreme weather battering Australia, leaving behind a $10 billion disaster bill and major export commodities still limping back into full operation.

Jan 18, 2011

Wage and inflation risks loom after Australia floods

SYDNEY, Jan 18 (Reuters) – Extensive reconstruction after
Australia’s floods risks fuelling a wages blow-out, as flooded
states and the booming resource sector bid for scarce workers,
which will in turn push up inflation and add pressure for a
tightening of interest rates.

The initial impact of flooding in four states is an expected
1 percentage point drop in gross domestic product growth for
Australia’s A$1.3 trillion economy, with reconstruction costs
ranging from A$3 billion to A$20 billion. But most analysts see
a short-term “V” shaped recovery when $24.5 billion annual
coking coal exports fully resume to Asia.

Jan 10, 2011

Flash floods hit Australia’s third largest city

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Residents of low-lying parts of Australia’s third largest city, Brisbane, sandbagged their homes against rising waters Monday as torrential rain exacerbated record floods that have paralyzed the coal industry in the northeast and now threaten tourism.

Weather officials issued a severe weather alert, warning of flash flooding and worsening river floods in Queensland state’s heavily populated southeast and the center of the country’s lucrative Gold Coast tourist strip.

Dec 31, 2010

Floods cover vast area of Australia’s northeast

SYDNEY, Dec 31 (Reuters) – Floodwater rose across a vast
area in Australia’s northeast on Friday, inundating 22 towns,
forcing 200,000 residents out of their homes, and closing a
major sugar export ports.

Flooding has already shut coal mines in Queensland state
and its biggest coal export port, forcing miners such as Anglo
American and Rio Tinto to slow or
halt operations.

Dec 31, 2010

Australia floods cover area the size of France/Germany

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Flood water rose across Australia’s northeast on Friday, covering an area bigger than France and Germany combined, inundating 22 towns and stranding 200,000 people, and closing one of the country’s major sugar export ports.

Flooding has already shut major coal mines in Queensland state and its biggest coal export port, forcing a long list of miners such as Anglo American and Rio Tinto to slow or halt operations.

Dec 16, 2010

Asylum seeker deaths pressure Australia to change

SYDNEY (Reuters) – The death of 28 asylum seekers who drowned when their boat was smashed on rocks on Christmas Island has renewed pressure on Prime Minister Julia Gillard to soften Australia’s asylum policy and may strain her one-seat minority government.

Independent MP Rob Oakeshott, whose support won Gillard’s Labor a second term in August, has demanded the prime minister explain why the Indonesian timber boat, carrying Iraqis, was not intercepted on Wednesday, like other asylum boats, in open seas.