The Australian wheat exporter AWB is to temporarily lose its monopoly. AWB is the sole exporter of Australian wheat. But after reports that it paid bribes to the Saddam regime in Iraq, the situation was criticised.

The government said AWB would lose its power to veto exports for six months, reports the BBC. The threat that the monopoly would be abolished forever, was not executed. Rivals of AWB see opportunity to sell crops overseas.

AWB was one of the biggest suppliers of the United Nations Oil for Food program.


Kevin Rudd

December 5, 2006

Labor has chosen for a change. Kevin Rudd has won the labor leader ballot. He wants to introduce some new faces to the shadow government. What will he do: “There’s too much short termism in Australian politics. The more I move around the Australian community the more people want to know ‘What is the long term?’ When you’re looking at the big ones like climate change, they want to know whether you’re real or whether you’re just coming up with something that sounds good between now and the next election.”

For Beazley, it was a particular sad day, as he lost the election and – more dramatic – his brother died in Perth.

Labor leadership ballot

December 2, 2006

Kim Beazley, the leader of the Australian Labor Party, has called a ballot on the leadership of the party. The 88 members of parliament will choose Monday between an experienced leader (Beazley) or fresh and new ideas (Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard).

Beazley returned to leadership two years ago. He is a well known politician and has a carreer of 26 years in parliament.

The challengers Rudd en Gillard entered parliament in 1998. They never been in a government. But they are popular. For half of the Labor caucus the duo is a sign of hope. Rudd en Gillard want a renewal of the Labor Party and want to take risks so that Labor can win the elections.

The principle difference between Beazley and Rudd & Gillard is freshness. They take the same stance on important issues as health care or uranium and are situated on the right wing of the Labor Party. Rudd is from Queensland, the state where the Labor Party is not succesfull. He has also more charisma than Beazley.

Whatever the result, it is said that Beazley looses, even if he wins the ballot. “A narrow victory would be so damaging that it would prove to be just a way-station to a more emphatic defeat early next year”.

The ballot is scheduled for Monday.


November 24, 2006

Drive on the M5 motorway, half-owned by Macquarie-advised Sydney Roads Group, to Sydney Airport, whose biggest investor is Macquarie Airports, then pile their baggage on to Macquarie’s trolleys and fly on planes (Qantas) owned by the investment bank. This scenario is a possibility if Macquarie can obtain the Australian airline company Qantas.

The Australian bank offers, together with the American investors Texas Pacific Group, ten billion Australian dollar for Qantas. The news sparkled some political reactions. The majority of the shares of Qantas have to be in Australian hands. Foreign ownership is not a possibility.

Moreover, some politicians aren’t happy with the idea that Macquarie and Texas Pacific is said to split the thing up. Some Qantas-divisions would be incorporated in the different companies of Macquarie.

Qantas is a national symbol for Australia and a very important carrier Down Under.

In other financial news: there is speculation that the Belgian brewer InBev is preparing a bid on Fosters.

Copyright bill

November 22, 2006

Will YouTube and the iPod be illegal in Australia? If you believe the critics of a new copyright bill, that nightmare can be true in some time. The proposal would extend the scope of a regular copyritght bill anywhere in the world. It’s not limited to commercial machines and it will make the electronic distribution of material difficult.

Attorney-General Philip Ruddock has not responded directly to the claims, but has said the provisions are intended to catch and punish major music and movie pirates, not personal users, writes MS NBC.

We’ll catch on this issue later for sure.

National identity

September 16, 2006

I’d better start studying 🙂 Australian prime minister John Howard has said that immigrants should know the Australian values.

“You will certainly need to know a good deal more about Australia, Australian customs and the Australian way of life. The issues that will be raised will be the history of the country, the values of the country.”

This is vague, and is somewhat dangerous for a country which has a ‘White Australia Policy‘. A national identity seems to be more important than cultural diversity.