News Wrap

IN THIS morning’s wrap: tape reveals coal corruption; Labor prepares to ditch the budget surplus; and China forecast a boost for mining.

Lou Caruana

Tape reveals coal corruption

Coal magnate Travers Duncan has been accused of lying about his dealings with disgraced former New South Wales Labor mineral minister Ian Macdonald after a secretly taped phone call was played at a corruption inquiry, according to the Australian Financial Review.

The wealthy businessman allegedly told business associate John Kinghorn in the call that he had asked a “mate” in the NSW Department of Primary Industries to inspect a file relating to a coal exploration licence covering land owned by the family of former state Labor minister Eddie Obeid.

Macdonald’s department awarded the licence in 2009 to Cascade Coal, which was part owned by Duncan and Kinghorn.

Labor prepares to ditch the budget surplus

The Gillard government is preparing to dump its commitment to a budget surplus if economic growth slips below its long-term average in the current quarter, according to the Australian Financial Review.

The big shift in budget strategy comes after real gross domestic product – which measures the amount of goods and services the economy produces – grew by just 0.5% in the September quarter.

It is the smallest gain in six quarters and the first clear sign that the economy is slowing below its average growth rate.

China forecast a boost for mining

A respected UBS economist has tipped a rise in growth and a return to commodities-intensive infrastructure investment in China next year – a forecast that will offer encouragement to Australia's mining industry, according to The Australian.

UBS China economic research head Wang Tao yesterday predicted China's economic growth rate to climb from the 7.6% recorded this year to 8% next year.