News Wrap

IN THIS morning’s News Wrap: ICAC told of likely charges in coal case; institute says local thinking is needed on new mines; and Rio says Australia’s hesitant to take the next step on China.

Staff Reporter

ICAC told of likely charges in coal case

The lawyer assisting a New South Wales corruption inquiry has detailed potential criminal and civil charges that may be brought against former Labor minister Ian Macdonald and union leader-turned-businessman John Maitland, resulting from the investigation into an allegedly corrupt grant of a $100 million coal licence, according to the Australian Financial Review.

Counsel assisting the Independent Commission Against Corruption, Peter Braham SC, outlined for the first time on Tuesday the likely charges that could flow from the evidence, including the criminal offence of conspiracy to defraud.

Braham said a conspiracy charge could apply to both men, as well as Maitland’s business associates, Newcastle entrepreneurs Craig Ransley and Andrew Poole.

Think local on new mines, institute says

Under a proposal to prevent the boom draining country towns, mining companies will need to negotiate agreements with communities on the local benefits of big projects before they receive government approval, according to the Australian Financial Review.

A report by the Regional Australia Institute, set up by the federal government, argues that approval processes are not taking the social costs of resource projects seriously, contributing to a backlash against fly-in, fly-out work practices.

It suggests a Canadian scheme of community benefit plans may help keep locals onside.

“The long-term socioeconomic ­benefits of resource projects for smaller regional communities are not assured simply by the presence of a project,” according to the Benefits of the Boom policy briefing to be published on Wednesday.

Australia hesitant to take next step on China

New Rio Tinto iron ore head Andrew Harding says Australia appears hesitant to take its relationship with China to the next level, according to the Australian Financial Review.

Making his first speech since taking on the role in February, Harding told a conference in Beijing that Australia risked leaving a wealth of opportunities for others to claim.

He said while Australia was China’s top mineral importer, accounting for 15%, the overall share was actually in decline.

“We need to spend more time listening to China’s needs, we need to invest more time and effort developing relationships,” he said.