News Wrap

IN THIS morning’s News Wrap: >ICAC on O’Farrell’s side, says coal mogul; Uranium approval delays political; and business lashes out at Labor.

Staff Reporter

ICAC on O’Farrell’s side, says coal mogul

Mining mogul Travers Duncan has accused the head of the Independent Commission Against Corruption, David Ipp, QC, of being biased in favour of the NSW government in his bid to shut down an inquiry into a coal deal linked to former Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid, according to the Australian Financial Review.

In the Supreme Court yesterday, Duncan’s barrister, Gerald Ng, sought access to a letter to help prove Ipp “may have, by his interaction with the executive government of NSW, be seen by a fair-minded and informed observer to have aligned himself with the purposes of the government”

The December 20 letter was written by ICAC’s solicitor, Roy Waldron, to Bret Walker, SC, who was later retained by ICAC to provide advice following a query from Premier Barry O’Farrell about the government’s power to reject a development application for a coal mine on public interest grounds.

Uranium approval delays political

Bureaucrats are delaying giving the green light to uranium exploration because they fear the political fallout, contributing to a "severe" competitive disadvantage faced by Australia's producers, according to The Australian.

The Australian Uranium Association - whose members include BHP Billiton and the operator of the Ranger mine at Jabiluka in the Northern Territory, ERA - has warned that delays in assessment and approval processes are impeding important capital raisings that companies need for development and sometimes survival.

Companies are being forced to wear the costs of responding to unsubstantiated allegations by opponents of yellowcake projects; review and appeal processes are "gold-plated"; and government ministers are starting to postpone project-approval decisions at the 11th hour, the AUA says.

Business lashes out at Labor

Corporate Australia has declared that the Gillard government’s past fortnight of new regulations on media, temporary foreign workers, coal seam gas and industrial relations has junked the policy reform approach and will hurt the economy, according to the Australian Financial Review.

Signalling growing alarm over Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s attempt to shore up her leadership with a burst of policy activism, Business Council of Australia president Tony Shepherd said Labor’s latest policy announcements would place heavy-handed impositions on business and the community without consultation or consideration of the costs.