News Wrap

IN THIS morning’s wrap: Call to suspend mining under ICAC scrutiny; search firm an appropriate choice, says BHP; and greedy states to blame for energy prices, says Greiner.
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BHP Billiton chief executive Marius Kloppers

Lou Caruana

Suspend mining under ICAC scrutiny: NSW Labor

The NSW opposition has called for the state government to suspend all mining exploration licenses being investigated by the state’s corruption inquiry, according to the Australian Financial Review.

Labor leader John Robertson said he had written to Premier Barry O’Farrell offering bipartisan support to halt mining operations at the three locations currently being investigated by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).

For more than a week, ICAC has heard allegations of questionable practises by former Labor ministers Ian Macdonald and Eddie Obeid in relation to the 2008 decision to grant exploration rights in the Bylong Valley, near Mudgee in central NSW.

Macdonald, the former resources minister, is accused of favouring Obeid by granting an exploration licence over the Mt Penny tenement in the Bylong Valley, where the Labor powerbroker and his family owned property.

Search firm an appropriate choice, says BHP

Director Lindsay Maxsted says BHP Billiton’s decision to hire search firm Heidrick & Struggles to help find a successor to chief executive Marius Kloppers is an appropriate choice at this stage in the process, according to the Australian Financial Review.

“I think the best practice [for succession] is a continuous process,” he said.

“Through years two, three, four, five and six you have processes in place.”

Maxsted said at a later point in the search it was appropriate to appoint external advisors to look at outside candidates.

Greedy states to blame for energy prices: Greiner

Former NSW premier Nick Greiner has urged NSW and Queensland to sign up to the electricity market reforms proposed in the federal government’s white paper on energy, saying they have to accept some of the blame for rising power prices, according to the Australian Financial Review.

Greiner said states, especially NSW and Queensland, should back reforms to the national electricity market, including more efficient reliability standards, stronger powers for the regulator, deregulation of retail prices and eventually privatisation.

“There is no rational pushback (and no reason) for not moving to complete the idea of a fully competitive pro-productivity energy market,” he said.

He said Queensland and NSW were obstructing reforms because of misplaced fears about the political costs.

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