Good morning! Here’s your run-down for Wednesday.
- There’s a ring of fire around the CFMEU following the revelations about the links between some of its officials and criminals. A veteran member says he received death threats from colleagues after raising concerns about the involvement of shady companies. Barangaroo operations have reportedly been used for money-laundering. The ABCC is likely on the way back and there’s talk of a royal commission. The union admits it has some rats in the ranks. As I wrote yesterday the union’s tolerance of ratbags is threatening to damage the whole movement. They protest they exist to look after workers. But when you lie down with dogs…
- As if to underscore the point, there’s another industrial battlefront: the government is intervening in a dispute between Toyota and the unions, seeking to get workers to vote on a variation to the workplace agreement and override the union position.
- Australia’s second-biggest hospital group, Healthscope, is up for sale. Private equity owners TPG and the Carlyle Group are looking to exit. If done through a share market listing it could potentially be a $4 billion IPO. Take a number.
- The Australian Bureau of Statistics is running out of money and the budget problems are starting to affect its operations. This is bad news: its data is critical to the market understanding what’s happening across the economy.
- Australia is the only country outside Europe to have made the top tier in an new index of access to quality food.
- Speaking of food, apparently about half of the businesses in Australia’s southeast were closed on Monday to avoid paying penalty rates to their staff. Some economists say the rates are an anachronism whose abolition would lead to a “substantial rise” in employment. More at the Fin.
- Loans to Chinese borrowers from Australian banks have increased to $US28.7 billion, a $US12.3 billion increase over the previous year to September. That’s a rise of 75%. Surely they’re all good for the money. Right?
- Undercover activists say they’ve found a factory in China that’s processing the carcasses of hundreds of endangered whale sharks every year, including some caught from Australian waters. They pay more than $30,000 for each one.
- There’s an interview in The Australian this morning with David Lindeberg, boss of Adelaide-based industrial instrument maker Scantech. From his experience travelling internationally he thinks the view that Australian companies lag on innovation is “bullshit”.
- Lara Bingle has been ordered to take a six-week program for serial driving offenders.
Bonus item: Congratulations to the community of Henley Beach South in Adelaide, who have finally managed to secure a toilet for the esplanade. It has been reported with the immortal line: “IT HAS taken more than 15 years of lobbying by locals and more than $140,000 of ratepayers’ funds, but the wait for a toilet along the Esplanade at Henley Beach South is almost over.” Oh, the relief.
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