A fortnight out from delivering his tenth budget and a week before the
Reserve Bank’s next meeting, Peter Costello says that interest rates
will remain on hold for the foreseeable future because inflation is
under control, reports The Australian’s economics correspondent David Uren. The Herald Sun’s
Terry McCrann agrees with the treasurer claiming that the RBA will
leave interest rates unchanged next week. According to McCrann, the
RBA’s decision will be unanimous not to raise rates to avoid
embarrassing Peter Costello.

Meanwhile the ANZ Bank has lifted its full-year profit growth forecast after a strong domestic performance, reports The Australian. The Oz’s Robert Gottliebsen
says that when ANZ chief executive John McFarlane said he would improve
retail growth by improving customer goodwill, rather then by reducing
branches and other costs, many institutions thought he had come down
with a touch of “Scottish madness”. But there are still some warning
signs for ANZ shareholders, says Gottliebsen.

Elsewhere in The Oz, Mike Steketee
analyses the idea of a 30% flat tax levied from the first dollar of
earned income as devised by Ross Garnaut, professor of economics at the
Australian National University, noting that Garnaut’s ideas have
“spiced up” debate on the issue.

Nick Minchin is canvassing
the government’s options on the sale of T3, but the finance minister
seems to be cooling on the idea of a “Google-style” internet auction
for the final sell-down, says The Age’s Stephen Bartholomeusz,
in favour of the institutional book-build and parallel public offering
that was used for the earlier sell-downs. Minchin’s research into the
T3 sale took him to the US last week for meetings with leading
financial institutions to gauge international interest in the Telstra
sale. But he should have saved the taxpayer his airfare and expenses,
says The Age’s Kenneth Davidson, as the “over-hyped” sale process could have little benefit for taxpayers.

And the SMHreports
that a new front is opening up in the cash-for-comment debate after the
ACCC demand for information from the Seven Network into whether the
channel’s Today Tonight program broadcast a program as part of a commercial arrangement by Seven to spruik the Wildly Wealthy Women.

The
Village Roadshow courtroom drama continues today with the allegation
that former employee Peter Ziegler may have back-dated crucial computer
documents and fabricated conversations to support his claim of a
massive termination payment, reports The Age. And the courtroom drama has crossed-over into the letters page of the Fin Review, with this missive from Village Roadshow managing director Graham Burke:

Anti-Jewish slur

The AFR reported that
in a trial between Peter Ziegler and Village Roadshow in the Supreme
Court of Victoria, Peter Ziegler gave evidence that in 2000 I had made
an anti-semitic remark to him about another colleague (“Village sued
for fair share”, April 27).

Ziegler had filed five witness
statements in the trial, and one of these had been extensively revised.
Tuesday was the first time that Ziegler had made this allegation.
Because the matter is still in court, I am restricted in what I can say.

Everyone
who knows me personally knows that I am not anti-semitic. The old
cliché that “some of my best friends are Jewish” doesn’t apply to me as
most of my best friends happen to be Jews. I have been a passionate
supporter of Israel and its cause, having visited the country on a
number of occasions. I look forward to giving evidence about this.

Graham Burke
Managing director, Village Roadshow
Melbourne, Vic.

And
on Wall Street a sharp fall in crude oil helped offset fresh concerns
that the economy is slowing and fuelled stocks to finish up on
Wednesday, reports The Street.

Peter Fray

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