The Fin Review reports that Qantas chief Geoff Dixon has made it
clear new strategies to slash costs were at the top of the “to-do”
list, with the airline’s fuel bill set to skyrocket by $1 billion next
year if the oil price remains above US$50 a barrel. There
is strong speculation that as many as 5,000 jobs will go eventually.

Dixon is also desperate to exclude Singapore from the trans-Pacific
route for the simple reason that the existing lack of competition
on this route allows Qantas to make a killing in profit terms,
says Elizabeth Knight in the SMH. So his argument that this will result in damage to the
Australian aviation industry has a ring of truth about it –
although stifling competition rarely has a lot of merit. It works
for Qantas shareholders far better than for its passengers.

Commbank’s new chief executive Ralph Norris has made a plea to key
staff to stay with the bank and back his strategy, as union officials
in New Zealand warned Australian staff to expect a shake-up of
workplace conditions under Norris’s management, reports the AFR.

Tax Commissioner Michael Carmody’s much publicised $300 million tax
raid on the big end of town has tax lawyers across the country
befuddled, says the Fin’s Chanticleer. The “schemes” reported in the
media are so outrageously fraudulent and so obvious that any tax lawyer
worth feeding wouldn’t even bother considering them let alone recommending
them, but maybe everyone is forgetting just how gullible the rich can

The Australian
reports, arch-rivals BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto have
formed an unprecedented alliance to protect their iron-ore duopoly in
the Pilbara region of Western Australia – joining forces in the fight
to stop Fortescue Metals Group gaining access to existing rail lines
in the region – part of its effort to become the “third force” in
Pilbara iron ore. Also in The Oz,
a key document from the late 80s suggesting an intention to carve up
Australia’s $1.7 billion box industry and share the profits equally is
with the ACCC, which is investigating cartel-like conduct in the
industry. At the foot of the document it says: “APM – SMORGON + VISY to
share everything.”

The superannuation sector is buzzing over a report last week
that at least 400 – perhaps as many as 600 – corporate super funds
may close or merge rather than meet APRA’s new licensing requirements, says Stephen Bartholomeusz in The Age. Such a large-scale withdrawal
by the corporates from the super sector would represent a massive
acceleration of the long-term trend for corporates to outsource
superannuation services.

On Wall Street, the Dow
Jones posted gains for a fifth straight session (up 18.8 points at 10,566), as
a tame inflation report and other positive data helped the market
weather a fresh rise in oil prices. MarketWatch has a full report here.