Worried about blowing the Christmas shopping budget this
year? Then spare a thought for Qantas, says Tansy Harcourt in the Financial Review. Its low-cost baby
Jetstar is growing rapidly, is very demanding and has 10 high-cost items on its
list from Santa. Boeing 787 Dreamliners to be precise. Qantas announced last week it would buy as much as $24
billion worth of new aircraft on top of the $18 billion already allotted for
the 10 years from 2000 to 2010. This monster air-craft order along with the
faster-than-expected expansion of Jetstar might seem like a resounding
statement of confidence, says Harcourt. But it’s not. On the contrary, it
speaks volumes about Qantas’s cautious view of the aviation industry for the
next three to five years.

And shareholders have sent company directors a strong
message to improve executive remuneration practices, says the Fin, in an annual meeting season in
which one-third of the largest companies have received significant protest
votes against pay policies. Hmmm, perhaps said executives will give the matter
some sound thought over Christmas, while they are holidaying in exotic locations like Aspen,
Egypt and Rome,
as Lisa Allen reports in the paper.

The National Competition Council’s decision to “declare” BHP
Iron Ore’s billion-dollar Pilbara rail system threatens
the future of one of Australia’s enduring export success stories, wrote Matthew
in The Australian over the weekend. If
it stands – the final call will be made by Treasurer Peter Costello – the
rail network linking BHP’s inland mines with its ports will become a plaything of regulators,
governments and junior competitors. And if that happens, BHP’s
investment in Australian iron ore will dry up and the national economy will be
permanently dented.

Meanwhile, Aggrieved Telstra shareholders are preparing a
class action for damages against the telco for its alleged failure to disclose
a big drop in future earnings that resulted in its share price tumbling, report
Michael West and Michael Sainsbury in The Australian. The action is
planned for the Federal Court in the new year, according to a consultant for
legal firm Slater & Gordon, and will cover investor share market losses
incurred after August 11.

But in better news for the telco, Telstra’s internet
business, BigPond, is expected to pass a milestone sometime this festive
season, says Colin Kruger in The Smage
broadband customer numbers will exceed dial-up users for the first time. It’s a
sign of the momentum behind broadband, says Kruger, which is being driven by
increasing competition, and bandwidth-heavy applications like iTunes. BigPond
is expected to up the ante with the launch of Australia’s
first movie download service in March next year.

Disgraced businessman Alan Bond has given the clearest indication yet that he plans to return to the boardrooms
of Australia
for the first time since the collapse of his Bond Corporation empire in the
early 1990s, reports the SMH. Via his Perth
lawyer, Bond is understood to have obtained clearance from the Australian
Securities & Investments Commission that he is free to act as a company

And The Smage‘s
Malcolm Maiden says he has returned from a trip to Wall Street with reinforced optimism about
the medium term outlook for the markets and a new sense of unease about them in
the longer term. Wall Street analysts, economists and strategists are not
unanimous that 2006 is going to be an “up” year but most believe the
conditions exist for further gains. In fact, says Maiden, the picture in several
ways is strikingly similar to here.