Australia has been selected to lead the way when it comes to finding
ways to reduce emissions from coal and gas in the Asia-Pacific region,
reports The Financial
Prime Minister John Howard has announced plans to spend $100 million
over five years to support innovation in low-emission technologies, while the
United States
will contribute an initial $70 million. And while the six countries in the Asia-Pacific
Partnership on Clean Development – Australia, the US, China, India, Japan and
South Korea – have acknowledged the need for reductions, they will remain
reliant on fossil fuels for the foreseeable future.

Meanwhile, there’s a battle of
wills brewing between the NSW and Victorian governments over the impending sale
of hydro-power business Snowy Hydro, says Anthony Hughes in the AFR‘s Chanticleer – and it’s hardly a good
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federal system. And unfortunately for the Victorians, they’re going to find it
hard not to go along with float, even though the government is baulking over
whether to throw its 28% stake into the planned float, amid a supposed
difference of opinion within its leadership ranks about the way forward.

Australia’s corporate takeover umpire is facing
sweeping reforms following a landmark Federal Court ruling late last
year that it had exceeded its powers, reports The Australian. An independent review has been ordered into the constitutionality of
the Takeovers Panel, set up almost six years ago, after the first court
challenge to the body led to a damning assessment of the use of its

And investors and analysts are scrambling to put a price tag on
snack food brands Uncle Tobys and Bluebird, with estimates ranging
from $1.1 billion to $1.7 billion for the latest offerings from the
collection of fine food companies run by Burns Philp chairman
Graeme Hart, reports The Smage. Analysts said that with rival food companies including
Nestlé, Arnott’s, Unilever, Cadbury Schweppes and Pepsi
believed to be keen to expand their snack food and breakfast cereal
offerings, and strong interest from cashed-up private equity firms,
Burns Philp is likely to generate a premium price for its

On Wall Street, US stocks closed sharply lower overnight,
posting their first significant decline of the year so far, amid
tension about the resumption of Iran’s nuclear research program. The
Dow Jones closed down 81 points, or 0.7%, at 10,962 – MarketWatch has a
full report here.