What is it about Qantas that the government turns
to mush every time the carrier looks like it’s going to have a mood
swing? asks Peter Ruehl in the Financial Review (not online). “For no
particularly good reason, Qantas has again been protected on the gout
route from Sydney to Los Angeles and ‘Frisco.

Now, expect Qantas CEO Geoff Dixon to bang the
drum even louder on shifting jobs offshore, says John Durie in the
paper’s Chanticleer. “Because, frankly, the results from Canberra were
marginal at best and he is in the middle of negotiations over an
enterprise bargaining agreement with his maintenance workers that he
wants to be as brutal as possible.”

It appears Optus has become a very difficult company to
do business with, at a time when it most needs to be flexible and nimble in
the great broadband game, says Michael
Sainsbury
in The Oz.

Meanwhile, one wonders whether John Fletcher regrets ever
setting his five-year “aspirational” target of a $800 million profit
by 2005-06 early in his tenure as Coles Myer chief executive, says Stephen
Bartholomeusz
in The Smage. Now, one of the realities confronting Fletcher this year is that, whatever it
takes, Coles has to meet that target.

And the contrast this week between the sales results of two
major retailers, Coles Myer and David Jones, could not have appeared greater,
says Elizabeth Knight in The Sydney Morning Herald. Coles
disappointed even its most ardent supporters while David Jones managed to present an even rosier picture than the market had expected.

Reserve Bank deputy governor Glenn Stevens’s upbeat assessment of the global economy points out that over the past ten years,
annual global growth has been 12% higher than over the previous 20 years. But
the good times have come at the expense of growing external imbalances that
only a few years ago would have been seen as unsustainable, says Kenneth
Davidson
in The Age.
Doesn’t the current account matter any more?

In other news, James Packer says he’s happy running a
“well-diversified” company in his first earnings briefing since the
death of his father, Kerry… And for those who thought Enron’s former CEO Ken Lay was simply clueless,
Tuesday’s testimony was an eye-opener, say Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind in Fortune…The Donald and The Martha trade
insults
… Babcock & Brown launch a new assault on Europe by Australian investment banks with an informal approach to
Eircom
, Ireland’s largest telephone company…

On Wall Street, US stocks closed higher Wednesday, as the Dow Jones lifted to its best level
in more than four and a half years – up 68.11 points to 11,137.

Peter Fray

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