Wal-Mart board member, Roger Corbett, has recently resigned his post on the ALH board. Is the arrival of Wal-Mart on Australian shores closer than we think?

From a source close to Rio? Who knows: BHP Billiton – $300M Hole BHP Billiton has spent well over $300M in prefeasibility work to define the Olympic Dam Expansion (ODX Project). Project estimates have varied widely from around $6B to as high as $20B. Touted by BHPB as a visionary “think big” project the project recently stalled as the Project Director – Ted Bassett approached Marius Kloppers for an additional $500M to finish the feasibility study. Kloppers reaction – NO WAY! The major problem is that the project economics just don’t stack up. Kloppers has instructed Ted Bassett to rewarm a previously rejected plan of expanding the troubled underground operation. Previously touted as “Stage O” the old plan will be reshuffled to become “Stage 1”. This will involve around $2B over 5 or so years to expand the mine and plant capacity to 12M tonnes per annumm. The big picture is to keep the Olympic Dam problem as quiet as possible until the Rio Tinto deal is done, after which time “better investment opportunites” will exist and the whole debacle can be shelved.

It’s 2008, not 1908, right? Could someone please explain that to the Victorian Bar. Apparently it recently had one of its senior barristers give a lecture to junior colleagues on etiquette. The lecture included the following tips: What do you do if you are a junior barrister and you and a silk are both waiting for a lift? You ensure that the silk gets into the lift first. And what if a person more senior at the Bar comes into a crowded courtroom and can’t get a seat – you give up yours. And don’t wear too much jewellery or brown shoes in court. Women barristers should, in particular, be wary of attracting a judge’s eye by wearing “revealing” clothing. And barristers don’t shake hands with each other.

I’ve always had a theory that Young Labor in the Northern Territory is so overwhelmingly dominated by the right-wingers that it is ridiculous. Confirmation of my beliefs came through today in a tangible manner. On the “Australian Young Labor – NT Branch” facebook group there is a list of “related groups”. Facebook tells me that the group: “SDA Union members Business – Employment & Work” is included as a related group. Good to see Kev07 is working the factional influences out of the party.

With respect to the Joint Strike Fighter issue, I was very interested to see for the first time I can recall ads in both The Australian and AFR on Monday from the JSF consortia spruiking the JSF project the same day the story ran in The Oz with the leaked info that the Rudd Government review indicated the JSF project was a great deal for Australia. Who knew the story was out? How did the consortium know this was happening – they wouldn’t have leaked a draft report of the Government they had been provided for feedback and then got the ads out?

You must check out the Arts NSW website for the “NSW GOVT to strengthen Cultural Grants Program” media release on 31 March. They have announced the results of an Independent Review into Cultural Grants funding which threatens the existence of Writers’ Centres in regional areas – a unique model envied by other states. Read recommendation Chapter 4 number 9 – “devolve to Local Government” (more burden for local Government) and Chapter 7 number 24 – “Addressing the needs of regional writers on-line”. (How? Most people can’t access broadband let alone a computer). The review is the opposite of strengthen.

Have a look at SXP. They started rising strongly around the 23rd of April after hovering around the same price for months, then released a report today (29th) saying they commenced a seismic survey on the 24th. Another company to add to the list of stocks that rise before an announcement is made.

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Peter Fray
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