It started as a small story on page one of the Melbourne Age yesterday morning which I noted in the morning news summary but did not make much of. Thankfully for Crikey readers my colleague Glenn Dyer grasped the significance of the news that Rio Tinto’s iron ore sales team – including an Australian – had been arrested by Chinese authorities in Shanghai. “Instead of grandstanding round Germany and donning his really serious look for the G8 meeting tonight,” wrote Glenn in the daily Crikey email, “Prime Minister Rudd would be better placed turning his attention to the sudden escalation of the pricing dispute between Rio Tinto and the Chinese steel mills.”

By this morning the significance of this dispute beween Australian and Chinese companies over the price to be paid for iron ore has become slightly better understood by the media. In The Age the coverage has moved from a minor spot to the page one lead, the Sydney Morning Herald gives it a good run and The Australian has begun looking at the consequences for the Australian economy.

Given the dependance of our economic health on a continuation of China’s well above world average growth rate, a squabble over the negotiating tactics of Rio Tinto with steel mills is perhaps a lesser worry for Australia than the reports of growing social unrest in China’s western region.

No doubt the tabloids, which so far have largely ignored these two Chinese yarns, will soon join the broadsheets in realising that what happens with both of them is of vital importance to Austrlians

090709agerioAustralian was spying, says ChinaMelbourne Age

China – the stories

Rio Tinto

Beijing accuses Rio of spying as Australia is shocked at arrest of mining executives – Australia and China are on a diplomatic collision course after an Australian mining executive was arrested in Shanghai on spy charges – The Australian

Rio exec suspected of spying on China – Sydney Morning Herald

Iron ore deadlock broken in reports of a backdownSydney Morning Herald quotes China Business News saying the stand-off between Australia’s iron ore giants and China had been broken and the steel makers had agreed to price cuts of 33 per cent for iron ore fines and 44 per cent for the lump variety.

Australian was spying, says ChinaMelbourne Age reports that Australian officials continue to seek urgent access to Stern Hu, 53, who has been held since Sunday along with three Chinese Rio employees.

Rio Tinto executive Stern Hu accused of spying on ChinaBrisbane Courier Mail

Chinese hold Rio team for ‘spying’Adelaide Advertiser

Iron ore talks turn spooky – The annual iron ore price talks took a bizarre twist yesterday when the Rudd Government revealed Chinese police had detained an Australian Rio Tinto executive on suspicion of espionage and stealing state secrets – Melbourne Herald Sun

China holds Rio employee on suspicion of spyingThe Financial Times of London reports that the allegations made by the Chinese authorities appear to be based on Article 111 of China’s criminal law statute, which states that it is an offence to provide “state secrets or intelligence for an organisation, institution, or personnel outside the country”. Cases deemed serious by the authorities carry a maximum life sentence.


Uighurs claim 400 killed in unrest in western ChinaThe Australian

Chinese leader Hu Jintao rushes home as violence rises – The Australian

Enemies at the gate – Uighur and Han describe deadly violence – Sydney Morning Herald

Stand-off in China riot city – Melbourne Age

China – the opinions

Rio Tinto

Charges a crisis for Canberra – Rowan Callick explains in The Australian how Stern Hu is not a hapless, indiscreet entrepreneur who might have strayed over a nebulous line by mistake. He is a corporate figure, Rio Tinto’s second-most senior executive in China and the head of its Shanghai office, responsible for negotiating iron ore prices and marketing iron ore into Rio’s biggest market.


China’s crackdown has world bluffed – Greg Sheridan in The Australian says violence and rioting in Urumqi, and other cities in the vast, desolate Western Chinese province of Xinjiang, demonstrate the failure of the Chinese development model for both Xinjiang and Tibet, and the crudity of Chinese rule in those two provinces. They also demonstrate the danger of the nationalism and ethnic Han chauvinism encouraged as a key way of gaining legitimacy by the Chinese state.

Fear and loathing on China’s Silk Road – As violence between Uighur and Han Chinese continues, sorting fact from rumour is hard, reports John Garnaut in Urumqi for the Melbourne Age




Economic matters

Consumers ditch gloom as optimism levels soarMelbourne Age

Howard government blamed for pay freeze – Melbourne Age

ANZ slashes another 248 jobs – Melbourne Age


First woman to lead major party in SAThe Australian reports a war of words between Premier Mike Rann and newly elected Liberal leader Isobel Redmond erupted within hours of her making history as the first woman elected to lead a major political party in South Australia.

Isobel Redmond wins South Australia Liberals leadershipAdelaide Advertiser


Kevin Rudd meets the Pope – Adelaide Advertiser


Plotting to take knife to surgery at Mt Druitt hospitalSydney Daily Telegraph

Aboriginal affairs

Peter Garrett to ground Uluru climbers The Australian

Ban proposal signals end to climbing at Uluru – Opening a draft management plan to debate yesterday, National Parks director Peter Cochrane said scaling the World Heritage-listed site was culturally insensitive – Melbourne Age

Political life

Emotional Gordon Nuttall denies corruptionBrisbane Courier Mail

Doubts on Theophanous rape case – Correspondence that could support a woman’s claims that Labor MP Theo Theophanous raped her may have been falsified, throwing doubt on the allegations against him. Two former friends of the woman told a committal hearing in the Melbourne Magistrates Court yesterday that conversations attributed to them in letters and emails from the alleged victim never happened – Melbourne Age

Political perks

Taxpayers foot bill for MPs’ luxury extrasMelbourne Herald Sun

Political parties


Right-wing genie out of the bottle – today Australia First will announce itself as the first anti-immigration party since One Nation to gain enough members to contest a federal election. The party finished signing the 500 members on Monday and expects its application to be lodged in a fortnight – five years after it was last deregistered and four years since One Nation lost its final federal seat. Sydney Morning Herald


Concern over Gillard adviser’s talks with jobs agencyMelbourne Age


Truth lost in waves of obfuscation – Kenneth Davidson writes in the Melbourne Age that the cost of recycling water is being inflated to justify a desal plant.

State plays with fire – Robert Manne in the Melbourne Age says interference in the Bushfires Royal Commission has the potential to endanger lives.

The forbidden allure of Red Julia – Annabel Crabb in the Sydney Morning Herald on Julia Gillard the right-wing pin up

Learn from leaders who dare to dream – Arthur Sinodinos in The Australian writes that indicators per se do not galvanise action, only the right policies and programs will. That is why inspiring stories of indigenous success are so important.

Economic revisionists quick to forget – Alan Wood in The Australian watches Joe Hockey skate on thin ice

High Court casts shadow on Canberra’s lofty vision – George Williams in the Sydney Morning Herald writes of a landmark decision in which the High Court rejected the Commonwealth’s unrestrained view of its spending power.



Yudhoyono sweeps the board – Incumbent Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was on course for a thumping victory in Indonesia’s presidential elections, as voters yesterday overwhelmingly endorsed another five years of his steady, reformist policies – Melbourne Age

Climate change

Climate summit hits hurdle as environment ministers fail to break deadlockThe Australian

Merkel warns on climate-change progress at G8 – at joint press conference with Kevin Rudd – Sydney Morning Herald

Economic matters

IMF lifts forecast for world growthThe Australian



Seven Network likely buyer of $175m stake in ConsMediaThe Australian


Town’s ban is a bottler, Premier says – The State Government has followed the lead of the Southern Highlands village of Bundanoon, and moved to ban commercially bottled water in all government departments and agencies – Sydney Morning Herald

Oil spill’s unpaid bill an insult to work of volunteersBrisbane Courier Mail

Buyback plan fails Murray-Darling river system – The Australian

‘Soft as butter’ tactics in Murray-Darling rescue plan – is accusation made against Kevin Rudd – The Australian


Social networking lures teenagers to internetMelbourne Age

Facebook posts rules of Australian engagement – Faceboojk’s user base has rocketed to 6 million people – nearly one in four Australians – as the social networking website sets its sights on a greater share of Australia’s $465 million online display advertising market – Sydney Morning Herald

Free-to-air TV faces viewer dip – The ABC’s head of television and chairman of the industry group Freeview, Kim Dalton, has acknowledged that the free-to-air TV industry is unlikely to see an increase in overall viewers again despite the launch of up to 15 free digital channels by next year – Melbourne Age


The sexes

Men superseded: sperm grown in lab Melbourne Age

Same-sex adoption row brews in NSW – Sydney Morning Herald

Football and poker machines


Godwin Grech in Dogs pokie mystery – Less than three weeks after Mr Grech wrote himself into Australian political history as the central player in “Utegate”, The Melbourne Age reveals that the public servant has written his way into another political drama – this time over the Bulldogs’ plan to build a gaming venue in Melbourne’s western suburbs

Swine flu

Swine flu research given $7m study grants Melbourne Age

The drink

Big clubs in NSW chafe at single-sized violence codeSydney Morning Herald

End culture of thin booze line, drunk NSW policeSydney Daily Telegraph

Booze crackdown nails 1281 Victorian venues for alcohol abuseMelbourne Herald Sun

Beer garden beats plants with prickles in turfing heroinThe pedestrian mall in Kings Cross that was once described as “the epicentre of drug activity in Australia” has become an alfresco drinking zone, as the City of Sydney council tries to drive away heroin dealers. Sydney Morning Herald

Sporting updates

Tour de France – little change in the Crikey Indicator after the latest stage.

090709tourdefranceindicatorThe Crikey ashes test match indicator after Day One has England with a 34% chance of winning, Ausralia at 29% with the draw the favoured result at 37%

Law and order

Government can do more on school violence – Shocking levels of student suspensions from Queensland’s state schools have been revealed, with the Government admitting not enough has been done to combat violent behaviour – Brisbane Courier Mail