With friends like these, BHP wonders … BHP Billiton has maintained very close links federally with the Rudd government, particularly through Martin Ferguson’s office. While they saw the new mining tax looming, they found they had little influence as Treasury started down the path of applying the Henry tax review. This has become an even more galling predicament for the government relations folk in BHP Billiton as they have been very active in doing the government’s bidding, particularly in soft-pedalling the politically vexed issue of increased uranium mining and the public dumping of the Australian Mines and Metals Association, who have been active in opposing the government’s industrial relations reforms.

When all of this is overlayed with the company’s ambitions around the iron ore merger with Rio Tinto, the Henry review has created some political conundrums for BHP. The Western Australian government is running to its own agenda in signalling the scrapping of favourable concessional iron ore royalties, which all adds to BHP feeling under siege from government generally. As Rio’s balance sheet improves and the impact of the new tax and the scrapping of concessional iron ore royalties combine to make the iron ore merger less attractive, BHP will be wondering what in fact it has managed to achieve through its close relationship with Canberra.

Welfare quarantining extended? The NSW government is preparing to support the Commonwealth’s spread of welfare quarantining to other disadvantaged communities. Why is it that there is no campaign to stop this demonstrably harmful practice? For example, on this matter, NCOSS is totally silent. Is it because the member agencies of NCOSS support welfare quarantining?

The numbers aren’t good for the APSC boss. Based on the state of the service survey results recently released by the Australian Public Service Commission, staff morale is at an all-time low. Ask the APSC what ABS staff said about the “leadership” quality of their senior managers …

Four Corners and Sarah Ferguson are interviewing people for a story on the Melbourne Storm salary cap scandal.

Peter Fray

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