Greens senator Christine Milne.LABOR’s pain over its under-performing minerals resource rent tax is set to increase when the Greens unveil plans for a wide-ranging inquiry into its design and performance.

The Greens leader Christine Milne will open a new line of attack on Labor’s left flank on Tuesday, using a lunch-time address to the National Press Club in Canberra, to push for a full-scale Senate inquiry.

It would need the backing of the Opposition in the Senate to be successful.

Under the plan, the committee will be tasked with examining all aspects of the MRRT’s design and administration including its highly troubled negotiation phase with the big three miners, and “the extent to which the design of the tax as opposed to other factors such as commodity prices are responsible for the mismatch between actual revenue and revenue projections”.

Also in the Greens’ sights are the lack of community consultation; options to strengthen the tax to raise more money from miners; its current impact on the budget; and, the extent to which its shortfall has compromised other programs.

The potentially embarrassing election-year move will put the minor party on a collision course with the party it backed to form government in the House of Representatives.

It comes as Labor struggles to explain why a super-profits tax that was projected to raise $2 billion in its first year to fund tax breaks for businesses and the low paid – itself a downward revision on previous projections – has turned in just $126 million in its first six months of operation.

Branding Labor as “too scared” to take on powerful vested interests, Senator Milne will argue the eventual tax was merely a political fix to silence the miners in the lead-up to the 2010 election. “If a government is too scared to take on vested interests, then it is the people who can’t afford ads in the paper or television, who can’t afford expensive lobbyists to walk the halls of Parliament House, people who can least afford it – people like single mothers – who end up paying,” she will say according to speech notes obtained by Fairfax Media. “Well, the Greens aren’t afraid.”

It is unclear whether the Opposition will back the move but the Greens believe Coalition support is likely, if only to embarrass the government before the election.

The Senate inquiry is separate from smaller inquiries already under way in the Senate regarding loopholes in the tax which allow big miners to depreciate assets from current market value, and which also allow state governments to jack up royalties at the expense of the Commonwealth.

Ms Milne will say she has raised concerns about the mining tax “in public and in private with the Prime Minister and the Treasurer on numerous occasions”.

“It is now clear that they, like Tony Abbott and Warren Truss are just not prepared to put themselves on the line for the national interest,” she will say.

“Let us put to rest the nonsense that the mining industry cannot afford to pay more.

“In 2011, the big three companies that negotiated the mining tax – BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Xstrata – made a combined annual profit of $27 billion.”

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Join the Markets Live blog from 8.30am

Australian shares are set to open flat to lower on weak offshore leads as investors take in another busy day of local earnings reports.

On the ASX24 shortly after 6am, the SPI futures contract was 4 points lower to 5038. The Aussie dollar was trading flat against the greenback, buying $US1.0296, slightly ahead of yesterday’s close. It was also buying 96.77 yen, 77.11 euro cents and 66.60 pence.

Companies reporting earnings today include Coca-Cola Amatil, Arrium, Southern Cross Austereo and Asciano.

Making news today

In economics news:RBA minutes from the February policy meeting at which interest rates were left on hold

In company news:The following companies report first half results: Arrium, Southern Cross Austereo, Sonic Healthcare, Monadelphous Group, Macmahon Holdings, Asciano, Australian Infrastructure Fund, Mcmillan Shakespeare Coca-Cola Amatil full year resultsInvoCare full year results

Analyst rating changes:Macquarie Atlas cut to hold at Deutsche BankPacific Brands cut to reduce at NomuraGPT cut to underperform at Credit SuisseIluka Resources raised to sector perform at RBC Capital

Offshore overnight

United States

Wall Street was closed for the President’s Day public holiday.


Europe’s main stock markets mostly fell after a weekend meeting of the Group of 20 leading economies ended with Japan being spared an accusation of unfairly devaluing its currency.

Key numbers:London’s FTSE 100 lost 0.16% to 6318.19 Frankfurt’s DAX 30 added 0.46% to 7628.73 In Paris the CAC 40 added 0.18% to 3667.04


Asian markets were mixed, with Tokyo surging thanks to a weakening yen after a weekend G20 meeting ended without accusing Japan of orchestrating a recent slide in its currency.

Key numbers:Japan’s Nikkei added 2.09% to 11,407.87 Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 0.27% to 23,381.94 China’s Shanghai composite lost 0.455 to 2421.56

How we fared yesterday

The Australian share market closed higher, led by the major banks.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index lifted 29.5 points, or 0.59 per cent, to 5,063.4 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index had added 28.3 points, or 0.56 per cent, to 5,082.9 points.

BusinessDay with agencies

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Bungie’s next original creation, Destiny, is now more than just a name and some concept art.Throughout the week, I keep a Word document on my computer desktop where I paste in quick notes and links for the next Tuesday Newsday. I usually end up with four or five when Monday evening rolls around, a practical length for an article like this.

However, this week I have over a dozen, so I have had to prune away some of the less interesting stories and keep only the best of the lot. Even so, this is going to be a long one…

Bungie finally unveils their new IP

One word, “Destiny”, and a weird triangular logo. That’s all we’ve had for months, teasing the brand new game from one of the most popular studios on the planet.

Far back in 2007, Halo creators Bungie announced they had secured their independence from Microsoft and were striking out on their own to create new intellectual properties (IPs). Three years later, they announced a long-term publishing deal with Activision, which would include several new IPs that would remain Bungie’s property.

In November, there was a leak – a title and a logo, some meaningless concept art, and some very vague plot details. Bungie responded by confirming the title and logo were genuine and releasing some more concept art. After that, silence.

This week, Bungie has finally unveiled some substantial detail about Destiny, though many of the specifics are still quite vague. We now know that it is an always-online massively-multiplayer first-person shooter, and that it will be console only – Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and “future consoles” only, no PC. While even more concept art has been released, maddeningly there is still no gameplay footage, or even stills.

The concept is that humanity has been nearly destroyed by natural disasters, and a roving alien intelligence saved a small human community from total extinction. This community has grown and thrived thanks to their protector, and are now striking out into the devastated earth to reclaim it. They quickly learn that they are not alone: many diverse alien species, all of them apparently hostile, have taken up residence on the deserted world, and humanity will have to fight if it wants its home back.

No release date had been announced, but the loose launch window is late this year, presumably in time for the Christmas shopping season. Check out Bungie’s video documentary if you want to know a bit more.

Telltale announces Walking Dead sequel

Well, this could get confusing. Telltale Games, the creators of the popular and critically acclaimed Walking Dead episodic game series that snagged a host of “game of the year” awards, have announced they are creating a sequel. Labelled a “second season”, it will once again be an episodic release, and Telltale has revealed that the huge success of the first season of The Walking Dead is going to affect how they design games and do business from now on.

The only problem is that there is already a Walking Dead game coming out in 2013. Published by Activision, The Walking Dead: Survival Instincts will be a first-person shooter survival game. Rather than being based directly on the comics, as Telltale’s adventure series was, it will be based on the Walking Dead TV series, which has stamped its own style on the franchise.

The shooter is due out in March, while no release date details have been given for Telltale’s second outing.

Steam starts selling Linux games

It was pretty much an inevitability after Valve boss Gabe Newell called Windows 8 a “disaster for gamers” and declared Linux to be the open and free future for PC gaming, but this week it actually happened: Steam has started selling games for Linux. While Steam promotes Ubuntu as their favourite “flavour” of Linux, it appears to support a variety of distributions.

The launch is a quite spectacular one, with Steam listing over 100 games for sale to Linux users on day one, a huge improvement over the launch of their Mac OS X support in 2010, with around 50 games available. Considering Mac OS X users now have over ten times that many to choose from, this promises a bright future for Linux-based gaming.

Even so, there are few high-profile games available so far. The vast bulk of the launch day titles are independent releases, and while many of them, such as Bastion, FTL: Faster Than Light, and World of Goo have found some mainstream success, they lack the star power of Portal 2, which was the flagship of the Mac OS X launch.

Still, it is early days, and those in the market for a bargain would do well to check out the Linux launch sale: every Linux-enabled game is on sale, even for Windows and Mac users.

A plethora of game delays

Several high profile games have been delayed in the past couple of weeks, with perhaps the highest profile of the lot being Grand Theft Auto V, which has slipped back to September after initially being announced as a northern Spring release (March to May). Rockstar said the delay was to polish the game more and make sure it would be as good as possible.

Last week we talked about Rayman Legends, which was both announced as a cross-platform title and also delayed until September. Wii U fans were angry when publisher Ubisoft admitted that the Wii U version, which was originally supposed to be ready in November 2012 for the launch of the new console, is finished, but will not be released until the PS3 and Xbox versions are ready later in the year. This does not say good things about Ubisoft’s faith in the value of the Wii U.

This week, Naughty Dog fans emitted a collective groan of disappointment when the creators of the phenomenal Uncharted series revealed that their new project, The Last of Us, has slipped back a month from May to June. The highly anticipated PS3 exclusive was, like GTAV, delayed in order to finish off the final polish and make sure it was ready for release.

It’s official: 2K has the WWE games licence

Wrestling fans can finally let out a sigh of relief. The fate of the WWE wrestling licence was not officially revealed during the massive sell-off of THQ’s assets several weeks ago, but rumours were circulating that 2K Sports, the label behind NBA 2K13 and many other popular sporting titles, had picked it up. Those rumours have now been officially confirmed.

The details are still a little hazy, but it appears that 2K’s parent company Take Two has retained the services of Japanese studio Yuke’s, which had been creating THQ’s wrestling titles for them for several years. Some fans have expressed disappointment over that last fact, as they felt Yuke’s was stuck in the past, and the franchise needs a breath of fresh air.

As for whether there will be a WWE game out this year, there is no word currently.

All Australian states now have R18+ rating for games

Queensland has finally caught up with the rest of the country, with its state parliament belatedly passing legislation to put the R18+ rating for games into law.

The decision was marked with several snafus, with the most prominent being the Queensland Attorney General’s website publishing a press release announcing the new legislation before the vote had taken place. The vote was then delayed again and again, and for a while seemed likely to slip backward into the next sitting of parliament. In the end, though, the vote occurred and the legislation was passed into law.

Had there been further delays, we would once again have seen the situation we had in the 1980s and 1990s when Queensland premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen placed more stringent restrictions on video rentals, leading to many notorious horror films carrying the famous “banned in Queensland” sticker. Any R-rated games released in the rest of the country would have been banned in Queensland. Thankfully, this legislation means that the new classification scheme is now standard across all states and territories.

Do you have a hot tip for a gaming new story? Send it to DexX at [email protected]苏州美甲美睫培训.

– James “DexX” Dominguez

DexX is on Twitter: @jamesjdominguez

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The Importance Of Trusting Your Trading Plan The Importance Of Trusting Your Trading Plan

Traders can become irrational once they’re in a trade due to thinking only about the trade at hand. Here are some ways to correct your lack of trust. Article Summary: Irrationality has a lot to do with fear. The thing most often feared when trading is the loss of money or being proven wrong on an individual trade. Because you can only limit but never eliminate the chance of loss, you need to find a way to emotionally own the loss before the trade starts so you can trade free of fear and focus on the big picture of your strategies objectives. As traders, we know that trading is one of the best ways to earn a buck, a euro, or a pound but it can also be the toughest as we’re getting started. The reason for this difficulty usually has to do with the emotional conflict and the uncertainty of any one trade. However, there are a few things you can do to gain the edge that successful traders have by trusting your trade regardless of the individual outcome. Learn Forex: Trust The Overall Trend and Not Your Latest Trade (Created using FXCM’s Marketscope 2.0 charts) A Narrow View Often Harms Our Trading So Think Big Picture Traders often look at the trade at hand and magnify its importance to the overall trend and neglect the overall trend. A main reason for irrationality is due to projecting the importance of the most recent trade and not the overall market environment which would often serve them better. Frequently, the traders curse is looking back on the chart and seeing clear trades that they didn’t take in real time which is often a waste of emotions and thoughts. A broader view can be accepted by indictors like the Ichimoku cloud or moving averages and taking trades only in the direction of the trend. Taking the large view helps you accept the fact that you may only catch 30 -50 percent of the trade in the end and you may place losing trades while trading in the direction of the trend. But more importantly, taking the larger view can help you managing your risk and can eliminate overly strong reactions if you place a few losing trades while following a trend. To borrow from one of history’s most famous trend followers, here is a quote from the eternal Reminiscences of a Stock Operator by Edwin Lefèvre “ I think it was a long step forward in my trading education when I realized at last that when old Mr. Partridge kept on telling other customers, “Well, you know this is a bull market!” he really meant to tell them that the big money was not in the individual fluctuations but in the main movements-that is, not in reading the tape but in sizing up the entire market and its trend. The market does not beat them. [Traders] beat themselves, because though they have brains they cannot sit tight. [Mr. Partridge] was dead right in doing and saying what he did. He had not only the courage of his convictions but also the intelligence and patience to sit tight. Disregarding the big swing and trying to jump in and out was fatal to me. Nobody can catch all the fluctuations. In a bull market the game is to buy and hold until you believe the bull market is near its end. “ Accept the Loss Mentally Up Front to Eliminate the Fear This is an odd recommendation upon first introduction but a helpful one. The reason this can be so helpful is that one of the toughest things for a new or unsuccessful trader to do is close out or exit a losing trade which often results in a larger loss than the original amount they were trying to avoid booking to their account. If you find the amount you are comfortable risking on the trade when seeking a profit and can accept the loss upfront even though you still plan on the trade being profitable, you can stay even minded on not be negatively affected when one or two trade close out at a loss. Learn Forex: If the trade doesn’t work out, that’s OK. Keep calm and carry on. (Created using FXCM’s Marketscope 2.0 charts) A favorite method by many successful traders to avoid being shocked or emotionally derailed by a losing trade is to trade reasonably small . If you need help staying within your acceptable risk levels and determine the exact trade size so you don’t lose too much account equity on one trade, try out this free app. Trade Your Plan as It Is But Keep on Improving Too Lastly, to increase the trust in your own trades, practice mental restraint by understanding any market activity that doesn’t fit into your trading plan is for someone else to trade but not you. Mental restraint helps you to trade your plan alone and not chase moves outside of your trading plan. After your trading is done, you can review your trades so that you can also keep improving your plan without harming the current trade you’re in. Closing Thoughts Viewing markets via the big picture and pushing aside the negative emotions of individual trade outcomes can help you to make progress without emotional conflict. That is because you’re focusing on the big picture while managing risk and not validating yourself as a trader on individual trades which you have no control over. By trusting your trade, you allow the trade to play out as your trading plan says it should and you continue to improve yourself and your strategy. Happy Trading! —Written by Tyler Yell, Trading Instructor To contact Tyler, email [email protected]苏州美甲美睫培训. To be added to Tyler’s e-mail distribution list, please click here . Unsure which indicators match up with your skill set? Take our Forex Trader IQ Course to receive a custom learning path for how to trade FX.

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BLUESCOPE STEEL has shifted its focus to increasing revenue after years of heavy job losses and red ink while it cut costs due to a drop in steel demand and a fall in prices.

Even so, it is wary of the outlook for growth in China as it looks to seize sales opportunities in south-east Asia and beds down its new Asian venture with Nippon Steel ahead of the launch mid-year of its Zincalume product after 20 years of development.

In the December half, BlueScope lost $12 million, a turnaround from a $530 million loss a year earlier, and expects a small second-half profit, which signals a break-even result for the full year.

BlueScope’s shares rallied hard on the rebound, amid optimism that the worst is now behind the company. Its shares closed up 58¢ at $4.35, pulling Arrium, the former OneSteel, higher in its wake. Arrium gained 8¢ to $1.26, before its interim results are released on Tuesday.

”It’s a result without any write-downs,” said BBY analyst Mike Harrowell. ”The shares are trading below net tangible asset value. US steel makers historically have traded at 0.9 times book during periods of low earnings. Its shares should rise to about $6, as long as the growth profile is intact.”

BlueScope’s net tangible asset backing is $6.86, although closing this gap would depend on no further asset write-downs, Mr Harrowell said.

”The major restructuring is done and being implemented,” BlueScope managing director Paul O’Malley said. ”We expect to be profitable at this very low point in the market. We have to change our focus to increase sales, increase new product implementation.”

BlueScope is to launch its new-generation Zincalume product in the middle of the year after a 20-year research and development program. It is spending $60 million to alter production lines so it can begin manufacturing the new product.

As well, a final decision is to be made by year’s end on the expansion option to be pursued at its half-owned US venture, North Star Steel.

The partners are considering a $400 million program either to boost capacity or to install a direct reduction iron unit, which would help lower costs. The venture produces about 2 million tonnes of steel a year, which is well above its rated capacity of 1.5 million tonnes, with just 400 employees.

”We are seeing better activity in the US … but China is probably a little softer,” Mr O’Malley told analysts. ”There is a lot of growth in south-east Asia. We have to get our skates on to get that.”

Additionally, the company has just won its first order in Russia for a prefabricated steel building, which it is to supply out of the US.

A revival of demand in China ”will depend on credit easing, which is on the cards”, Mr O’Malley said. ”For the first time in four years we’re looking at reporting a profit. We have turned the business around. The foundation is there for growth.”

In the December half, earnings were flattered by a favourable $25 million workers compensation settlement along with $132 million of carbon credits, which were sold to reduce borrowings.

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Illustration: Rocco FazzariPACKAGING company Amcor hit a record high on the ASX on Monday when it joined the queue of 50 or so companies to issue profit statements that inspired investors to keep driving the sharemarket higher.

Of the 20 per cent of listed companies that have posted their half-year profit results, most have performed in line or above market expectations. It is still early days, but the emerging trend is an upgrade of earnings per share (EPS) for the first time in three years.

With the ASX already almost 10 per cent higher this year, this profit season had a lot riding on it. Goldman Sachs described it in a pre-reporting season note as a ”reality check as to whether recent market optimism is suitably placed” and the extent to which prices have run ahead of fundamentals.

After a number of post-GFC rallies in the past couple of years, which couldn’t be sustained, investors have become wary of equities, particularly after a string of shock profit downgrades last year, coupled with falling commodity prices and ballooning costs.

But this time around, companies including JB Hi-Fi, Leighton Holdings, Commonwealth Bank and Downer EDI have issued results that have surprised on the upside, with only a handful of smaller companies disappointing.

In Amcor’s case it managed to lift profit 5.7 per cent higher to $322 million, after taking into account the high Australian dollar, which wiped $20 million off profit when currency translation was taken into account. On a constant-currency basis, profit was up 12.2 per cent.

Amcor chief executive Ken MacKenzie, his executive team and the board, should be applauded for returning the packaging giant to its former blue-chip stock glory. It is now perceived as a stock that reliably offers improved earnings, solid returns and focuses on shareholders.

Sometimes that involves making tough decisions. On Monday the company announced it would shut down a 55-year-old mill at the end of the year, with more than 300 staff to lose their jobs. As MacKenzie said: ”We are playing a globally competitive game and we need to be low cost and competitive going forward.”

The mill is a victim of rising costs and the strong Australian dollar, which conspired to make the business unviable.

This is the new reality for most companies operating on the global stage, particularly as they battle a strong Australian dollar and high costs.

In the past few months a series of other companies have flagged cost-cutting as a way to improve profits. Rio Tinto, Boral, QBE, BlueScope Steel, Fortescue Metals and many others have joined the chorus of cost-cutters. BHP Billiton reports its results on Thursday and the talk is that it will outline a cost-cutting program.

Since MacKenzie took the top job in July 2005, he has sold $1.5 billion of non-core assets, cut costs, slashed debt, and rebuilt the company’s image after the news that it was involved in a price-fixing cartel with Visy. He also made the company-transforming acquisitions of Alcan Packaging for $2.3 billion and Ball Plastics for $US280 million.

Those acquisitions are almost integrated, allowing the company to focus on building strong cash flows to make acquisitions or return excess cash to shareholders through increased dividends or share buybacks.

Amcor is aiming to generate free cash flow of $400 million a year by 2014, which, if it decided to spend on acquisitions over the next five years that delivered its targeted 20 per cent return on investment, would add $1.60 to its discounted cash-flow valuation, based on Macquarie’s numbers.

While Amcor’s metamorphosis is all but complete, BlueScope Steel is still undergoing a similar transformation after being forced to mothball its export business, slash staff and focus its energies on value-added services.

Investors rallied behind the stock, lifting it 16 per cent, after it posted a better than expected underlying profit of $10 million and continued to reduce debt. The company still has some way to go, but after losing billions of dollars in the past few years and racking up debts of more than $1.6 billion, it has managed to lift its shares from 42¢ in late 2011 to close on Monday at $4.36.

This year’s profit season is a far cry from a year ago when companies came out in droves issuing profit downgrades to the point where analysts – and investors – were left with their pants down.

This time around the companies that have so far reported – representing 25 per cent by market cap and 20 per cent of companies to report – have either met consensus or outperformed slightly.

Despite the upgrade to 2013 EPS, investment houses are still projecting EPS to be down for the year, but up for industrial stocks. In 2014 EPS is forecast to grow about 12 per cent.

An analysis of profit results by Macquarie Equities highlights that profit margins are expanding, particularly in industrial stocks. ”While the December-half industrial EBITDA margin of 14.4 per cent exceeds Macquarie Equities pre-reporting season forecast by 2 basis points, there is still plenty of scope for ‘productivity improvements’ to drive margins higher given they remain well below pre-GFC levels.”

In the past quarter the S&P/ASX 200 Index has risen more than 13 per cent in lockstep with global sharemarkets. In the US, Wall Street has gone gangbusters, up more than 6 per cent since the start of the year, while Britain’s FTSE is up more than 7 per cent and Japan’s Nikkei is up 8.4 per cent.

The drive to equities is part of a global ”rotation” from bonds to equities. Price-to-earnings ratios have jumped from 10.6 a year ago to more than 13.7 and volumes going through the market have almost doubled.

The Australian market may be going up, but it is impossible to keep rising at the current rate. As CommSec’s Craig James points out, that would involve the market rising 67 per cent over the course of the year. ”It is highly unlikely that gains of this magnitude will be realised. From here, the market will undoubtedly have some setbacks or face a period of consolidation. But for now, it is the absence of bad news and shift of funds from cash to other asset classes like shares and property that is holding sway.

”Sharemarkets have bounced higher across the globe as bad news has evaporated and volatility has fallen.” Indeed.

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BANKS are likely to cut the interest rates paid to savers as competition for deposits eases this year, Bendigo and Adelaide Bank managing director Mike Hirst says.

Since the global financial crisis, savers have benefited from relatively high interest rates on term deposits and online savings accounts as banks sought to obtain a greater share of their funding from more stable sources.

The so-called war for deposits has also been blamed by banks for pushing up their costs and causing them to deny mortgage borrowers the full value of cash rate cuts.

But with global markets stabilising, there are tentative signs the battle for deposits is abating. Although Mr Hirst said on Monday that competition for deposit funding remained strong, lower wholesale funding costs were likely to cause this rivalry to ease. ”At the end of the day people are interested in having a stable funding base and the maturity is important in that,” he said.

”I would expect that as long as there’s continued strength in those wholesale funding markets I would think there will be some abatement around the pricing of retail deposits.”

The comments came after Bendigo said cash earnings rose 4.4 per cent to $169 million in the latest December half, a stronger than expected result that saw its stock price rise 32¢, or 3 per cent, to $10.17.

Before the GFC, interest rates on term deposits were below the cash rate, but they are now well above this benchmark.

Cannex analyst Adam Beu said term deposit rates were still typically about 4.5 per cent, compared with the cash rate of 3 per cent, but average term deposit rates had dropped slightly in recent months.

”The rates are dropping off, which is to the banks a delight, because they don’t have to offer as much,” Mr Beu said.

Commonwealth Bank chief executive Ian Narev last week said wholesale markets had improved, and the bank would not ”rate chase” short-term deposits that would suddenly leave the bank.

Bendigo was the latest bank to benefit from wider profit margins in lending – a trend seen across the industry after banks failed to pass on cuts to the cash rate in full to borrowers.

Against the improvement in margins, expenses for bad and doubtful debts increased from $16.6 million to $32.1 million over the half, a result impacted by flood-affected customers in its rural bank and clients of the collapsed firm Great Southern.

Mr Hirst was also cautious on the outlook for growth, saying consumers remained hesitant about taking on more debt as they focused on improving their balance sheets.

”We are yet to see more recent rallies in debt and equity markets translate into a material increase in demand for credit,” Mr Hirst said.

Bendigo declared a fully-franked interim dividend of 30¢ a share, which is unchanged on the previous corresponding period.

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GLOBAL construction company Lend Lease will focus on its Australian developments for improved earnings after the division produced the lion’s share of the 39 per cent jump in half-year net profit.

Some of the $302.3 million in earnings came from initial funding generated at the $6 billion Barangaroo South project in Sydney, which includes a hotel and casino to be run by James Packer’s Crown.

Lend Lease secured the contract for a second office tower at Barangaroo South and the Sunshine Coast University Hospital, which contributed to the backlog of about $17.8 billion worth of projects. During the half it was also appointed the preferred bidder for the $1 billion Sydney international convention, exhibition and entertainment precinct, while work continues on the $5 billion redevelopment at Victoria Harbour, Melbourne.

In its other Victorian projects, Lend Lease said that it was resubmitting a tender for the Bendigo Hospital site, but declined to comment on the legal issues on bidding for projects with the Victorian government.

Since its takeover of the Valemus operations, Lend Lease has four main operations of development, construction, investment management and infrastructure development in Australia, Asia, Europe and North America.

Profit after tax in the Australian construction business fell to $94 million from $105.4 million a year earlier – due to timing issues, and to $13.2 million from $27 million in the previous corresponding period in its investment management division.

The overall results were in line with market expectations of about $300 million, although some analysts were surprised by a high corporate expense of about $50 million.

An interim dividend of 22¢ will be paid on March 27, which was up on the 16¢ in the previous corresponding period, with the payout ratio unchanged at 41 per cent.

The company never issues specific full-year earnings guidance but reaffirmed its target of a 15 per cent return on equity.

Simon Wheatley at Goldman Sachs said the Australian earnings before interest, depreciation and amortisation result was better than he expected, while the result in Britain was weaker, which included the sale of the interest in Greenwich.

The US construction result improved slightly more than he anticipated.

Lend Lease chief executive Steven McCann said the results were positive given that conditions in key markets remain mixed. ”The Australian economy is fairly challenging but is stronger compared with other markets. Our core regions are also showing signs of improvement and we have ongoing support for the public-private partnership model,” Mr McCann said.

”Commercial office construction remains subdued, while in residential developments, New South Wales and Western Australia are stronger, Queensland is recovering at particular price points, while Victoria is soft.”

Mr McCann said mixed-use developments in Singapore and Japan were on track and more joint-venture developments would be pursued.

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Prime Minister Julia Gillard has vowed to fight for the Labor cause “each and every day” as she attempts to stare down critics and energise her base.

In the wake of the latest Fairfax/Nielsen poll which showed Labor’s primary support slump to 30 per cent, Ms Gillard used a speech to union faithful to declare Australians would regain confidence in the government’s plan.

“I come here to this union’s gathering as a Labor leader,” she told the audience at an Australian Workers’ Union dinner on the Gold Coast on Monday night.

“I’m not the leader of a party called the Progressive Party, I’m not the leader of a party called the Moderate Party, I’m not the leader of a party even called the Social Democratic Party.

“I am leader of the party called the Labor Party – deliberately because that is where we come from, that is what we believe in, that is who we are.”

The declaration drew hearty applause from the hundreds of union members in the audience.

Ms Gillard, who earlier on Monday refused to comment on the latest poll, said she was proud to be Labor leader and would fight for the cause every day before the September 14 election.

“I am very confident that as we fight that campaign Australians will see that we have the plan for the nation’s future that is right for their families and for their children and for the nation.”

In the determined speech, Ms Gillard stressed her plans to reform school funding to improve education and to launch the National Disability Scheme to better support Australians.

The Prime Minister said Labor abolished the former government’s WorkChoices legislation “because it wasn’t the Australian way” but there was more to be done to improve decency and fairness.

Ms Gillard joked that AWU secretary Paul Howes – who was influential in the dumping of Kevin Rudd in 2010 – had been labelled a faceless man “but no one’s ever accused him of being a voiceless man”.

After a standing ovation for Ms Gillard, Mr Howes said the speech had filled him with confidence about the year ahead.

He said he was “pretty confident” the AWU’s 140,000 members would “march towards September and make sure we re-elect Julia Gillard and her government”.The AWU’s national conference runs until Thursday.

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BRISBANE. NEWS. SUN-HERALD.Photograph taken by Michelle Smith on Saturday 4th August, 2012.Clive Palmer talks to the media before hosting the Captain’s Atlantic Dinner as part of the week-long Titanic Culinary Journey at the Palmer Coolum Resort at Coolum on the Sunshine Coast.He owns a dinosaur. And now he is going after an adjective.

Clive Palmer’s Blue Star Line, the company undertaking the ambitious plan to build the Titanic II, has submitted a priority trademark application for a variety of words related to the ill-fated ship; Titanic, Titanic II, Titanic III, Blue Star Line … and Gigantic.

Mr Palmer said he believed Gigantic was one of the names White Star Line, owners of the original Titanic, considered for its Olympic class of ships, but never got to use.

He said he was undertaking the trademark application “just in case”.

“I think it [the application] will be OK,” he said.

“We’ll just see how we go. I think there is a report back on it already, saying it is OK for a ship.”

Mr Palmer said he didn’t have any qualms with attempting to trademark a word used in the common vernacular.

“You don’t have ownership of a word with a trademark, it is in association with a use,” he said.

“Besides, Titanic is in the vernacular as well.”

But Dr Jay Sanderson, a lecturer at Griffith University Law School, said Mr Palmer may find himself facing “a number of potential issues” – and not just with Gigantic.

“One of the key functions of trademark law is to distinguish between goods and services,” Dr Sanderson said.

“So something like Gigantic is generally considered to be a descriptive term and it is very difficult to argue that the Gigantic would distinguish somebody’s goods and services from somebody else’s.”

Which could also prove an issue with the word Titanic – which has already been at the centre of several trademark legal wrangles in different countries.

The film studio which made the blockbuster movie Titanicin the late 1990s – then 20th Century Fox – holds the trademark for the word Titanic in class 41, the trademark class which covers entertainment services, movies and motion pictures.

Dr Sanderson said, feasibly, someone could trademark the word “Titanic” in a different class, but that wouldn’t stop trademark holders from taking action if there was a chance people could be “deceived or confused” between the two.

For now, Dr Sanderson said, the trademark examiner would consider the applications and people – including those who held any particular trademark – could oppose it.

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