Chinese whispers in conspiracy land

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It seems we should be more worried about Central Intelligence Agency-sponsored threats to our coal industry than a secretive Chinese telecommunications equipment company getting a tender for the National Broadband Network.

''This sort of whole concept of Huawei being involved in cyber warfare; presumably that would just be based on the fact that the company comes from China. This is just completely absurd,'' the former foreign minister Alexander Downer said on ABC Radio yesterday.

Comrade Downer, who happens to chair Huawei's Australian subsidiary, was responding to reports that the company, founded by a former Red Army engineer, had been locked out of the tender process for the NBN.

He did not say what he thought of recent comments by the national living treasure Clive Palmer.

The billionaire miner warned last week that the CIA had funded a Greenpeace-led ''anti-coal movement'' that aimed to cripple Australia's booming coal exporting sector. ''It's tantamount to treason, and something needs to be done about it,'' Palmer fumed.
Comrade Downer happens to sit on the board of Palmer's other mining company Resourcehouse, which is behind the so-called China First Coal Project.


The phone line was probably a little too clear yesterday when the Bank of Queensland held a teleconference to warn that it was on track to post a $91 million first-half loss.
When it came to the Q&A session at the news briefing, perhaps the only thing that did not transmit too well was BoQ's chief executive Stuart Grimshaw's sense of irony.
Ian Rogers, Banking Day: "Hi, yes, Stuart, is this line OK? Because it's pretty crappy at my end unfortunately.''
Grimshaw: "No, you sound clear unfortunately." [excruciating pause] "Keep going, Ian."
Rogers: "OK, then. That's great."


Jetstar's chief executive Bruce Buchanan says the thing the Chinese most appreciate about Australia is not its beaches, nor its cuddly marsupials, casinos, or even meat pies. What they like most about Australia seems to come out of the ground.
''For an Australian company, it is a great success story to be exporting a brand like Jetstar into this part of the world,'' Buchanan said in Hong Kong yesterday at the launch of the mainland China-focused Jetstar Hong Kong.
''It is something else for the Chinese to love about Australia rather than iron ore. They can love Jetstar as well,'' he said.
Maybe the next Jetstar brochure promoting Australia in China could feature a glossy picture of an open-cut mine?


At least there is one former Queensland Labor premier who is upbeat about their prospects. ''We are in the best strategic position possible,'' the former pollie Wayne Goss said. ''We are confident of the fundamentals,'' he added. Goss was not talking about the Labor Party but the mining services firm he chairs, Ausenco, which released its annual report yesterday.

While the former premier did not get a bump up in his $154,800 of chairman's fees, he no doubt would be pleased about the recovery of Ausenco's share price from its post-GFC low of $1.71.

Goss's stake in the company, which saw it shares close at $4.30 yesterday, is now worth about $5.2 million, well shy of the $20 million they were worth when Ausenco's stock hit an all-time high of $16.90 in May 2008. The company was floated at $1 a share in 2006.
Goss is also chairman of the auditing firm Deloitte in Australia.


Poor dears. A survey finds that a third of ''finance professionals'' in Australia suffered a dip in their bonuses in 2011. Only 34 per cent got a bump up.
''Disappointment among finance professionals … should not be ignored, as it is a legitimate source of concern,'' remarked George McFerran, the Asia-Pacific managing director of the job website eFinancialCareers, which conducted the survey.
In Australia, 38 per cent of the 252 financial professionals surveyed said their bonus was ''beneath expectations''. Boo hoo. Only 13 per cent said their bonus exceeded their expectations.

At least Australian bonus collectors are more resilient than their counterparts in China, Hong Kong and Singapore. The survey found that 12 per cent of those surveyed in Australia were ''very satisfied'' with their bonus in 2011. In the Asia-Pacific, only 10 per cent were very satisfied.


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