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THE NEWS WRAP: Abbott promises free trade with China within 12 months

10:33PM | Monday, 7 October

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has vowed to emulate New Zealand by signing a free trade agreement with China within 12 months, following a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the APEC summit in Bali.   “Our intention is to move as quickly as we can. I would be disappointed if we couldn't conclude a significant free-trade agreement with China in 12 months,” Abbott says.   “Let’s face it, the Kiwis, have had a series of agreements, including one with China, which have been very good for their economy.   "They've managed to go from start to finish much more quickly than we've been able to manage over the last few years under the former government and I think we can do a lot better than that now.”   Google urges political leaders to focus on NBN benefits   Google Australia and New Zealand managing director Maile Carnegie has urged Australian political leaders to focus on the disruptive economic benefits the national broadband network is set to provide, rather than the costs of setting it up.   “I look at the energy around the NBN. At the moment, it's focused around cost. I'd love to talk about the benefits and how we can change the rhetoric, from cost to disruption,” Carnegie says.   “It feels like we could be on the cusp of renewal but I'm frustrated that we're not recognising the benefits.”   Telstra reveals strong demand for 4G services   Telstra has released new figures showing it has added 3.4 million devices to its 4G network since it launched two years ago.   The figures show a 23% increase in demand month to month, with around one-fifth of its 15 million devices now on 4G.   It is important to note that figure is the total number of devices, meaning a single customer with both a 4G tablet and a 4G smartphone would be counted as having two devices.   “Since launch, we have activated more than 3.2 million 4G devices on our 4G network. This includes more than 360,000 4G smartphones since June 30 this year, or more than 25,000 per week,” says Telstra Mobile and Wireless group executive director Warwick Bray.   Overnight   The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 0.9% to 14936.24. The Aussie dollar is flat at US 94.32 cents.

THE NEWS WRAP: Billabong accused of ‘ignoring’ rival offer

7:40PM | Wednesday, 17 July

US hedge funds Centerbridge Partners and Oaktree Capital have accused Billabong of ignoring their rival debt-for-equity bid for the troubled surfwear giant, which they claim would have seen existing shareholders emerge with less debt and more equity.   "Centerbridge and Oaktree are very credible, interested parties, and to not even have a discussion with them when they've flown in from the US was astonishing,” a source for the consortium told The Australian.   Billabong chairman Ian Pollard rejects the accusation.   “We gave [Centerbridge and Oaktree] ample opportunity to provide some indication, at the very least, of what their terms might be, but they indicated they couldn't put up a proposal until they had done due diligence. So we executed the only executable transaction we had,” Pollard says.   Telstra threatens to sue Vodafone over 4G speed claims   Telstra is threatening to sue Vodafone over claims its 4G network is the fastest in Australia and that its coverage now reaches 96% of the Australian population, claims the incumbent telecommunications giant alleges are untrue.   "Telstra is confident of the claims that we make about our network. This type of action is not uncommon," a Telstra spokesperson says.   "Vodafone customers in 4G areas with compatible devices will have access to speeds that are among the fastest not only in the country but in many parts of the world," Vodafone chief executive Bill Morrow said last month.   Queensland government considering second Brisbane casino   Queensland Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney has stated the question of a second Brisbane casino is an essential one for the state government, but it has not finalised a decision on whether or not Brisbane should be a one or two casino town.   The news comes as both James Packer-led gaming giant Crown and Sydney casino operator Echo intensify their campaigns over a second Brisbane casino.   “The casino operators have no need to be taking shots at each other in the public, in the media as we have seen,” Seeney says.   Overnight   The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 0.12% to 15470.52. The Aussie dollar is up to US92.42 cents.

THE NEWS WRAP: Former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher dies, aged 87

4:23PM | Monday, 8 April

Margaret Thatcher died peacefully last night, aged 87, with Britain’s first female prime minister set to receive a ceremonial funeral with full military honours at St Paul's Cathedral.   Thatcher is considered to be a hero by many conservatives, who credit her with rebuilding the British economy through key policies, which included the privatisation of government assets and her role in ending the UK coal miners’ strike, which in turn drew controversy from those on the political left.   “It was with great sadness that I learned of the death of Lady Thatcher. We have lost a great leader, a great prime minister and a great Briton,” says British Prime Minister David Cameron.   “The Labour party disagreed with much of what she did and she will always remain a controversial figure. But we can disagree and also greatly respect her political achievements and her personal strength,” says British Labour leader Ed Miliband.   Holden told to "go better" after cutting 500 jobs   General Motors Holden has announced plans to cut nearly a quarter of its workforce, with 400 jobs set to go in South Australia and a further 100 job losses in Victoria, prompting renewed criticism about government subsidies for the auto giant.   “After the loss of these 400 to 500 staff [the cost per job] then rises to more than $50,000 of subsidy per employee. It's quite a large sum of money,” said Simon Cowan from the Centre of Independent Studies.   “I think we deserve better. There are a range of important undertakings in that agreement that I want to ensure are delivered to South Australians and now we need to have some serious discussions with the company," said South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill.   Vodafone announces 4G network rollout   Vodafone has announced the rollout of 4G services, following significant falls in the company’s subscriber base in recent years.   “At least for a period of time, we will have the fastest 4G network in Australia. We will have a bit of a differentiation point that no one else has,” said Vodafone chief executive Bill Morrow.   Overnight   The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 0.33 per cent, at 14,613.40. The Aussie dollar is up to US104.10 cents.

THE NEWS WRAP: Budget surplus under threat amid declining tax base

3:17PM | Wednesday, 28 March

Treasurer Wayne Swan says the Federal Government will need to cut and cancel whole spending programs to return the budget to surplus next financial year, as it fights a structural decline in the tax base that will keep revenue at depressed levels for years.

THE NEWS WRAP: Unions push for super-charged wage rises

3:31PM | Tuesday, 27 March

Unions are set to defy Workplace Relations and Superannuation Minister Bill Shorten today by refusing to give up wage increases in return for higher superannuation payments.

Samsung Galaxy Nexus tipped to boost Android apps market

10:27AM | Thursday, 20 October

An expert says the Samsung Galaxy Nexus could stimulate the creation of apps for Android tablets, after becoming the first smartphone to launch with Google’s Android 4.0 software.

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