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THE NEWS WRAP: NBN contractors could be laid off this week over asbestos fears

Thursday, 1 August 2013 | By Andrew Sadauskas

The chief executive of the Civil Contractors Federation’s Tasmanian branch, Tony Cook, is warning that hundreds of workers will be laid off from NBN contractors, following delays caused by asbestos fears.


"Telstra – through Comcare – needs to hasten the process so that those pits can be released back into the hands of the principal contractors, so they can get on with the design work," Cook says.


"[NBN contractor] Visionstream may lose their contractors because once they are gone, they're gone, if there are significant further delays beyond a couple of days.


"There has been a little bit going on, but slowing down to the point where Visionstream has now said there is no more work."


ASIC, ASX considering Obeid investigation


Financial regulator ASIC and the Australian Securities Exchange are considering launching an investigation into business figures and companies connected with disgraced former ALP powerbroker Eddie Obeid.


The latest news follows the release of an NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption investigation which investigated the granting of licences to a proposed coal mine at Mount Penny.


“ASIC will assess the referral and evidence once it is received from the ICAC,” a spokesman says.


Leading economist praises Australian economic management


The former chief economist for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Willem Buiter, is praising Australia’s economic management, describing the local economy as the envy of the developed world.


“You're not in the soup, you're not in a liquidity trap … so if your economy were to get another unpleasant hit from China or elsewhere, you actually have monetary ammunition in the arsenal to match it,” Buiter says.


“This is a very unusual place to be in, to see a headline suggesting that the governor of the central bank is encouraging the cabinet to be less restrictive in fiscal policy is something that I had given up hope of ever seeing.


“Australia's position is not without issues, but [its] problems are luxury problems compared to those in the rest of the advanced economic universe.”




The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 0.1% to 15499.5. The Aussie dollar is down to US89.5 cents.