CBD

Dutch ado about mills on wheels

Dutch ado about mills on wheels

Letting non-violent prisoners pay their way out of jail was not the only idea floated by Gina Rinehart in her latest column for Australian Resources and Investment.

In a what-I-did-on-my-holidays piece stretching over two pages, Her Roy Hill Highness also attacked Australian government debt and "irresponsible excessive government spending".

She contrasted the situation in Australia with the low-tax regime in Ireland, Switzerland and Hong Kong.

The Irish "understand that investment and business are needed to create sustainable jobs and opportunities, and revenue", she said.

According to numbers compiled by The Economist, at 27.1 per cent, Australia's ratio of public debt to gross domestic product is lower than both Ireland (122 per cent) and Switzerland (36.7 per cent).

The Economist didn't have a figure for Honkers, but it appears to be about 33 per cent. Rinehart's latest overseas jaunt began in the Netherlands, and like a modern-day, chauffeur-driven Don Quixote, she took a tilt at the country's famous windmills. She slammed "increased power costs" that meant "industries are closing down in Holland and moving elsewhere" and declared her driver told her: "Nobody wanted a power-generating windmill near them."

The Dutch are also famous for marijuana, clogs and ovens, all of which escaped Rinehart's ire. Perhaps next time.

Street cred

The financial planning shop run by a former federal president of the Liberal Party, Shane Stone, and owned by Tory peer Lord Michael Ashcroft has been pinged for giving inadequate advice to clients.

Anne Street Partners has agreed to engage an expert to review the advice it provides about setting up self-managed super funds, after intervention from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. ASIC said it was concerned Anne Street was establishing self-managed super funds with too little money in them, was not tailoring advice to the needs of individual clients, and not properly considering other investment options.

Coal comfort

The clean coal hopeful Cape Range has too paid its listing fees, chairman Wayne Johnson says.

The company is planning to become the vehicle by which the brown coal treatment technology company Exergen lists on the ASX, but was suspended from the bourse last week after failing to pay the annual fees. "They were paid last week," Johnson told CBD.

Still in the works is a prospectus allowing the Exergen deal to go ahead. It was supposed to come out last week but CBD hears delays relate to Exergen's efforts to convince the Victorian government to commit itself to a $15 million grant for a pilot coal processing plant.

Hockey shtick

On a balmy Melbourne afternoon, shadow treasurer Joe Hockey was feeling the glare of the camera lights as he released the Coalition's final budget costings.

This had CBD colleague Michael Pascoe reminiscing about Hockey's landmark London speech of 17 months ago condemning systems of "universal entitlement" in Western democracies.

Here Hockey contrasted this entitlement attitude with the concept of "filial piety" through parts of Asia, where people get what they work for and families look after their own.

Maybe it was a coincidence but shares in McMillan Shakespeare, the company behind arranging all those salary packaging and novated leases, jumped more than 4 per cent. While Hockey on Thursday outlined a further $9 billion of savings, the $1.8 billion novated lease/FBT taxpayer-funded loophole enjoyed by a select few of new car buyers looks certain to be reinstated.

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bbutler@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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