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Heinz Girgarre Tomato Sauce Factory closure and the McDonalds connection

Fluorescent tomato sauce for the pies sold at the SCG this week would have been a great promotion for both Heinz and the Jane McGrath Foundation.

However, in mid year when the sauce for my McDondald’s fries was fluro pink - it was cause for real concern. On inspection, the packaging on the faulty product read “Heinz, manufactured in Qingdao”.  You may remember Qingdao as the coastal city engulfed in fluro green seaweed prior to the China Olympic Yachting events.

I have visited Qingdao several times as my brother teaches at a Qingdao University. Whilst the area is less polluted than other areas of China, the tomato farms are small and fragmented compared to their Australian counterparts. As such, quality control of herbicides, pesticides and fertiliser would be almost impossible. Whilst Qingdao factories, although not old, operate without the environmental, labour and consumer protection laws that exist in Australia.

Improved justice the job facing Roxon

While much has been made of the fact that Nicola Roxon is our first female attorney-general, celebrations will be short-lived as Roxon faces significant tests in this new role.

Gillard adds 'ballast' to shore up Indon relationship

Australia’s relationship with Indonesia is continuing at its all-time high following the conclusion of the East Asia Summit in Bali. Prime Minister Julia Gillard has come away from the summit confirming a major reduction in tariffs in trade with Indonesia, providing further "ballast" to the once-troubled relationship.

Even Australia’s agreement to host US Marines in the Northern Territory has caused fewer problems than sometimes insecure strategic commentators in Jakarta might have indicated in the days immediately after the plan was announced. Having said that, it is unlikely that Australia will take up President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s suggestion that Australia also play host to China’s military, by way of balancing assertions of regional power.

Qantas dispute

In grounding the entire domestic and international Qantas fleet last month, the firm's chief executive, Alan Joyce, claimed the action was the only way to stop the unions' industrial campaign. The implication was that grounding the planes was the only way to have Fair Work Australia (FWA) intervene and order a stop to all industrial action.
In the weeks since, a number of anti-union ''cold war'' industrial relations warriors, including Peter Reith, Chris Corrigan, economist Judith Sloan and coalition politicians, have thrown themselves into the debate, questioning the efficacy of the Labor government's Fair Work Act. The common theme is that the grounding of the Qantas fleet demonstrated the weakness of the act, because the company had no other way to get FWA to order a cessation of all industrial action other than by grounding its entire fleet. This is patently untrue.

The end of Qantas as we know it?

The move by Qantas CEO, Alan Joyce, to ground the Qantas fleet around the world, will have caused significant damage to the brand, regardless of his motives for doing so.

With few signs of the death of the mall, small retailers deserve our support

The rise in internet-based retailing has inevitably generated debate on the future of bricks-and-mortar shops, and the shopping centres that accommodate them.

Despite some pundits predicting the death of the mall, there’s no strong signs as yet of the “mall lifecycle” coming to an end.

In fact many domestic shopping centres, such as Melbourne’s Chadstone and Sydney’s Bondi Junction, continue to evolve through extensions or major revamps.

Click here for the full item at The Conversation

 

Selling the Rugby World Cup

The Rugby World Cup has returned to New Zealand for the first time since the nation co-hosted the debut tournament 24 years ago. But New Zealand Rugby Union head, Steve Tew has already raised concerns about the financing behind the game and whether New Zealand can even afford to play in another World Cup. If we judge from a purely commercial standpoint, it might rationally be expected that New Zealand may be hosting the world cup for the last time, despite the success of the sport in the region.
 

Changing attitudes to the carbon tax

The mining industry, led by the Minerals Council of Australia, has written to members asking for funds to under take a new advertising campaign to attack the carbon tax.

In his letter to members, Minerals Council chief executive Mitch Hooke says that in current day Australia, major policy battles are fought and won in the media and that miners must spend accordingly.

So is Mitch Hooke right when he says the “new paradigm is one of public contest through the popular media more so than rational, effective, considered consultation and debate”?

Are doubts about consumer confidence justified?

Consumer confidence has fallen by 8.3% to its lowest level in two years, according to the Westpac-Melbourne Institute Consumer Sentiment Index.

The drop has been connected to speculation about the impact of the carbon tax, with Treasurer Wayne Swan calling on Opposition Leader Tony Abbott to “stop scaring the consumers”.

Retailer David Jones last night issued a dramatic profit downgrade, saying it expects second-half profits to be down by 9% to 12%. The company blamed the slowdown of sales on factors such as offshore Internet retailers due to the high Australian dollar, fears about the carbon tax and the impact of the flood levy.

Trust the market - why regulation won't stop carbon tax gouging

Trust the market – why regulation won’t stop carbon tax gouging

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Price-gouging might occur under the carbon tax regime, but market discipline will keep it in check. Flickr/dmcneil

Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan has announced that the government will provide the competition watchdog with almost $13 million in extra funding to tackle carbon tax-related price-gouging.

In this context, price-gouging refers to business inflating prices beyond the cost increases reasonably attributable to the tax.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s extra funding will go toward hiring a team of 20 staff dedicated to identify and investigate price-gouging.

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