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Daily Archives: June 6th, 2009

By Stephen Lunn
The Courier-Mail
June 05, 2009 08:32am

MEN in jobs with long hours are no more likely to divorce than anyone else.

And if the extra hours are bringing in more money, it may be helping to keep the marriage together.

A new study co-authored by Melbourne Institute economist Mark Wooden finds men are less likely to split up with their partner if they are working between 40 and 50 hours a week, The Australian reports.

“The optimal work arrangement appears to be where the man works a 41- to 49-hour week,” Professor Wooden said.

“Beyond this, the risk of separation does rise, but it is still lower than for couples where the male works a 35- to 40-hour work week.”

Professor Wooden used data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey, which tracked families between 2002 and 2006, to conclude that long work hours do no harm in terms of divorce rates.

His article was published yesterday in HILDA’s annual statistical report, titled Families, Income and Jobs, alongside other research that confirmed 2002-2006 as a golden period for household wealth creation, which surged 35 per cent over the five years.

In his study of work hours, Professor Wooden noted the current debate over the effect of long working hours on family life. About one in five workers report putting in 50 hours or more a week.

“While surveys have consistently found people believe long hours are detrimental for personal relationships, there are few, if any, studies providing evidence of clear causal links between long work weeks, especially when worked by the husband, and subsequent marital separation or divorce,” his paper notes.

“Indeed, recent studies conducted in both the US and The Netherlands suggests that, if anything, the probability of divorce falls with the number of hours worked by the husband.”

Professor Wooden said income played a part in the chances of divorce, with the probability of separation falling the higher the income level of the male.

But Barbara Pocock, from the Centre for Work and Life at the University of South Australia, said it was hard to unpick the complex reasons behind divorce.

“People separate and divorce for a nest of reasons, and I think it’s difficult to try to isolate single causes,” Professor Pocock said.

“Qualitative research shows long hours can be a significant factor when examining the quality of a relationship, but an important component is whether those hours are voluntarily worked.

“Also the nature of the work may be a factor, for instance how intense it is. That can be a real relationship killer.”

Read more on the HILDA report at The Australian,27753,25590399-5012426,00.html

By Sue Dunlevy
The Daily Telegraph
June 04, 2009 12:01am

MALE trade union leaders – many of whom are Catholic – are holding back female wages because of their conservative views on the role of women.

A submission to the House of Representatives pay equity inquiry claimed male trade union leaders believed in the primacy of the male wage earner and ignored women’s claims for equal pay.

The views are blamed for a 17 per cent pay gap between men and women, The Daily Telegraph reports.

“Some trades unions, administered by mainly male officers, traded off women’s claims for equal pay or maternity leave for wage increases when it came to the crunch in award negotiations,” said the Women into Politics group, which took particular aim at the NSW Teachers Federation.

“Even professional unions like the NSW Teachers Federation, for over half the last century, accepted female members’ fees while not attempting to address clear issues of equal opportunity and pay,” the group claimed in its submission.

Group deputy president Joan Bielski, an adviser to former NSW education minister Paul Landa, said when she joined the federation in 1951 “the president didn’t believe in equal pay”.

Women teachers got 60 per cent of a male wage, with the same qualifications.

“It was the times but even today some unions such as (the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees) are still paternalistic,” she said.

SDA national secretary Joe de Bruyn, who controls a powerful voting bloc at ALP conferences, is a Catholic who opposes abortion, stem-cell research and lesbians getting access to IVF.

In 2002, he opposed a policy to increase a quota that put women in 30 per cent of winnable seats in the ALP.

But more than half the SDA’s members are women and Mr de Bruyn rejected Ms Bielski’s view.

“That obviously is nonsense, people in the retail industry get equal pay,” he said.

Teachers Federation president Bob Lipscombe said the union won equal pay in the 1960s and it was “grossly unfair” to suggest it hadn’t played a leading role in fighting to end the pay gap.,28323,25584753-5017313,00.html

By staff writers
June 05, 2009 02:41pm

MINING giant BHP Billiton may launch a new takeover bid for rival Rio Tinto, after the two announced a $US10 billion ($12.47 million) joint venture and the death of the Rio Tinto- Chinalco deal.

“We obviously can’t rule in or rule out anything,” BHP Billiton chief executive Marius Kloppers said.

“As a result of our previous bid for Rio, there are a number of conditions that I can point at and those obviously still remain.”

Mr Kloppers pointed to the more than $US10 billion savings the two companies say they seek from the WA joint venture, which “were such an important part of our original desire to put these two companies together”.

BHP Billiton’s hostile bid for Rio fell through last year amid concerns over Rio’s debt burden resulting from its 2007 acquisition of Canadian aluminium giant Alcan.

BHP Billiton cannot make a fresh bid for Rio until November 25 this year – 12 months after its last bid collapsed – under the UK’s Takeover Code rules.

Related Coverage
Rio shares: Check the latest

Leaving a list of winners and losers
Herald Sun, 6 Jun 2009
Rio jilts Chinalco for BHP
The Australian, 5 Jun 2009
Rio deal with Chinalco dead
Adelaide Now, 5 Jun 2009
Rio’s Chinalco deal is dead
Perth Now, 5 Jun 2009
BHP may move on Rio, UBS say
Perth Now, 15 May 2009 Your Say
Rio Tinto and BHP are not Australian companies, BHP was sold off to England and London to Billiton and CRA was sold off to Rio Tinto in London, therefore regardless all the mining i…

(Read More)

Dave of Perth Reports from the UK in February said top institutional investors had urged BHP Billiton to relaunch a takeover bid for Rio Tinto to scupper its now abandoned deal with Chinalco.

Chinalco-Rio Tinto deal dead

Overnight, Rio Tinto walked away from what would have been the biggest deal in Australian corporate history, its $US19.5 billion ($24.4 billion) alliance with Chinalco.

Rio Tinto chairman Jan du Plessis said in a letter to shareholders the planned deal with Chinalco was now dead and his company would pay it a $US195 million ($243.2 million) break fee.

“The transaction announced and recommended by the boards will now no longer be pursued,” Mr du Plessis said.

In a statement, Chinalco president Xiong Weiping said he regretted the deal was off.

“In recent weeks Chinalco has worked hard to respond constructively and engage with Rio Tinto to make appropriate amendments to the transaction terms … to better reflect the changed market background and feedback from shareholders and regulators.

Rights offer

Rio Tinto, saddled with about $US38.7 billion in debt, had been pursuing a tie-up with Chinalco.

With the deal off, Rio Tinto will seek to raise $US15.2 billion in a rights issue, which shareholders in Rio Tinto and its London-based Rio Tinto Plc can take part in.

Shareholders will be offered 21 new shares for every 40 shares held at $28.29 or 1400 pence each.

Rivals to team up

With the Chinalco deal off, BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto announced a 50/50 joint venture, combining all their iron ore assets in Western Australia. It is expected to save them $US10 billion.

The joint venture deal is likely to annoy Chinese steel producers, which have long believed the big Australian iron ore producers hold too much power to decide iron ore prices.

BHP Billiton is the world’s biggest mining company and Rio Tinto is the third largest.

“I am delighted that we are able to announce a transaction that can deliver significant real and quantifiable synergies to our shareholders,” BHP Billiton chairman Don Argus said.

By midday, BHP soared $2.83, or 8.06 per cent, to $37.94, while Rio advanced $6.60, or 9.87 per cent, to $73.50.,27753,25590805-462,00.html?referrer=email&source=eDM_newspulse

By Kevin Hepworth
The Daily Telegraph
June 06, 2009 12:01am
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INDEPENDENT car yard owners are being forced to put millions of their own dollars at risk to keep sales moving as traditional finance streams dry up. With industry finance suppliers such as GE Money and GMAC walking away and banks tightening lending criteria or concentrating on home loans, many used car dealers are turning to self-financing to keep the wheels turning.

In the same week the giant General Motors corporation filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and handed 60 per cent of its ownership to the US Government, those at the coalface selling the world’s automotive products – both new and used – are still feeling the pressure of the economic crisis.

Mark Rosano, whose family has run the Family Car Centre at Chester Hill for the past 35 years, said that keeping sales ticking over was proving a daunting challenge for independent operators, The Daily Telegraph reports.

“It’s pretty tough. With GE (Finance) out of the market the other finance suppliers have tightened up and they are not buying (contracts) like they did 12 months ago,” he said.

“We are effectively self-financing for a lot of our deals or relying heavily on those customers who are paying cash for the cars with pre-arranged finance.

“At the moment I would probably have 60 customers out there who we have financed into the cars ourselves. That is very high risk.”

New car dealers are also offering special deals this month in the run-up to the end of the financial year.

Kia will take back cars from buyers who lose their job in the first 12 months after purchasing their car.

Buyers need to have bought the car on a recognised vehicle finance scheme and still be paying it off.

If they become unemployed and return the car, the company will pay the difference between the assessed value of the car when they return it and their loan balance up to $7500.

The free scheme effectively covers the depreciating value of the car and lifts the burden of loan repayments.

New car sales figures released this week show signs the market may have bottomed out with hopes the reorganisation of the global car industry will lift buyer confidence.,27753,25595707-462,00.html?referrer=email&source=eDM_newspulse

Al Gore: Oil “Junkie” America Needs Third World Help
BY Chris Dannen
Fri Jun 5, 2009 at 9:54 AM

The former Vice President, clean-shaven in a dark suit and black cowboy boots, pauses. “Junkies find veins in their toes, when the veins in their arms and legs collapse,” he says to Charlie Rose. The audience suffers an uncomfortable pause, and then laughs. Gore keeps a straight face. He isn’t joking.

This is the closing panel of the Cornell Global Forum on Sustainable Enterprise, held on New York’s Upper East Side on June 3. The panel includes Gore, Ratan Tata, Chairman of Indian conglomerate Tata Group, Fisk Johnson, Chairman of SC Johnson, and Stuart Hart of Cornell’s Johnson School of Management. Rose is moderating the talk; he’s just asked whether clean energy tech will be made moot by the oil companies’ efforts to wring oil from deep sea drilling, shist, and shale.

No, Gore says–oil is still there to be found, but it’s increasingly inaccessible and expensive. In most discussions about climate change, this is usually the point everyone veers off into fatuous discussions of tomorrow-land: fancy clean cars, smart grids, carbon capture, solar, and so on. But tonight is different; none of the venture capital projects come up. (Below, Gore at Cornell’s Global Forum)

Instead, the participants discuss how the U.S. can’t build a market for sustainable enterprises without developing countries–or as the panelists call them, the countries at “the base of the pyramid.”

What? Since when do we need Kenya and Vietnam? We have Tesla and the Governator and the stimulus! Don’t we?

Not if you believe Tata (seen below). He describes how mobile phones took root quickly in his native India because when they were introduced there was a seven-year wait for landline phones. “The application of these [clean] technologies at the base of the pyramid means broader markets,” he said, describing how cultures with entrenched infrastructure (like the U.S. and Europe) adopt some new technologies more slowly because they don’t see the need for substitute goods and services. Those broad markets in poorer countries, Tata says, “gives you scale to commercialize” in a way that’s impossible in developed countries.

When you consider some of the breakthrough technologies we’re talking about–solar panels, wind mills, point-of-use irrigation systems–it’s obvious; in America, we don’t need these things. We simply want them. In south Asia, for example, where stoves are burning animal dung or plant matter, energy is both more expensive (by up to a factor of 10, according to panelist Hart) and harder to come by.

Fisk Johnson said that his company, SC Johnson, sees a similar phenomenon. Instead of the usual “trickle-down” of technology from first world to third, he said, his labs have discovered that in many instances, the trickle flows in the opposite direction. One example: cheap, natural plant-based pesticides that SC Johnson is harvesting in Vietnam. “We have technologies from the developing world that we’re bringing down to the developed world,” he said. SC Johnson also has a special lab in China that deconstructs the company’s household products and strips them to their bare essentials, keeping only the qualities customers want most. That takes out unnecessary chemicals and ingredients which, he says, usually makes the end product cheaper.

So the first world may not own the solutions to the crisis, but we also don’t own all the blame, Gore says. Those dung-burning stoves in south Asia (pictured below, courtesy of GPHE)? They produce a whole lot of dense soot, the likes of which ends up covering the Himalayan glaciers and increasing the amount of sunlight they absorb. In 10 years, Gore says, those glaciers will be completely gone during the summer months, meaning that their runoff won’t be there to fill Asia’s seven great rivers. Those rivers constitute much of Asia’s water supply; it’s a water crisis in the making.

Gore concedes that the U.S. can indeed (and must) provide leadership, but it’s not necessarily in the way you’d think. He says that it’s vital that the U.S. abandons the “tyranny of the quarterly earnings reports” that has made our public companies short-sighted pump-and-dump entities. Executives and consultants, he says, are incentivized to juice earnings before each report, which encourages them to eschew long-term strategizing. “If you pay people to do something,” he says, “don’t be surprised if that’s what they do.”

Help will come in the form of cap-and-trade legislation like the bill before Congress right now. This kind of legislation, Gore says, will assign a real monetary cost to carbon emissions–something that doesn’t exist right now. Once a cost is in place, companies can react to the new economics of climate change. If the U.S. and China can agree on a common cap-and-trade policy, Gore says,”then we’re really off to the races.”