Lateline Business


Electronic Media Monitoring Service 


04-04-2007 11:03 PM



Parl No.


Channel Name



04-04-2007 11:03 PM



04-04-2007 11:48 PM

Cover date

2007-04-04 23:03:28

Citation Id








Open Item 

Parent Program URL
Text online


Media Deleted


System Id


Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document

Lateline Business -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

(generated from captions) dead. 20,000... Is

And more than 100 Australian reservists are to

depart tomorrow. It seems at

the moment that supplies are

required and we will fly those

out these are medical, food

water and other forms of supplies and equipment to

support the Solomon

Islandsers. But it still may be

days before the needy sees much

of this assistance. Seven people arrested on suspicious

of belonging to the terrorist

group Jemaah Islamiah have been

transferred to jail in Jakarta.

Three of the men were captured

after a shoot-out in East Java

last week. The other four were

arrested a fortnight ago in Yogyakarta. Indonesian

authorities also seized a

massive cash of weapons,

explosives and detonators,

enough firepower to amount 20

attacks. TRANSLATION: If this bomb exploded it would have

been bigger than the Bali bomb

blast. Jemaah Islamiah has been

blamed for four major bombings

targeting Westerners in

Indonesia including the 2002

Bali blasts and the attack on

the Australian embassy in 2004.

As anyone who's ever driven in

peak hour knows it doesn't take

much to create gridlock in a

big city. The Blair government

wants to increase pricing which

uses a sat lie-tracking

technology as a way of reducing

frask congestion, but the move

is not at all popular. Recently

more than 1.8 million people

signed an Internet petition

calling for the plan to be

scrapped. The ABC's Europe

the road to report on this correspondent Jane Hutcheon hit

story. Britain is a small

island with a lot of people and

a lot of cars. Court the latest

transport review, congestion

will cost the UK about $50

billion in wasted hours over

the coming decades. Transport

expert Professor Stephen Glaister believes there is only

one solution. I don't see any

other way of dealing with it

than introducing road pricing,

which is charging more when it

is congested and less when it

is not congested as a way of

main ing demand for the road

network. The British capital

already has a congestion charge

on private and commercial

vehicles, travel ing in to

central London. It's been so

successful, it recently has

been extended. As soon as a car

or truck passes an electronic

checkpoint the numberplate is

recorded and drivers are charge

ed ?8 or about $20 for the day.

As these pictures from Day 1

of the congestion charge show,

it had an immediate impact.

Overnight traffic and traffic

congestion fell by 20% in

central London. It was a great

success and in demonstrating to

people that a charging system

can make a real difference to

congestion. And now the Blair

Government is floating a national scheme where vehicles

could be trapped by satellite

and owners charge ed according

to usage T national proposals

immediately hit a speed bump.

1.8 million road users last

month signed an online

petition, urging the Prime

Minister to scrap road pricing.

The Government declined. The

petition highlights ral

concerns amongst the public. We

welcome the opportunity to try

and address those concerns in a

debate that wouldn't last weeks

or months, but actually will

last years. We all have a

common challenge which is the

growing challenge of

congestion. Tory Merrigold is

one of those who signed the

road price ing petition. He

says that he's fed up of the

number of taxes being levied on

road users. Most people are un

happy there isn't enough roads

being built and they aren't

being kept well enough but the

Government keeps taking more

and more tax off us. Things

like the fuel duty, car tax and

congestion charge are other

ways of raising indirect taxation. According to

government figures, road

pricing could raise as much as

$70 billion by 2025, which is

why Mr Merrigold believes it is

in any event age. If they put a

lot of infrastructure in place

as they have done in London, to

count cars, read numberplates

as they go in, they are not

going to turn around a year

later and say, "Oh, it didn't

work. Take it all

out." Supporters of road

pricing say for the Government

to win public acceptance it

must explain how the win fall

is to be used. It is crucial

that when Government does

decide it wants to introduce

this, explain the complete

package. They don't just say,

"We are going to charge more."

They say, "We are going to

charge more but we will use the

revenue for the following

desirable purposes" so the

public can make a decision

about the overall package. If

Britain gets it right, it is

likely that other countries

will quickly follow suit. It is

time for a quick look at the


A that's all from us.

'Lateline Business' is coming

up in just a moment F you would

like to look back at the

interview of Sir Richard Dalton

or transcripts or other stories

look at our website at

abc.net.au/lateline. Here is

'Lateline Business' now with

Ali Moore. Thank you, Tony.

Tonight - winning ways.

Wesfarmers reveals plans for

Coles supermarkets if its

takeover bid for the retailer

succeeds. We are looking at

this as an investment for our

shareholders in a business

which has a strong position,

but we think a significant turn

around opportunity and we'll be

looking to derive value for our

shareholders over a 3-5-year

timeframe through that

investment. Banking the

profits. The Bank of Queensland

posts a record half-year

results a head of its proposed

merger with Bendigo. And

building broadband - who is

going to provide the fibre

network for high-speed

broadband? In the foreseeable

future it would have to be

Telstra. CC

To the markets and the

decision to leave interest

rates un changed helped to push

Australian shares to a record

high today. Also helping the

takeover bid for Coles with the

All Ords up over one and a

third per cent. The axe added

84 points. In Japan, the Nikkei

closed at a 5-week high with

exporters leading the way. Hong

Kong's Hang Seng had a strong

day advancing 1% and in a slow

day in London the FTSE has lost

9 points. As we said, shares in

retail giant Coles led the gains in the retail market

today after yesterday's

confirmation of a near $20

billion bid for the group from Wesfarmers F the deal goes

ahead, Wesfarmers plans to

onsell half of the food, liquor

and general merchandise

business for a consortium, including Pacific Equity Partners, the International

Group Minara and the Macquarie

Bank. Their shares jumped to a

new record before closing up

just under 5% at $16.86. We

brought you a brief telephone

conversation with Richard

Goyder but tonight he joined me

in the studio in Melbourne

where he has been talking to

the Coles' bored about trying

to speed up the process of

getting access to the company's

books. Richard Goyder, welcome

to the program. Nice to be with

you, Ali. Bottom line, this is

all about price and Coles'

shares hit a new record today,

above $17, although they've

Paulen back a little. Even

adding the dividend back to

your $16.47 a share offer, the

market is definitely betting on

a bigger bid, isn't it? Well, I

think our offer is a really

compelling offer. $16.47

ex-dividend, ability to get the

deal done pretty quickly, as

soon as we get access to due

diligence and can confirm our

offer and put it to their

shareholders. It is not subject

to any regulatory review. So,

we think the offer is compel ing. The market behaves in

funny ways, but we think over

time the market will see the

sense in our offer. Are you

working on the basis that KKR

may come back for another

bite? We are working on the

basis as soon as we can get the

appropriate arrangements grade

with Coles in terms of getting

access to due diligence, we

will do that as quickly and

efficiently as we can so we can

put a proposal to their

shareholders and we think this

is really a terrific proposal

for them, Ali. It's an

attractive price. The business

will continue to be majority

owned by Australians. We think

it's a compelling offer we are

putting forward. A compelling

offer, but is there more in the

kitty? As I say, I think it's a

compelling offer as it

stands. Would you rule out

having to pay more? I'm not

ruling anything in or out other

than if you look at the price

we have put and the fact that

significant shareholders have

sold into that, into our market

rate the other night, then I

think it's a compelling bid. At

the same time, if someone comes

over the top and there is an

auction for the various parts

of Coles, would you go for

Officeworks and Target even if

the supermarkets became out of

reach? Well, our aim once this

deal is done is that

Officeworks and Target will it

is alongside Bunnings as

speciality retail owners 100%

owned by Wesfarmers and we'll

have the everyday needs in

co-venture with partners. We

think anything short of a whole

company solution is not good

for the shareholders of Coles

because it will take an

extraordinarily long time for

that sort of process to take

place. So that's a no? This is

an all or nothing? This is a

whole of company bid which we

think is very attractive to

their shareholders. You are

obviously seeking the support

of the Coles board. They in

fact have really left the door

wide open for other players.

Are you disappointed? Well, I

think the discussions we had

with the chairman of the board

yesterday were very

constructive and we're now

working on a way forward which

facilitating our early access

to information so we are able

to put a proposal to their shareholders. So I would

describe those discussions as

very constructive dilog. With

the deal that has been

proposed, you've spent about $2

billion buying the stake you

have got in Coles so far. In

the end, though, what is it

going to cost Wesfarmers and

how much will be debt and how

much will be equity? We'll own,

as I said, 100% of the

speciality retail business as

kvp Officeworks and Target and

we'll own them 100% and we'll

have around a 50% interest in

the special-purpose vehicle,

let alone the everyday needs

businesses. We've indicated in

the release we put out last

night around 125% of the

consideration could be in

Wesfarmers' shares. So, our

investment in this depending on

some value splits and the like

will be in the sort of $7-8

billion range. Of that 7-8

billion, how much is debt and

how much is equity? A fair bit

is equitty as I outlined. Approximate numbers $5 billion

of equity. Do you need to sell anything tow fund the debt

part? No, in fact as we look

forward if we complete this

deal then our gearing will be

at more conservative levels

than it usually is. That said,

this is a company-transforming

transaction. You will very much

become a retailer no more than

anything else. Does it make sense to sell some of your

other businesses, fertiliser or

coal to focus on the

retailer? I actually think this

is a classic Wesfarmers

transaction. It is innovative

and it is using in 2007 the

best of what a public company

can bring to a transaction and

what private equity can and it

is not dis similar to the

magnitude of Howard Smith which

we did in 2001. One of the

great advantage of being a diversified business, which we

are and are happily a

diversified business, is that

our model allows us to focus on

all of the businesses at any

one time. But if this guess

through, you will become a retailer first and

foremost? Well, the majority of

our earnings will come from

retailing, but it is not that

long ago that the majority of

earnings for us have come from

coal, Ali. That's the nature of

a diversified business. Sure,

retail ing will be a

significant part of the group,

but the other business s are

equally very important. Plenty

of talk what you might hi off,

but are you saying that nothing

is on the block? I am saying

our intention is to move

forward with the structure of

the companies we currently have

get because we like the

businesses very much that we

have. You've made the point you

want Target and Officeworks.

What happens in 3 or 5 years'

time or whenever your joint

venture private equity partners

want out of that supermarket

business? Well, we will have to

look at an exit path and

there's a number of options we could look at at that time

through an IPO to a sale to

other trade buy juniors, to Wesfarmers retaining a share in

that. We will look at that in

time. But you are not necessarily a long-term holder

of that 50% stake? You could be

just in for the turn

around? That's correct. We're

looking at this as an investment for our shareholders

in a business that has a strong

position, but we think a significant turn around

opportunity and we'll be

looking to derive value for our

shareholders over a 3-5-year timeframe through that investment. So Officeworks and Target are for keeps,

supermarkets and liquor are

turn around only? Well, a turn

around only and then we will

see what happens then. You run

hardware stores pretty well. Do

you spend a lot of time in

Target or Officeworks? I mean,

our people have and in recent

times I've spent a bit more

time in those businesses and

obviously you make

observations, but we think

we've a pretty good understanding of those

businesses. What do you think

that Coles has done wrong? I

don't want to go into great on

that. - great detail on that. The speculation around ownership that's been around

the business for a while is

unhelpful. It is fair to say

that that un certainty has

stemmed from poor performance.

You obviously think you can

make a better go of it. Well,

we think that the structure

we've got for the everyday

needs business is the perfect

structure to enable an

improvement in patience of

those businesses. With this

sort of turn around of an

international scale retailing

business we're very, very

confident we will bring some

good people in and obviously

leadership is a key part of

it. So go you keep any

management? Do you keep

Officeworks management? I I think Officeworks is relatively

well run. Target? Relatively

well run? Kols, would anyone

stay? We haven't had the

opportunity to meet with the

management team and we'll look

at that in due course. So you

expecting a battle to win this

one or are you quietly

confident? Oh, I'm confident

that we've put a very, very compelling proposition forward, subject to the work that we

need to do over the coming

weeks. So out of ten, how do

you rate your chances? I'm not

giving a rating, Ali, other

than I think we've put a very,

very strong proposition

forward. Richard Goyder, many

thanks for talking with

us. Thanks, Ali. To breaking

news now - an announcement out

of Iran that 15 British sailors

who were captured after being

accused of being in Iran's

territorial waters are to be

pardoned and freed by the

Iranian Parliament or indeed

the aye reinean president. They are to be released

immediately to put a business

spin on that, that should help

oil prices move lower but you

can bet that won't mean cheaper

petrol prices for Easter. As we

heard the Reserve Bank chose

not to change the official cash

rate. In a market divided about

what the RBA would do, those

expecting higher rates say the

bank simply wants to see the

next inflation number due this

month, but others claim there

is still no compelling evidence

for an imminent rate rise.

Economics correspondent Phillip

Lasker has this report. No news

is good news for indebted

Australians after yesterday's

board mighting, the Reserve

Bank kept the cash rate at

6.25%. I don't feel there was

really one single data

catalyst, if you like, that was

of sufficient gravity to make

the case convincingly for an imminent rise in interest

rates. Those expecting an

increase thought the data

catalysts were all over the

place, such as robust credit

growth, retail sales and

dwelling approvals against a

back drop of a tight jobs

market and little excess

capacity. They say the banks

missed an opportunity, but it's

not the only opportunity. I

would expect May is the time. I

don't think May will - the

budget coming a week later will

be a factor, as we saw last

year. They did raise rates a

week before the last budget. A

'Financial Review' report

didn't water down expectations,

suggesting the RBA might have

to be more vigilant in an

election year. It seems

Treasury Secretary Ken Henry

who is on the Reserve Bank

bored, warned his department

about irresponsible government

spending in an election year

putting pressure on interest

rates. But with no RBA

announcement today, analysts

can only speculate about the

banks' thinking. It is possible

that the Reserve Bank is

waiting for further data,

including Q 1 CPI later this

month and maybe it does harbour

some concerns about the US

economy as well. I don't think

we are off the hook. We have a

rob that's already stated and

continues to reaffirm the fact

that it has a predisposition to

raise str rates. That's over

the foreseeable future. And

that's one reason the

Australian dollar has bounced

back after losing half a cent

immediately following the RBA's

decision. Traders say there's

more to the Aussie dollar's

strength. There is still a lot

of other issues going on. I

think the Australian currency

is still reflect ago weaker US

dollar overall and strong

global growth, strong commodity

prices and these factors will probably continue to support

the currency, push it to new

highs until that pitch really

changes. And does the stronger

Australian dollar worry the

Reserve Bank enough to prevent

it from raising interest rates

again? He certainly not if it

jeopardises as what it sees as

the more important battle against inflation. Phillip

Lasker reporting. The fastest

growing bank has reported a

half-year profit and the Bank

of Queensland expects profits

to improve any further should a

proposed merger with regional

rival Bendigo get across the line. Brigid Glanville reports.

While the Bank of Queensland

isn't considering a name

change, its pan ion - expansion

gives it a presence in all

states of Australia. The bank

opened 48 branches in the pass

year and now operates more than

200 around the country. Helping

lift earnings 21% to a record

$48.4 million. The company's

share price closing 26 cents

higher to $17.60. We continue

to agree well above system,

providing a good base for our

future. As I mentioned our

margin was up slightly for the

half which is a good result in

such a competitive environment.

Cost income line was flat. The

cost associated with growing

strongly have impacted on us,

but we continue to target

efficiency improvements. A weak

ecomony in NSW has stifled

expansion in Australia's

biggest market, but the results

still came in a head of market

forecasts. The Queensland-based

bank is now pinning future

growth to a proposed $2.5

billion merger with Bendigo. We

are two natural allies versus

the big banks. The merger is particularly important for the

future of banking, particularly

regional banking in Australia.

It is about recognising the

changing landscape of the

Australian financial services

sector and working together to

be a more effective force and a

real alternative for the

Australian public when they are banking. I think it's a

natural. I think the fact that

both run Fran commies models is important. I think the pact

that the community banks has a

slightly different emphasis

will add to Bank of

Queensland's business. Chief

six tive David Lidie wouldn't

comment on speculation that his

bank could be a takever target.

He is continuing to focus on

the Bendigo deal and will meet

their team next week to discuss

the merger. In other takeover

news, investment advisers

Carnegie Wylie & Co have agreed

to buy the credit information

service Dunn & Bradstreet from

AMP Capital. No price has been

given. The deal follows news

earlier this week that Pacific

Equity Partners is buying Veda

Advantage, the credit checking

service that used to be known

as Baycorp. Transport and logistics giant Toll Holdings

has been forced to offer the

competition watchdog a new set

of undertakings to try to win

approval for a planned re

structure. Toll wants the

separate it infrastructure

assets into a new entity. It is

promising the newly formed

infrastructure company and the

Toll Group itself will have

independent and separate boards

with no cross shareholderings.

The ACCC will deliver its final

ruling by April 13th.

Now for a quick look at the

major movers on our market

today. Nickel producer Minara

Resources was the big winner

sky-rocketing 11.5%. West Australian Newspapers climbed

over 6% after the Seven Network

upped its stake in the group.

Regional pay TV provider Austar

add ed 48% and insurer QBE

climbed 2% after saying it

should meet its full ier profit

forecast. On currency markets

the Australian market has

paired losses after the

decision not to raise rates.

Commodity markets, just before

the announcement of the release

of the British sailors gold had

reached a 5-week high and the

price of crude oil was little

changed. From commodities to

gambling and new world gaming

co-owned by PBL and Macquarie

Bank has bought Canada's

Gateway Casinos for $755

million. The acquisition of

Gateway's nine casinos as part

of a joint venture's offshore

expansion plans. Well, why PBL

now earns more money from

gaming than media, it's still

expected to play a major role

in changes to the media

landscape in this country following today's introduction

of new ownership rules. On Day

1 of the legislation there,

were more signs of a shake-up.

As we just mentioned, the

regional pay TV operator Austar

is the latest to condition firm

it is a potential target. We

will har later from

Communications Minister Helen

Coonan but now Neal Woolrich

take as closer look at both

predator and prey. Even before

the new media laws came into

force, local moguls were

clamouring to be a part of the

action. Last year PBL and

Channel 7 announced private

equity deals. Now the regional

pay TV operator Austar has had

a preliminary approach about a

possible transaction. This is a

frenzy. It happened 280 years

ago when the laws changed and

it is only a once-in-a-lifetime

opportunity for these big

companies to get placed in what

is a solid business base in the

media. Harold Mitchell says the advertising market remains

strong and that is driving dr

in media stocks. Over the past

15 years, there's been only two

downturns, but that only

followed a very big upswing.

Right at the moment we are

seeing further growth until the

end of this year. Quite

frobibly into the next year. It

is a strong base and the prices

are probably justified in the

main. In the recent weeks it's

been the smaller players that

have captured investors'

attention. Austar's share

prices climbed 27% in a further

night. West Australian News

17th and Southern Cross

Broadcasting 18 t%. For a

private equity Bowyer anybody

where the strong free cash

flows and they can introduce

quite a lot of debt and average

it up is attractive. Also where

there is opportunities for cost

savings. I think that is

limited in the media sector as

the companies are pretty well

run or there's opportunities to

maybe sell on some assets. But

the position of Fairfax remains

uncertain. The publisher has

n't struck a private equity

deal and News Corp which is

widely considered a possible

suitor is yet to pounce. I

think it's got some very strong

mass heads, especially the

'Sydney Morning Herald' and the

'Age' in Melbourne which would

be attractive to a strategic

buyer and then it's got a strong digital

franchise. Telstra remains the

unknown quantity in Australia's

media shake-up. Efrlier this

week Sol Trujillo invited 20

top advertising executives for

a private briefing. Harold

Mitchell says the company gave

no detail but is showing

intense interest in the sector.

In the media business you need

to be doing it for a long time

and to be good at it. You'd

have to stand back and say this

is what they've been very good

at doing over a long period of time and right at the moment

they haven't. They've a long

way to go if they want to turn

the technical abilities into a

real business. Media analysts

glow that it is now a case of

almost anything goes and it's

the cashed up players like PBL

and Sthaen are best placed to

capitalise on the new

laws. Neal Woolrich reporting.

To look at today's media

changes and the latest on the

debate about who will build a

new fibre broadband network in

Australia I was joined in the

studio by Communications

Minister Helen Coonan earlier

this evening. Senator Coonan welcome to 'Lateline

Business'. Thank you,

Ali. Let's start with the new

media laws. When you first

announced them we saw a flurry

of deals and today we've seen

sent marginally up in stake at

West Australian Newspapers. Do

you think from today we'll get another round of

consolidation? I wouldn't want

to speculate on this and when I

did say that I didn't think

that there would be a flurry.

What I was talking about is

that there is only a certain

number that are permitted under

the new rules and all of the

pre-positioning has largely

been to do with foreign investment and could have taken

place under the old rules, the

old media rules. Do you

acknowledge it is now going to

be a world of fewer bigger

players? I don't necessarily

accept that. I mean it is

possible that there can be some

sensible consolidation, but

when you look at it now with

online I recently saw a survey.

It was a Nielsen net survey

which said as of February 2007

the second biggest audience

reach was Google. But the

Internet isn't necessarily

providing local content and if

you've got a situation where

let's say Channel 7 bows newspapers. Two owners become

one. Let's say there is a whole

range of things that are being

mooted where you are going to

have fewer bigger players? You

also might have new players.

For instance, the potential

play of Seven with West

Australian Newspapers, that's a

new newspaper operator. It is

not Fairfax and it is not

Murdoch. So I think we rather

than speculate about this, I

don't think the sky will fall

in. The earth hasn't moved

today. We've known about the

pro-positioning now for months

and I do emphasise that most of

it, if not all of it, could

have taken place under the old

media laws and not the new

ones. If we would look at telecommunications and the

whole issue of who is going to

build a fibre broadband

network. You made the point

today that for a competitor to

Telstra to build one three

things need to happen: you

have to force Telstra to give

access to its infrastructure

for the so-called last mile.

That is something that Telstra

says it won't do. You have to

legislate to make sure that

Telstra won't duplicate any

rival network. Basically you,

have to force Telstra to use a

rival network. You've called

those three things almost

insurmountable problems. They

insurmountable, aren't are not almost, they are

they? Not if you want massive

intervention, but I think what

we need to do is to ensure that

this network gets built, that

it provides open access, that

it doesn't destroy competition,

that it provides a proper

commercial return for the

builder and ultimately that it

looks after the long-term

interests of consumers. We know

all of the elements and it is a

matter of ensuring that if

Telstra, for example, was to

risk shareholders' capital, it

does so in such a way that it

balances all of the other

competing interests. So not

insurmountable if you are ready

to have mass ever intervention.

Are you prepared to massively

intervene? I've always said I'm

not prepared to roll back the

competition regime. At least on

my watch there will be a

competitive framework. I don't

think that is inconsistent,

however, with making sure that

Telstra's identified obstacles

to investment can be address ed

within the existing regulatory

frame work. So the only way we

are going to get a fibre

broadband network is if Telstra

builds it? No, I don't think

that is right. An infrastructure builder may

build it. You've just said

yourself there are throw

insurmountable objects - I

didn't say that. I said it is

almost insurmountable. It

depends if you want to pay for it. You said you aren't

prepared. We are talking about

a fixed line investment of

fibre. If somebody wants to

build a different kind of

platform that's another set of

considerations. I don't think

we need to get too excited

about just one, but if you are

looking at a fibre to the node

network as opposed to the fibre

to the home network, different

considerations apply and what

I've said is that I believe

that the regulatory environment

that will enable a proper

commercial response to roll out

of this magnitude are there,

but I'm interested to ensure

that all of the suite of things

that can be called upon will

work to ensure that outcome. So

before we look at the swet of

things, if we can clarify - we

are talking fibre to the node

and that's all that G 9 is

talking F it is foib tore the

node, it really has to be

Telstra? In the foreseeable

future it has to be Telstra.

That's not to say in the long

term, years perhaps, you might

look at doing it a different

way F the people of Australia

want a fibre to the network, a

fixed new network, fibre

fiebzer to the node network and

fixed network in an acceptable

kind of timeframe before the

technology might become redown

dent, you've got to look at how

best to do it. You've got to do

it in an efficient way and

clearly the most efficient way

is to ensure that Telstra is

enabled in a way that they can

build it with a proper

commercial return, but there is

proper access for competitors

and that you don't do it at the

expense of simply winding back

the competition laws. So what

can you do to enable Telstra?

What is within your

power? Look, there's a suite of

things in the Parliament powers

- powers that Parliament gave

to the mince of the day to be

able to do a whole lot of

things and a lot of things

interelate. For instance, the

interservice obligation has

been a bone of contention for Telstra. They've considered

that they are not properly

remunerated for supplying what

is in effect is social

obligations for rural and

regional Australia. There is licence conditions and a whole

lot of things. And ministerial

pricing power. There are. Are

you prepared to use them? I'm

not contemplating using

ministerial price ing

interventions, but they are

there. What about pricing determinations? They are there,

but they wouldn't be setting

prices. That's a regulator's

job. How else then do you break

this deadlock? You have Telstra

over here saying they are not

going to build it and you

essentially are saying this is

what we want in a particular

timeframe, we have to enable

them to build it? I'm sure you

would love to, Ali, be in

discussions that we are having.

I don't think it is appropriate

or fair to anyone having these

discussions that blow by blow

descriptions of issues are

publicly ventilated. What I

think is fair to say is that I

think everyone would recognise

that for a build of the

magnitude, a commercial build

of the magnitude that is

contemplated here, will require

a proper return. I think

everyone would think that was

appropriate. How can you ensure

a proper return, though, if

you're not going to intervene

on pricing? That is a matter

for the ACCC actually. The ACCC

is there to set prices. There

is currently a complete and

utter stand-off. Well, I don't

know that that is quit right. I

mean, you've seen discussions

as recently as I think

yesterday saying that the

agreement had got to about 98%

between the regulator and

Telstra. Now, I haven't been

privy to all of that. But that

was months ago they got that

point and there is nothing

further. Well, you don't know

that. Can you confirm there

hasn'ting? Further? What I can

confirm is I'm interested in

ensuring if there are

regulatory obstacles that can

be sorted out within the

existing regulatory framework

that is in fact I think an

appropriate job for me to see

if I can facilitate it. So

you're talking to Telstra and

you are obviously talking to

the ACCC, are you close to a

resolution? That will remain to

be seen. I'm not going to be

predict ing. Senator Coonan,

thank you for joining us. Thank

you, Ali. With the markets due

to close early tomorrow forrer

the Easter break, Thursday's

business diary is look ago

little thin. Rural Press

preference shareholders will

vote on Fairfax Media's $3

billion takeover bid. Ordinary

shareholders get their say

later in the month. The cash

card retail business will be

released and Joe seas the Bank

of England will make its latest determination on monetary

policy. Before we go, a look at

what is making news in the business sections of tomorrow's

papers. The 'Age' is confident

Wesfarmers' record takeover bid

will be topped.'The Australian'

examined the war of words

that's broken out between

Alinta and its would-be owner

Macquarie Bank and the 'Sydney

Morning Herald' looks at

today's comings and goings in

the media sector. That's all

for tonight. As I leave you,

the FTSE is down 3. The Dow is

up 11 on the opening. Brent

crude is down around 33 cents

off the back of the

announcement from Iran it will

immediately free the 15 British

sailors. If you want to review

any of tonight 's stories from

tonight's show you can visit

our website at


You can write to us at the

address on our screen. Latelinebusiness@your.abc.net.au.

I'm Ali Moore. Goodnight. Closed Captions by CSI

THEME MUSIC After more than five years at Guantanamo Bay,