China puts weapons on its new artificial islands

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China has moved weaponry onto artificial islands that it is building in contested areas of the South China Sea, adding to the risks of a confrontation with the United States and its regional security partners including Australia.

Australian officials are concerned that China could also introduce long-range radar, anti-aircraft guns and regular surveillance flights that will enable it to project military power across a maritime expanse which include some of Australia’s busiest trading lanes. Continue reading

Budget 2015: Federal Government set to introduce tax on bank deposits, Labor accuses Tony Abbott of backflipping on election promise

In Australia it will now cost you to deposit your own money into your own bank account, courtesy of the government and against the banking industry’s wish.

 

The Federal Government looks set to introduce a tax on bank deposits in the May budget.

The idea of a bank deposit tax was raised by Labor in 2013 and was criticised by Tony Abbott at the time.

Assistant Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has indicated an announcement on the new tax could be made before the budget. Continue reading

Is Germany Still in the Race for Australia’s Biggest Arms Deal of the Century?

Angela Merkel is aggressively pushing for Germany to win a contract to build 12 submarines.

Tomorrow’s issue of Der Spiegelfeatures a story on Angela Merkel’s efforts to secure one of the largest arms deals in Germany’s history. The article discusses the, according to a German government source, “outstanding” opportunity for the German arms industry should the German manufacturer ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) be awarded the contract to build up to twelve new submarines for the Australian Royal Navy.  TKMS’s offer, the 4,000 tons HDW class 216 is a submarine, specifically designed to meet Canberra’s needs, which is looking to replace its aging Collins-class submarine fleet. Continue reading

Two men arrested in Sydney in counter-terrorism operation

A man has been charged after he allegedly was found with documents designed to facilitate a terrorist attack against potential government targets in Sydney, police say.

Sulayman Khalid, 20, from Regents Park in Sydney’s west, faced Parramatta Local Court on Wednesday after he was charged by counter-terrorism police overnight.

A second man was also charged by counter-terrorism police overnight with breaching a control order.  Continue reading

G20: Russia say warships heading towards Brisbane are taking part in routine exercise

A fleet of Russian warships continued to steam south closer to the G20 host city of Brisbane on Thursday as experts stressed the show of force was aimed at the world as a whole, not just Australia.

Reports indicate that Australia is sending two additional warships to its surveillance mission, with supply ship the HMAS Sirius joining the HMAS Parramatta and HMAS Stuart, and the HMAS Sydney preparing to also potentially join them.

Defence sources said the four ships, which include the Pacific flagship missile cruiser Varyag, were on a course that would put them in international waters off Brisbane by the time the international gathering gets under way on the weekend. Continue reading

Australia for sale: Investment bankers cashing in on Tony Abbott’s infrastructure push

You don’t necessarily sell your farm to finance building a road that won’t produce revenue leading back to the very same farm that is now not yours unless times are extremely hard. This compromise of Australian national security is likely a good buying opportunity for the Chinese who would love to purchase more influence in Oceana. The implications of this will span generations — all for a short-term gain.

 

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is turning out to be an investment banker’s best friend.

His center-right government is in the midst of an unprecedented push to build public infrastructure — and to finance the program, regional authorities are busy selling off state assets, creating a boon for bankers just as Australian corporate mergers and acquisitions slow. Banks including Macquarie Group Ltd., Morgan Stanley and UBS AG have been hired to sell everything from ports to electricity grids, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Advisory fees from the biggest asset sales may reach about $100 million, almost triple the total haul for government-related work last year, estimates Jeffrey Nassof, an analyst at New York-based Freeman & Co. Continue reading