$600bn boost tipped from iron ore: report

The iron ore industry is tipped to contribute more than $600 billion to the Australian economy over the next decade, despite falling prices for the steel-making commodity.

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The prediction by the Minerals Council of Australia came in a report which also found iron ore output rose from 17 million tonnes in 2000 to more than 650 million tonnes in 2014.

Australia’s iron ore market share had lifted from 34 to 50 per cent over the same period.

The report forecast “robust” strength for the sector, saying the industry would contribute more than $600 million to Australia’s economy over the coming 10 years even if prices remain at long-term average prices or below.

And it noted that more than 80 per cent of local capacity was among the cheapest to produce in the world.

“Australia now has a 50 per cent share of the seaborne market, a share built on vastly expanded production volumes which now exceed 650 million tonnes per year,” the report said.

“This will enable the industry to add more value to the Australian economy over the next decade than over the previous 10 years.”

However, on prices it conceded that some forecasts of spot prices for the next several years suggest further falls.

The report urged government to help boost productivity growth and cost competitiveness in the sector through workplace reform, promoting free and open markets and “stable and competitive tax and royalty arrangements”.

The report, released Tuesday, comes as exports of iron ore volumes rise, but prices slide.

Last week, figures released by the Pilbara Ports Authority showed June iron ore exports from Port Hedland rose 14 per cent to 38.3 million tonnes compared to the same month a year earlier.

The surge in exports to China comes as the world’s largest iron ore miners continue to be accused of flooding the market and driving prices lower, with many analysts tipping the price of Australia’s biggest export earner to fall below $US50 a tonne because of a global oversupply.

The report comes after steep falls in iron ore prices in recent weeks.

The Steel Index reported that iron ore closed at $US52.00 on Monday, down 3.9 per cent, while the Metals Bulletin had iron ore closing at $US52.28, down 5.4 per cent.

Bill Cosby admits in 2005 lawsuit he drugged women for sex

According to court documents, Bill Cosby, 77, made the admission during testimony in a civil case brought by a former Temple University employee, Andrea Constand, who alleged that Cosby tricked her into taking drugs before he sexually assaulted her.

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The case was settled for an undisclosed sum in 2006 but the documents in the case were unsealed on Monday after the Associated Press went to court.

Cosby’s lawyers had argued that the documents would cause severe embarrassment to the comedian-actor, who is best known for playing lovable father figure Dr. Cliff Huxtable on the hit TV comedy series “The Cosby Show” in the 1980s and 1990s.

A representative for Cosby did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Monday.

More than 40 women have come forward in the past year alleging Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted them in incidents dating back decades. His attorneys have consistently denied the allegations.

Cosby has never been criminally charged and most of the allegations exceed the statute of limitations. However, his career has taken a hit in the past year with TV projects and live shows being canceled. He also stepped down from the board of trustees at Temple University, his alma mater. 

Cosby testified that in the 1970s he had obtained seven prescriptions for Quaaludes, the brand name for a sedative and muscle relaxant that was widely abused as a recreational drug in the 1970s.

“When you got the Quaaludes, was it in your mind that you were going to use these Quaaludes for young women that you wanted to have sex with?” Cosby was asked in the 2005 deposition. 

“Yes,” he replied. 

Asked whether he ever gave them to young women, his lawyers raised a lengthy series of objections. 

Cosby testified later that he gave Constand one and a half pills of the over-the-counter antihistamine drug Benadryl. Cosby has said little directly about the slew of allegations against him, telling ABC television in an interview in May that he did not wish to discuss them.

“I can’t speak; I just don’t want to argue; I don’t talk about it,” Cosby he said.

(Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Jill Serrjeant, Bill Trott and Lisa Shumaker)

 

Former cop Tasered, sexually assaulted ex

A former Czech police officer tracked down his ex-girlfriend in Sydney, Tasered her, cut off her hair, and sexually assaulted her.

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A month later he wrote to her from prison offering her $2000 to drop the charges, a court has heard.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, returned home in June last year to find her ex-boyfriend Pavel Svanda standing outside her block of flats unannounced.

Surprised, as she did not know he was in Australia, the woman agreed to consider showing him around Sydney.

She later ignored his attempts to contact her further.

But two days later, Svanda turned up again.

Thinking it was someone else, the woman buzzed him in and was shocked to find him in her doorway.

Court documents state Svanda grabbed her, placed his hands over her mouth, dragged her to one of the bedrooms and Tasered her in the back.

“She felt pain and electricity going through her body and heard a crackling noise,” facts state.

When she tried to get away, he warned if she didn’t obey him he would hold down the Taser longer so it would finish her off.

He forced her on to the bed, bound her with black tape and gagged her.

Svanda then began hacking away at the woman’s hair with a razor and scissors.

Once this was done, Svanda repeatedly sexually assaulted her.

He left, warning her not to tell anyone about the attack.

He was arrested the next day.

A month later, court documents state the woman received a letter from Svanda in Silverwater prison apologising for what he had done and offering her $2000 to withdraw the charges against him.

The details of Svanda’s crimes can now be revealed after he pleaded guilty in Sydney’s District Court last month to a range of charges, including aggravated sexual assault, take and detain and acting with intent to influence a witness.

Court documents state the 38-year-old was a former police officer from the Czech Republic.

He is set to face sentencing in September.

IOOF denies dodgy business

Financial Services firm IOOF has rejected claims of widespread corporate misconduct following claims of serious wrongdoing among its staff.

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The company is fronting a senate economic committee inquiry on Tuesday into the financial advice industry, sparked by recent media reports of alleged corporate breaches at IOOF.

According to the media reports, IOOF is said to have previously investigated misconduct within its business, including allegations of insider trading and cheating on training exams, but failed to always notify the corporate regulator.

Last month, IOOF hired accounting giant PwC to review its regulatory breach reporting policy and procedures within the firm’s research division, where the breaches are alleged to have taken place.

Addressing Tuesday’s inquiry, IOOF managing director Christopher Kelaher defended the company’s compliance culture.

“These allegations have caused great distress to our investors, shareholders and the nearly 2000 of our staff across Australia,” Mr Kelaher told the committee.

“I’m confident I can confirm to you and the broader community that our company has an extremely strong compliance culture.

“Any claims of widespread wrongdoing have no basis on fact.”

He said the allegations centred largely around the conduct of the equity research team, currently made up of nine staff.

“The issues raised were historic, they were all identified internally and are certainly not indicative of any systemic failure,” he said.

“Each matter has been thoroughly investigated and where appropriate remedial action has been undertaken.”

The firm has previously said that most of the matters raised by Fairfax news reports had been addressed by thorough internal and board reviews, notifying industry regulators, ongoing checks of compliance measures and controls, employee education and independent investigation.

Mr Kelaher said an allegation of frontrunning – an illegal stockbroking practice – was investigated in 2009, but not substantiated.

“No insider trading has been detected, no short selling activity identified,” he said, adding that PwC had been engaged in late 2014 to investigate possible frontrunning at the company.

“These independent accountants have confirmed that no frontrunning had taken place between 2008-09 and 2014,” he said.

Mr Kelaher denied suggestions the company was in crisis mode, but conceded the company’s share price had dipped around 10 per cent since late June.

“The market goes down and the market goes up,” he said.

The inquiry comes amid fresh Fairfax reports that IOOF paid $2.8 million in compensation to 57 customers of its authorised financial planners over the past two years.

In its evidence, ASIC Commissioner Greg Tanzer said the corporate watchdog was looking at alleged breaches at the company.