THE NEWS WRAP: Hockey identifies $130 billion in assets for privatisation

Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey has identified up to $130 billion in state and federal government assets that could be privatised in order to find new infrastructure investments.

 

“We need to facilitate private-sector investment in infrastructure and in Australia in particular, because mining investment is coming off,” Hockey told Fairfax.

 

“We’ve got to recycle precious capital – taxpayers’ capital. It’s not a case of selling the family jewels, it’s asking another member of the family to buy the jewels so that we can then go down the road and buy some more.

 

“We’re not selling assets particularly to reduce debt, we’re selling assets to allow us to put money into other things that are going to build the economy of tomorrow.”

 

Unemployment hits 6%

 

Australia’s unemployment rate has hit 6%, its highest level since July 2003, with 3700 jobs lost in January, according to new Australian Bureau of Statistics figures.

 

The figure shows 7100 full-time positions were cut, while 3400 were added, as the participation rate remained steady at 64.5%.

 

Victoria, traditionally a manufacturing state, recorded an unemployment rate of 6.4% – its worst since January 2002, while Western Australia saw a seasonally adjusted jump in its unemployment rate from 4.6% to 5.1%.

 

Tasmania recorded the worst unemployment rate at 7.6%, although this is down from 8% earlier this year.

 

Victorian Premier hailed as a hero for $22 million SPC Ardmona pledge

 

Victorian Premier Denis Napthine has announced it will chip in $22 million to refit SPC Ardmona’s food processing plant, with parent company Coca-Cola Amatil chipping in a further $78 million.

 

The deal specifies at least 500 staff will have to be employed at the plant for a minimum three years, and the cash payment will be repaid by the company if it leaves Shepparton within the next five years.

 

“This co-investment will deliver a bright future for SPC Ardmona. It is a great day for jobs in Shepparton and the Goulburn Valley, a great day for SPC Ardmona, a great day for our fruit growers and fruit industry and a fantastic day for Victoria,” Napthine says.

 

Australian Workers Union state secretary Ben Davis praised the state Liberal government for the pledge.

 

“Denis Napthine has done what Tony Abbott should have done, and there is a real lesson in this for the Abbott government – this is how you support businesses that are doing it tough,” Davis says.

 

Overnight

 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up to 5319.8. The Aussie dollar is down to US89.9 cents.

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