THE NEWS WRAP: Insurers prepare for a flood of claims

Insurance companies are preparing for thousands of claims and tens of millions of dollars in damage in the aftermath of cyclone Oswald and the subsequent floods in Queensland and Northern NSW.


According to the Insurance Council of Australia, claims from the floods have already passed the 5,000 mark and account for $43 million in damages.


The situation is compounded by natural disasters in other parts of the country, including the bushfires in Tasmania, which have caused $130 million in damage so far.


Coal giants threaten legal action if unions strike against competitor


Xstrata Coal and Whitehaven Coal have taken the unusual step of threatening legal action if the Rail, Tram and Bus Union goes ahead with a threatened strike against their competitor, Asciano subsidiary Pacific National Coal.


The threat comes after New South Wales-based Pacific National walked away from pay negotiations with the union late last week.


Xstrata claims its contracts with Pacific National for rail freight from its coal mines in the Hunter Valley and in Tahmoor, south-west of Sydney, would be adversely affected by industrial action from the RTBU.


Australian Industry Group calls on Shorten to crack down on union visits


The Australian Industry Group is calling on Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten to act on recommendations to the Fair Work Act review panel dealing with excessive union visits to workplaces.


Shorten is considering changes to the right of entry rules as part of a second round of proposed changes to the Fair Work Act, which is expected to be announced in the first half of this year.


The AI Group comments come after BHP Billiton revealed it had 183 visits in the past year at its Worsley alumina plant, averaging out to a visit every two days.




The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 9.02 points or 0.06%, to 13,886.96. The Aussie dollar was up to US104.15 cents.


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