BlueScope steel confirms 1000 jobs to go, Libya set for rebel control: Midday Roundup

BlueScope Steel has confirmed it will slash 1000 jobs in New South Wales and Victoria and cease exporting from its local operations as the high Australian dollar and significant challenges in the global steel industry take their toll.

But the Government will attempt to assist the company by allowing it access funds from its carbon tax compensation measures earlier than expected.

BlueScope will be able to access up to $100 million in payments in the 2011-12 years that were to have been available under the Government’s Steel Transformation Plan, which is part of its carbon tax compensation package.

The company will close its No.6 blast furnace at Port Kembla near Wollongong and the Western Port hot strip mill at Hastings, east of Melbourne.

“We are experiencing significant economic challenges and structural change in the global steel industry,” the company’s chairman Graham Kraehe said in a statement released this morning.

“We are committed to making steel in Australia and can now prioritise our resources and efforts towards even better service for our domestic customers.”

The company, which reported a $1 billion loss for the 2010-11 year, has the support of its lending syndicate for the restructuring plan.

Libyan capital falls to rebel

The 42-year reign of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi is all but over after rebel forces swept into the nation’s capital Tripoli this morning and seized Gaddafi’s son.

Jubilant scenes have beamed across the world after the rebels reached Tripoli’s Green Square, although the remnants of Gaddafi’s government claimed that 1300 people had been killed in fighting overnight.

The Australian Government says it will comment on the situation in Libya once things become clearer.

Shares rise despite more pain on Wall Street

The Australian sharemarket has risen 0.9% in early trade despite another tough night on Wall Street last Friday, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell another 1.6% after the previous day’s ugly 4.5% fall.

This morning, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 36.6 points or 0.89% to 4138.5.

Australia’s were banking stocks were flat, while News Corp shares fell 2.4% to $15.23 in early trade.

The big winner of the day was gas group Bow Energy, which saw its shares climb more than 60% after Arrow Energy made a $520 million bid for the explorer.

Truckers hold anti-Government rally

A group of around 150 truck drivers have converged on Canberra to hold a protest on the steps of Parliament House, calling for fresh elections in the wake of the Federal Government’s decision to introduce a carbon tax.

The rally, which has been addressed by broadcaster Alan Jones, National Party leader Barnaby Joyce and Liberal MP Bronwyn Bishop, has been dubbed the “Convoy of No Confidence” by organisers.

It follows a larger protest help by anti-carbon-tax groups last week.

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