CIMIC boosts dividend as profit grows

Construction and contract mining giant CIMIC has rewarded shareholders with a 25 per cent increase in dividends as revenue growth in all of its core businesses contributed to a 22 per cent rise in half year profit.


The company involved in major road projects including Sydney’s WestConnex and the widening of Melbourne’s CityLink made a net profit of $323 million in the six months to June 30, up from $265 million in the same period a year ago.

CIMIC, which is 73 per cent owned by Germany’s Hochtief, increased its fully franked interim dividend by 12 cents to 60 cents per share.

A substantial increase in the company’s net cash position had allowed CIMIC to better reward shareholders and more efficiently allocate capital, executive chairman Marcelino Fernandez Verdes said.

CIMIC confirmed its guidance for a full year net profit of $640 million to $700 million, an improvement on the previous year’s $580 million.

Chief executive Adolfo Valderas said the company was achieving strong profit and cash flow contributions from its construction, mining, services, and public-private partnership operations.

In the six months to June, CIMIC increased its work-in-hand by $8.9 billion to a total of $35.2 billion, equivalent to more than two years of revenue.

Important contract wins included stage 2 of design and construction works for the Sydney Metro rail project, mining services work at the Solomon iron ore mine in Western Australia and the Mount Pleasant coal mine in NSW, and the construction of Hong Kong’s East Kowloon Cultural Centre.

CIMIC said its growth would be supported by nearly $50 billion of tenders over the rest of 2017, and $320 billion of projects coming to the market from 2018.

Its shares were up 70 cents, or 1.8 per cent, at $39.07 at 1325 AEST.


* Half year net profit up 22pct to $323 million

* Revenue up 28pct to $6.3 billion

* Interim dividend up 12 cents to 60 cents, fully franked

Port old and young behind AFL rise: Ebert

Port Adelaide’s return as an AFL contender can be traced to the club’s youngest and oldest, midfielder Brad Ebert says.


After missing the finals the past two years, the Power sit in fourth spot entering Saturday’s game against Melbourne at the MCG.

Ebert says he’s among Port players being inspired by young talent such as Sam Powell-Pepper, and the selfless leadership of coach Ken Hinkley and captain Travis Boak.

Ebert says he can’t help but be lifted by the feats of Powell-Pepper, a 19-year-old who hasn’t missed a game in his first AFL year.

“It’s an impressive debut season, isn’t it,” Ebert told AAP on Tuesday.

“It’s very similar to what Ollie (Wines) did a few years back when he was just able to consistently back up week after week.

“He might have a couple of lulls here and there but his thirst for the contest has been brilliant and he’s just been so enthusiastic.

“When you get a young guy like that, and a Joey Atley coming in and really just performing their roles … it’s quite infectious.”

While Powell-Pepper has emerged as a blue-chip performer, captain Boak has moved from his customary midfield spot to a roaming half-forward role.

“That is the beauty of what Trav has been able to do as a leader,” Ebert said.

“At the start of the year we saw that there was a gap that needed to be filled and Boaky was happy to do that; he has been fantastic in what he has been able to do.”

Ebert also praised the influence of coach Hinkley for altering Port’s game style.

“Kenny has been brilliant with the way that he has coached this year,” he said.

“He is really trusting the group, he is a really good coach and knows how to work with people.

“So for us players, it’s really trying to make sure that we can repay that trust and get the job the done.”

ANZ fair for all-Sydney AFL final: Ireland

As a matter of consistency, Sydney boss Andrew Ireland believes any AFL final hosted by Greater Western Sydney should be held at ANZ Stadium.


The Swans’ stunning turnaround has suddenly made a second consecutive all-Sydney final a genuine prospect come September.

Unlike last season’s historic knockout clash when the Swans finished top, a rematch would more likely be hosted by the Giants.

Spotless Stadium has a capacity of only 24,000, much too small to accommodate the 60,000 that turned out at ANZ Stadium last year when the Giants toppled the Swans by 36 points.

And Ireland reminded the AFL that result came after the Swans were forced to cede their home-ground advantage at the SCG in favour of the larger Olympic Park venue.

“It’s a fair way off yet, the only thing I’d say is that last year we were the higher-ranked team and the AFL made a decision it should be played at ANZ and not at the SCG,” Ireland told AAP on Tuesday after the Swans launched the club’s diversity action plan ahead of Saturday’s pride game with St Kilda.

“Because the view was it was going to be a very big crowd.

“If you talk about consistency then I would have thought there’s got to be some consideration about the 40,000 people who might get locked out if it’s played at Spotless.”

The AFL no longer has a contract with ANZ Stadium, with ground management yesterday confirming they’ve had no talks with the league about this year’s finals.

But AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan suggested in February a return to the 83,500-capacity stadium may yet be possible.

Ireland also threw up the controversial option of the SCG, which can hold 46,000, something Swans chairman Andrew Pridham agreed with.

“The SCG would be my pick – I’m being serious,” Pridham said.

The sixth-placed Swans, who’ve won nine of their last 10 games, could yet earn hosting rights themselves if they can erase the two-game and percentage deficit between themselves and the third-placed GWS.

Should the Giants host an interstate side Ireland stressed they should be allowed to remain at Spotless, especially given last year’s preliminary-final loss to the Western Bulldogs did not sell out.

“Hopefully the teams can play at home if they’ve earned that right,” Ireland said.

“But as in Melbourne, Geelong hosts some teams at Geelong but if it’s a big game it goes to the MCG.”

Study finds business confusion on energy

Most Australians want businesses to use renewable energy but the nation’s companies are lagging behind in making the switch.


Just under half of Australia’s biggest businesses are using renewables, but for most it is a pretty small part of their energy mix, a new study released on Tuesday finds.

The survey of more than 90 of Australia’s biggest public and private companies, undertaken by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Clean Energy Council, finds confusion and misconception around using renewable energy.

The top reason for switching to renewables – even just a small portion – was saving money.

But companies that hadn’t made the change believed it would cost them more to use renewables than existing energy sources.

While several companies were leading the way, including Telstra and zinc refiner Sun Metals, in general Australia businesses were falling behind their global peers.

ARENA chief executive Ivor Frischknecht argues there are substantial benefits for big business, with consumers more likely to reward those that made the switch to renewables with greater loyalty and a higher tolerance of price fluctuations.

The report found about three in five local companies believed their customers didn’t care whether they used renewables or not.

But four in five Australians surveyed said big business should be using renewable energy.

Almost the same number said they would choose a product or service made with renewable energy over one that wasn’t and two in five said they’d be willing to pay a premium for the greener purchase.

Clean Energy Council head Kane Thornton said public support and the falling cost of renewables added up to a win-win for business.

“If companies stand on the sidelines for too long, they risk falling behind their competitors in terms of saving on energy costs, reaching sustainability targets and meeting changing customer expectations,” he said.

Titans confident of retaining No.7 Taylor

Gold Coast are confident of re-signing halfback Ashley Taylor on a long-term NRL contract, but are in no hurry to complete the deal.


Brisbane finalised a three-year extension with utility Kodi Nikorima on Monday, potentially bowing out of the race to lure former Bronco Taylor home to Red Hill.

Titans coach Neil Henry is more than hopeful that 22-year-old Taylor will remain at the club beyond his current deal, which ends next season.

Henry refused to read into Nikorima’s deal but reaffirmed that Taylor, who just bought a house on the Gold Coast, was in the club’s long-term plans.

“I really don’t care who they sign up there (Brisbane), all I know is that he’s signed here until the end of next year and there’s been noise of him going to various places,” the Titans coach said on Tuesday.

“But he, and Kane (five-eighth Elgey) the same, are contracted here and we see them as long-term partners in the halves at this club.

“Hopefully we can strike a deal this year for an extension for Ash. He just bought a house and is quite settled here.”

Titans boss Graham Annesley said there was no anxiety to retain Taylor, who produced one his best NRL performances last Saturday in a 30-10 demolition of Cronulla.

“Ash is a priority for us obviously and we’ve had some discussions but we’re not anxiously pursuing it,” the CEO said.

“The plan is to make sure he’s with us long term. However long that takes, it will take.”

Saturday’s trip to Penrith shapes as decisive for both clubs, with the ninth-placed Panthers one win outside the top eight on 20 points, while the Titans are 12th on 18 points.

“It’s going to be a great battle down there; it’s another one of those games we have to win,” Henry said.

“If we drop a couple of games the season won’t be there for us.”

Elgey has been named on an extended bench and did light contact work at training on Tuesday, but is likely to be given another week to make his return from a sternum injury.

Touch of politics in terrorism mega-agency

Malcolm Turnbull has delivered a solution to a problem that did not exist.


That may be selling his national security overhaul announcement a little bit short.

There was one problem which required solving – Peter Dutton and the conservative “resistance movement” within the Liberal Party.

Now Dutton has a new job which will keep him preoccupied until well into 2018 – when the next election is expected.

The prime minister insists the decision to put Dutton in charge of a new Home Affairs super-portfolio has nothing to do with his leadership.

“It is not about politics. It is about safety, Australians’ public safety,” he told reporters on Tuesday.

“The arrangements that I have announced are … logical, they are rational, they make operational sense.”

They would also give Dutton responsibility for the agencies “defending, preserving, protecting our national security at home”.

However, Turnbull admitted the changes did not come out of a review into Australia’s intelligence community, because it was not within the inquirers’ remit.

They were also rejected by a 2015 review into counter-terrorism, which stated a super agency would “likely be less, not more, responsive as large agencies tend to be less agile, less adaptable and more inward looking than smaller departments”.

And they introduce a new level of difficulty for the key intelligence agency ASIO, having to deal with two senior ministers to do its day-to-day work – Dutton and Attorney-General George Brandis who has an expanded oversight role.

Brandis says oversight and scrutiny by two ministers is not unusual, as it is the existing process for overseas spy agency ASIS and the Australian Signals Directorate requesting the okay to collect intelligence on Australian citizens.

In May, former ASIO boss Dennis Richardson told reporters if two ministers were required to sign warrants then “please, we don’t need more bureaucracy”.

Richardson told a Lowy Institute forum on Tuesday the change was difficult to criticise but also “difficult to proclaim as some great advance forward”.

“I think there is a reasonable argument in respect of immigration and bringing immigration closely together but beyond that it is primarily presentational.”

Media reports have suggested ASIO and the Australian Federal Police advised the government against a mega-agency when they were consulted on possible changes.

However, Turnbull is adamant he has the right personnel, in Dutton and Brandis, as well as the right structure to get the balance right between protecting Australians and ensuring the rule of law and oversight prevails in dealing with terrorism.

If he also solves a political problem at the same time, it’s a bonus.

Blame players not coach, says Suns’ Lynch

Gold Coast Suns standout Tom Lynch has backed under-fire coach Rodney Eade as the man for the job beyond this season.


The Suns dropped to 15th after another frustrating loss on Saturday at home and now sit three wins outside the top eight.

Despite calls for Eade to go, Suns co-captain Lynch nominated the playing group as the party responsible for another lacklustre campaign.

“All the playing group fully supports him,” the key forward said.

“The players have let themselves down. He’s coaching really well and the players are fully supporting him.”

A tight loss to Collingwood on Saturday, made more frustrating by the fact they fought back to lead mid-way through the contest, has compounded disappointment on the Gold Coast.

Slipping further away from a maiden finals appearance, Eade’s future on the Gold Coast is a topic of contention.

But Lynch is more frustrated in his own form and wants his teammates to win back some respect by performing consistently.

“We have spoken about it for far too long now, but we know we have to keep on trying and getting rid of those inconsistencies,” he said.

“We are heading in the right direction.”

That direction is north this Saturday, when the Suns meet the Western Bulldogs at Cazalys in Cairns.

The heat will be on the defending premiers too, given they are also tenuously placed outside the top eight with an 8-8 season record.

Early memories of Cairns are good for the Suns, with Karmichael Hunt booting a goal after the siren to beat Richmond in 2012.

But things haven’t gone as sweetly in recent years.

“We haven’t won there for a few years, but we have some good memories from early days,” Lynch said.

“It’s going to be warmer so I think that’s going to help us, with the Bulldogs coming from cold Melbourne. We’re pumped to get up there and play them.”

Dragons not giving 100 per cent: de Belin

St George Illawarra’s Jack de Belin has taken aim at his NRL team for playing selfish and not giving their all.


And he admits his form has stagnated as the Dragons battle a slump threatening their spot in the top eight.

The Dragons sit eighth on the ladder and play third-placed Manly at WIN Stadium on Sunday, with a loss possibly relegating them to ninth if Penrith score a big win over Gold Coast.

“We’ve got away from our team-first actions and are probably playing a little bit individualised at the moment,” de Belin told reporters on Tuesday.

“Like your little effort things … for example, kick-chase, kick-pressure, working hard on your insides, supporting your mate.

“When we’re playing well, (we’re) doing those little things and not just worry about our carries.

“We probably haven’t been doing it to 100 per cent of our effort. If you’re only doing them at 50 per cent, you’re not doing them well.”

The star lock was close to making his State of Origin debut last week as NSW 18th man, with injury clouds hovering over Blues forwards Tyson Frizell and Boyd Cordner.

De Belin’s numbers have been solid for the Dragons in 2017, improving his offensive output from last season but averaging seven fewer tackles per game.

The 26-year-old is unsatisfied with his recent performances as the Dragons reel from losing four games from five starts, including Friday’s golden-point loss to Canberra.

“It’s (form) been pretty steady. If anything, I’m probably a little bit disappointed I haven’t really continually built on it,” de Belin said.

“I’ve just kind of plateaued.”

De Belin has also spoken about the frustration around being part of a NSW squad with his sights set on playing in last week’s decider against Queensland but he wasn’t required.

Teammate Frizell and Blues captain Cordner both got up for the game – unexpectedly for de Belin.

“I didn’t want to get my hopes up but seeing Boyd earlier in the week, I didn’t think he was going to be very good,” he said.

“Even Tyson, he’s been battling injuries for a while now. I thought my opportunity would come there but it didn’t and it is pretty disappointing.”

Anger grows after police shoot Aust woman

Justine Damond and Mohamed Noor were two strangers from distant lands who arrived in America to fulfill their dreams, but in a tragic meeting in a Minneapolis alley one was killed and the other could face serious criminal charges.


Ms Damond, a peace-loving spiritual healer from Sydney’s northern beaches, was shot in the stomach by Noor, who fled war-torn Somalia as a child and became a police officer proud to serve the people of Minneapolis.

The US medical examiner who performed the autopsy on Ms Damond on Monday determined the 40-year-old’s death was a homicide.

“This individual died of a gunshot wound of the abdomen,” the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office announced.

“Manner of death is homicide.”

The tragic incident began at about 11.30pm on Saturday when Ms Damond attempted to help a person in need.

She heard the screams of a woman in the alley behind the home she shared in the middle-class neighbourhood of Fulton with her American fiance Don Damond.

Ms Damond feared the woman was being sexually assaulted and called the 911 emergency number.

Mr Damond was away on business.

Officer Noor, who had two years’ experience as a police officer, and his partner, Matthew Harrity, with just a year on the job, received the call and pulled into the alley.

Officer Noor was in the passenger’s seat of their police car, Officer Harrity was driving and from the darkness Ms Damond, dressed in pyjamas and believed to be carrying a mobile phone that may have been mistaken for a gun, approached Officer Harrity’s window.

Officer Noor fired his gun over his partner through the car door and the bullet struck Ms Damond in the stomach.

A frustrated Mr Damond says he has been been given few details from authorities about why his fiancee was fatally shot.

“Sadly, her family and I have been provided with almost no additional information from law enforcement regarding what happened after police arrived,” Mr Damond told reporters outside their home.

He said Ms Damond’s death was devastating for everyone who knew her.

“It is difficult to fathom how to go forward without her in my life,” Mr Damond said. “Our hearts are broken.”

Family, friends, locals and politicians are also frustrated that the officers’ body cameras were not turned on.

Video from the police car’s dash cam also did not capture the shooting, but community activists have requested copies of the audio from the camera that should have been running when the fatal bullet was fired.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, described as a fact finder independent of Minneapolis police, is investigating the shooting.

Audio of the police radio conversations between the officers and the dispatcher begins with the description of a “female screaming behind the building”, believed to be what Ms Damond told the dispatcher in her initial 911 call.

“Shots fired … we have one down,” one of the officers says.

The officers also call for back-up and attempt to perform CPR on Ms Damond.

Officer Noor was reportedly the first Somali-American officer at Minneapolis’ 5th Precinct.

His lawyer Tom Plunkett released a statement saying Noor offered his condolences to the family “and keeps them in his daily thoughts and prayers.”

The statement added: “He joined the police force to serve the community and to protect the people he serves. Officer Noor is a caring person with a family he loves, and he empathises with the loss others are experiencing.”

RBA more upbeat than first thought

The Reserve Bank is more optimistic about the outlook than it thought just a few weeks ago, suggesting it might not be such a global laggard in raising interest rates.


The minutes of the central bank’s June board meeting, released on Tuesday, says data for the June quarter has so far been generally been positive after slower growth in the March quarter.

The recent improvement in the labour market conditions has also been a positive development.

“The strength of recent labour market data had removed some of the downside risk in the bank’s forecast of wage growth,” the minutes say.

A broad-based recovery in the global economy has also continued with increased investment lifting labour markets in many advanced economies.

This has led to an upgrade to the expected path of monetary policy in these economies.

Economists say the tone of the minutes is more upbeat than the statement immediately after the board meeting.

“We don’t think rate rises are back on the cards yet and we would need to see an upgrade to inflation and wages forecasts to change our view of policy on hold until well into next year,” Commonwealth Bank economist Kristina Clifton said.

Financial markets are now suggesting there could be an increase in the cash rate from a record low 1.5 per cent by the middle of 2018 rather than towards the end of 2018, as was the view at the time of the board meeting.

The weekly ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer confidence index eased 0.4 per cent but held around its long term average for a third week in a row.

ANZ head of Australian economics David Plank said the recovery in confidence seen over June was likely due to the improvement in labour market conditions.

“If jobs growth continues at the pace seen in recent months, it has the potential not only to boost confidence but perhaps also challenge our view on the stable course for monetary policy in 2018,” Mr Plank said.

June jobs figures are released on Thursday.

After three months of strong gains in the number of people employed – ranging from 53,000 to 42,000 – economists expect an increase of about 15,000.

This would be enough to keep the jobless rate at a four-year low of 5.5 per cent after the steady drop from 5.9 per cent in March.