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Australian Financial Review : October 17th 2006
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Virtual Office From $100 per month 2 months at 1/2 price, no setup fees, no minimum term, no catch! • Phone answered in your company name • Boardroom and meeting rooms • Prestigious address for your business cards AUSTRALIA • NZ • ASIA • JAPAN • MIDDLE EAST • EUROPE ® Virtual Office MLC CENTRE - 9238 7611 CHIFLEY TOWER - 9293 2900 NORTH RYDE - 8875 7800 NORTH SYDNEY - 9959 2211 The Australian Financial Review www.afr.com Tuesday 17 October 2006 3 Minister warms to nuclear power Annabel Hepworth and Adrian Rollins Countdown . . . Ian Macfarlane sees an Australian nuclear power station being planned within 10 years. Photo: REUTERS KEY POINTS The federal government sees nuclear energy as an ideal way to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The energy industry remains sceptical about the prospects for nuclear power in the short term. World, page 10 Feature, page 59 Planning for a nuclear power station could begin within the next 10 years, with the federal government inten- sifying its push for atomic energy as part of the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. ''It is certainly possible that within the next 10 years a nuclear power station could begin to be planned,'' Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane said yesterday at the opening of the Pacific Basin Nuclear Conference in Sydney. ''The reality is that nuclear tech- nology is here, it is now, and it is available to be introduced into Australia's energy mix to reduce greenhouse gas within 10 years,'' Mr Macfarlane said. It would be ''10 years at the earliest before a nuclear power station was actually built in Aust- ralia'' because there needed to be a ''non-hysterical'' national debate, followed by work such as licensing on any possible plant. Meanwhile, pre-empting the find- ings of the taskforce he appointed to examine the viability of atomic energy and uranium processing, Prime Minister John Howard declared that he believed ''very strongly'' in nuclear power as part of the solution to global warming. ''Those who say they are in favour of doing something about global warming but who turn their face against considering nuclear power are unreal,'' Mr Howard said. With Australia needing an esti- mated investment of $35 billion to $85 billion in energy generation infrastructure by 2030, Mr Macfar- lane said only nuclear power had the potential to meet the increasing energy demands while ''dramati- cally'' slashing greenhouse emis- sions. But the $110 billion energy supply industry warned a credible case for nuclear power had to be demonstrated before it could be developed. Energy Supply Association of Australia chief executive Brad Page said nuclear power would ''have to make an economic business case . . . for it to be a chosen technology''. Mr Page said nuclear power was unlikely in the short term because infrastructure such as a trained workforce and a ''credible regulat- ory regime'' was needed. Ruling out government financial support, Mr Macfarlane said nuclear power ''would have to stand on its own two feet''. Further clouding the prospects for nuclear energy, industry experts warned bipartisan support for the technology was crucial, otherwise the private sector would baulk at building plants. ''No one will invest in a nuclear power station unless there is a bipartisan policy in this country because they are scared stiff [after] they had their fingers burnt 20 years ago,'' said Clarence Hardy, presi- dent of the Pacific Nuclear Council and secretary of the Australian Nuclear Association. ''They are not going to have them burnt again. They don't want to invest millions of dollars in feasi- bility studies, environmental impact statements and then the government says stop.'' Such bipartisan support seemed unlikely yesterday after Labor leader Kim Beazley reaffirmed his party's opposition to nuclear- generated electricity for Australia. Beware the genial Jekyll and Hyde middle manager Susannah Moran Enterprise, page 47 Watch out for the popular 38-year- old man in middle management who has a good work record and drives a flash car. He is the one who is most likely to be ripping off the company to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund his lavish lifestyle or gambling habit. According to a fraud survey released today by KPMG Forensic, the incidence of fraud has more than doubled in the two years since its last survey in 2004. In eight cases the fraud was more than $4 million. The survey reported 65,000 cases of fraud in 2146 Australian and New Zealand businesses, costing $159 million. In the 2004 survey, 27,657 cases of fraud were reported. The most common frauds were false invoicing and stealing cash. While the average perpetrator was a 38-year-old male, those who defrauded companies of the highest amounts were senior executives and directors who were fabricating loans and pilfering cash, said national managing partner KPMG Forensic David Van Homrigh. ''That is a major concern ± managers are the people who have the ability to neutralise internal controls and access to information technology,'' Mr Van Homrigh said. He said organised crime and identity theft were also on the rise. The survey showed that the most common reasons for theft were greed, to fund lifestyles and to feed a gambling addiction. ''Plasma TVs, the Porsche, overseas trips, [employees steal] for lifestyle things that are beyond their means,'' said Mr Van Homrigh. ''Often they are socially quite sophisticated, they are leading double lives, quite often trusted and well-liked in the office,'' he said. ''When the news comes out people are devastated, they are self-accusing . . . there is a real sense of betrayal.'' Companies with an office in Asia were more susceptible to bribes and kick-backs, Mr Van Homrigh said. ''That reflects a different cultural view and tolerance of fraud,'' he said. ''The key message for clients there is they can't move offshore and assume they are running the same risk in Asia as they do in Australia,'' he said. Mr Van Homrigh said 14 per cent of employees who stole from their employer had done it before at a previous job. One payroll clerk had reappeared three times in as many years. But companies often allowed employees to resign when they were caught because they were concerned about damage to their brand and reputation. Mr Van Homrigh said companies should ensure that staff were aware what fraud was so they could report suspicious transactions. ''In the end you won't stop fraud happening, but if that framework is in place the cost will be minimised,'' he said. Middletons Lawyers' national head of workplace relations practice, Mark Howard, said employers should check references and ask why a worker resigned. ''If something had happened three years ago you would never know.'' Mr Howard said one company had sacked a worker for dipping into the petty cash tin to fund his footy tipping competition. ''It is no different to a banker stealing $1 million,'' Mr Howard said. ''The employer sent a message that stealing is not appropriate and was behaviour that would not be accepted.''