they maybe prefer to prepare Aus open qualies, esp. Ignatik ?
Probably. But he is not even in the list of Noumea. Maybe he may write down to play the quallies on one of the ATP tournaments of the first week or as you say straight on the quallies of the Australian Open (however I don't see that a good idea to go there just to play the quallies).
San Pablo as a 125+ gives a good amount of points and the main list is not a tough one. That's the reason why I believe that is not a bad idea to start the year on there.