Building collapse

THE collapse of major Mid West building company sparked our interest this week when our investigations revealed a link to Premier Geoff Gallop.

As outlined in our story, the link is a familial one and we have seen nothing to suggest that Dr Gallop has had any connection with the business other than that.

The facts as far as we can ascertain are that his father

was company secretary for some time in the past and his older brother, Laurence, is a director and company secretary.

The company is Geraldton Building Co and it was put into liquidation with debts totalling around $3 million.

While there is nothing politically sinister in that, there is good reason to highlight this issue.

Firstly, in these troubled times it is interesting to see a leader such as Dr Gallop experiencing what so many of his voters may also be going through.

It is good to be reminded that leaders are not immune to the troubles that plague the rest of us.

Many people reading these pages will have family members who have recently found the going too tough for whatever reason and their business has failed.

Perhaps many more have relations who have been laid off or made redundant.

Such an experience no doubt will have some impact on Dr Gallop. Perhaps that is all for the better during such tough economic circumstances.

But, of equal importance, there are the potential implications of the collapse.

We would not suggest that the Premier would do anything improper in relation to his brother’s company’s plight but there is always the possibility that something unforeseen could emerge. Something from left field which changes the dynamics in an unpredictable way.

Would John Howard have expected his brother’s involvement in a textile company to have embroiled him in a national controversy over workers’ entitlements? Probably not.

Could former WA Premier Richard Court have imagined his brother Ken’s involvement in the world of financial services would become a thorn in the Liberal’s side for almost a year and probably help cost it Government?

I doubt it.

That is the amazing thing about politics, it is the unexpected things which capture the public interest and turn mundane events into matters of apparent substance.

It ain’t over

THE events in Afghanistan have proved fascinating during the past two weeks.

The speed with which the US-led offensive has crushed the Taliban certainly surprised me, and ended many of the potential Vietnamese analogies.

Of course, its not over.

Apart from remnants of the former regime and finding Osama bin Laden, there are still many more hurdles.

One will be to keep the anti-Taliban forces under control.

The other appears to be increasing talk of taking the war to other parts of the Middle East and some of the more troubled areas of Africa.

And there’s the ongoing question of ending the fighting between Israel and the Palestinians.

Without wanting to over-simplify some extraordinarily complicated issues, it seems to me that there is a strong correlation between the current international crisis and domestic problems such as crime.

There is always a time when more police and tougher laws are necessary to keep the general community protected.

But over-reliance on the law enforcement can create a false appearance of calm when, in reality, the course of crime is left unresolved.

The same can be said of war and international affairs.

There has come a time for resolve, to get on with the job and put those who want to upset world order back in their place.

But the “policemen” must be able to pick the right time to stop.

When to use the megaphone rather than storming the building, is a learned art.

Alcoa woes

ALCOA has been in the limelight for all the wrong reasons of late.

The company has faced tough questioning over its environmental record and received a severe bashing in the media.

Ironically, it is very difficult for a big multi-national organisation to respond to such attacks and I have some sympathy for Alcoa, if only because, in the past, they have appeared to do more than most in dealing with sensitive comm-unity issues.

It is unlikely Alcoa staff will be used to handling such criticism yet any attempt to bring in more battle-hardened spin doctors will only appear like a cynical exercise.

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