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Business hopes for break in reform agenda

JOHN Howard has sailed to victory in the Federal election on, according to most analysts, the Tampa issue. It means he has the opportunity to surpass Malcolm Fraser to become the second longest serving Liberal Prime Minister after Sir Robert Menzies. Mr Howard is also claiming it gives the Coalition Government he is leading a clear mandate to push ahead with business reforms. However, many business groups are crying out for a reform holiday after the pain they have suffered in dealing with tax change. One of the first cabs off the reform rank will be the controversial Royal Commission into unions. The Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union in WA has reacted quickly to the Coalition win by calling a meeting of its members to explain how it will be handling the Royal Commission. CFMEU WA secretary Kevin Reynolds branded some of the requirements of the Royal Commission as a blatant attempt to smash his union.

THE end of the hectic five-week campaign period means campaign staff for all parties can take the political equivalent of a Bex, a strong cup of tea and have long lie down. Many of them – no matter what their political persuasion – have been working nearly 24-7 to try and get their party across the line. The election win came on the back of a 2.1 per cent swing towards the Liberal and National party Coalition. It also marked a change in the careers of two WA politicians. Kim Beazley announced he was retiring to the backbench after failing to lead Labor to victory. His departure from the leadership appears to have cleared the way for his deputy, Simon Crean, to step into the top Labor job. Former WA National Party leader Hendy Cowan conceded his nearly three-decade political career had ended after a failed bid for one of the WA Senate seats.

AND there is little question that last weekend was a bad one for Labor-supporting rugby lovers. All three of their teams suffered defeats, with rugby union’s Wallabies losing to the English at Twickenham and the national league team, the Kangaroos, going down to Great Britain in their foreshortened test series.

THE US was back on high alert this week after a jetliner carrying more than 250 people crashed in Queens, New York. The tragedy comes almost two months to the day after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center towers and a month-long spate of worldwide Anthrax scares. While officials are yet to rule out terrorism as the cause of the disaster, initial reports have indicated a mechanical failure, with witnesses reporting they saw an engine fall off the airbus seconds before it nosedived into the residential suburb. American Airlines Flight 587 had just taken off from John F Kennedy airport for the Dominican Republic when it crashed.

THE international war on terror is gathering pace, with troops from Afghanistan’s Northern Alliance moving into Kabul on Tuesday. Reports also indicated the US-backed Northern Alliance has taken control of the cities of Taloqan and Pul-e-Kumri and looks to be moving westward toward Herat. Fighting between the Northern Alliance and retreating Taliban forces was reported around the outskirts of the southern city of Kandahar.

THE State Government has given the green light to the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre, which is projected to inject between $1.5 and $2 billion into the local economy over the next 10 years. The $220 million project will be constructed by Multiplex and will include a convention and exhibition centre, 1500-bay carpark, five-star hotel and office building. The PCEC will be owned by the Wyllie Group on completion and operated by Spotless Services Australia.

TWO Western Australian companies have won $16 million worth of contracts to provide 6800 tonnes of fabricated steel for the North-West Shelf Expansion Project’s LNG Train Four. Fremantle Steel Fabrication Com-pany was awarded a $9 million contract to supply 4000 tonnes and Park Engineers Pty Ltd were awarded a $7 million contract to supply 2800 tonnes.

The two contracts are among the biggest awarded to local fabricators in recent years. To date, Australian companies have won more than $320 million worth of contracts for the LNG project and this total is expected to climb to more than $1 billion by the time the project is completed in 2004. State Develop-ment Minister Clive Brown wel-comed the news and said these contracts would be a huge boost for the local fabrication industry that had suffered badly from the recent downturn in resources investment. “The flow-on effects of these contracts will be significant, it means more jobs, job security for those already with the companies, in-creased training opportunities and a general boost to the local economy,” Mr Brown said.

CLOUGH Limited announced earlier this week it had made a placement of 38.5 million shares at 92 cents each. The proceeds from the placement will be used to fund growth initiatives, which, according to Clough managing director Brian Hewitt, could include using the funds for working capital and smaller-scale strategic acquisitions. Dr Hewitt said the shares were placed primarily with current and new institutional investors. The placement was undertaken jointly by Euroz Securities and Hartley Poynton. Clough last made a placement of 15 million shares, at 76 shares each, in April this year.



Issues of the Week

Business hopes for break in reform agenda

JOHN Howard has sailed to victory in the Federal election on, according to most analysts, the Tampa issue. It means he has the opportunity to surpass Malcolm Fraser to become the second longest serving Liberal Prime Minister after Sir Robert Menzies. Mr Howard is also claiming it gives the Coalition Government he is leading a clear mandate to push ahead with business reforms. However, many business groups are crying out for a reform holiday after the pain they have suffered in dealing with tax change. One of the first cabs off the reform rank will be the controversial Royal Commission into unions. The Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union in WA has reacted quickly to the Coalition win by calling a meeting of its members to explain how it will be handling the Royal Commission. CFMEU WA secretary Kevin Reynolds branded some of the requirements of the Royal Commission as a blatant attempt to smash his union.

THE end of the hectic five-week campaign period means campaign staff for all parties can take the political equivalent of a Bex, a strong cup of tea and have long lie down. Many of them – no matter what their political persuasion – have been working nearly 24-7 to try and get their party across the line. The election win came on the back of a 2.1 per cent swing towards the Liberal and National party Coalition. It also marked a change in the careers of two WA politicians. Kim Beazley announced he was retiring to the backbench after failing to lead Labor to victory. His departure from the leadership appears to have cleared the way for his deputy, Simon Crean, to step into the top Labor job. Former WA National Party leader Hendy Cowan conceded his nearly three-decade political career had ended after a failed bid for one of the WA Senate seats.

AND there is little question that last weekend was a bad one for Labor-supporting rugby lovers. All three of their teams suffered defeats, with rugby union’s Wallabies losing to the English at Twickenham and the national league team, the Kangaroos, going down to Great Britain in their foreshortened test series.

THE US was back on high alert this week after a jetliner carrying more than 250 people crashed in Queens, New York. The tragedy comes almost two months to the day after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center towers and a month-long spate of worldwide Anthrax scares. While officials are yet to rule out terrorism as the cause of the disaster, initial reports have indicated a mechanical failure, with witnesses reporting they saw an engine fall off the airbus seconds before it nosedived into the residential suburb. American Airlines Flight 587 had just taken off from John F Kennedy airport for the Dominican Republic when it crashed.

THE international war on terror is gathering pace, with troops from Afghanistan’s Northern Alliance moving into Kabul on Tuesday. Reports also indicated the US-backed Northern Alliance has taken control of the cities of Taloqan and Pul-e-Kumri and looks to be moving westward toward Herat. Fighting between the Northern Alliance and retreating Taliban forces was reported around the outskirts of the southern city of Kandahar.

THE State Government has given the green light to the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre, which is projected to inject between $1.5 and $2 billion into the local economy over the next 10 years. The $220 million project will be constructed by Multiplex and will include a convention and exhibition centre, 1500-bay carpark, five-star hotel and office building. The PCEC will be owned by the Wyllie Group on completion and operated by Spotless Services Australia.

TWO Western Australian companies have won $16 million worth of contracts to provide 6800 tonnes of fabricated steel for the North-West Shelf Expansion Project’s LNG Train Four. Fremantle Steel Fabrication Com-pany was awarded a $9 million contract to supply 4000 tonnes and Park Engineers Pty Ltd were awarded a $7 million contract to supply 2800 tonnes.

The two contracts are among the biggest awarded to local fabricators in recent years. To date, Australian companies have won more than $320 million worth of contracts for the LNG project and this total is expected to climb to more than $1 billion by the time the project is completed in 2004. State Develop-ment Minister Clive Brown wel-comed the news and said these contracts would be a huge boost for the local fabrication industry that had suffered badly from the recent downturn in resources investment. “The flow-on effects of these contracts will be significant, it means more jobs, job security for those already with the companies, in-creased training opportunities and a general boost to the local economy,” Mr Brown said.

CLOUGH Limited announced earlier this week it had made a placement of 38.5 million shares at 92 cents each. The proceeds from the placement will be used to fund growth initiatives, which, according to Clough managing director Brian Hewitt, could include using the funds for working capital and smaller-scale strategic acquisitions. Dr Hewitt said the shares were placed primarily with current and new institutional investors. The placement was undertaken jointly by Euroz Securities and Hartley Poynton. Clough last made a placement of 15 million shares, at 76 shares each, in April this year.



Progressive partners for arts

p Catie Low

AN innovative partnership between WMC Resources and the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts has built a stairway to the stars and inspired creativity in indigenous communities in regional WA.

WMC Resources will donate $180,000 by the end of the second three-year partnership for a number of different programs, all developed to encourage indigenous partici-pation in the arts.

The three programs include a Statewide arts competition held each year for Aboriginal high school students, five scholarships for Aboriginal students to study at WAAPA and an annual artists in residence program in remote Aboriginal communities.

WMC Resources group manager corporate affairs Peter Clough said WAAPA approached WMC in 1997 looking for some sort of support.

“It fitted very well with the sorts of things our company tries to be involved with,” he said. “We’re the one industry that is very closely in contact with indigenous people.

“It’s also an opportunity for our people to become aware of what’s going on in terms of the whole arts and performance arts area.”

The programs have proved a valuable springboard for a number of Aboriginal artists, including musician Alice Haines and her band Acoustic Dreaming, who won a WAMI Award for the best Aboriginal contemporary band,

“This is something we should be doing, we’ve got an Aboriginal employment program as well … none of our stuff is about hand outs, it’s about opportunities,” Mr Clough said.

WAAPA director Bill Gillespie said the partnership was about reaching out to younger kids to get them to think of the arts as an option.

“A lot of these kids come from disadvantaged backgrounds where for boys the only ticket out of there is sport,” he said.

“And above all else it’s encouraging and developing young people so they consider the arts as a career move.

“You just never know who’s out there … and it broadens the options kids have.”

This creative partnership has been short-listed for the 2000/2001 State Arts Sponsorship Awards.

The next issue of Business News will feature a special feature on the 2000/2001 State Arts Sponsorship Awards including a complete list of the award finalists.



Summer zephyr blows in to Perth’s magazine scene

p Catie Low

THE launch of a new national magazine early next month might prove a big hit for devotees of failed weekly freebie Perth Weekly.

Ocean Drive Australia, the sister publication of US magazine Ocean Drive, claims to be a five-star luxury lifestyle magazine for the “AAAB demographic”.

The monthly magazine, first launched nine years ago in Florida, will retail for the premium magazine market price of $9.95.

It will come up against other WA players such as four-year-old Scoop Magazine and Perth Woman, which has only been in the market for a few months.

“I just think it’s really great timing,” Ocean Drive Australia correspondent and account executive Dominique Monteleone said.

“Some of the first people who jumped on board to advertise were the Colonnade and Empire and C Restaurant.

“They were all advertising with Perth Weekly previously.”

Ocean Drive Australia publisher Stephenie Zacharia said Kate Mahon, the former editor of She magazine, has been appointed editor of the national magazine.

“It’s been a long process to get this up and running,” Ms Zacharia said.

“The launch is ideal because of the Australian cycle of behaviour. Australians are more adoptive towards the summer when they’re more relaxed.”

The Australian publication will launch nationally with a bumper summer issue at an initial print run of 50,000 copies.

The collapse of Perth Weekly has high-lighted the tough advertising market, with some companies reporting revenue falls of up to 30 per cent.

It has also highlighted the need for support by local media buyers and advertising agencies in order for ventures like Perth Weekly to survive, even with the support of a major corporation like News Ltd.

Media industry members have even expressed regret that Perth Weekly wasn’t better supported.

“You’ve got to be supported, it’s like South Australia, WA and to certain degree Queensland. They’re monopoly markets and they’re kept that way for the media’s sake,” an industry source said.

“If media buyers were better educated it would have been a lot better supported.”



Court ruling put to its first test

p Noel Dyson

UNION groups have been quick to exercise the right of entry privileges they say their recent Supreme Court win granted them.

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union won an appeal to the full bench of the Supreme Court against the conviction of its organiser, Walter Molina, for remaining on a construction site without lawful authority.

The court ruled that, while the principal contractor BGC did not employ any union members, one of its subcontractors did.

The court also ruled that the principal contractor did not have full control of the site. The sub-contractors were in control of the part of the site they were working on.

CFMEU State secretary Kevin Reynolds said the union had already put the decision to the test by going onto sites that traditionally barred entry to its organisers without the police being called.

“The court decision clears up the argument as to whether union officials have a right of entry to a building site,” Mr Reynolds said.

“It means we can go onto a site whether there is a union member there or not, providing there are people eligible to be members of our union.”

BGC Construction general manager Gerry Forde said Mr Reynolds’ claim that unions could just walk onto a site without union members was wrong.

“Under both the State and Federal Awards there are right of entry rules. The trouble is the CFMEU doesn’t stick to those rules,” Mr Forde said.

He said the court decision re-emphasised that BGC was not an employer under the Award but also added more confusion to the question of who occupied the site.

“Who has responsibility for safety on the site or for insurance? Is it the subcontractor ‘occupying’ that part of the site at the time?”

Master Builders Association industrial relations manager Kim Richardson said the association was still waiting for a legal opinion on the decision.



New direction

A UNIVERSITY of Western Australia Science faculty breakfast tomorrow, to explain a new direction for 2002, is one of a series of events designed to publicise the university’s review of operations.

Under the changes, eight current science departments will become four schools of the newly named Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences.

UWA registrar Peter Curtis said the restructuring would achieve economies of scale, particularly in administration, but also was aimed at creating larger disciplinary units which would be better able to chase research grants and industry contracts.

UWA has been among the top three Australian institutions (per staff member) for winning research grants and work contracts in the past several years, but competition is increasing and Mr Curtis said the university “needed to be running to stand still”.



Cost cutting

FOUNDATION Healthcare’s WA administration is set to feel the brunt of cost cutting and corporate relocation to Sydney.

It is understood a significant number of the group’s 20-25 WA workers have been given notice, but Foundation management could not be contacted to confirm the details.

The group, co-founded by WA businessman Michael Boyd, announced a cost cutting program in August after a huge buying spree that has brought around 1000 general practitioners into its medical empire.

Foundation’s cost cutting has helped put its earnings back in the black, boosting its share price to around 50 cents from a low of 16 cents.



Tower approval

FUTURE 239, the $200 million office tower proposed by the Hawaiian Management Group, has been approved unanimously by the Perth City Council.

Hawaiian has received a development approval for a futuristic 29-storey building that will stand on pillars six-stories above streets level.

Approval was also granted for the demolition of BP House, which presently occupies the Bishops See site.

The tower will include 47,372sqm of office space, ground floor retail and consulting rooms, conference facilities and a five-level basement car park.

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