Crossed wires

MIXED signals are coming from business about the state of the WA economy.

While generally all the indicators show robustness, anecdotal evidence – the stuff that really counts – is mixed.

There is a general view that a lot of business in WA stopped dead in its tracks in July, and there are a number of reasons why this could be so.

Uncertainty over the future lies at the heart of such shudders to any system. It could have been uncertainty over the growth prospects in the local market or it may have been confusion over the new industrial relations regime.

At least one commentator, Rick Dunne from recruitment firm Beilby, believes many firms stopped hiring some time ago because of concerns about the new laws.

Against those views, I spoke to a lawyer at the weekend. Working for a major national firm, he said business had gone soft for a while but had suddenly picked up.

Big law firms generating lots of work is good for the economy, particularly when the work is in the commercial fields where it tends to be deals, contracts, mergers and acquisitions, which should generally be considered positive.

Let’s hope so.

A big tick

THE State Government is right to back development on the Burrup, even if it has taken its time to make this position clear.

Labor is learning the art of government, particularly the fact that the big deals have to be done and the State needs to be proactive in getting them done.

No deals means no development, no new jobs, no new revenue to pay for all the things voters need and, eventually, no job for politicians who do nothing.

WA is primed for a new development phase and there is no doubt that any more stuffing around would mean some projects would find another home.

But with a little effort a new expansion in the North West could underpin the economy for the next 10 years.

Of course there are major issues, such as the Burrup’s rock art, but these should not be insurmountable.

Kwinana co-exists with the ocean, beaches, recreation and residents … why can’t the Burrup?

Opposition leader Colin Barnett also has a point, though, in suggesting the alternative industrial precinct of Maitland should be developed to ensure the Burrup doesn’t take all the pressure.

Worthy push

I THOUGHT I might take a moment to spruik for the Family Business Awards night due next week.

I am a big fan of this sector and believe family businesses are a driving force in the development of new markets for WA.

There are always great stories in these events, and we look forward to presenting some of them in the newspaper in coming weeks and giving them due recognition, beyond that which they will receive on the night.

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