THE development of the Gorgon gas field off Western Australia’s north west coast is shaping as the major test of the Gallop Government’s business-friendly credentials ahead of the next election.
While Labor won some early business credits with its decision to, at least, break up Western Power, it has yet to reap a dividend from that move with the reform process testing its own timetable.
Its decision to keep retail trading restricted has divided the business community and few, apart from some construction companies, believe its major infrastructure project (the southern rail link) is worth doing at all.
So, try as it might, it has done little to win business over.
Add to this its election-winning hangover in the South West forests and the axing of Maud’s Landing at Ningaloo and suddenly you have a worrying green tinge as the parties gear up for the next poll.
Environmental electioneering makes business turn green, too, but in a very different way.
There is major concern that if ChevronTexaco is not allowed to develop Gorgon by placing infrastructure on Barrow Island, WA would be stepping back a decade or more to the days when nothing could be done for fear of the environmental lobby.
The funny thing is that it is the result of that campaigning of days gone by that provides all the more reason why Gorgon should be developed by using Barrow Island.
These days resources developments live under such tight restrictions (not to mention the bad press associated with environmental disasters) that conservationist have few valid reasons to object to well-structured plans.
In many ways a profitable oil and gas giant is probably the perfect policeman to ensure the huge, unused portion of Barrow Island remains in pristine condition – as it has for the past two decades of oil and gas development.
MIGRATION is an issue WA Business News has touched on many times.
This week we have delved back into this topic, something which is very important to our State, the recipient of almost a third of the nation’s business immigrants.
I believe that significant immigration, of all types, is necessary for this State but business-based arrivals are the most important, particularly with the relatively low numbers of migrants we receive each year.
What could be a greater signal of success in your economy than having people actually wanting to move here to invest, and bring their dollars with them.
So it is with some concern that I have watched the political process bite into immigration and, more recently, create changes that could affect WA’s chances of attracting the right type of investor to our State.
I understand that security issues are paramount but we must be careful not to kill the goose.
Foreigners that choose to come here with capital and good ideas should not be spurned.
Check them carefully, by all means. Improve the way that their progress and investment is audited, certainly.
But don’t make them choose between here and somewhere else simply because of a mountain of red tape.
There is a global battle on for these type of people and we have to make sure we are winning it.
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