Fels has no fear of ACCC review

THE chairman of the ACCC, Professor Alan Fels, said he has no fear that big business will use a review of the ACCC’s powers to attack him.

In recent weeks many prominent businessman, including Geoff Dixon and Dick Warburton, have attacked the ACCC’s methods, especially relating to the way it attracts media attention for its investigations.

But on weekend television, Mr Fels said business representatives regularly attacked the ACCC behind closed doors.

He said that, in his opinion, if business put its case to the independent assessment, the commission would “come out of it very well”.

“Politicians understand that there will be strong complaints about an effective competition regulator because it takes on the most powerful, well-resourced organisations in the country for the benefit of the public and in order to get a competitive, efficient economy,” Mr Fels told the ABC.

Wind and coal to power project

AHEAD of more State Government statements on the reform of WA’s electricity market, Griffin Energy, one of the State’s largest private companies, this week announced plans for a $500 million 400 megawatt coal-fired power plant at Collie and a joint venture wind power project north of Perth. The company, which says the Griffin Group has the cash-flow to fund the power station in total, also proposes to collect saline water that normally flows into the Wellington Dam, in its mine voids, to be used in local power stations.

Gindalbie glows

SUBSTANTIAL annual profits and losses by major banks, vehicle manufacturers and international energy companies have over-shadowed some of the other numbers announcements lately. One by new WA gold producer Gindalbie Gold reported operating costs of $A237 per ounce against an April average sales price of $A539 per ounce, which has prompted the forecast of a $6.5 million full year net profit.

Rate rises spark comment

THE inevitable debate continued through the week on the virtue or otherwise of further interest rate rise predictions. Effects on employment, housing, business confidence and low wage earners were all aired, while the Australian Industrial Relations Commission granted the lowest Federal awards wage workers an extra $18 per week, boosting the national minimum wage to $431.40.

WA Consumer and Employment Protection Minister John Kobelke welcomed the commission’s $18 a week pay rise to the 1. 7 million lowest paid workers on Federal awards.

The rise will mean the national minimum wage sits at $431.40 and affects all Federal award rates.

Mr Kobelke said the $18 was an appropriate amount.

The pay rise is the highest dollar rise to be issued and the biggest percentage increase in 20 years.

The wage increase does not yet apply to state awards but comments from Mr Kobelke suggests changes are afoot.

For the wage increase to be applied to the state award it needs to be approved by the WA Industrial Relations Commission.

Questioning the media’s convictions

THE guilt of Matthew Wales, and the complicity of his wife, in the murder of his wealthy parents seems to be beyond doubt – just read the press.

Well, some of the press. Speaking on Melbourne radio, the editor of Melbourne’s Herald-Sun conceded Mr Wales had been singled out for “special attention” in that paper’s coverage of the murders

The Age’s editor, on the other hand, told the same radio station (3LO): “Some of the other media have clearly decided who is the guilty party in this murder. We have not decided. It is not up to us to decide”.

At a procedural hearing on Monday, the prosecuting lawyer in the case asked that no inappropriate media comment be made in the matter until the proceedings were concluded. The two people involved had a right to a fair trial, she said.

Bropho convicted

ABORIGINAL elder Robert Bropho was found guilty last week of assaulting a Perth news crew.

Magistrate Paul Nicholls said he found Mr Bropho’s version of the events relating to the charges against him to be implausible at best, and said he rejected Mr Bropho’s evidence. Mr Bropho was given an eight-month jail term for hitting a cameraman and a concurrent four-month term for assaulting a female reporter, but the sentences were suspended for one year.

Siege ends

THE last Palestinians have been allowed to leave Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity, having been trapped there for 39 days by Israeli soldiers.

Thirteen of the men, suspected to be militants, were deported via a British military plane to Cyprus, from where they were to be exiled to various European countries. The remaining 26 men were transferred to Gaza.

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