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Government re-routes major rail link

AFTER years of bagging the Court Government’s Graham Farmer Freeway Tunnel, WA’s new Labor Government has decided it wants one of its own. But instead of putting through another Polly Pipe for cars, it has decided to bash a railway tunnel under William Street in the city as the finishing touch for its $1.2 billion Perth to Mandurah rail project. The Government has decided to do away with its predecessor’s planned Perth to Mandurah route through Kenwick and instead opted for a direct route following the Kwinana freeway over the Narrows Bridge and into the city. This approach is bound to meet the approval of many southern suburb commuters who thought the Kenwick routing was a stupid idea. However, Lord Mayor Peter Nattrass has vowed to fight the Government’s tunnel plan, saying it will be a blight on the city. Rockingham Mayor Chris Elliott has also slammed the route because it will not be going through the Rockingham CBD.

INVESTORS left the Nine Network’s Sydney boardroom last week confident Kerry Packer has what it takes to exhume the Packer family’s listed business Publishing and Broadcasting from the grave of financial woe. PBL shares rose 21c to $10.21 following the special luncheon, where handpicked fund managers – jointly worth about $182 billion – share jokes and anecdotes with Packer Sr. Barely rating a mention during the brief lunch was James Packer, who was in London at the time. Mr Packer arrived fashionably late, keeping his guests waiting 15 minutes “But the story he told was one that made us feel comfortable (with PBL) as long as he’s alive,” one fund manager said. Having retaken the reins from Packer Jr. following the One.Tel disaster, the jump in share price may be a sign of things to come.

ANNUAL economic growth will return to 4 per cent according to Prime Minister John Howard, following a record surge in housing finance and continuing strong consumer confidence. Prior to the crucial Aston by-election, Mr Howard said: “I don’t pretend for a moment that everything is perfect, we are well and truly back as a very big economy.” His comments follow the recent release of figures showing a 21.2 per cent jump in new homes in May and a survey of consumer confidence reporting its highest level since the GST was unleashed. Mr Howard’s prediction suggests the Government is confident of exceeding the Treasury Budget forecasts for growth of 3.25 percent for this year and 3.5 per cent in 2002-03.

AFTER releasing plans last week to suspend the thrice weekly flights between Tokyo and Perth, Qantas announced it would retain them following high level negotiations with the State Government and the tourism industry. Premier Geoff Gallop said he was delighted by the decision and that the WA Tourism Commission would now work in tandem with Qantas in the interests of giving the Japanese tourism industry a shot in the arm. He praised Qantas for recognising the future value of the market to the WA economy. WA is the only State to have seen an increase in the number of Japanese visitors for the past three years. “The Japanese tourism market is worth $102 million to the State each year and is also our largest export market, so we are very pleased with today’s outcome,” Dr Gallop said. The WA Tourism Commission will now hold discussions with Qantas to determine joint marketing initiatives in Japan.

FIGURES released from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show an additional 2,400 jobs were created in WA in June. This news comes despite a rise in the State’s unemployment rate from 7.3 per cent in May to 8.1 per cent in June. Acting Minister for Consumer and Employment Protection, Jim McGinty, said the job surge was a promising sign for the economy. “The higher unemployment rate is directly linked to the very large number of people who entered the labour market in June to actively seek employment,” he said. The national unemployment rate remained stable for June at 6.9 per cent and is expected to drop slightly to 6.8 per cent for the July period.

CLOUGH Engineering Limited has announced the acquisition of Perth-based engineering design consultancy and commissioning company Crest Engineers to bolster the Clough group’s capacity to meet rising demand for services in the engineering contracting and construction sector. Crest Clough Engineers Pty Ltd will be 75 per cent owned by the Clough group.

The new entity will commence operating from August 1, 2001. Crest managing director Alan Croxson said the company had grown considerably since its formation in 1981. However, Crest needed the capital resources and support which the Clough group could provide to take the next big steps to sustain that growth.

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