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Government-sponsored motza for Mid West

THE WA Government has gone out on the hustings in the Mid West during the special sitting of State Cabinet in Geraldton, handing out $89.96 million of goodies to the area. Some of the Government’s pledges include $1.4 million earmarked for Geraldton’s mounted police section, $130,000 towards an upgraded Geraldton bus service, $280,000 over four years for the QEII Seniors Centre and $60,000 over four years to the Geraldton Resource Centre for financial counselling services. That’s on top of the $46,300 the Government gives the centre each year. Heritage Minister Judy Edwards also handed over a $19,800 heritage grant to the Greenough Shire for conservation works on the Walkaway Railway Station, while Education Minister Alan Carpenter opened the $418,000 upgrade of the Dongara District High School. But the biggest ticket item is the $88 million that has been committed to construct the first stage of the Southern Transport Corridor – a combined road and rail project that will be coupled with the redevelopment of Geraldton’s foreshore.

HOPES of further interest rate cuts took a battering with both the Reserve Bank of Australia and the latest Dun & Bradstreet business expectations survey results bullish on the future of the Australian economy. According to the Dun & Bradstreet survey, business expectations are high and the sector’s problems are easing. Nearly one fifth of respondents (17 per cent) said their cash flow woes were easing. The RBA’s Statement on Monetary Policy says leading indicators show the pick up in the Australian economy could be quite rapid in this quarter. It says while businesses continue to report subdued trading conditions, a significant lift in confidence has been apparent from a number of surveys.

WA smart card player ERG emerged as the preferred supplier for the Sydney Integrated Ticketing contract last weekend. ERG is working in a consortium with former share register partner Motorola. The deal, while still yet to be finalised, is believed to be worth $100 million and has been a long time in the making. The contract to supply ticketing services to New South Wales’s public transport system was supposed to be announced in March 2000. Uncertainty over the deal has been cited as one of the reasons for ERG’s les-than-brilliant share performance. Speculation had been mounting last week that the contract would be awarded to the rival Cubic consortium. It was argued that the ERG-led consortium was less stable, as partner Motorola had sold out of ERG’s share register.

THE Abrolhos Island scallop season – foreshortened by a month at the scallop industry’s request – has netted a bigger haul than expected. The season only ran from April 3 to May 31, as it did last year, and a final catch tally is expected to be 236 tonnes. That is up considerably on the 90 to 140 tonne estimates drawn from a pre-season survey in November. Scallop fishers pushed for the shorter seasons to help protect juvenile stocks.

RECENTLY deceased corporate exile Christopher Skase looks likely to become the next Elvis. While Spanish authorities reportedly took Mr Skase’s fingerprints before his body was cremated, Skase sightings are sure to spring up around the Internet. Meanwhile, Skase’s old sparring partner Rupert Murdoch has reportedly won the battle for pictures of the funeral ceremony and the failed entrepreneur’s last words. Murdoch was not one of Skase’s favourite people. When Skase tried to merge Qintex Entertainment with film studio United Artists in 1989 by buying MGM, which had just taken over United, Murdoch stepped in with a spoiling bid. And Lachie Hume is rubbing his hands together over the whole Skase saga with his film Lets get Skase – filmed around Perth – due to hit cinema screens in October.

AND WA’s own corporate collapse king Alan Bond has bounced back into favour with the refloating of his old mate Australia II. Word has it Bondy has been invited to sail aboard the America’s Cup winning yacht in the regatta to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Auld Mug off Cowes later this month. Australia II wrested the America’s Cup from the Americans in 1983, bringing to an end the longest winning streak in history and catapulting Bondy to Australian hero status.

THE reporting season has opened up, and this week WA brick-maker Bristile Ltd reported profit after tax of close to $40 million for the year ended June 30 – a 53 per cent increase on the previous year’s results and achieved on earnings of $283.2 million. The result came despite a sharp slump in the building industry during the first half of the financial year following the introduction of the GST.Managing director David Gilham said the $14,000 First Home Owners Grant and continuing low interest rates augured well for the company’s future profits.

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