09/09/2003 - 22:00

Green light for Gorgon deal

09/09/2003 - 22:00


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THE green light for the Gorgon is a major step ahead for Western Australia and, as the Federal politicians know, a significant boost to the nation’s treasury.

Green light for Gorgon deal

THE green light for the Gorgon is a major step ahead for Western Australia and, as the Federal politicians know, a significant boost to the nation’s treasury.

Perhaps the only hiccup is the stance of conservationist groups that seem opposed to almost any development in this State.

Having had a win at Ningaloo after more than a decade of government inaction, green groups are spoiling for more fights.

But they are well off the mark if they think citizens of WA will support them every time they hang a protest flag with a new slogan, saving this or rescuing that.

Most people, including the suits in the CBD, supported changes to forestry because they were well overdue – no-one reckons woodchips are a great business and people had their doubts that commercial forest management in WA was operating as it should in modern times.

Similarly with Ningaloo, Joe Average is rightfully concerned about management of the area, particularly given government indecision over the planned resort project.

The electorate might support axing a marina resort but that doesn’t mean there is a wave of green concern.

People want jobs and economic prosperity as well as a clean and well-managed environment.

Barrow Island has managed to offer both and the operators have the sort of track record that offers a credible reason to support them in developing the project.

More importantly, green lobbyists ought to look at the alternative.

If Gorgon wasn’t developed due to environmental reasons, the partners and future developers would simply look elsewhere – most likely to countries where environmental restrictions are not nearly as onerous.

Is that what the conservationists want?

It’s the ‘not in my backyard’ syndrome writ large. Conservationists proclaiming a love of nature are prepared to see development occur in places where their voice is not heard, whether due to immature democracy or political corruption, or both.

Surely it is better to have such development take place where we can watch it closely and, importantly, show the rest of the world how to conduct environmentally sensitive development properly.



Henderson on the up and up


SKYWEST chief executive Scott Henderson is flying high, less than a year into his role at the helm of Western Australia’s only regional airline.

Brought in by shareholders haemorrhaging capital in an industry where profits are rare, Mr Henderson is confident he has steered the airline into the black – well ahead of even his most recent prospectus forecasts.

Buoyed by a recent announcement to start a service to Broome, flying jets used to ferry workers from Perth to the Argyle diamond mine near Kununurra, the local airline head believes the business has gone from around zero value when he took over to as much as $35 million.

Mr Henderson is even considering expanding this new jet passenger service, possibly servicing Exmouth as a destination or as a stopover en route to Broome.

Financially, the company had benefited greatly from cost cutting and a big saving on aircraft costs for five Fokker 50s after settling a $13 million debt with the administrators of Ansett for $9.4 million.

Mr Henderson said a capital raising of $4.2 million was all but filled, with significant investment money from the east coast and Singapore, leaving net debt at almost zero.

And he predicted actual debt would be reduced from $7.8 million to $1.3 million within three years.

This was aided by a profit of about $6 million (thanks to the aircraft deal) far stronger than the $2.4 million anticipated when the prospectus was launched.

This leaves the company in a good position to revisit plans to float that were shelved 18 months ago after it hit financial turbulence amid a falling out between major investors and then then chief executive Bill Meeke.



Left wondering on State IR


I CAN’T help wonder what is going on in industrial relations?

The State Government and the unions are at each other’s throats, with a number of key services threatened.

I thought these guys were on the same side. Funny how reality differs from the rhetoric when governments realise that taxes aren’t a bottomless pit to fund their special interests.

Fancy John Kobelke being the one challenging the most militant unions over issues such as workplace safety.

He’s meant to be their mate, after scrapping State industrial relations laws and giving some unions an undeserved reprieve from having to act in their members’ best interests, rather than those of their leaders.


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