Issues of the Week

WA Parliament has handed control of Corporations Law to the Federal Parliament to make way for new federal corporations legislation to come into effect later this month. This is only the third time WA has referred its State powers to the Commonwealth and it has been joined in this by all other States and Territories. The federal Corpor-ations Act 2001 will introduce a uniform national regulatory regime to govern the affairs of more than one million companies and overcome the problems of jurisdiction identified in two recent High Court cases.

TOURISM Minister Clive Brown applied the kiss of death to the controversial soccer stadium proposed for the Perth Enter-tainment Centre car park because the Multiplex Consortium had not supplied documents of how they proposed to fund it. The soccer stadium proposal became doubtful after likely major tenant, Perth Glory, said it would not take a lease there. Glory majority shareholder Nick Tana said the consortium was asking too much for its lease and that he preferred to pursue plans to redevelop Leederville Oval.

But Mr Tana’s plan to redevelop Leederville Oval to create a soccer stadium and home ground for Perth Glory is also proving controversial. More than 200 angry Leederville residents told the Vincent Town Council they did not want the redevelopment of WA Football League team West Perth’s old home ground to proceed. They argued that turning the oval into a soccer ground that would draw thousands of spectators would affect the amenity of their area.

AND after signing the Wellington Street stadium’s death warrant, Mr Brown turned his ire on national carrier Qantas, blasting it for its plan to stop the direct route from Perth to Singapore in late October. Mr Brown said the airline’s plan to re-route Perth to Tokyo flights through Sydney would have a devastating effect on WA’s tourism industry. Qantas countered by saying the re-routing would allow it to bring 600 extra people to Australia each week because the new route would let it use larger Boeing 747 aircraft. The Perth to Tokyo route uses 767s. But once a second runway is opened at Tokyo’s Narita airport – probably in June – the Perth to Tokyo routes will return.

BANKWEST’S share price took a hammering following the downfall of Tasmania miner Beaconsfield Gold. WA’s bank has a $32.8 million exposure to the failed goldminer. The Beaconsfield drama comes less than five months after BankWest was forced to write off $18 million thanks to failed entrepreneur Lux Daswani. Meanwhile, major St George shareholders have run a campaign to thwart the bank’s $2.4 billion bid for BankWest.

THE WA and Australian economies are set to boom, according to three groups. But they just cannot agree on when it will come. Access Economics, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and BIS Shrapnel all believe good times are coming Australia’s way – barring some form of international catastrophe. Access believes the boom will hit next year, raising the risk of inflation and interest rate rises. Meanwhile, BIS Shrapnel thinks next year will bring a recovery and the good times will only hit in 2007. The chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Business Expectations Survey for the June quarter shows things are also improving in the west. Its survey found WA business confidence had more than doubled in the June quarter.

AND the Chamber of Commerce and Industry has also told the WA Government to rein in its spending. The CCI believes WA’s AAA credit rating will be at risk if the Government fails to show some fiscal responsibility. CCI chief executive Lyndon Rowe said the key to the Government meeting its financial challenges lay in fixing

the machinery of government and

not through levying higher taxes.

THE latest slump in sales of tax-effective agribusiness investment schemes has been blamed on negative publicity surrounding the ATO’s crackdown on a number of projects. Major industry players have confirmed the traditional pre-June 30 rush in demand for blue gums, olives and other products had not eventuated, sending profits down and cutting millions from this year’s planting budgets. One of Australia’s biggest timber companies, Timbercorp, said unfavourable sentiment had resulted in a net profit of about $25 million, significantly less than the forecasted $45 million, which based on its projects being fully subscribed. While the company’s 2001 olive project sold out, its eucalypt and almond project were under-subscribed. The view was echoed by Australian Plantation Timber, which said it had been left with a surplus of land and lower-than-expected sales.

NEW levels of vehicle fuel economy have been achieved by Perth-based engine technology developer, Orbital, with its OCP direct injection technology. The company this week announced that, during testing of the system, it achieved a vehicle fuel economy improvement in excess of 20 per cent over the European test cycle. And, combined with vehicle refinements such as electric power steering and weight reduction, the improvement could be 25 per cent.

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