Perth now no stranger to assassination

PERTH was shocked at the weekend by the news that a former CIB chief and a racing identity were killed by a car bomb in Lathlain. Don Hancock and Lou Lewis died when the bomb exploded at 6.30pm on Saturday evening as Mr Lewis dropped Mr Hancock home after a race meeting. Police have pointed the finger at the Gypsy Jokers motorcycle gang. Mr Hancock was due to appear at an inquest into last year’s sniper murder of Gypsy Joker Billy Grierson at Ora Banda. The Ora Banda Hotel, which Mr Hancock owned, was bombed twice last year. Police have since formed a 200-strong murder task force to investigate the bombing and have raided the Jokers’ clubhouse. The State Government has offered a $500,000 reward, the biggest in WA’s history, for any information leading to arrest of the killers.

THE 460 asylum seekers aboard the Tampa have found havens in New Zealand and Nauru after a turbulent week in international politics. The boat people began their slow journey to Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, on Monday aboard the Australian troop carrier HMAS Manoora. Upon arrival they will be split into two groups and ferried to NZ and Nauru. The Federal Government’s steadfast refusal to bow to international pressure to accept the asylum seekers has done little for Australia’s overseas reputation, but back home support for the Prime Minister’s action’s only grew. Along with commencing navy patrols of Australian waters, the Federal Government is now attempting, without much success, to broach the issue with Indonesia, as it believes cooperation with this country is the key to solving the people-smuggling problem.

NAB stunned the market earlier this week when it flagged a $3 billion writedown hit on its US mortgage arm, HomeSide. The writedown all but erases the excess capital the NAB wanted to put toward funding a major overseas acquisition and negates the $2.3 billion net profit from the sale of the bank’s other US operation, the Michigan National Bank.

Heads are sure to roll over the disaster, which is the biggest writedown on a single asset in Australian corporate history. The debacle came as a result of a miscalculation in the valuation of HomeSide’s key asset, mortgage servicing rights. The market reacted swiftly to the announcement. On Monday NAB’s share prices fell by $4.30, or 13 per cent, to close at $28.90.

DR Michael Keating, a leading Canberra public servant, will chair a 10 to 12-member forum of top business people is a key part of the WA’s Government’s Building WA – A Strategic Partnership plan to boost investment and development in the State, launched on Tuesday. State Development Minister Clive Brown said he also was establishing a review of the approvals process for major projects in WA.

“The review should lead to administrative changes, ensuring WA continues to be viewed with confidence by potential investors as an attractive place to invest,” Mr Brown said.

There are about $25 billion of potential projects looking to base themselves in WA. Mr Brown also will be chairing the State Development Forum that will meet three to four times a year and act as a think-tank.

Initial forum members are Murdoch University vice-chancellor and research professor Valerie Alder; Clough Engineering managing director Brian Hewitt; Challenge Bank managing director Tony Howarth; Sons of Gwalia executive chairman Peter Lalor; Burswood International Resort Casino managing director John Schaap; and Australian Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Worker’s Union secretary Helen Creed.

A spokeswoman for Mr Brown said there was room for at least a further four people on the forum and the Government would welcome any industry nominations.

She said the Government was particularly keen to have nominations from small business.

BankWest and St George have called off their merger talks after more than two months of discussions. BankWest chairman Ian MacKenzie said while the discussions had been friendly and constructive, the opportunity was not attractive enough to put to shareholders. He said the bank was now making progress with initiatives aimed at improving operational efficiency and increasing revenues from local and national markets.

PERTH advertising creative Mike Edmonds has jumped ship from 303, joining Marketforce to fill the gaping hole left by the departures of Adam Barker and Lori Canalini, who left last month to form Gatecrasher.

The appointment of Mr Edmonds will no doubt further fuel the ongoing rivalry between the two industry heavyweights. Gatecrasher has already begun to build a client list, announcing that Chippers Funerals and the local division of Plants Plus are on their books, along with 720 ABC Radio.

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