Pollies reel as the Don calls stumps

SPOOKED by an unhappy electorate, the past week has seen a major turnaround in the Federal Government's thinking.

First was the backflip on Business Activity Statements, with the Government unveiling measures to cut tax paperwork for millions of businesses.

Businesses with a turnover of less than $2million will now have to lodge business activity statement forms only once a year instead of quarterly.

This was followed a few days later by the announcement that the crackdown on trusts, which the Government promised the Democrats it would undertake in return for the support of its GST legislation, was off - till after the Federal election anyway.

Federal Treasurer Peter Costello said the plan to tax trusts as companies was being delayed by a further 12 months because of technical hitches with its implementation.

Perhaps distracting the Government were indications that Australian taxpayers will have to find at least $60 billion to fix our nation's river systems.

THE MURRAY RIVER is said to be in deep, deep trouble with already half of its native fish lost with the rest disappearing fast. The local Murray River communities and environmentalists are now getting their case heard by the politicians.

the newly-elected WA Labor Government is facing problems of its own with the construction industry already voicing disapproval at the heavy-handed tactics of the unions which have come out in the sunlight to push their case.

Armed with the backing of a friendly Government, the unions are hoping to regain lost ground.

The Labor Government is doing what it can to help, even if it's going to cost millions of dollars to implement, as is the case with Labor's moves to convert govern-ment employees to enterprise agreements or by disbanding the Construction and Building Industry Taskforce which has kept the unions in check.

ENOUGH AMMUNITION you would think for the Liberal Party to hit the ground running, except the guns were turned on each other.

With Richard Court's succession plan ending in disaster after Julie Bishop pulled the pin, the party finally picked the man of last resort, Colin Barnett. He now has the job of bringing the divided party behind him.

Getting people behind him was never a problem for Sir Donald Bradman who passed away on Sunday aged 92. Throughout his cricketing career the hearts of a nation followed him. In the last few years of his life he managed to attain almost sainthood status among the Australian population.

NO SAINT at least in the eyes of the management at Perth smart-card firm ERG, was US company Motorola which simultaneously withdrew its alliance with ERG

and announced the sale of its

13 per cent stake in the company.

The result? A 25 per cent plunge in ERG's share price bringing it under $1.90 - a far cry from its high of $4.48 12 months ago.

Also losing the confidence of investors was Orbital Engines, which took a 13-cent hammering to $1.16. They recorded a $13 million blow-out in forecast losses made in December. On Friday the loss came in at $16.2 million for the half year to December 31.

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