Premier in Print

IT IS not often we see retailing dominating the news but the movements in the sector have certainly created a lot of interest recently.

The news that we will soon see the end of the Aherns department stores no doubt saddens thousands of Western Australians. However, many also have fond memories of shopping at David Jones in Perth and will welcome their return.

The company’s renewed investment in Perth, including $100 million in the redevelopment of the city store, is a very positive vote of confidence in our State economy.

In the same week of that announcement, the new Westfield Carousel shopping centre officially opened, combining an incredible selection of retail and entertainment facilities.

Again, Westfield have made an enormous commitment to Western Australia and their ongoing contribution will see them have an increasingly important role here.

The retail sector is a very important part of our economy and its steady and continued growth brings many benefits, including jobs.

Last year more than 15 per cent of people employed in Western Australia worked in the retail sector. The sector also accounted for about a quarter of total employment growth in our State.

I WAS pleased to have the opportunity to welcome leaders of the Australian gas industry to the 35th annual Australian Gas Association’s Conven-tion in Perth recently.

The State Government has led extensive reform in the gas industry in WA over the past five years with benefits for the whole of Australia.

Some facts relating to the energy sector include:

• Western Australia is the largest natural gas producer in Australia, contributing almost 60 per cent of the total Australian product in 1997-98

• The domestic petroleum industry is currently worth more than $4.6 billion a year to the State’s economy and is the State’s biggest export earner

• About 70 per cent of the total Australian natural gas reserves are in offshore Western Australia

• The oil and gas industry has become the fastest growing sector of the State’s resource industry.

RECENT weeks have also seen major awards being presented to a range of private and public sector organisations.

Country-based firms featured strong-ly in this year’s Industry and Export Awards including the top award, the Premier’s Award for Excellence, which went to Busselton’s Jensen Jarrah.

In the Premier’s Awards for Public Sector Management, the Women’s Policy Development Office won the top award for its Freedom from Fear campaign against domestic violence.

And, in the Water Industry Awards, Ascot Waters won the overall Award for Excellence for its work on the riverside site.

My congratulations to everyone involved.

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