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RECENT announcements indicate some very positive developments in Western Australia’s resource sector.

These include the joint venture agreement between Comet Resources NL and international minerals house Billiton Plc, providing another vote of confidence in the state’s nickel laterite industry.

Estimates suggest that Western Australia, which is already a leading supplier of nickel to world markets, will dominate world production within five years.

The signing of a memorandum of understanding for the supply of Aust-ralian liquefied natural gas to Taiwan is another boost in our efforts to supply LNG to Asia’s growing gas market.

The agreement between Australia LNG and Tuntex Gas Corporation could see up to four million tonnes of LNG supplied each year from 2003.



ON THE jobs front it is encouraging to see conditions continuing to improve in our state labour market.

The number of people working in Western Australia rose again in October, reaching a record level of 920,600 people.

The unemployment rate fell to 6.8 per cent, down from 7.1 per cent in September.



Some good results are also coming from the efforts being made to try to minimise the impact of the Regional Forest Agreement on towns in our South West.

As part of this the State Government has agreed to provide $400,000 to help Cutts Transport Pty Ltd buy the Bunnings Engineering Works in Manjimup.

The convertible interest-free loan is being provided through the South West Industry Restructuring (RFA) Program announced last month.

There will be jobs for twenty-two people when the works reopen, providing engineering services for local industries including transport, agriculture and the wine industry as well as forestry.



NEW Native Title legislation is back on the agenda in Parliament – again.

The State Government has introduced the new legislation to try once more to get a fair and workable native title system operating in Western Australia.

The legislation, which is in line with the amendments to the Commonwealth Native Title Act passed last year by the Federal Parliament, would establish a state-based framework for dealing with native title.

This includes establishing a State-based Native Title Commission.

The legislation is yet another chance to resolve this issue that is so important in our state.

We can only hope the Labor Party will cut the rhetoric this time and finally act in the interests of Western Australia.

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