Premier in Print

THE possibility of Virgin Airlines entering the domestic passenger market is good news for Western Australians.

I’ve previously made my feelings on the state of air travel in Australia quite clear.

We do need more competition and lower airfares.

Richard Branson’s Virgin Airlines is a proven operator and I believe most people would welcome the option of the no-frills service.

Besides boosting local tourism and making interstate travel more affordable for Western Australians, lower airfares will help make it more attractive for people from other states to come to Western Australia.

Initially, Virgin plans to operate on the eastern seaboard and introduce an east-west service as a second stage.

The sooner it happens the better.

THE Federal Government’s decision to remove Fringe Benefits Tax from remote housing from 1 April next year is also welcome news for our State.

They had previously intended to extend the exemption only to mining industry employers but Western Australia lobbied hard for a broader application.

I wrote to the Federal Treasurer Peter Costello about the issue and also personally discussed with him the inequities of the FBT, particularly on remote housing.

The FBT exemption recognises that employers in remote areas need to provide substantial benefits to attract staff.

Previously, it had been estimated that the housing benefits exemption for all employers in the Pilbara region alone would result in up to 180 additional jobs.

Clearly the changes will be a big boost to regional development.

IT WAS a great honour recently to join the celebrations marking the 10th anniversary of the North West Shelf Venture and the 1,000th shipment of LNG to Japan.

The project is the biggest resource project in Australia, involving some $12 billion investment to date.

The North West Shelf Venture was also the catalyst for the current level of investor attention in the area and, with 75 per cent of Australia’s known natural gas reserves off our north-west coast, our future LNG trade is assured.

At the same time our State is seen as an ideal location for value adding to our gas to produce petrochemicals.

Western Australia owes a great deal to the foresight and courage of all of those involved in the development of the project.

WITH the festive season now well under way I again urge everyone to think about safety on the roads.

We all want to have a happy Christmas without the pain of traffic crashes caused by people who drink and drive.

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