Premier in Print

ONE of the many pleasing results in this year’s mid-year review of the State’s finances is the money Western Australia is now saving on interest payments because of the State’s reduced debt levels.

Cutting debt has been one of the major goals of the Coalition Govern-ment since first coming to office.

The latest good result means that the money being saved, more than $450 million a year, can be channelled into important facilities and services for the community, including health and education, rather than being lost on interest payments.

The mid-year review shows that Western Australia has its lowest levels of net debt since records started more than a decade ago.

The total public sector debt is forecast to be $4.5 billion by June 30 - nearly half of what the Coalition Government inherited from the previous Labor Government in 1993.

THE start of the new year saw the focus on Sydney for the first celebrations to mark 100 years of Federation.

Looking back on history, it is noteworthy that Western Australia’s first Premier, Sir John Forrest, was a vigorous defender of the role of the States during negotiations leading up to federation.

His fears included that the States would lose financial autonomy and large populations in Victoria and New South Wales would dominate the Federal parliamentary process.

A century later, these concerns are just as valid and we must still be prepared to stand up for ourselves against the drift to centralised power and the dominance of the Melbourne - Sydney - Canberra triangle.

We have to make it very clear that the needs of Western Australians should never be pushed aside. We make an enormous contribution to the federation and the role of the States must never be undervalued.

ONE of the latest areas in which our State has led the way is in the introduction of Clean Fuel Regulations.

Western Australia was the first State to remove lead from petrol and require the reduction in sulphur and benzene.

The second phase of the regulations came into effect at the start of this year, setting even stricter standards.

We made big gains towards cleaner air last year when we introduced Australia’s toughest fuel regulations, incentives for LPG conversions and released the Perth Air Quality Management Plan.

The latest standards are another important part in protecting people from fuel emissions and working towards a cleaner environment.

THERE has been exceptional interest in the Swan Bells.

There are a number of terrific features incorporated in the landscaping around the tower, including the results of the State’s biggest community arts project.

The State Images project brings together the work of winning artists from 10 Western Australian regions reproduced in giant mosaic artworks.

The colourful works highlight many of the individual features of our diverse regions and the talents of the artists and community organisations that took part.

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