Premier in Print

JOBS are one of the important election issues. Industrial relations policies will play a critical role in deciding which party can deliver jobs.

Labor wants to scrap our Workplace Agree-ments legislation - Liberals want to strength-en it.

The current system introduced by the Coal-ition is very different from what it was eight years ago and has been a key element underpinning Western Australia's economic success.

The latest figures show that at the end of December last year, more than 313,400 workplace agreements had been lodged with the Commissioner of Workplace Agree-ments since December 1993.

With the changes in the system, we've seen more than 203,000 new jobs created, unemployment has dropped to the lowest level in Australia and there's been sustained real wages growth.

It's a far cry from when the Coalition came to Government inheriting a jobless rate of 10.7 per cent for the year to February 1993, with the youth unemployment rate averaging a massive 30.2 per cent over the same year.

Compare that with the latest figures for the year to the end of December, when unemployment averaged 6.3 per cent and youth unemployment has dropped 40 per cent.

We now have a modern industrial relations system that allows for the flexibility people want in negotiating their wages and conditions.

If we go backwards to a centralised, union-dominated system we would lose the advantages that have been gained. That would be a risk for the whole State.

THE range of major projects about to move into the construction phase in Western Australia is clear indication of the strength of our State economy.

Five projects worth more than $4.6 billion will soon be under construction in different parts of the State.

The projects are the Syntroleum gas-to-liquids plant worth $600 million; the North-West Shelf LNG train four ($2.2 billion); Robe River's West Angelas iron ore project ($1 billion); Alcoa's Wagerup expansion ($995 million) and Ravensthorpe Nickel ($720 million). These projects are just some of the $69.2 billion worth of projects committed to or under consideration. They point to WA going from strength to strength.

IT'S also great to see the recognition coming for one of the major events on the Government's Best on Earth in Perth calendar, the Wet Dreams Masters surfing in Margaret River.

The competition has been given the highest possible rating on the World Qualifying Series tour. It is also one of only two in the world awarded prime location status.

The event, from March 31-April 9, will have prize money of $200,000 and, with the extra points involved, we can expect to see about 300 international surfers, including our own stars.

It also means an expected injection of more than $1 million into the region's economy as well as international media coverage of this magnificent area.

CONGRATULATIONS to James Fitzpatrick, the first Western Australian to win Young Australian of the Year.

It is fantastic recognition and certainly well-deserved for his work with regional and remote communities which he's managed to combine with full-time medical studies.

We are blessed to have many fine young people in our community who are making some incredible contributions. James' success in winning this award is a great reminder of this.

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