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Ten years on, Mabo still unworkable: Clark

A DECADE after the Mabo decision recognising Native Title was handed down, the process is still not working, according to Aboriginal leaders.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission chairman Geoff Clark indicated this week that, while everyone involved in the process agreed the Native Title process was unworkable, governments were incapable of finding a solution. Mr Clark also called for a reform of Aboriginal affairs. He levelled criticism at his own organisation, saying that ATSIC was dysfunctional and had done little to address problems affecting Aboriginal communities. The workings of ATSIC will be put under the microscope by a committee headed by Kimberley leader Peter Yu.

Liability tackled

THE Federal Government has agreed to step in and act on the public liability crisis after meeting with State ministers. Under the proposals, the Federal Government has agreed to amend the Trade Practices Act so that people taking part in risky activities will have to waive their right to compensation. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission will manage the reform, monitor the progress of the insurance industry and the effectiveness of the national measures that seek to stabilise the blow-out in compensation claims. The WA Government has responded to the problem with proposed tort reform.

Government Enterprises Minister Nick Griffiths said the Government was also seeking to draft legislation to provide members of volunteer organisations with qualified immunity from personal liability. It will undertake a review of insurance requirements in Government contracts and develop an educational program for promoting risk minimisation.

While WA businesses were being penalised by insurance companies, WA is the only State in the nation where premiums still exceed insurance claims. The tort reforms include restricting advertising of personal injury legal services.

Gold climbs with the Aussie

GOLD continued to make headlines, rising to levels not reached for more than two years. In the past year, gold has lifted more than $US60 an ounce, to $US330 this week. The yellow fever has led to a rush of new gold juniors in WA.

But it has not only been the rise in gold that has caught the attention of economists and investors. The Australian dollar has also gained in favour internationally. This week it reached a 16-month high of almost 57 cents and looks almost certain to threaten the 70-cent mark over the coming months.

Smith cashes in

AUSTRALIAN entrepreneur Dick Smith has capitalised on his brand name once again with the sale of Dick Smith Foods to the Sanitarium Health Food Company.

Sanitarium, an enterprise of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, has agreed to pay Mr Smith a royalty of 2.5 per cent of net sales. Dick Smith founded the business just two years ago in support of local farmers and Australian Food manufacturers.

HIH penalties

THE former directors of HIH Insurance Limited have been penalised by the Supreme Court of New South Wales for their involvement in the downfall of the company. The three defendants – former director Rodney Adler, CEO Ray Williams and the chief financial officer Dominic Fodera – were found to have breached their duties under the Corporations Act in March in relation to a payment of $10 million by an HIH subsidiary, HIH Casualty and General Insurance Ltd to Pacific Eagle Equities Pty Ltd.

Mr Adler has now been banned from acting as a director of any company for 20 years and ordered to pay pecuniary penalties of $900,000. Mr Williams was banned from acting as a director for 10 years and fined $250,000, and Mr Fodera was ordered to pay pecuniary penalties of $5,000. Messrs Adler and Williams and Adler Corporation were also required to pay almost $8 million in compensation to HIH Casualty and General Insurance Limited.

Kashmir stand-off continues

THE Federal Government continued to issue warnings for Australians to tread carefully when travelling to either India or Pakistan, as tension continues to escalate.

The Government has advised all Australian families to consult travel advice and warnings issued by

the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. India and Pakistan

have amassed an estimated one million troops along the line of control in Kashmir since December.

Power plan

THE State Government has opened the way for three new power plants under a $850 million proposal to replace the ageing Muja A and B coal fired stations.

The coal industry and the Construction forestry Mining and Energy Union have warned of the potential for significant job losses if a gas fired project wins the tender to replace the old plants. The three new plants will power the equivalent of 750,000 average households. The proposed expansion of electricity delivery from the Government could put a cloud over plans by WA company Griffin Energy to build its own power plant in the South West..

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