30/05/2006 - 22:00

What future awaits this fuel alternative?

30/05/2006 - 22:00


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Biofuesls are not going to save rural Western Australia or deliver fuel users from the tyranny of high petrol prices.

Biofuesls are not going to save rural Western Australia or deliver fuel users from the tyranny of high petrol prices.

But they could become a niche segment of the energy sector, offering both producers (farmers) and users an alternative from their current situation.

For farmers it means a different buyer, a domestic one at that, which will help to keep prices up and the options open.

For users, it is a slightly more complicated scenario but any new fuel source, even as an additive, will help as fuel prices climb into the stratosphere and governments put consumers under more pressure regarding the environmental cost of using energy.

For everyone else, the emergence of several new WA players in this new field is a good sign for our economy.

It is simply another level of sophistication for our rural sector, a new cluster of locally based players keen to value add to our raw production and, in doing so, increasing the expertise located in the state in this niche but growing sector.

Just how much this grows to becoming an important part of the state’s industry is yet to be known.

It will be dependent on the acceptance of its produce, its ability to produce more if demand is there, the economics of energy and food production, and its ability to be a leader in this field.

As usual, I will watch with interest.

Chamber orchestrates a sound event

I’VE had a long interest in the arts in this state and I am pleased to see something of a resurgence of this sector, with the cultural activities increasingly incorporated into Western Australian business events.

None could have been more obvious than last week’s Chamber of Minerals and Energy annual lunch, where the arts were displayed prominently.

This was not tokenism, either, two arts groups which performed at the lunch were integrally linked the CME’s own agenda and that of its members.

That is in stark contrast to the traditional view of people in the resources sector, whose interest in the arts was generally thought to end with which image came up on a coin flipped by a Kalgoorlie barmaid.

Instead, the CME had both a live and multi-media presentation of the WA Symphony Orchestra and the Chung Wah dance troupe.

But that wasn’t it. There was also a an address by WASO chair Janet Holmes a Court, who took some time to tell the Government House crowd about the orchestra’s latest trip, with a contingent numbering over 100.

So where was the link in all this?

China of course. WASO, significantly funded by WA mining and resources houses, had just toured this emerging powerhouse and the big new customer for all our minerals and energy.

Sport is important in China, especially with the Olympics coming up in 2008, but the arts are taken very seriously in a country where Mrs Holmes a Court discovered “no expense had been spared” in creating new world0class auditoriums in many major cities.

It was a unique collision of culture and business, but there’s likely to be a lot more of it as Australia seeks to tap new markets for its commodities.

Oddly enough, I can’t recall any such exchange being required when Japan became a huge trade partner several decades ago. Perhaps times were different, with governments taking the lead in making business happen.

These days it’s much more corporate.

No wonder Mrs Holmes a Court didn’t have to be shy is suggesting WASO could always take on other partners from the resources sector.


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