Home' Scoop : Scoop 54 Summer 2010 Contents 38 SCOOP SUMMER 2010
FORUM state of play
A WARRIOR FOR INDIGENOUS RIGHTS
AND ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION, AUSTRALIAN
GREENS SENATOR RACHEL SIEWERT CHATS WITH US
Q/1 Your earliest memor y? Running down the staircase to see my Dad,
falling, and waking up on the back seat of the Mini being rushed to hospital.
Q/2 The best advice I’ ve received? Don’t wish time away, enjoy each day.
Q/3 If I could change one thing about myself ? Not to get so worked
up about so many things.
Q/4 What is the height of boredom? Being 5 foot 2... because I can’t
see over crowds! I can honestly say I don’t get bored.
Q/5 Where and when were you most happy? The birth of my son.
Q/6 The Kimberley is... a unique and wonderful place. It is an area of
great cultural and environmental significance and is a true asset to
Western Australia. We should be doing everything we can to protect it.
Q/7 Dig, baby, dig versus sustainability? WA is so much more than a
quar ry. We are lucky to live in a State so rich with beauty and resources alike.
I find it confronting we have such wealth in this State, along with such poverty.
We should be using those resources to deliver better outcomes for all.
Q/8 Reconciliation: a long way to go? Yes, we have a long way to go
before Indigenous Australians have the same quality of life as non-
Indigenous Australians and equal access to housing, health and education.
Q/9 WA’s future in five words? Sustainable, just, and very Green.
Q/10 In 10 years I will be... hopefully wiser and not so overworked.
10 MINUTES WITH RACHEL SIEWERT
At face value, all seems rosy in the Boom State. WA’s rebound out of the GFC
has been impressive. Through last financial year, the domestic economy grew
by a China-like 7.9 per cent, and unemployment fell to 4.2 per cent. Property
was again buoyant after a prolonged period of stagnation, and confidence
was sky-high amid a growing realisation that WA was riding a wave of
prosperity created by strong growth in developing Asia.
However, a reality check has since emerged across the economy. Recent
hikes in interest rates have highlighted the fragility across many sectors.
Consumers remain cautious, with retail sales flat for the better part of the past
year. The housing market has also retreated through the latter half of 2010,
as a consequence of rising interest rates and difficulties in accessing finance.
Small businesses, too, have been challenged by the cost and difficulties in
accessing finance from banks. At the same time, price pressures have emerged
– from sharp hikes in electricity, gas and water prices, and wage pressures
as a result of a tightening labour market.
The State’s manufacturers and farmers, which compete in global markets,
are also doing it tough courtesy of the rise and rise of the Aussie dollar, which
broke parity with the US dollar in November. So, too, are the tourist industry and
education institutions, which are battling to attract tourists and students.
But the two-speed nature of WA’s economy today is not new. It has been
evident throughout the State’s economic history. However, the size and
importance of the mining sector today does accentuate the nature of the
difference between different sectors. The RBA has highlighted that the
investment boom underway across the resources sector, and particularly in
WA, will place further pressures on interest rates to the extent that price
pressures permeate through the economy. Interest rates, however, are not
the long-term answer to the emerging inflationary problem, and the
introduction of a mining tax to slow the mining sector certainly isn’t either.
What we now need is a renewed reform agenda that allows the faster-
growing sectors to create wealth and opportunity, but not at the expense
of the rest of the economy. Such a reform agenda is not easy, but it is
becoming more and more compelling.
CCI is calling on the Government to minimise the risk of future interest
rate raises by helping business attract and retain the extra workers they need.
With our research showing that WA businesses will need nearly an extra half
a million workers over the next decade, action is urgently needed to grow
the local workforce. This should be done by changing the migration system
to make it easier for employers to get the workers they need and creating
incentives to encourage women, Indigenous Australians, people with
disabilities and older workers into the workforce.
We also face significant challenges in lifting productivity, which is critical
to supporting sustained growth, in the face of rising global competition and
a higher Aussie dollar. Tax reform, cutting regulation and red tape, encouraging
greater flexibility in the labour market and further competition and trade
reforms form the basis of a new productivity agenda. It is the century of
Asia and we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take advantage of
what is ahead of us. We must ensure that we continue to ride the wave of
opportunity through effective planning, policies and strategies.
Chamber of Commerce
and Industry chief economist
John Nicolaou claims the
mining tax is not the answer
to our two-tier economy
Fauna smuggling is big business. And of the
thousands of seizures and subsequent
infringement notices issued each year, the greatest proportion emanate
from Perth’s domestic and international airports. In 2009-10, there were 4014
seizures of wildlife and wildlife products (mostly plants at domestic and
international airports), with nine successful prosecutions. In 2008-09, there
were 5242 seizures and 13 successful prosecutions. In 2007-08 , there were
7016 seizures and 18 prosecutions. Customs and Border Protection figures
show upgraded security measures to combat terrorist threats at international
ports and airports have frightened off many would-be animal smugglers. But
there will always be a small percentage willing to run the gauntlet. Species
commonly detected are reptiles, birds, fish, insects and plants. “Transportation
methods include stitching animals into the lining of suitcases, or drugging
creatures and stuffing them in plastic tubes, or posting them through the
mail. The animals suffer stress, dehydration and starvation, with many
enduring slow and agonising deaths in transit,” says Customs’ Jack Foster.
However, importation is also a problem. In September, a Sydney man was
arrested for importing a number of corn and king snakes, and a boa constrictor.
A Japanese national was nabbed trying to export 14 shingleback lizards out of
Perth, while another was attempting to bring two boa constrictors in to the
state. The unique nature of WA flora and fauna demands strict controls.
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