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Snippets from the West

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Robin H.
Jobs, services and the environment are all under attack in Western Australia.

Health worker jobs
As part of the latest round of budget cuts, 1100 jobs are being axed from WA Health. The losses are mainly from the Southern section, including Royal Perth Hospital, Freemantle Hospital, Charles Gardener and the new flagship Fiona Stanley. It has yet to be announced which services will be affected but workers have been asked to apply for redundancies.

Rail service cuts
Canadian multinational Brookfield was given a 50 year contract to run the Western Australia country rail network. No sooner than the ink had dried, Brookfield closed down large sections of the network claiming it was unprofitable. Co-operative Bulk Handling (CBH) stepped in with an offer to maintain the lines, but Brookfield said “No” forcing farmers to truck thousands of tonnes of grain to silos at huge cost.

It’s probably just coincidence that WA Premier Colin Barnett has a close relative who runs in trucking business in the wheatbelt?

GM canola contamination
A WA canola farmer has recently lost a court case for compensation over crop contamination by a neighbouring property that used Monsanto’s genetically modified seed. The protracted dispute calls into question the status of WA canola as being free from cross contamination by GM seeds.

The case is now headed for the High Court. Questions are being asked as to the funding of the pro-GM team legal costs.

A stink within a stink   
UK multinational SITA is trying to establish a major rubbish dump on the outskirts of the historic town of York. Local residents have been fighting against the proposed dump that would take almost all the rubbish of Perth. It is being opposed on environmental grounds as it would certainly pollute the prime farming land and ground water.
WA wheatbelt roads are the most dangerous in the state with fatalities seven times more likely due to their winding nature and heavy usage. It is likely that more accidents will occur with loaded semi-trailers operating every six minutes on the 100 kilometre journey from Perth.

So far the planning authorities have rejected SITA’s application, and the York town council is also opposed. However, the WA government has accused the council of being corrupt and threatened to sack it and bring local administration under direct government control. Who will be listened to then, the working people of York or the big multinational?


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