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The Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett has officially launched a $100 million research centre in Perth, which has been set up to help Australia win a massive radio astronomy project.

Western Australia and South Africa are the front runners to secure the $2.5 billion Square Kilometre Array project, with the decision expected in 2012.

To strengthen WA’s bid, Curtin University and the University of Western Australia have set up the International Centre for Astronomy Research with extra funding from the State Government.

The International Director for the S.K.A project Richard Schilizzi says the centre will enhance Australia’s chances.

“It shows that the infrastructure for radio astronomy in Australia is very strong and that means that the ability to exploit the telescope role will be ensured,” he said.

Source  :  www.abc.net.au

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WESTERN Australia’s Liberal Government has handed down its first Budget, delivering a $647 million surplus but warning the state will be in deficit by 2012.

Treasurer Troy Buswell today delivered his first Budget since the Liberal Government came to power last year.

He said the 2008/09 surplus of $647 million would shrink to $409 million in 2009/10, and just $23 million the following year.

By 2011/12 the state will be in deficit to the tune of $513 million.

“Over the past months, as the global economy has been in decline, the state has been hit by large downward revisions to projected taxation revenue, GST grants from the Commonwealth and mining royalties,” Mr Buswell told parliament.

“Since the mid-year review, the Budget has lost a massive $4 billion in forecast revenue from these sources.”

Last year, then treasurer Eric Ripper delivered a surplus of more than $2 billion on the back of a booming commodities sector.

Economic growth remained high at 8 per cent for the 2008/09 financial year.

But forecasts predicted growth would fall into negative territory in 2009/10, with unemployment expected to peak, and business investment to fall by 17.5 per cent.

Mr Buswell said the Government would provide a one-year payroll tax rebate to small businesses with payrolls of up to $3.2 million to help protect jobs.

“Some 6,700 small businesses will be eligible for this payroll tax rebate, which will fully offset payroll tax for around 68,000 employees,” he said.

“The cost of this rebate is estimated at $100 million.”

A $47 million jobs training and skills package, and a $8.3 billion spend on infrastructure in the next financial year are key components of the Budget.
Mr Buswell said law and order were also strong focuses, in line with the Government’s election promises to boost funding for police and pump more money into prisons

Mr Buswell said the Government’s election promise to toughen up sentencing laws and introduce mandatory sentencing for people who assault police was underpinned in the Budget by a significant investment in prison capacity.

 

A total of $655 million will be invested in 2012/13 to create an extra 1657 prison beds across the state.

A record $5.1 billion spend on health services in the next year – rising 5.9 per cent, or $282 million from last year – will include the fast tracking of forward works for a new children’s hospital, the construction stage of the Fiona Stanley Hospital, and new hospitals in two regional centres.

Mr Buswell said the Government would push ahead with public sector reforms in a bid to achieve improved performance and efficiency.

The first stage of the economic audit committee promised by the Government during the last election was complete and a range of hard decisions had delivered $7.6 billion over the forward estimates, Mr Buswell said.

“I am looking forward to the second stage of the economic audit to identify strategies for broader reform over the longer term, so we can ensure the budget stays in surplus,” he said.

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The_Sky_Railway_TrackA consortium behind a multi billion dollar port and rail project in Western Australia’s mid west says construction will start in 2011.

Oakajee Port and Rail (OPR) locked in an agreement with the State Government in April to build a $4 billion port and associated rail infrastructure.

The Chief Executive of OPR, Chris Eves, has told a business gathering in Perth this morning that the consortium hopes to complete the project by 2013.

Mr Eves says $60 million has already been spent undertaking a feasibility study with another $100 million to be spent in the next 18 months.

http://au.biz.yahoo.com/090512/31/269qw.html

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