Mark Pownall

Mark is head of content at Business News. He manages the editorial and research team and writes in-depth news and views about Western Australia’s business scene. Mark has more than 25 years' experience in newspapers and online media in Perth and London. He has a bachelor of commerce degree from UWA and a graduate diploma in English from Curtin University. For those who want to listen to Mark, try out the BN weekly podcast or tune into ABC720's Drive program with Jane Marwick for a half-hour business show after the 4pm news on most Mondays.

Passing Comment

After a challenging 2016 very few are suggesting this year is going to be any easier. Nevertheless, we all have to keep on at it. We have our usual array of events to help you do business, kicking off our 2017 program with a property forum featuring some of the state's top real estate experts in a panel session. Also early this year is 40under40, another blockbuster if the entry numbers are anything to go by - we had close to 100. Go to our events page for more inormation or to by tickets.

Inconsistency on asset sales

OPINION: The government seems to be having a bet each way in terms of privatising its revenue-generating assets.

Mark my words podcast

In this Business News podcast Mark Pownall and Mark Beyer discuss resources contracts, unemployment, solar power, BHP, CEO sleepout and apartment developments.

Mark My Words podcast

In this Business News podcast Mark Pownall and Mark Beyer discuss the Access Economics report, mining development activity, WA's civil infrastructure projects .... and BN's new CEO. 

Role for teddies in herding cats

OPINION: If a problem is complex, don't try a simple solution, and maybe hand out a teddy or two, Perth author Paul Culmsee says.

Mark my words podcast

In this Business News podcast Mark Pownall and Dan Wilkie discuss builder collapses, Wesfarmers leadership, CEO salaries, distilleries and breweries.

Mark my words podcast

In this Business News podcast Mark Pownall and Dan Wilkie discuss Forrest's donation, Midland Gate expansion, investing in man caves and ICT for small business. 

Flying the flag for US investment

Companies from the US may dominate foreign investment in Australia, but businesses from both sides of the relationship still need to be reminded about the opportunities.

Poor tax policy penalises success

OPINION: Picking on banks might be populist, but it is a very risky proposition.

Mark my words podcast

In this Business News podcast Mark Pownall and Dan Wilkie discuss the Officeworks IPO, the WA economy, Diploma Group, and philanthropy and giving.   

Vasse Felix realising great ambition

SPECIAL REPORT: Paul Holmes a Court plans for Margaret River's oldest winery may not come to fruition in his lifetime.

Fogarty takes gold medal

SPECIAL REPORT: Fogarty Wine Group has built its brand over two decades to top the list of WA's major producers.

Spirit revives as wine returns to balance

SPECIAL REPORT: After a gruelling decade, even a desultory 2016-17 summer could not dampen the growing enthusiasm among WA winemakers.

Mark my words podcast

In this Business News podcast Mark Pownall and Charlie Gunningham discuss the Bank levy, Perth's Lord Mayor, international property investors and WA's wine sector.

Foursome adds research muscle

The Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research is on a major fundraising drive to bolster cardiovascular research in Western Australia, to further localise study of this major killer and head off a leakage in philanthropic donations to eastern states institutions.

Mark my words podcast

In this Business News podcast Mark Pownall and Mark Beyer discuss public sector overhaul, medical research funding, CityLink developments and our university sector.

Bespoke applications drive entrepreneurs’ tech take-up

While innovation is a necessity in every business founder's toolkit, it seems cutting-edge technology is not always something that plays a critical role in their success.

Battle on for health high ground

OPINION: Could earnings inequality become an issue for medical professionals?

Policy pushers need to walk the walk

OPINION: A top-down, inflexible approach to policy change keeps failing.

Mark my words podcast

In this Business News podcast, Mark Pownall and Mark Beyer discuss property in Scarborough, Claremont, Elizabeth Quay and the Hyatt, Private capital boosts HealthEngine and Muscleworx, distilleries win gongs and March quarter deals environment.

Local lessons learned, Ismail earns his wings

The Perth-raised head of AirAsia X wants to use his influence to improve visitors' understanding of what WA has to offer. 

Gas demand a blue sky opportunity for Woodside

Offshore oil & gas: Woodside Petroleum's February launch of a new supply ship that can use liquefied natural gas as a fuel is an early move in what could be a larger focus on driving new market demand.

Mark my words podcast

In this Business News podcast, Mark Pownall and Mark Beyer discuss residential property, Quintis, insolvency law reform and oil and gas.

Advanced tech all part of the drill

As management and staff at Woodside Petroleum keep a watchful eye on the development of their new digs at Capital Square, the company is not waiting to move to its high-tech building to develop digital capability.

Wait(ing) Awhile helps locals save on energy

OPINION: The rest of the nation has ignored the lessons learned in WA's energy market.

New UWA leader rolls on with transformation

The appointment of Dawn Freshwater as vice-chancellor at the University of Western Australia brings an unusual combination of internal candidate and agent of change.

Mark my words podcast

In this Business News podcast, Mark Pownall and Mark Beyer discuss TFS- Quintis, Kerry Stokes and mining investment, Western Force's prospectus and who are the state's Most Influential people?

Mark Pownall with Grahame Marshall podcast

Royal Flying Doctor Service WA CEO Grahame Marshall talks to Business News head of content Mark Pownall about his career shift to head a not for profit six years ago and what he has learned on that journey, with an organisation that reaches every corner of our vast state.

Mark my words podcast

In this Business News podcast, Mark Pownall and Mark Beyer discuss the new state government, Alinta Energy, domgas and ICT.

Rise of the social entrepreneurs

OPINION: The history of the 40under40 charts the changing dynamic in business in WA.

Mark my words podcast

In this Business News podcast, Mark Pownall and Mark Beyer discuss 40under40, hotel room rates, Brett McKeon and the state election.

Mark my words podcast

In thisBusiness Newspodcast, Mark Pownall and Mark Beyer discuss WA growth, Crown jobs, penalty rates and tourism.


Mark Pownall's Picks

Recent reading

Its been a while since I updated this. Most recent reading was Simon Sebag Montefiore's Jerusalem, a great historic introduction to many of the Middle East's current issues.

Another fascinating read was Peter Rees' book Bearing Witness about Australia's great WW1 war correspondent Charles Bean. I note there's a competing biography by Ross Coulthart which I haven't read yet.

Also worth reading was one I dragged out of my father's library. William L Shirer was a foreign correspondent based in Berlin in 1930s and, due to America's late entry into WW2, was there during the early part of that conflict. His book The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich is half way between and academic work and the modern histories we are used to which are more entertaining. His book is awesome in its documentation and given a human element by the number of eye witness accounts he provides.

I really enjoyed The Bully Pulpit by Doris Kearns Goodwin which was not only about the US presidency at the start of the 20th century, but the unique role investigative journalism played in reform. It reviews the incredible reporting backed by gutsy publishers who serialised stories on concerning issues with both economic and social implications. These journalists also had unprecedented access to the presidency, especially the progressive Franklin Roosevelt. As the circulation-boosting power of this style of journalism rose, however, some went too far, making up stories and spitefully attacking political leaders - leading to the expression muckrakers. The tabloids of today have historical precedent!

Sir Bob's visit

Some of the VIPs who really did have lunch with Sir Bob.

Recent reading

Just got through this great book by Bob de la Motte, well known in Perth finance circles. Its about his life, growing up in South Africa and competing in the 90km Comrades Marathon.

Another book worth mentioning is Njinga by a good friend of mine Kate Leeming - she's also just released a film on her trans-African cycling trip and is preparing to turn it into a TV documenary series. Her next project is Antarctica.

Find it here:

Executive remuneration

Worth checking out our CEO/executive/director remuneration list here. There are thousands of WA names on it ... 59 pages of salaries if you are up for it.


Meanwhile, I am awaiting a copy of this (not a Christmas hint - review copy coming I am told) which I expect will help decipher much about the mysterious world of bitcoin. This has been co-authored by a friend of mine and former colleague Michael Casey who has been writing regular columns on bitcoin for the past year or more. I have passed on a few tidbits to him about activity in Australia, but I have no idea if that was useful.

My all-time favourite business and political books are here on my Facebook page.

Quote of the week

Quote this week from an AFR article on the views of psychiatry professor Jon Jureidini who refutes claims that almost 50% of people will experience a mental health disorder.

This minority view highlights the tension between the importance of destigmatising mental illness and the increasing medicalisation of normality,

reports Jill Margo in an article entitled: Mental health numbers overstated, say psychiatrists.

Recent quotes:

Every single analysis of the taxi industry has pointed to the fundamental insanity of government creating a restriction in a market and then allowing the value of that restriction to become private value, and then that private value forcing up prices within that industry. The taxi industry is regulated, and the whole concept of value in plates is a result of government restrictions. There would be no plate value at all if we did not have government regulation. If we think about it, and put on our economic rationalist hats, the idea that the government would create a restriction and that that restriction would lead people to have an asset that accumulates in value, driving up the price of providing a service, which has been the basis of the regulation, is just a complete nonsense.

Alannah MacTiernan (2005)


Visionary medico wins 40under40

This year's First Amongst Equals winner is a passionate medical specialist but he's also a visionary entrepreneur who has a lot in common with successful business leaders.

Vale Geoff Rasmussen

Western Australian corporate leader Geoff Rasmussen passed away on Friday night after a long battle with cancer.

Builton fails, administrator appointed

One of state's biggest residential construction firms, Builton Group, has succumbed to the financial stresses engulfing the sector, appointing an external administrator earlier today after reports of the company's financial troubles emerged last week.

Builton failure a costly housing hit

The collapse of yet another Western Australian residential builder appears set to further upset the delicate state of the sector, with financiers, insurers, 350 trade creditors and as many as 130 home owners facing losses.

most commented

Shark cull outcry overreaction

The current shark cull is a politically challenging issue, but one where Colin Barnett is right to dig in because he has time and momentum on his side.

Daylight savers may have to wait awhile

Daylight saving may be the victim of Western Australia's election - further bemusing those who watch us from a distance.

Time to stop slaughter in our backyard

While the public spotlight on the offshore ill treatment of animals bred for slaughter is commendable, why does the RSPCA shirk such action when it comes to our own backyards, literally?

Fitness freaks need more Jacob’s ladders

I note the fuss made around the recent closure of Jacob's Ladder, a stairway to Kings Park which, due to its popularity as an exercise venue, has earned the ire of local residents.