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Mark Pownall

Mark Pownall has around three decades of media experience. Prior to becoming CEO of Business News he ran the content operations of the business and was integral to the implementation of all the company’s digital products –twice daily email newsletters, weekly podcasts, deals database and BNiQ search engine. Mark has a Commerce degree from UWA and a post-graduate qualification in English from Curtin University. 

Swinging times

THE industrial relations pendulum has officially started its return swing.

Club on front foot for funds

THE new-look committee at prestigious sports venue Royal Kings Park Tennis Club has moved to institute further financial changes to turn around the organisation’s fortunes.

Marlows burned by technology drive

AUTOMOTIVE accessories retailer Marlows has gone back to basics, largely shelving a technology strategy that has cost the firm more than $3 million.

Hay Street’s retail maul

THE Hay Street Mall has always bugged me.For a long time I knew there was something that didn’t quite work, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.

Alcoa sets the record straight

AT the weekend the WA operations of multi-national aluminium giant Alcoa resorted to paying for a full-page advertisement in local daily The West Australian to highlight its claims have been ignored in a debate raging

New CEO fights conservative tag

INCOMING WA Newspapers Holdings chief executive officer Ian Law believes he has more to offer than just the cost cutting credentials with which he was labelled following his unexpected appointment last week.

Busy Palandri in quiet restructure

IT has been a busy year for the people at the controversial Palandri wine group, with some significant activity in both the public domain and behind the scenes at one of the wine world’s most unusual corporate models.

Southern comfort

THE local wine industry caught my attention about five or six years ago.One thing that sparked my interest was the big growth in tax-effective investments.

Power play

I KNOW it’s early days at the Federal Government’s royal commission into the building industry, but it doesn’t seem as though this important inquiry has got off to a good start.

West staffers home for Christmas

MEDIA group WA Newspapers Holdings has made several pre-Christmas redundancies as the market waits for the announcement of a new chief executive.

Local media recognises the year’s best

A POLITICAL exposé with a strong business leaning has allowed Geraldton Guardian reporter Chris Johnson to scoop the pool at the WA media awards this year.

SAS joins coalition forces in Afghan fight

AUSTRALIANS have been warned to prepare for casualties as the first of Australia’s elite Special Air Service troops arrived in Afghanistan this week.

Building collapse

THE collapse of major Mid West building company sparked our interest this week when our investigations revealed a link to Premier Geoff Gallop.

Meeting misses the big picture

WA’S major media company, WA Newspapers Holdings, is set to announce the appointment of a new managing director before the end of the year, ending more than 12 months of speculation.

Small is beautiful in legal split

THE law firm headed by high-profile Cottesloe mayor John Hammond is being split almost down the middle following the failure of an 18-month merger experiment.

Waiting Game

PATIENCE is the catchcry of those in the technology game as they seek to soothe their disgruntled investors.Two good examples came to my attention this week.

Ill wind blows in from regional and rural markets

LONG-STANDING metals fabricator and supplier to the transport industry, Howard Porter Pty Ltd, may have a new owner by the end of the week after shutting its doors amid turmoil in its rural and regional markets.

New battle on the high seas

THE 2001-2002 lobster season kicked off last week amid a renewed battle for market share in the northern region, which is dominated by the Geraldton Fishermen’s Cooperative.

Retailer at liberty to profit from liquor

LIQUOR retailer Patrick Stephenson continues to profit from his Liberty Liquors venture, close to a year after selling the business to national supermarket giant Woolworths.

Research aims to reduce incidence of lobster leg loss

RESEARCH by the Geraldton Fisher-men’s Cooperative may go a long way to solving a problem for lobster fishermen, which costs the industry up to an estimated $3 million a year.

Stormy seas ahead for industry

THE rock lobster industry is bracing for one of the toughest seasons in memory, as a predicted low catch coincides with difficulties in the global market.But most involved are surprisingly upbeat about the situation.

Conflict-free fee

THIS week’s Evans & Tate annual meeting opened with a sticky question for executive chairman Franklin Tate.

WA jobs to go in restructure at Iona

GLOBAL IT group Iona Technologies is closing its Perth office to consolidate its Australian operations in Sydney.Two staff will be left working from home in Perth when the CBD office shuts shortly, leaving up to 15 people out of work.

Rights and wrongs

THE right government for the wrong reasons – that’s my summation of last Saturday’s election result.The Howard Government deserved another term.

Taxing lessons

EDUCATION has been touted by Labor as a key election issue, and quite rightly so.Unfortunately, it has played second fiddle to the immigration debate that has dominated this campaign, the issue likely to win Saturday’s poll for John Howard.

New tennis club committee courts business

THERE have been sweeping changes in the power structure at prestigious sports venue Royal Kings Park Tennis Club, with newcomers holding a majority of official positions following Monday night’s annual meeting.

Paying out

THERE has been a lot of talk lately of the bonuses, pay rises and special payments on retirement to company directors.

Ansett goes back to the future

ALWAYS take the road less travelled is my rule.That’s why I went to Canberra last week when most of the population, or so it seemed, had left.

Now you see it …

THE Gallop Government’s backflip on the premium property tax was a refreshing victory for common sense.

Taxing times

IT’S a bit of a recurrent theme (some might say nightmare), but this column again ventures into that most fruitful of subjects – tax.

Power games

WORD has it that some months ago, a high-powered team of executives from Western Power was invited to the WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry to explain their view of the world of energy.

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Mark Pownall's Picks

Recent reading

For the Aussie history buffs. Like a lot of things if you think polarised society, royals behaving badly or domestic terrorism are new things ... think again. Steve Harris is an accomplished journalist and media entrepreneur, so this a little different although his home town of Melbourne features prominently.

The Contiki story. It is a racy read with plenty of business tips from a backpacker who took his business global ... and pretty much lost the lot. The business journey is outlined in extraordinary detail. A must read for anyone who has travelled on the cheap to Europe.

Great management text if you are looking for someone to make sense of all the models and theories that sometimes attain cult status. Co-author is Perth-based Paul Culmsee.

Simon Sebag Montefiore's Jerusalem, a great historic introduction to many of the Middle East's current issues. In fact, when you see what goes on there today, a lot of it is explained by this book

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: www.kateleeming.com

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.

Bitcoin

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.

Most-read

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.