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. 

Wine group shelves its Internet and retail plans

WINE services group has shelved its Internet and retail plans for an outlet at the West Perth site of the Perth Ice Works to concentrate on its bottling and storage plans.

Protest confusion

I WAS amused to read the rantings of the latest protest movement in a bright green flyer that was being handed at the bus drivers strike meetings by people holding copies of Socialist Worker.

Decision welcomed

THERE are a lot of relieved people in WA following the Federal Government’s decision to block Shell’s bid.

Bid to diffuse tax scheme row

THE furore in WA over the heavily marketed tax schemes appears to be gaining an increasing profile in Canberra, with the matter being given a big airing at Federal Cabinet this week.

Natural progression for restaurateur

WHO says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? One of Perth’s best known faces, Robert Ruse claims to have put his past behind him and is ready for another crack at business with a new venture.

Legs walk over sign opposition

A SHAPELY set of legs featured in a new city apartment advertising campaign caused a stir at last week’s City of Perth council meeting as councillors debated whether it was simply stylish or just plain sexist.

Designers want a look inside

FIRST it was the graphic designers now we see it in the world of interior design – complaints from local industry that they don’t get a fair go when it comes to big State Government contracts.

Taste for learning

THE WA Wine Industry Association has opened a new education facility in Perth’s northern suburbs, the first in a series of planned metropolitan satellite centres aimed at improving the public’s knowledge of wine.

Listed investment companies yield to market

Australia’s listed investment companies have been “out of favour” for more than a year, ever since new capital gains tax rules were announced, but for many investors it may be timely to reconsider this sector.

No shelter for prospectus pain

Agricultural scheme pro-moters are reeling at the latest blow to their industry, with regulators chang-ing the rules about prospectus fore-casts in the middle of the key marketing period.

Bank bonus

BOUTIQUE investment bank Gresham Partners has always been a quiet little earner for WA’s biggest industrial company Wesfarmers, contributing a healthy $2.5 million on average to the bottom line during each of the past couple of years.

Laos gem link

A GEM dealer who quit Perth after being hounded by creditors has emerged with an apparent link to two Australians held in custody in Laos over the disappearance of sapphires from that country.

Taxing problem govt’s fault

SOME years ago I was approached by a salesman who sold tax-effective investments to people who worked in WA’s mining sector.

Perth city elections – for whom the poll tolls

A PEDESTRIAN-FRIENDLY city is what council hopeful Tony Ransom wants to create.

Issues of the Week

Gas soaring as Eagles diveTHE $2.4 billion expansion of the North-West Shelf gas project will go ahead after the six partners Woodside, Shell, BHP, BP, Chevron and Mitsui/Mitsubishi decided to invest $1.6 billion in a fourth LNG production train on WA

Resources save the day again

WAS that a bugle sounding off in the distance?

Terry isn’t budging from his game plan

TERRY Budge has already passed the halfway mark in his seven-year contract as the head of BankWest, outliving the average Australian chief executive’s tenure in the process.

Stockpile freezes rock lobster trade

BIG inventories of frozen rock lobster and jitters in the Japanese market are undermining the benefits of the falling Australian dollar for WA’s fishermen.

Normans conquest

SOUTH Australian winemaker Normans Wines is likely target of a $200 million plus acquisition drive by three Margaret River wineries.

Has innovation horse bolted?

INNOVATION remains a key theme in WA business circles this week with a series of key initiatives led by the WA Government and some of our most prestigious research organisations.

Taking stock of the things that count in trading

BARELY a year has gone since Tony Barton stormed back into WA’s investment scene with his new company’s purchase of a half share in stockbroker DJ Carmichael & Co.

Workplace agreements to end

ANY workplace agreement which is registered from this week will be valid for only six months after new workplace legislation comes into force.

What a wonderful State

ALL of us have at some time or another felt that we live in a State that rivals paradise, here in WA. Interestingly it is not just us who feel that way.

What a wonderful State

ALL of us have at some time or another felt that we live in a State that rivals paradise, here in WA. Interestingly it is not just us who feel that way.

Local support will support us

MEGA mergers like that proposed between Australia’s BHP and South African-based Billiton are real food for thought.

Merger as Aussies collapse

THE biggest story in Australia’s corporate history occurred this week with the announced merger of Australian mining giant BHP with London’s Billiton plc.

Xanadu in search for acquisitions

MARGARET River winemaker Xanadu is set to hit the acquisition trail in a stock market listing planned for as early as next week after raising about $8 million in new equity.

Raider moves on cash kitty

THE cash box left after the failure of WA’s first wine company listing is fighting an east coast bidder from the industry, which appears to be after a $5 million kitty left after the sale of three vineyards last year.

Food speeds down fast lane

MASS consumption of fast food is a New World phenomenon.People in traditional societies - such as Europe - tended to eat at a more leisurely pace.

Legal brain drain a global reality

STAGGERING offers for young lawyers who have been working for less time than they spent at university should be seen as a portent of things to come.

Growers push to wind back GST

A WA wine industry proposal to exempt producers’ first 1 million litres from the wine equalisation tax has been adopted at a national level as the producers prepare to use their electoral clout to wind back GST-driven exise increases.


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:

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.


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.