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. 

Biotech companies cut back GM trials

GENETICALLY modified crop research has been scaled back in WA to a fraction of the area trialled during the 2000 season.

Moral call

THE One.Tel debacle has led to unprecedented calls to end corporate greed, even from politicians who themselves are being examined for their own indulgent superannuation system.

Kimberley lures big city cast

BEEF prices might be up but almost no-one is speculating that moves by Warren Anderson’s Tipperary Developments on two Kimberley pastoral stations have anything to do with cattle.

Tax schemes under microscope

THE Australian Taxation Office has referred up to a dozen tax-effective investment scheme promoters to other authorities and regulators, including the National Crime Authority.

ITC boosts forestry investment program

AGRO-FORESTRY group ITC’s capital raising of between $13 million and $15 million is more than a cosmetic effort to improve its appeal to foreign interests.

Ongoing saga

AS the convention saga continues, Business News offers its support to the tourism industry, which must start to hurt when so much uncertainty exists.

Failure to provide a clear signal

PETER Costello’s sixth Federal Budget might have delivered little that business wasn’t already expecting, but the corporate world should not be too disappointed.

Centre not make or break

THE fortunes of WA construction giant Multiplex are not tied to the $330 million Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre project.

Stimulus lacking from Costello’s 6th Budget

BUSINESS people praying for some economic stimulation from the Federal Govern-ment’s Budget will be disappointed.

Little to enthuse about for tax industry professionals

TAX practitioners offered caustic responses to the Budget announcements claiming to have found little more than one substantial tax change – the decision to bring forward by a year the full input tax credits for the purchase of motor

Major pain follows insurance fall

THE Federal Government has unveiled a $500 million rescue package for the estimated 28,000 victims of the collapse of insurance giant HIH.

Wine deal leaves hangover

MINING group turned wine investor Tuart Resources is dealing with a $200,000 hangover from its February purchase of Nelson Ridge, the company behind WA’s biggest vineyard development.

Moves afoot at Amberley Estate

AMBERLEY Estate’s managing director and chief winemaker Eddie Price expects to quit the Margaret River operation at the end of the month when a deal to sell to Palandri is hoped to be completed.

Boom to come

ASK any stockbroker about the current market and you are unlikely to get much enthusiasm.

A solid foundation on which to build

IN something of a rarity for a family company, Alex Kailis is the third member of his family to run the group, yet he is only a second generation member.

Nation’s economic health a sticky call

THE state of Australia’s economy remained a sticky call this week with the release of a flood of variant data from ANZ, Reserve Bank, Australian Bureau of Statistics and Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry reports.

Cash flow crisis

SHOULD anyone be surprised that business is delaying paying bills, extending the time it has taken to meet creditors’ demands by 10 per cent in two years?

Winemaker drops tax scheme

TURMOIL in the tax-effective market has prompted WA wine company Evans & Tate to drop plans to use a Managed Invest-ment Scheme structure to fund its Australasian Vineyard Trust.

Bid leaves liquor stores in limbo

TWENTY WA liquor stores trading under the Porters banner will have to wait at least two weeks before the future of their brand is known following Coles-Myer’s bid for its owner.

Concept creates mixed feelings

FRANCHISING is one of those odd concepts in business which create mixed feelings for market watchers.The franchise, by its very nature, limits creativity yet it still provides the flexibility to all grow faster than almost any business.

Tax break multiplies division

TAX scheme investors have won a reprieve in their long-running battle against the Australian Taxation Office but underneath the seemingly united front there are big differences on just how the matter should be resolved.

Costello decides and Gallop is happy

PETER Costello’s long awaited announcement on the future on Royal Dutch Shell’s bid on Woodside Petroleum has ended months of speculation on whether the takeover bid could proceed under Australia’s foreign investment guidelines.

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.


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.