13/01/2015 - 15:55

CEO Survey Results - the year ahead

13/01/2015 - 15:55

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The state's business leaders have looked to the future.

More than 60 CEOs from WA provided Business News with detailed views on the year past, the next 12 months, their vision for the state, and what they expect from political leaders.

See more responses here.

How would you describe conditions for your business in 2014?

What can you see ahead for your business in 2015?

What are you looking forward to in 2015?

What is your vision for the State and what is needed to maintain our lifestyle?

Michael McNulty, Deloitte

2014 can only be described as patchy.  Overall business conditions, particularly in the first half, were better than 2013 but the impact of the lower iron ore and oil prices in the second half have eroded business confidence.  There has been a substantial increase in work involving productivity improvement and a significant move to projects that involve value-based billing and we are seeing an increase in transactional activity over the last quarter.

We expect the difficult market conditions to extend through much of 2015 meaning the continued focus on productivity and efficiency is going to be critical. In the medium and longer term though we remain positive about the future of WA.2015 will begin to see the next stage the evolution of this state from being heavily reliant on the construction boom to one where we begin to see the benefits of years-worth of investment in increasing our exports of gas and other commodities. As this transition occurs I hope we can leverage the substantial opportunities we have to build gas and mining hubs that harness the talent, innovation and intellectual property that has been built over the past decade.    I also look forward to seeing a more traction around the growth areas we have defined as the DG25.  In particular I believe we will continue to see greater focus, and success, in Agriculture, Higher Education and Tourism.      Finally, a focus on reducing the red tape that corporate Australia is wrapping itself in.  Deloitte Access Economics have estimated (in Building the Lucky Country Get out of your own way: Unleashing Productivity) that this self-imposed corporate red tape is costing over $150 billion every year, not to mention the stifling effect it has on innovation.  I look forward to getting out of our way in 2015.    And finally, I look forward to seeing more senior women in leadership roles in WA companies.  In the past few years we have seen a significant positive trend and I look forward to seeing that continue.WA needs to build on is strengths in Mining and Oil and Gas whilst investing in industries with global growth opportunities (such as Agriculture, Higher Education and Tourism) where we have a competitive advantage as discussed in our Building the Lucky Country series.    I also strongly believe that we need to continue to make Perth a destination of choice for talent.  There have been some great advances in this regard over the past five years but we must continue to invest in this regard.    And finally I have been astounded by the change in private and corporate philanthropy in WA over recent years.  Part of the vision for WA must be focused on how corporate and community sectors work more closely together to ensure that all West Australians feel the benefits of living in a state that is blessed with many riches.

Danny Psaros, Psaros

Not as good as 2013 but probably best described as "par".We are expecting a tough year next year in our sector of property development.The challenge of working through the tough elements of the market.My medium to long term view is very positive.  In the short term, the weakening Australian Dollar will assist business and believe the underlying fundamentals remain strong.

Hugh Gallagher, Kalgoorlie-Boulder Chamber of Commerce

Its been a very tough year for the majority of businesses in this region unless one has a product or service the mining industry can't do without.We would be confident of a minimal improvement from the early part of 2015.Confidence is the primary factor effecting spending.I consider the State to have a positive future though coming off a cycle that is typical of the resource sector. The possible exception being that on this occasion this was the most powerful cycle WA has seen its modern era.

David Dodds, JAXON

2014 saw JAXON experience unprecedented growth. The West Australian construction industry has been competitive, but we have been able to secure the majority of the projects we targeted.The industry will remain competitive with builders having to remain astute and analyse project risks carefully. However we envisage continuing with our growth having recently secured some major contracts.I hope to see increased activity in construction markets other than the apartment sector. Initial signs are positive for sectors such as retail and aged-care.WA needs to work towards being able to grow our economy without the over reliance on the resource sector. We are ideally located geographically to enhance business relationships with Asia, focus on tourism and agri-business.

Christopher How, The Bethanie Group

Turbulent - The change in legislations and removal of subsidies has created some unique challenges.Exciting - Bethanie will be looking at a number of innovative initiatives that will provide greater market presence.  We are also entering into a capital phase which will provide unique accommodation propositions for the WA market.The challenges that a forming community care market will bring to aged care service.  This will trigger movement in the market in relation to mergers, aquisitions and innovations that provide not only consumer benifits but industry efficiencies.The WA state government needs to truly understand what the impact of an ageing population is going to have. The current estimation is that we need to build, nationally, 143 beds per week and invest $31b into residential care between now and 2023.  WA is nowhere near prepared for this with a massive potential impact on hospital and health care systems and housing.    My vision for WA is for us to get serious about an ageing population.

Karen Giles, Clubs WA

Conditions have been challenging this year.I see potential for both our organisation in developing more services to our industry and our industry in creating more awareness of our central role in local communities.Working more closely with our members in assessing the main issues affecting the industry and developing strategies to support the future of the club industry in this state.More tourism opportunities which can be developed with the licensed club industry; also the establishment of career paths within this industry.

Larry Jorgensen, Wines of Western Australia

Still challenging for our industry as a result of value of the AUD and international economic conditions.  Export is important to our industry.With the value of the AUD approaching the long term average we can expect export volume and value to increase in most markets.  North America is responding now.  The FTAs with Japan, Korea and China will also offer opportunities to be explored.  And the increasing wealth across SE Asia means our wine and food will be in greater demand in those markets.Working collaboratively as an industry to realise the potential for market development noted above.Diversification of the economy.  There are opportunities in agri-business, tourism and the service sectors that we must pursue to ensure we have a resilient economy that offers a range of career opportunities and attracts people to the state.

Michael Pailthorpe, Variety WA

Improved on 2013 but still down on mining boom levels.The economic environment will remain challenging, we will need to think of new and innovative ways of effectively engaging supporters and beneficiaries.The growth of non-mining sectors such as agriculture to help offset the reduction in mining driven economic activity. That WA will continue to mature in its participation and approach to philanthropy.We need to leverage off the mining related infrastructure to develop agricultural products and export opportunities. Mining and Dining. Tourism opportunities from intra and interstate and overseas is also an opportunity which we haven't properly taken advantage of. We need to share our wealth with all parts of the community and continuing to nurture a culture of philanthropy will be vital. The recent and continuing emergence of PAFs (Private Ancillary Funds) is a welcome step in that direction.

Mark Whitehouse, ProCopy

Unpredictable, better end than start of year.More stress.Seeing if things we have done in 2014 result in more business.Government needs to take a proper leadership role and also guide small businesses.

Irina Cattalini, WA Council of Social Service

It's been a challenging and exciting year for community services in 2014. Unfortunately there are more people doing it tough in our community as unemployment has been growing and the increasing cost of living has made it difficult for people on low-incomes. There has also been some great opportunities for stronger collaboration between the community and corporate sectors to improve outcomes for Western Australians.The landscape for 2015 is looking very uncertain. A significant proportion of the funding for community services is caught up in complex federal tendering processes which are very destabilising. Many service organisations and staff still don't know what this means for their future in the new year. Governments and the community sector will have to work hard together to ensure that we can keep services operating on the ground throughout the state, particularly during this transition.WACOSS is looking forward to working with partners across different sectors on emerging collective impact projects. There is a particular exciting initiative to drive greater leadership and coordination of services for children in their early years. Watch out for the project in Cockburn and Kwinana developing in that space.Our vision is for a more socially just and sustainable state, where more people get to enjoy the great quality of lifestyle many of us take for granted. We'd love to see it shared more equitably.

Garry Ellender, Access Housing

Whilst the property and residential construction markets boomed for much of the year, the State & Federal Government environments in which Access Housing operates in respect to affordable housing was challenging, with tight fiscal conditions, a retreat from the housing space by the Abbott Government (eg. the abolition of NRAS and  the National Housing Supply Council and the COAG Select Committee on Housing and Homelessness) and a lack of appetite by the State Government for further outsourcing of ownership and management of the State public housing assets.A moderating market environment, with subdued property price growth, however for Access Housing a continuing increase in its property development activities, with a projected 265 new dwelling construction commencements. We anticipate continued investor interest in our property sales programs. Our community housing landlord services will increase to nearly 2,000 tenancies during the year, including supported services for nearly 500 high needs clients. Our subsidiary Real Estate company (Access Housing Realty Pty Ltd) will continue to expand its specialist services for NRAS and other investors in the affordable housing market.The launch of our private equity investment initiative, which will finance, in the first instance, 116 new affordable housing dwellings on well located infill sites. The propriety model provides an excellent alternative to NRAS as an investment opportunity, and is targeted at a more sophisticated investment level. The model delivers affordable rental and home ownership options, under a fund structure, at no cost to the tax payer, unlike NRAS.The State Government needs to develop a long term strategy for the divestment of public housing assets and management to the NFP and private sectors, in order to provide  a sustainable platform for a substantial increase in social and affordable housing supply and the revitalisation of ageing public housing assets.  Access Housing's vision is that every Australian has access to secure, affordable housing, a place to call home.

Rob Hill, Australind Veterinary Clinic

2014 has been a turbulent year for both our clients and for our business.  Despite uncertainty in the economic climate we have managed to kick some rather impressive goals, all thanks to having an inspiring and hard working team!  We have moved, made staffing and organisational changes and strategically repositioned ourselves in the market.  Overall it's been a hard working, evolving and changing year for us.  If anything, the current market uncertainty has made us a stronger team, a smarter business and improved our systems and productivity.  The not for profit sector is really experiencing a shake up with funding models changing and the challenge in reframing the business model to survive is certainly an interesting challenge.Growth, changes and the implementation of some great programs to help small business in the South West.  The South West region is quite underrated in its beauty and opportunities and our contribution to making the region grow and prosper will drive all our services for the year.I'm very interested in watching the innovation that business is going to have to undergo to survive some hard economic times.  This is the time when those who are prepared to change and grab the bull by the horns will really succeed.  It will be an interesting time to see who comes through and distinguish their business as the epitome of success in the changing business climate.  A great opportunity for businesses to learn some really beneficial business skills.There is a fair bit going on in terms of our economic climate and capacity to delivery the same high standards of living we've become accostimed to during the boom years.  I do feel that there will be a trend towards sustainability and a change in consumerism behaviours.  To what degree and how that will look is yet to be seen!

Frank Hurley, Wrays

Patchy, though we did have record revenue and profit.  It was patchy because some months were extremely good and others bad.  It was a bit like barracking for Fremantle.  You never know you have won the game until the final siren goes.We are pursuing an aggressive national expansion strategy with an office opening in Melbourne next year.  Innovation is a hot topic with government and industry but I am still to see much concrete action.  By sticking to our focus of intellectual property (as opposed to a more general practice) we believe we will continue to grow.Our new Melbourne office and continuing to grow on the east coast.I worry the state only has three main employer groups - government, universities and mining.  We need to broaden our vision of who we are and what our skill sets can deliver.  If a small country with no natural resources like Singapore can build a first world economy surely we can too and not rely solely on resources or 'the service industry'.  I don't want to tell my children their only career choice is as a barista or a waitress.

Ian King, WA Road Transport Association

Once the Mining sector started slowing the impact throughout the road transport sector was evident and had an immediate impact. Companies had to change focus to survive!  Companies understood it was a game changer - change or die, which most have done!Toughening conditions, uncertainty and a toughening of the belt mentality - a required action.The implementation of the WA Compliance & Enforcement Legislation will ensure those companies who have taken this new government initiative seriously will benefit as those who don't will be "a risk" to do business with!  Chain of Responsibility will be the catch cry of Industry in 2015.Ongoing growth, but at what cost!  Technology is already changing business but where is the end?  Having time to enjoy the State and improve lifestyle will be a real challenge. Finally, introduce Day Light Saving!

Tom Darbyshire, Kott Gunning Lawyers

Patchy - very quiet in some parts of the firm in Q2 2014.Challenging but with big opportunities for growth.Continuing the restructuring of the firm to pursue opportunities for growth.Investment in infrastructure  Expansion of economic base to tertiary industry  Investment in knowledge.

Martyn Weir, PDC

It has been very volatile and pessimistic in Australia however very optimistic for our overseas work.Similar if not worse conditions in the Australian market and especially the resources sector.Hopefully some stability and realising some new opportunities with our technology team where we are having good conversations with our customers.We have to get used to the new norm and I feel we need to reflect on what we have learnt over the last decade and utilise that knowledge for use in markets abroad. The resource owners need to support local industry in the short term or a lot won't exist when they need them, which they will.

Graham Francis, SwanCare Group

Challenging, but rewarding.A greater focus on customer service, flexibility and remaining competitive.Undergoing significant construction and increasing the level of our service delivery.Greater investment in infrastructure, particularly roads and key transport links.

Colm O'Brien, Aspermont

Testing.Transformation of revenue sources to better engage with the market, increase market share both domestically and internationally.Stronger consumer confidence, and a recalibration to the "new norm" for WA.Ongoing investment in key infrastructure, education and retraining.  Need for people at all levels to lower wage expectations from where they were 3 years ago.

Chris Hall, MercyCare

A challenging, highly complex and volatile ‘new world’ continued to emerge for the not-for-profit community sector: 
- Increased community need and an increasing complexity of need Growing competition from multinationals and private equity firms within a very price sensitive (potentially at the expense of quality) market. 
- Pressure from government to consolidate the number of providers and marketise the provision of community services. 
- Increased levels and magnitude of compliance and regulatory burden, despite commitments from government to reduce red tape. 
- Move towards consumer directed or person centred care, allowing people to have greater control over their own lives by allowing them to make choices about the type of care they access, including who will deliver the care.
Growth, change and continuous improvement: 
- Grow to necessary size and scale to remain competitive. 
- Change to meet a heavy reform agenda and deliver on consumer directed or person centred care. 
- Continuous improvement to refine our internal systems and processes to better meet the needs of our service users and enhance our organisational efficiency.
During 2014 MercyCare developed a comprehensive strategic plan to provide a map for our future direction to 2017. We are confident we have a bold and courageous plan to bring compassion and justice to life by breaking cycles of significant disadvantage in our community. We have reorganised our resources and services to deliver on the plan and to accommodate growth and development of services. I’m looking forward to implementing the plan and continuing to make a significant difference in our community.MercyCare’s vision is for people and communities to thrive – to break cycles of significant disadvantage so that every individual and family is connected, supported and helped by each other.

Nigel Satterley, Satterley Property Group

I think business in WA has, in 2014, been adjusting to the completion of construction in some resource projects, falling commodity prices, a drop in population growth from around 58,000 per year to 42,000 and some changes in the jobs market. In the new homes and land market we've had a very strong first six months and a return to a more normal market in the second six months. That said, at Heron Park, a consistent best seller, we've had our two strongest sales months late in the year. Our Victorian estates have been doing very well. We have five estates now selling in the Melbourne market and house and land sales there are strong.We think we will see a steady market to do business in. Sales competition will pick up and we will be securing sales through  our professional sales team, great customer service and well priced and well presented product. We think the industry as a whole in WA will sell around 10,000 lots next year, with total new home construction, when you add in infill and redevelopment, sitting at about 14,000 to 15,000 new dwellings.With population growth of around 42,000 to 45,000, we think that will underpin continued good housing demand. I also think we'll see two possible interest cuts, of 0.25%, with the first in the first quarter of the year. We will be launching our new Cassia estate in WA, and nine new display villages both here and in Victoria. We will also be continuing our sensible acquisition program in WA and Victoria.I think we need to focus on road congestion and ways to ease it, including considering toll roads as part of the public discussion. I also think we must look at the hospitality industry and ways to increase employment and training.

Geoff Simpson, Allen & Overy

Globally increasingly positive; Australia - different for different practice groups with litigation and banking having a good time of it but quieter on the in bound cross border M&A front for the resource industries, particulalry in the public listed space.Acceleration of the strong trend (as markets pick up elsewhere) for our lawyers based here acting on matters with no nexus with Australia - now often higher value work, time zones work well (24 hour service) and positioning the Perth team as a bit of a centre of excellence for the network to go to for energy and resources expertise globally - lots of African and Asian deals.More locally generated transactional activity so there is less need to jump on planes!. A&O Perth turns 5 next May so there will be some reflecting over that minor milestone, particulalry from the foundation partner group. More importantly watching (because they don't seem too interested in me helping) my 3 children grow and find their way in what is an increasingly complicated world but one that throws up more interesting opportunities than ever before.To be the global centre of excellence, expertise and invovation for the resource industries. Also important we make best use of our natural advantages and position our tourism industry and agricultural industries to be more important contributors (as tourism is in so many lesser destinations). The AUD coming off should help that and some other sectors. The next few years will require some well considered infrastructure solutions and planning decisions to allow the city and state to achieve its full potential.

Peter Mott, Hollywood Private Hospital

At Hollywood private Hospital we've seen an increased demand for our services throughout 2014, across all areas of our business including surgery,medical admissions as well access to our mental health unit. The ageing population,advances in medical technology, pressure on the public hospital system and our reputation as being a leader in private health care all contribute to an increasing demand for our services.Provided Government policy does not interfere with the current arrangements and balance between the public and private hospital system, 2015 ought to see continued strong demand and support for private hospital services.  I am concerned that some of the more recent changes around means testing the medicare rebate have had an adverse impact  on the level of private health insurance cover some people are choosing,which could result in increaded pressure on the public hospital system which is already at capacity.We are on track to expand Hollywood by an additional six operating theatres in the second half of 2015 which will enable us to meet the increased needs of our patients.We have a lot of interest from nurses and other support staff wanting to join our hospital and through our expansion we'll be in a position to offer more than 100 additional jobs.Other than our increasingly frustrating  and inadequate  transport system which has failed to keep pace with our population growth,we are spoilt to live in WA. We have access to pristine beaches, beautiful parks and gardens and have a great choice of cafes and small bars as well as some wonderful cultural options.  A long term transport plan incorporating more bike paths and improved public transport are vitally important .

Michael Heath, St Ives Group

Improving despite increasing and onerous Govt regulation.Improving labour market and growth in aged care sector.Increased access to skilled labour.To be world-class due to our proximity to Asia and China free-trade opportunities.To maintain our lifestyle we need improved infrastructure, lower cost of living and deregulation.

Sue Murphy, Water Corporation

Tight. Workload is the same but we must do it with lower opex and reduced capex.Productivity is the main game.Cooler recruitment market so access to some great new talent at sensible rates.We must never allow waste - no waste of resources or waste of manhours - and especially no waste of water!. That way we can grow sustainably.

David Reid, David Reid Group

Holding steady and less certain at times.Improving outlook already evidenced in the 2nd QTR to Dec 2014. More and more people are open to help in rethinking how to take their business forward - the core of what we doTalking to more new clients. Getting involved in China WA Trade.Clearly we are over reliant on Iron Ore. As a state we need to get behind the smart business people offering services outside Iron Ore.

Kashif Saleem, Trackem Pty Ltd

We have had great interest from market leaders in our sector and have met our targets despite the current market conditions.Diversifying into different sectors and forming strategic partnerships.Penetration of international markets.WA needs to focus on its strengths with regards to servicing the resource sector and create efficiencies to be both nationally and globally competitive.

Andrew Wagstaff, Diabetes WA

More challenging than anticipated back in quarter 4 2013. WA corporate activity slowed more quickly than expected with cyclical down sizing and business risk mitigation becoming the short term goal for many WA businesses. Cwlth and State government activity slowed as revenues declined and the necessity for cost reduction increased in all key funding areas. The result is that demand growth for our services continued at some 10% for the year but our ability to expand our service options declined to be almost flat with softening revenue streams.A continuation of the conditions in 2014 with the possibility of more severe public sector program funding constraints resulting from flat growth in public revenues. With 27% of the State budget already committed to health sector spending we anticipate little scope for further expansion.Continuing the search for more effective ways of applying the existing health funding towards the provision of state-wide solutions to the challenges posed by the growth in WA's diabetes population to some 130,000 in 2015.To see a shift in the basis of our political debate from factional to one that works to propose the best possible solutions to the key issues that challenge sustainable economic growth.

Chris Galvin, Galvin Engineering

Tough.Another tight year.The rolling in of a  new business acquisition.Building on our unique weather and location, to build a city and state that is fun, safe and prosperous.  From a federal point of view, we need to increase the GST to at least 15% to provide the government revenue needed for health, education, transport, safety, etc, and to decrease the reliance on income tax, and a whole lot of other very inefficient and very hard to manage taxes like CGT, FBT, state taxes/duties/royalties, etc.

Marcus Stafford, Multiple Sclerosis Society of WA

Positive, with above forecast growth in revenues and the need for a determined focus to manage costs. However, this was achieved with an underlying sentiment of caution and conservatism in the market. This largely stemmed from uncertainty surrounding commodity prices, interest rates, unemployment, the global recovery, the State's debt and loss of its AAA rating. Stable growth, but with further caution in retail sentiment and a reduced appetite to take risk within business. Current economic views about a potential interest rate reduction in 2015 are likely to have an accidentally negative effect. Rather than increasing appetite for risk in retail and business, they may in fact send a message of concern that will further fuel negative sentiment. Further reduction in the price of the Aussie dollar against the US, some stability within commodities and the markets and some  sensible reduction of State debt to create firm foundations for the future. I believe that the MS Society's strategic plan to serve people with MS and other conditions will remain on track.Revenues are speculative and costs are guaranteed. Understanding the need to balance the competing demands and priorities for our State, I believe that a measured and more strategic approach should be taken to retire State debt and to reclaim our AAA rating. At the same time, we must more creatively manage the working transition taking place in the State and establish ourselves as a centre for technological, scientific and professional excellence.  Western Australia is a beautiful place to live, but we must communicate a message, both nationally and internationally, that we are much more than just mining, sunshine, beaches and expensive cups of coffee!

Cliff Rocke, KordaMentha

We started the year thinking that the sector was in for a slow down - a number of competitors have reduced their numbers. The fall in key commodity prices has certainly had a flow on effect on opportunities for our  offerings with a steady increase in work.At this stage a lot of commentators are saying we are in for a busy year particularly with no foreseeable increase in key commodity prices. Recent reports indicate that the fall in commodity prices is resulting in a $2b shortfall in the WA budget. My concern here is that will the benefits from a falling currency value, falling energy prices and the recently announced Chinese FTA be able to correct this gap - I don't think the resulting benefits will be seen soon enough let alone being sufficient. We will be more involved  in certain sectors from mining related activities and the like. Also with the ATO ramping up recalcitrant payers - work mainly in SMEs will also flow to us.We always want to be busy however more on the restructuring and turnaround side. There is a lot of satisfaction in saving a company rather than being seen as a corporate undertaker. With banks being more proactive in managing distressed clients and the aspiration to retain clients we hope to see more of these opportunities. From a KordaMentha perspective we are well placed for these opportunities as 60% of our firm does not work in the typical areas of insolvency.My vision is for the state to be seen as a vibrant, safe and exciting destination with ease of moving around. We need to capitalise on "urban infill" opportunities and reduce the footprint of an extended metropolitan urban scrawl.  The recent investments in  infrastructure initiatives is certainly going to achieving this. We do however have to control debt and expenditure in line with decreasing revenues and not be seen as a "nanny" state as reflected for example in the inconsistent application of liquor licensing laws. The conundrum is what is cut - I am a believer of a user pays system eg - The stadium while I welcome the stadium -  I question whether the tax payer should pay for a venue that is primarily for 26 weeks a year. I believe the government has to align its objectives and duties of government to get the greatest if not social return on its investment - a great example is the significant investment in health and road infrastructure currently underway.

Bradley Woods, Australian Hotels Association WA

2014 was a challenging year for hotel and hospitality businesses. Market conditions were patchy and overall flat.Stable conditions but potential additional costs due to increased government charges and taxes.Lower petrol and aviation fuel charges may enable lower business costs and encourage more travel activity.Recognition of the hospitality and tourism industry as the sustainable future of WA will secure an attractive  lifestyle for generation to come.    WA with its abundant natural attractions and fresh seasonal produce has the potential to be a tourism powerhouse for the Australian economy.      With an expanded population, investment in new hotel and hospitality infrastructure and progressive and well respected beverage and dining experiences, the time is now for major investment in tourism and business events destination marketing.

Sebastian Bolhuis, Harley Dykstra

Moderate.Similiar.New market opportunity and cleaner teams- less waste in delivery of product and client involvement.Better strategic planning and leave recreation as is or improve.

Brian Briscoe, Mums2Work, Trades & Labour Co, Briscoe Search

Opportunistic! Change in the market has caused more opportunity than when things are manic and no-one had time to stop and think.More of the same. Continued downturn in resource infrastructure projects causing a necessary adjustment in employment conditions. We also predict a lot of temporary migrants returning to their home countries, a necessary drop in supply of labour helping this adjustment.Customer service levels improving, which will always happen when business gets a little tougher and people rally together to make it work. A trait has that probably been lacking during the super cycle.Productivity, sustainability and a keen eye on affordability. Given our remoteness from other major markets, yet our proximity to China we need ensure this place remains an attractive, safe place to do business for foreigners and Australians alike.

Byron Smith, Raw Hire

Probably the toughest I have seen since working in retail industry during the GFC. The ability to transform and adapt our company in line with the changing market in the resources sector has been very challenging.The business is in good shape with our business transformation program allowing Raw Hire to deliver on its strategy and growth targets for 2015.  Our ability to deliver the same excellent customer service with a reduced administration and transactional cost for our client proving to be the key to driving efficiency and sustainability for our business.In regards to business, the market supply and demand, I am looking forward to re-balancing, allowing for improved margins and clients placing more value on customer service as well as price. On a personal level being on the home straight of my MBA at UWA.Our community - Placing more emphasis around people and  their values. This will drive decisions to achieve a state that delivers for businesses to thrive, individuals to prosper and allow the right conditions for children to have opportunities by following their passions and dreams rather than just money. To maintain our lifestyle we have to invest in education, innovation, technology and infrastructure for the long term.

Evan MacRae, Stirling Business Enterprise Centre Inc

Providing services to SME has been challenging to say the least for 2014. Too many businesses have become very conservative and this has made it a challenge for our business to business operations.Lets hope the publication of doom and gloom news articles subsides a bit allowing a greater degree of consumer and business confidence. We see positives for our business and the clients we service.Federal Government budget stability, less reliance on raising utility charges and taxes that directly hurt the consumer and indirectly hurt SMELets stop just selling what we dig out of the ground for peanuts and then end up buying the finished product back for exorbitant amounts. How about investing in manufacturing and value added services and really promoting this state as multidimensional rather than just a hole in the ground.

Gavin Lewis, Institute of Public Administration Australia WA

Like most businesses, 2014 was a year of operating in a tight financial environment for IPAA WA. Business optimism throughout the economy was down and as a consequence people were cautious regarding business expenditure to the extent of being conservative.I believe that the first half of the year will be similar to 2014. Businesses will be operating within a tighter financial environment and as such their business decisions will reflect this. There should be a steady (albeit slow) recovery for the economy during the year, and as this occurs, the business outlook will become more positive.    It is widely accepted that Professional Development is a critical component of business success and as such, I foresee that spending in this area will increase as there are increased feelings of stability throughout the economy.If 2015 continues the trend of slight financial improvements for the economy, business and consumer confidence will return. While there are challenges, I believe that the overall outlook for the State remains bright.  We have a strong economy, a great lifestyle, trusted institutions, a well educated populace and services delivered by a dedicated and professional public sector.I believe the State will continue to grow underpinned by the mining export phase kicking in.    We face the challenge of the State's revenue base being more volatile than we would all like. Notwithstanding these challenges, the community expects a certain level of service. The public sector does a good job in meeting these expectations efficiently and effectively but we must remember that delivering these services requires ongoing investment and support.    By International standards Australia has a very successful and cost effective public service. As mentioned by the former head of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Mr Terry Moran, Government in Australia (all levels) consumes about 35% of GDP, which is less than comparable countries in the world such as Canada and even less than countries such as the UK and New Zealand who do not have a State level government to fund. Public Sector employment has fallen from 25% (1984) of the employment market to 16% today, yet our outcomes are comparable with countries who have a much higher cost of government and the Australian public sector is amongst the best performing in the world.    Using these figures, it is evident that the public sector has done much heavy lifting in meeting service delivery and productivity expectations. I would like to see this reflected in mature and constructive upcoming debates about how we best meet the challenges of balancing government spending and revenue.

David van Ooran, RSPCA WA

Challenging but significant things achieved.Improvements to performance and outcomes, following investment in people and improvements to operations.The organisation moving to a new level of performance and engagement with the community.Leadership and long term vision.

Stuart Kenny, AGC Pty Ltd

Rebuilding.Difficult but expected to be a solid performance in a vastly changing environment.To have an opportunity to focus in the business to improve productivity.I would like to see a period of consolidation where the legacy of boom time wages and salaries can settle and adjust to the changing environment which will allow businesses to take advantage of the creation of a services environment rather than a construction environment.

Fiona Kalaf, Lifeline WA

Lifeline WA will continue to see strong growth in demand for its services, particuarly its crisis support services, but also its in-workplace education as more companies are taking proactive steps to create and enhance their people's emotional wellbeing at work.Lifeline WA is looking forward to engaging with more employer groups in creating mental health workplaces. Increasingly, as we are reducing the stigma and mystery that has surrounded and blurred intelligent conversation about mental health and suicide risk, we are seeing more people - and more employers - taking proactive steps to establishing practices that enhance emotional wellbeing and protect mental health.I have a vision for our communities in Western Australia as being vital, resilient and engaged. We have a lot of infrastructure development on the go, but we also need to ensure that we have great 'content' to fill these new developments: cultural content, artistic content, as well as social content, such as hospitality, retail and, of course, family-friendly activities.

Basil Hanna, Parkerville Children and Youth Care

Saturated with need, no shortage of vulnerability and more demand than resources to supply. The philanthropic market place to assist organisation's helping families is willing but the finance is weakening.I can see a stronger merging of interested business groups, police, education, child protection, health and NG operators joining forces to provide better access and services to children and families who are at risk or experiencing abuse.I am looking forward to a greater investment by the community and government into early intervention and prevention for Children and families at riskMy vision is a bit altruistic,I want every child to grow up safely,and to have no fear from abuse,I want to see a state that truly values a child and has a no tolerance for abuse

Richard Ladny, G & G Mining Fabrication

Very slow and unpredictable.Much of the same as 2014. While iron ore, coal & gold prices remain low I do not see that much will changeI feel the mining industry was over supplying. Junior miners entered the market. Unfortunately I can see some casaulties in this industry before it returns to some sort of norm. I do not see it returning to the levels of 2011.We have been a very lucky state with the mining boom. A lot of people have reached the good life. The unfortunate thing about this is that we know to adjust to suit the current economic status. A lot of us are either refusing to do so or have forgotten how to do so.

Michael Hotchkin, Hotchkin Hanly

Very busy initially, but patchy in recent months. We are still fairly busy, though.We will probably keep being busy because we have a competitive legal fees model at a time when companies are looking to save costs.Undertaking interesting cases, enjoying a friendly work environment, and having fun with friends and family.I would like governments at all levels to be more positive and constructive about the private sector, to allow it to use initiative and create jobs.

Rob Coombe, Quick Service Restaurant Holdings

Competitive but quite normal.Some dipping in consumer confidence with political inertia, downturn in mining industry and fear of job losses.Potentially lower interest rates but certainly continued stability.The state plays a huge role in driving GDP for the nation and helping maintain a great lifestyle for all Australians. The creation of better communities in mining towns is essential for the long term viability of these industries and WA.

Andy Byk, MAK Industrial Water Solutions

2014 has been a year of strong customer demand and easing of labour market tightness.2015 is a concern for the industrial and mining sectors - it will be a tough year.Recovery of commodity prices.Denser population and better public transport.

Debra Goostrey, Urban Development Institute of Australia (WA)

Solid after record high activity in 2013.  The residential property sector has benefited from the adjustment as the spectre of land supply shortages was present throughout 2013.Whilst population growth has contracted in Western Australia, few people realise that our net overseas migration in the twelve months to March 2014 (most recent figures) was 37.5% higher than the same period ending in March 2007  - the height of the building boom.  This impacts on the residential development industry as there is solid ongoing demand for product, the cycles tend to be driven by consumer confidence.  Ongoing low interest rates and no big shocks should see the new residential market remain fairly steady in 2015 with supply and demand in reasonable balance.Reforms for the planning and approvals system being implemented.I love the messaging from Denver in the USA where they strive for a city which attracts and retains smart young people as they are the building blocks to the future.  We have a massive opportunity to harness this human resource but it means delivering a diversity of experiences and lifestyles.  We seem to be so busy trying to choose one lifestyle that we overlook the need to deliver quality choices.

Nigel Lutton, IT Vision Pty Ltd

2014 has been a growth year compared to the prior couple of years of consolidation and re-build post the global financial crisis low points.  We have found that business confidence is generally up and the willingness to invest strategically increased.  The resource issues in WA and their ripple through impact have eroded this a little toward the back end of 2014 however in general it has been a solid year.We believe that good growth will continue in to 2015,  however the 2014 backend effect of falling resource and commodity prices, along with the flow through effect of this on business confidence and availability of funds may have the impact of slowing growth in 2015.  Equally there are a number of information technology (IT) associated trends that are rapidly building momentum in the markets that we operate that could propel growth faster than any business confidence deficit might slow it.  A 'mixed fortunes' view of 2015 at present.The quickening pace in adoption of certain key ICT trends within our target industries will make 2015 an exciting year. This specifically includes continued and quickening adoption of Cloud or externally hosted processing services, progress toward Software as a Service procurement preferences, ubiquity of mobile business computing functions, introduction of our Unified Corporate Performance Management tools and an increasing interest and trend back to a desire for Business Process Management Services especially in remote and rural WA are all exciting as we enter 2015.The opportunity to better leverage the lucrative returns from resource and commodity revenues almost seems lost as we end 2014 and look to 2015.  As such my vision is that this resources ndustry and commodity revenues slump with its associated impact on State revenue and budget sufficiently 'rocks' our politicians to the core and empowers them to make alternative long-term investment decision in 'new-world', 'new-tech', 'new-science' true 'smart futures' industries that can power the State, the economy, local businesses and local entrepreneurs for decades to come.  We all know that we are truly unique in the size, remoteness and diversity of our population that provides us the ability if we have the tenacity to create our own new economy future,  but only if underpinned by political will, investment and support.  There is absolutely no reason that the worlds next Silicon Valley,  or Large Hadron Collider, or Bio-Technology Centre of Excellence should not be centred within Western Australia,  and not necessarily in Perth.  Lastly,  the Kimberley region should be more rigorously recognised, heralded and protected as one of the worlds most truly unique and ancient places on earth.... an 8th Wonder of the World !

Sandra Wallis, Swan Chamber of Commerce Inc

Started very slowly but gradually picked up over the year to finish stronger than this time last year.Growth in activity and membership.Improvement in the retail and construction industry to give a much needed boost to our small business sector.For a strong and vibrant small business sector enabling stronger employment figures and job creation.  A rationalisation of the huge gap in wages created by the resources industry; the flow on effect in to bringing overall costs down.

Andrew Pascoe, Allens

Our business has had a solid 2014, driven by our strong relationships with our key clients.  Our disputes practice has been revving in the red zone all year.  For our transactional practice, calendar 2014 has been a tale of two halves.  The second half of the year has seen a significant uplift in the level, scale and nature of corporate transactions.The external factors affecting our market will lead to increasing levels of M&A activity.  A falling dollar and new FTAs should drive greater levels of interest from foreign investment; sustained pressure on commodity prices and knock-on effects on margins will drive strategic decisions, whether they be opportunistic acquisitions, consolidations to create scale, releasing capital or managing distressed assets.  The broader context of our market, coming out of the construction boom, should naturally lead to pressures on contract delivery.  This factor suggests increased levels of disputes.  Operators in a mature resources market will continue to look off-shore for new opportunities.  On the public front, the pressure on the State government to manage debt levels will grow, and we should see the start of the implementation of government strategies such as privatisation.  In all, the work pipeline looks healthy, and I am very optimistic about the year ahead.My 32nd birthday. But also a year of returning market confidence and boldness.The richest vein of resources available to us in this State is our collective intellectual capital.  WA is the natural habitat for the world's leading experts in the identification and sustainable development, financing, management and operation of natural resources projects.  We must nurture this intellectual capital; invest in it for our future prosperity.  It will sustain us long after our physical resources have been depleted.  We should be leveraging our intellectual capital: it could be our largest export; deploying it in new directions, such as value-adding; finding synergistic opportunities such as soft commodities; developing new technology around sustainability and efficiency.  This could be the greatest legacy the current generation of wealth creators can leave for future generations.

David Hobbs, Greyhounds WA

2014 was very challenging with a real focus on restructuring for the future. It is time to renew the business model and focus on the future with new strategy and culture change.2015 gives us an opportunity to look at business opportunity with new direction and appeal to a new client base. We need to reinvent ourselves and our business to be sustainable for the next 30 years.Greyhounds WA will build a new racing complex after 40 years that will be purpose built to a new demographic of patronage. It is also focused on entertaining the public of Perth with a product that is Fast, Fun and Affordable.Our Goverments vision should not be totally focused on selling off assets to improve our financial position. Instead we should protect those assets that keep the wealth of  Western Australia in Western Australia. We also need to focus on the cost of living in this state otherwise it will not compete on a National Level. Including Real Estate, Service utilities such as Power ,Water, Food and Dinning etc.

Norman Neill, HLB Mann Judd

Mixed, as we have a diverse client base - tighter economic conditions have affected a large percentage of clients which has result in a retraction of spending on advisory services, however there are some clients that have still maintained solid performance - general business confidence still appears to be quite low.  As a result we have recruited less and looked at how we can all do more with less, however retaining talent has obvious impacts on salary costs and margins.  Its a very competitive market for professional services.A key focus for 2015 will be on strategic development of expanded service offerings and working with clients who see opportunities and assist them with following through on those opportunities.  We will remain active in supporting our Mining and Resources clients through the current difficulties in the sector as well as focusing on emerging sectors.On a business level, looking forward to continuing to lead an organisation that is adapting to its environment, responding to the challenges it faces by providing opportunities to young professionals whilst supporting clients in their business endeavours.  On a personal level, watching my kids continue to grow into young adults and chase their dreams.Western Australia is a growing state and that has impacts for an number of areas, particularly infrastructure - connecting people to their environments, be that within the city, in remote locations or in regional centres, is key in building a sense of community.  I also believe that we need to build a resilient society, through education, healthy bodies and minds and providing opportunities for people to excel in their chosen fields.

Stephen McComish, Jones Day

Conditions in 2014 have been in line with our expectations in deciding to establish an office in Perth from April this year.  Our immediate focus was to help clients in the Energy & Resources sector resolve claims arising from major construction work recently undertaken or still underway.We have a clear vision of growth for our Perth office in 2015.  We will keep a sharp eye on the media and listen carefully to our clients to determine what we can do to help them handle any challenges and make the best of any opportunities in 2015.  For us in Perth that will mean either drawing from the firm's extensive experience and resources across the globe or on the ground here in Perth.  All of this will inform us as to the way we should grow and shape our office in Perth for the longer term.  Of course, in 2015 there will also be a considerable amount of time spent working with our clients resolving claims and disputes arising from their major construction projects and other aspects of their business.Other than a holiday at some stage, maintaining our focus on getting the best talent and achieving that objective.  Working with the great people I currently work with in and outside the firm in preparing for and dealing with the challenges in 2015.To be a world leader in sustained and responsible economic and population growth while maintaining high social and environmental standards.  To maintain our lifestyle we need to:
- ensure the state is competitive in attracting foreign and domestic investment, 
- be proactive in maintaining great relationships with our neighbours, friends and trading partners,
- invest in, no matter what, the population’s growth, education and, medical and social services, 
- stay vigilant in preserving our environment and  
- persevere with our goals and aspirations no matter the obstacles.

Jeff Miller, Civil Contractors Federation WA

A tale of two halves. The first half was record breaking for CCF but conditions have softened since.For CCF I think we will return to levels we established a couple of years ago. For the civil industry, it will vary enormously depending on each contractor's exposure to mining construction.Travelling less and visiting more of my WA members.WA as a jurisdiction is arguably one of the best in the world. Low risk, excellent climates and resource wealth for generations ahead. My vision is for State and Federal governments to behave counter-cyclically to the private sector in providing infrastructure. Now is the time to invest in critical infrastructure, not when the next round of resource construction starts.

James Thackray, McGrathNicol 

Very patchy for insolvency and forensic assignments.Yes, all indications are we will see an increase in restructuring and insolvency.Increased opportunities.Transport and infrastructure. Also collaboration between Government, the private sector and the education sector to develop centres of excellence for key industries will be key long term.

Ian Carter, Anglicare WA

The first quarter of the year began with the opening of Foyer Oxford in Leederville. Foyer Oxford offers young people at risk of homelessness up to two years accommodation in a fully self-contained transitional unit along with education and training opportunities and social support services. This was a result of five years of planning and strong partnerships with the consortium (Foundation Housing, Central Institute of Technology and AnglicareWA), government and corporate support. It is a prime example of how collaboration and working together to address a social issue can be successful. Even though Foyer Oxford is a great example of a highlight for Anglicare WA the year was still one of uncertainty. The current policy and funding environment has left Anglicare WA with uncertainty around future funding for essential services and uncertainty for the vulnerable members of the Western Australian community.We have concerns for the vulnerable in our community for 2015. Economic conditions and government policy do not bode well for those on fixed or low incomes or those facing significant challenges in their lives. Anglicare WA’s services will undoubtedly be called upon again and again, and we will position ourselves as best as we can to respond. The uncertainty around Government policy regarding housing and homelessness is of much concern to Anglicare WA and we cannot see demand for these support services reducing. In 2015 we will continue to advocate for social investment, we would like to grow our partnerships with philanthropists and organisations who share a passion for addressing key issues facing many Western Australian families.In 2015 we are looking forward to getting closer to the communities we serve. We will be building our presence locally and improving how we can address the needs and build capacity of local families and communities.After three years of putting into place the outcomes measurement tool Results Based Accountability, we are looking forward to analysing the  impact of our work to the clients who access our services.  Outcomes measurement for us has been an investment that we believe serves current and future clients and will serve the organisation well into the future. We will continue to work with philanthropists, corporate and government as Anglicare WA is in a strong position to deliver to the needs of today and the challenges of tomorrow.Anglicare WA believes that in a place like Western Australian all people should have affordable and appropriate housing, healthy strong relationships and the ability to make ends meet. We also believe that the vision for the State should be one that embraces and is actively working towards Reconciliation with Aboriginal people. Our vision for the State of Western Australia aligns with our own corporate vision  which is to live in a just and fair society in which all people thrive.

Deidre Willmott, CCI

West Australian businesses were concerned about the State’s economic performance throughout the year but have also experienced an ease in labour market pressures and material costs. Overall, confidence among our members remains an issue – particularly as they manage challenging economic conditions with the added burdens of uncompetitive state and federal tax systems and excessive red tape.We will champion business and free enterprise policies in 2015. Our advocacy priorities for 2015 will be workplace relations, tax and federalism, red and green tape reduction and electricity reform.We’re looking forward to working with members who are creating jobs - for apprentices, trainees and young people and for Aboriginal people.Western Australia has the potential to build on its natural advantages to become the best place in the world to live and do business. A vibrant and prosperous business sector is critical for improving quality of life so improving conditions for business by reducing unnecessary regulation and uncompetitive taxes is crucial.

Larry Jorgensen, Wines of Western Australia

Conditions remained challenging for the wine industry.  While the value of the AUD is approaching the level that provides price competiveness and margin for WA producers, it must remain there long enough for overseas distributors to develop the confidence to back in commitments with them.  International economic conditions are improving in our traditional markets (North America and Europe/UK).  However, the austerity measures in China have had a significant impact on sales there.  Domestically, the concentration of retail market share into the two major supermarket chains continues to reduce available shelf space for wine producers.Surprisingly, given my previous comments, we are generally optimistic.  The trends in North America and Europe/UK are positive and should continue as the dollar settles into its new value position and economic conditions in those regions continue to improve.  Additionally, the FTA in Japan, Korea and China will provide new opportunities.  From an internal perspective, we have an industry ratified strategic plan that is providing clear directions for market development.  We will collaboratively as an industry and with other complimentary industries such as tourism and food producers.  Tourism Australia’s “Restaurant Australia” marketing campaign which focuses on the culinary tourism traveller is an example of this.  We are working with Tourism WA to ensure WA wine producers and tourism operators are fully engaged with the campaign.Working collaboratively with WA wine producers and regions to implement the key aspects of our strategic plan.As a state, we are very fortunate to have a successful mining industry.  We don’t realise how much this has sheltered us from the effects of the GFC.  We do need to diversify economically however.  I would like to see a sustainably profitable agri-business sector (of which the wine industry will be an important part), a successful manufacturing sector that is focused on market segments that cannot be easily replicated, an even more successful tourism industry, and an innovation sector that provides new ideas and products for all the above to monetise and bring to market. 

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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