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Wilkins back in the saddle

BRETT Wilkins is back in town and looking for a new challenge.

The former Hawaiian Investments managing director and Property Council of Australia WA Branch president left the WA business scene suddenly, earlier this year.

Mr Wilkins’ exit followed the death of Hawaiian chairman Tan Sri Dr TK Wen in January.

“He was one of the great mentors of my life,” Mr Wilkins said.

“With his death I thought it was time to move on.”

Dr Wen helped Mr Wilkins turn Hawaiian into a company with holdings of more than $1 billion.

Mr Wilkins started the company with then secretary Kathy Charnaud in 1994. Now it employs more than 100 people.

Following Dr Wen’s death, Mr Wilkins and his partner spent four months touring Europe, including a French bicycle trip with a group of US professionals.

“It’s important to have holidays and travel. We have some great places here but you really get inspired when you see the great cities of Europe,” he said.

“I had offers from Melbourne and London but my partner and I decided we didn’t want to leave Perth.”

He is doing consulting work for friends from the offices of Charnaud Rayner and is considering his options.

His projects range from marketing work on the Hay and Murray Street malls to building access for a telecommunications company to investigating potential investment properties.

Mr Wilkins has a passion for the Perth CBD. Because he is no longer involved in Hawaiian, one of Perth’s CBD property owners, he has few conflicts of interest.

He said he was not ready to consider a Perth City Council seat but did not rule out the possibility. The next council election is six months away.

The Northbridge resident even considered setting up an office at home but the call of the Terrace was too strong.

The Terrace’s vitality took a battering in the 1980s with the push for state-of-the-art office buildings with plush lobbies making retailers an endangered species.

Mr Wilkins believes that mood has changed and retail is returning.

“I’m interested in getting more involved with inner city living,” he said.

He also plans to renew his involvement with the Property Council and join some Perth City Council committees.

“I think its important for the Property Council and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry to become more involved in city matters,” Mr Wilkins said.

“Business people, who pay more than 90 per cent of the council’s rates, don’t get heard enough.”

He feels the WA and Federal governments do not understand the importance of the Perth CBD.

“I think it’s too often forgotten that the city is the heart of WA,” he said.

“I believe if that heart’s not primed and pumping strongly, WA suffers.

“The WA Government has to be congratulated for the Belltower and the convention centre but there’s a lot more it can do.

“The Perth City Council can’t do it all by itself because it has limited revenue.”

Mr Wilkins wants the WA Government to revisit its Perth – A City for People documents.

Projects in that document, such as the King Street upgrade, were paid for equally by the Government and the Perth City Council.

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