Just when you thought that business confidence and conditions
would improve in early 2014 comes the news of the impending end of
the car manufacturing in Australia.
The pollies are posturing, the media has polarised and the warfare
in Federal Parliament has resumed. Unions are on the nose
again. The pendulum has swung. We’ve seen it all before. Who will
sort them out, if ever?
Media research has uncovered alleged criminal links in the unions,
giving the new government a further reason to try to establish a
Royal Commission, as well as bring back the building industry
While the furore and the blame game play out, let’s focus on the
Australia’s Asian luck
Australia is still the place to be – despite our global status as
a high cost small economy, we are seen as a safe haven in
uncertain times, in our 23rd year of positive growth. Our
Asian neighbours are investing heavily in Australian property,
encouraged by a change in business visas and lender
attitudes. Asian banks have set up here and are doing good
business with their compatriots.
The Asian branches of Australian companies are creating new
services and are on an aggressive capital attraction mission,
marketing ‘Investable Australia’ to locals looking for a safe
haven for their assets.
We are exporting Australian expertise, services and brain
power. We are well positioned for the new economy of the
21st Century. The Reserve Bank is holding interest rates
steady and watching the economy closely.
Australia’s resources have a vast market up north and, with
China’s economic slowdown reported to have bottomed, miners and
farmers should be feeling more positive after dealing with such
body blows as the mining tax, the carbon tax and the suspension of
live cattle exports as well as the political uncertainty. But now
there are bushfires and a drought again.
The new Federal Government is preaching the end of the age of
entitlement and corporate welfare and a new fiscal
rectitude. We’re nervous, but that’s what the country voted
for in last year’s elections. There is a precedent. Look
Across the ditch
Little New Zealand has now been branded “the rock star
economy”. It’s taken the NZ government nearly six years of
prudent economic management, tight control of government
activities and spending and a debt reduction focus to achieve that
Wages are beginning to rise, but as yet the 4.2 million Kiwis
don’t seem to be aware of the upturn, despite the roaring tourist
trade in all their stunningly beautiful scenic places. The
seismic activity under the islands keeps the Kiwis on their
toes. Wellington had a 6.2 earthquake a month ago, with
building damage but no loss of life. They were lucky.
Christchurch is still mourning its dead but is now running a
“rebuild bus tour” to present a vision of the future. The
usual problems beset the re-development progress. The
government’s land and property resumption policy is to offer 20%
of previous land value to purchase the worst affected land,
especially in the CBD. Owners and developers are up in arms.
The impasse continues.
But in a demonstration of the resilience of the human spirit,
Christchurch has a new retail precinct built of shipping
containers and the Cardboard Cathedral, of which the congregation
is inordinately proud. And rightly so. Designed by a
Japanese architect specializing in earthquake compatible
structures, it is full of light, its soaring interior has an
ethereal feel and excellent acoustics, a structure of cardboard
tubes and a translucent polycarbonate roof. In its own 21st
Century way it’s every bit as good as Chartres or Westminster.
If ever the disputes about the historic value and rebuilding costs
of the old Cathedral on the Square are resolved, the parishioners
may not want to part with their transitional place of worship.
What’s new back home?
The residential real estate market has roared back into life, the
banks are making heaps of profit, lending to large company
investors and SMSF property investors alike. Predictions of
a property bubble surface regularly. The banks play down the
In the aftermath of the GFC and a high vacancy rate office space
is again being converted into apartments, especially where there
are harbour or other scenic views. Milsons Point in Sydney
is experiencing its second spate of re-development hoping to
repeat the success in the early 1990s, the tail end of a previous
recession. Asian investors regard this as an easier way to
enter the market than undertaking a new development with its
New Anti-bullying legislation has come into force - what will that
mean for workplace harmony? Another avenue for financial
gain for troublesome staff or an effective way to resolve
Employment in property is still slow, despite positive talk and a
few new mid-level jobs appearing in property management and
development. The situation is very patchy.
Restructuring has been quietly continuing. Teams recruited
to service large projects are being disbanded by companies that
geared up but cannot offer continuity of employment while the
project pipeline is empty. For others, an influx of new
business has left them short staffed and they are hiring
Senior positions are in short supply, the transition from senior
corporate manager to self-employed consultant continues.
The push to help women rise in the ranks has just received a
welcome boost. A major construction company has promoted a
woman to the CEO position. Are the blokes a match for this capable
What’s new at Avdiev?
The Avdiev Property Industry Remuneration Report has lots of new
features for its 28th Edition, to be published in mid March 2014.
The position table format now includes a breakout of Western
Australian data in a number of market sectors, short and long term
incentives and targets, and findings for small, medium and large
companies. With the growth of retirement village ownership
and development, we have added Retirement Village / Aged Care as a
new market sector in the Report. Many new positions have
been added throughout the Report, it now contains 320 positions
and some 20,000 incumbents.
The Avdiev Survey, the source of employer salary data for the
Report is in train and closes on Monday 17th February. Thank
you to all our loyal contributors who support the Report. If
you have not yet responded with your remuneration data to be
eligible for a substantial contributor discount, please click here
to complete the survey document.
The preliminary findings make interesting reading, especially in
cases where rewarding the productive employees who make a
substantial contribution to the bottom line has to be balanced
against the profitability and on-going viability of the
We have also updated and published the Avdiev ASX 300
Non-Executive Directors’ Fees Reports 2014. The Women Business
Leaders searchable databases now list profiles of women leaders in
S&P/ASX Top 300 companies and property companies.
No excuses for not knowing who and where the women are when the
time comes to appoint a new senior executive or director.
Demand for our remuneration consulting and benchmarking services
continues. We have just recruited a new General Manager of
Property for a not for profit housing organisation.
Late last year, just before the Federal election, I made some rash
predictions, just for fun. It’s time to review what
- The bookies will get the election results
right. They always do – They did.
- There’ll be a spike in business
confidence after the election – there was, but it keeps
getting hammered by recent events.
- The voters will expect swift action on
their pet issues and rail against cuts in their comfort zones
– the media is full of their gripes and worries.
- Lipstick sales will increase now that sex
appeal is back in focus – I went out and bought two!
- Vegemite, the new campaign accessory,
will not enjoy a price rise – It’s now on special at all the
Not too bad, but I won’t be tempting fate again. Let’s see
what 2014 brings.