Making the Case for Growth

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As the world begins to recover from the game-changing Global Financial Crisis (GFC), governments in Australia are attempting to stimulate the economy by committing to “untangle red tape and modernise the rules that govern the Australian Marketplace.” With over eleven million Australians invested in the $600 billion property industry, it is essential to take a step back and ensure that the right choices are being made. The Property Council of Australia is committed to providing Australians with the information they need in order to make informed decisions regarding their involvement in the investment property industry, and indeed, the future of their country.
“Australians have a very big stake in the property investment industry,” explains Peter Verwer, CEO of the Property Council of Australia. “Most of their wealth is affected by property investment – either through their own lifestyle investment in housing or through the superannuation funds.” Since the GFC, Australians have been effectively playing it safe in terms of property investment, but the Property Council is concerned that this may not be the right approach.

Instead, it wants to “make the case for growth”, which would constitute “a conversation [The Property Council is] going to have with the broader Australian public to communicate the value of economic development and the importance of population growth.” In the last federal election, most politicians recommended slowing industrial growth, a concept which has the Property Council nervous. “Our fear is that in twenty or thirty years, if Australia slows down, people might say, ‘Why wasn’t I told?’ ‘Why didn’t anybody say that these were the implications of low goals?’ ‘Why isn’t my mortgage worth more?’ ‘Why has the market dried up?'” With such serious issues at the forefront, the Property Council has a plan in motion to engage all Australians in these essential conversations.

This plan is outlined in a 2009 publication of the Property Council’s Opportunity Agenda, and includes the latest renewal of the Powerhouse 2010 strategy, which offers a blueprint for ongoing reform, as well as the 3Rs, a dynamic leadership strategy. With five goals and a ten-point plan to achieve them, Powerhouse 2010 has already seen many successes.

“Those wins,” explains Mr Verwer, “they are the result of active engagement with politicians and policy makers around the country and the reason that those successes are there is that we focus on providing solutions, backed by evidence-based policy research.”

Created by leaders in big business in 1969 to set standards for best practice, the Property Council of Australia has since been working diligently to increase its profile in order to better reach the broader Australian public. In collaboration with all nine Australian State Governments, with over 120 communities and 1100 committee volunteers, the Property Council is a very member-focused organisation. Where it most succeeds is in mobilising the wealth of resources within its membership base as well as its own staff.

“We make a big investment into all of our staff,” says Mr Verwer. “A lot of companies do lip service to the importance of the team, but it’s our reality that the senior managers of the Council are intimately involved in making all of the major decisions, putting together the major recommendations for the board.”

By engaging in two areas – Advocacy and Public Affairs, and Member Services – the Property Council is working toward improving industry best practices and standards, as well as increasing public awareness of significant issues, utilising the Opportunity Agenda to ensure benchmarks of success. Says Mr Verwer: “We like to shine a bright light on our work so that people can see the case that we’re making.”

In terms of Advocacy and Public Affairs, the standard process begins by ensuring that a clear target exists. The Council then engages in rigorous research, all of which is provided by independent research firms. Next the Council determines solutions and provides them for the policy makers, engaging in key dialogues. Finally, the Council runs campaigns which mobilise the constituencies. At this phase, great importance is placed on approaching all stakeholders in the issue at hand, as each unique perspective will enhance the power of the issue.

“It’s very important to engage in public conversation in order to persuade politicians and policy makers as to the merits of our proposals and to debate them with other organisations, and not just like-minded organisations, but unions, conservationists, disability groups…” says Mr Verwer. “It doesn’t mean the people will agree with us, but it creates a culture of communication.”

The second area that the Property Council focuses on – Member Services – involves providing three things: a significant knowledge base; professional development services; and networking opportunities. These offerings are set to drastically increase over the next five years as the Property Council aims to double its investment in them from six to twelve million dollars.

With professional development programs ranging from fundamentals courses to diploma programs and more than sixty annual events to assist its members in becoming better at business, the Property Council reaches over fifty-five thousand people each year. “It’s not just about spending more money,” Mr Verwer explains, “We will be spending more money – but at the heart of a successful team is communications.”

Additionally, the Property Council is working to improve its connection with the public via social media and the creation of a Public Outreach program. Taking full advantage of the latest technology developments and trends, the Council is using this newfound opportunity to reach a much broader market with its message. Plans are in the works for developing a new full-featured website to communicate opportunities available in the property investment industry to the broader Australian public, as well as some tips and guidelines for getting a good investment deal. The website promises to be “all facts, no spin”.

Explains Mr Verwer, “You have to have something to say, you have to be credible, because people can see through spin. They understand the difference between real and constituted, and we need to not only engage with people but provide them with ideas and let them make up their own minds.”

By “shining a light” on the important issues and backing its ideas with hard research, the Property Council is indeed nurturing a culture of communication, enabling all Australians the tools and opportunity to make the most of their own talents and skills.

Peter Verwer sums it up best: “It’s important that Australia continues to improve its competitiveness; that it continues to improve its environmental performance; and that it continues to improve its living standards for the next generation. The Property Council sees itself playing an important role in that public discourse.”
When Australians succeed, the property industry succeeds as well. This cycle will help drive Australia to become a strong global economic force, and the Property Council of Australia is the necessary facilitator to ensure that growth.

Making Sense of Management

Management is the art, or science, of getting things done through people. Sounds fairly straightforward – except for the fact that people are not robots waiting to do our bidding. People have their own minds, motivations, and goals. So how do managers keep operations – and the people behind them – running as planned?

November 21, 2018, 3:46 AM AEDT