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Perth Revels in Boom Town Perks

Revesco Aviation Australian Financial Review Peter Hillier Gulfstream IV SP

Luxury spending

The big end of town laps up jets and yachts.

A select few members of Western Australia’s business elite were on the tarmac at Perth Airport in recent days to cast their eyes over a shiny new $113 million Gulfstream jet.

The top-of-the-line G700 was flown to WA by the manufacturer keen on sounding out prospective buyers in the mining state, where a strong iron ore price and the prospect of a new wave of investment in critical minerals is creating a buoyant mood – at least at the top end of town.

‘‘We never used to get a look in, whenever they did one of these demonstration tours it would be pretty rare they’d come down to Perth,’’ Peter Hillier, whose Revesco Aviation runs charter flights from the city, told AFR Weekend. ‘‘Now, it’s more regular.’’

Overseas investment is flowing into WA’s mining industry as car and battery makers seek to increase their upstream exposure to critical minerals.

The strong iron ore price is tipping billions into government coffers, bolstering profits for the big miners and filling the pockets of some workers.

On Friday, a flotilla of Riviera yachts rafted up on Perth’s Swan River at Matilda Bay attempting to break an Australian record for the on-water collection of luxury vessels. A short cruise away at Elizabeth Quay, Perth’s newest and most expensive restaurant, 6Head, is enjoying massive popularity with a menu offering a dozen oysters at $86 a dozen and a one-kilo Wagyu tomahawk steak for $380.

When the new set of Gulfstream-curious turned up at Perth airport last Wednesday, the old guard’s jets were not far away. Mining magnates Gina Rinehart and Andrew Forrest and media mogul Kerry Stokes, among others, keep planes on standby.

‘‘We’re probably busier than ever,’’ says Hillier, whose charters include high-paying tourists and international investors. ‘‘We are starting to see bookings six, eight months in advance.’’

Peter Hillier – Revesco Aviation CEO

Luxury boats remain a popular purchase, with sales tracking strongly as Perth’s miners and bankers spend anywhere from $600,000 to $3 million on vessels to cruise the river or moor at Rottnest Island.

‘‘We’ve had a really good volume of vessels sell in the past couple of months in that top echelon for WA,’’ Oceaneer Marine broker Lochie Boyd said.

‘‘The big players in the past couple of years have been the stockbroking fraternity, a lot of business owners, whether it’s mining, or servicing the mines, we see a lot of those guys come through.’’

Waiting lists for Perth’s elite schools are also growing. Scotch College, which counts WA Premier Roger Cook as an old boy, has a waiting list that’s three years long, after recovering from a slowdown during the pandemic.

‘‘At first enrolments stabilised, and they have now increased to the point that we have waiting lists in most year groups,’’ head of admissions David Kyle said. ‘‘For our major intake years, we offer three years out and these positions are filled quickly.’’

WA, along with the Northern Territory, bucked national consumer spending declines across the country in October and recorded a 7 per cent increase in the past 12 months, National Australia Bank data shows.

Not everyone in the west is living large, however. The data also showed WA had the highest number of respondents unable to pay their mortgage, with 14 per cent saying they were struggling to meet the repayments.

Despite that, WA still recorded the lowest consumer stress index of any state in Australia, according to NAB.

Down the spending rung from private jets and cruising boats, there are signs many people are doing it tougher and spending less on things they might want but don’t need.

‘‘I think it’s safe to say that this year has definitely been one of the slower years out of the past five years,’’ Perth jet ski salesman Lachie Brown said.

A core pillar of their sales had historically come from the state’s fly-in, flyout workers.

As for their bosses, Boyd said some of the biggest luxury boat purchases would often emerge after the sale of a company servicing the mining industry.

Article: Tom Rabe
Source: Australian financial review

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