The challenges of COVID-19 and the City of Perth inquiry make the city's upcoming election a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reposition Perth, writes Brodie McCulloch.
Just like many of you, I am guilty of not staying abreast of the goings-on at the City of Perth over the past five years.
Through Spacecubed, we have worked with the city around programs to support small and medium businesses.
However, I was not actively watching what was happening, or having our say through voting.
It is this lack of engagement by me and many in the business community that has contributed to the challenges the city now faces.
After spending $7.2 million on a 2.5-year enquiry into the council, all business owners and residents are now paying for it through our rates; it is the equivalent of 7 per cent of the city's cash reserves.
We are also feeling the impact of the lost time for Perth, as other cities have positioned globally for the future.
Over the past two years it has been embarrassing and damaging to be invited to attend events to represent Perth to international leaders without having our own lord mayor, particularly when forging relationships with cultures in which hierarchy is important.
Until I made the decision to run for lord mayor, I wasn’t even aware that businesses in Perth could have a direct impact on who was elected to council.
Each business with a lease or contract to access space is entitled to two votes. (You need to nominate two people to vote on behalf of your business by this Friday August 28.)
It seems I was not alone.
Over the past three weeks, I have met hundreds of business owners, and 80 per cent of them did not know they could vote to elect the new lord mayor and council.
The combining factors of a post-COVID-19 reset and the end of the City of Perth inquiry position this election as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reposition Perth for the future.
I am ready for the challenge.
Right now, Western Australia is lucky enough to be in a COVID-19-free bubble, and everyone I talk to – residents and businesses – wants it to stay that way.
The big challenge will come in 2021 when government assistance runs out, the transition to more people working from home progresses, and uncertainty and complexity continues.
Early in my career I worked internationally and saw lots of models for supporting social impact and entrepreneurship overseas.
In 2010, I moved back to Perth during the peak of the mining boom and started exploring how we could apply some of these models in Perth.
That process began with hundreds of coffees discussing the concept of Spacecubed, which is actually very similar to what I am doing right now; meeting lots of people and getting their feedback.
One of the pieces of feedback I heard from prominent business leaders about the Spacecubed concept was: “That’s never going to work in Perth”.
Building Spacecubed over 10 years has been great training for this environment we find ourselves in today.
I have been able to create an amazing team and have developed a culture focussed on delivery, innovation and supporting each other.
This has allowed me to step out of the day-to-day operations and look at how I can use my skills, experience and mindset to have an even bigger impact, and support Perth to transition through this challenging time.
My focus is on recovery through activation of the city with the arts and events year-round.
This calendar will not only ensure there is always something to do in Perth but will also activate spaces, creating a safer environment for all.
This will become increasingly important as city workers now have the opportunity to work from home or remotely.
Developing Perth into a city that creates great experiences every day for workers, residents, and visitors is going to be key to reducing recovery time.
My approach is to create an environment of support for the whole community.
This includes residents, business, not for profits and Perth's First Nations people to create the city they want to see.
I’m not making one-off promises but I do want a city that operates sustainably, enables the networks and infrastructure that support our most vulnerable people, has a year-round arts calendar, and attracts the best talent and diversified investment from around the world.
All of these ideas and a number of the ideas from other candidates are good, but without someone as lord mayor who can work with the council, chief executive and community to shift culture and map out a vision and plan to get there, the opportunity will be missed.
Perth, I’m looking forward to working with you and for you.
Let’s lead change together.
* Business News has offered all six candidates for lord mayor the opportunity to write an opinion piece for this website. Their articles have run as they were originally written, though Business News reserves the right to edit for legal reasons.