“If you look back over a number of years, WA government’s earned a lot of money off royalties and tax around the resources sector, but one thing Perth has been subject to is a brain drain of very intelligent white-collar workers to Sydney and Melbourne where the money is managed,” he said.

“To grow [the lithium] industry, first of all you need to value the asset and there needs to be a market mechanism to do that, not something that can be so easily manipulated, which is happening here right now.

“This is a big blue-sky idea, right, but it does make a difference for all of these neighbourhoods in Perth because we’ve got vacant buildings everywhere, retailers are struggling. It’s about foot traffic and having more people in Perth more often.”

Mr Fleeton rejected suggestions the idea was outside of the responsibility of local government.

“We play one part of a collaborative effort with the state and the feds,” he said.

“Our role would be to work with property owners to identify the part of the city we would want to see the financial services hub.

“The council plays a role in land use planning, it plays a role with rate setting, and it can incentivise long-term investment by making sure that businesses that come in set targets for local employment and local investment, and they can only get the rates incentive if they meet those targets.”

Mr Fleeton is one of 15 people who have nominated for the City of Perth council. Six candidates have nominated in the election for Lord Mayor.

On Tuesday, former Perth City councillor Reece Harley revealed in a social media post he would again be standing for election.

He is the only member of the former council that was suspended by Local Government Minister David Templeman to indicate they would would seek re-election.


When releasing the damning report into the former council, Mr Templeman recommended council and mayoral hopefuls read it “to ensure the new council does not repeat the city’s past mistakes”.

“To use [special inquirer Tony] Power’s words: ‘an example of what can go horribly wrong in local government when it’s poorly led, badly governed, and grossly dysfunctional’.”

When wrapping up the inquiry, Mr Power said the City had been “poorly led, divided and, as a result, dysfunctional”.

“Had it been necessary, the inquiry would have recommended the entire council be dismissed,” he said.

Nathan is WAtoday’s political reporter and the winner of the 2019 Arthur Lovekin Prize for Excellence in Journalism.


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