THE current Perth city council might’ve brought us Opera in the Park, but lord mayoral candidate Mike O’Hanlon brought us Ghostface Killah in an alleyway.
Last year the 32-year-old entrepreneur—who owns toasted sandwich bar Toastface Grillah—hosted the Wu-Tang Clan rapper for a secret impromptu gig on the back of his ute in Grand Lane, outside the cafe.
Mr O’Hanlon was also a founder of the William Street Bird, started his own company O’Hanlon Electric Motorsport, and is behind the entertainment app Hipflask which lets users know what events are happening around them.
Embedded in the local entrepreneur tech scene (he runs Gramercy Studios software above Toastface Grillah), Mr O’Hanlon would like to see the sector given a boost by the council.
As part of his election pitch he’s flagged dipping into the council’s whopper $100 million in reserves, to invest 10 per cent in high-risk local ventures, and provide loans to businesses that qualify for federal research and development tax incentives.
Mr O’Hanlon says with the federal government cutting research and support “we don’t have to do much, financially speaking, to become to most attractive place in Australia for R&D projects”. The benefit to the city could be huge with more jobs and better consumer confidence.
“When people have jobs and they are happy, they go out,” he says.
“They visit places, they buy lunch and dinner, they purchases houses, they go to shows, they make investments.
“New businesses are at the heart of the economy. The iron ore boom is over and the city of Perth is in exactly the right position to encourage and support the new opportunities that will rent some of the empty real estate that we’re seeing all over the place.
“Go for a bike ride through West Perth if you want to see what I mean.”
He also wants more transparency and will encourage elected members to speak publicly on issues they care about.
“First order of business will be to remove the gag from councillors’ mouths that prevents them from talking to the people about what they think we should be doing,” he says. “That way, when I bully them into submission regarding my dodgy mates giving me free trips to watch a chicken race in Bali, they can call up the newspaper and say ‘oi, this bloke is a crook!”
Mr O’Hanlon says the environment and social responsibility also loom large.
“A lot of people would look at the problem of homelessness and think ‘shit, this is too hard, I’m going to just dehumanise them and speak about other things’. If we can turn a generation of homeless people into a generation of people who work with homeless people, we’ll have done something fantastic for humanity.
“This is a big issue and we need a holistic approach, but I’ll stake my name on my promise to address it properly.”
He cites an interview by Andrew Denton as a big reason he decided to run: “Xanana Gusmao raised the idea that at some point you may have to swallow your humility and stand up for the things you believe in. I have thought about these words many times in the years since I heard them.”
by DAVID BELL