Councillor profiles - Councillor Carol Adams, Mayor, City of Kwinana, Western Australia
Town of trees
Kwinana stretches across 118 square kilometres and is home to an incredibly diverse mix of land uses, which provide homes to a rapidly growing population of more than 35,000 people. Kwinana’s population is set to double by 2031 and is often described as an exponential outer growth metropolitan area.
While some areas of Kwinana, such as Casuarina or Wandi, might be home to sprawling rural properties, other areas such as Bertram and Wellard, boast modern award-winning developments designed to integrate with public transport. Add to this the Kwinana Industrial Area, which contributes more than $16 billion to the Western Australian economy each year, and it’s clear what we mean when we say ‘diverse’.
On top of this, Kwinana is just 25 minutes from the Perth CBD via train, 10 minutes to beautiful coastline and is known as the ‘Town of Trees’, due to an abundance of beautiful bushland reserves.
There are many favourite aspects across the municipality, but I would have to point to our soon-to-open $5.2m regional Adventure Park – a fantastic all-inclusive facility right in the heart of our City Centre. The Park includes one of the largest “tree top” playground walks in Australia and is set amongst a beautiful canopy of Marri and Jarrah trees. We have also gone to great lengths to make sure every element of the facility is fully accessible to all ages and abilities.
Full time mayor
I have been a Councillor since May 1997, became Deputy Mayor in 2005 and was proudly elected as Kwinana’s first female Mayor in 2006. I initially became interested in Council and involved due to the reclassification of a local park and recreational area that I used to walk around. I joined a local ratepayer group, became proactive and was elected to Council with their support in 1997. You soon find out however that the role of a Councillor is much more than a single issue, it is both broad and challenging, but certainly worthwhile pursuing because you can positively influence the strategic direction of your community.
Up until 2011 I was the principle solicitor for the WA Police Union but due to the workload of both my respective roles, I made a decision to put my practice on hold and expand my role to that of a full time Mayor; this enabled me to better focus more strategically on Kwinana from an economic growth and community needs perspective. I have not regretted my decision as I have been very much in touch with the community and have been more available to meet the needs of our growing population.
Challenges and goals
Despite housing WA’s premier industrial area, we have a glaring anomaly in that we have significantly high adult and youth unemployment as well as concerning health issues. This creates enormous challenges and we work proactively with local schools, not for profit organisations and industry to develop innovative programs, which lead to improved outcomes in areas such as health, training and employment.
At the top of our list of achievements is work over the past 12 months with a range of stakeholders to expedite the planning of a new harbour in Kwinana, which we anticipate will eventually replace the Port of Fremantle with a contemporary, state of the art full working port. This is a significant project for the City and one that will have long-term strategic and economic benefits for both Kwinana (in employment and land use opportunities) and the WA economy.
In addition, Kwinana will soon be home to Australia’s first Waste to Energy facility. This has long term benefits for our council by helping to reduce our waste going to landfill and meeting the government’s statutory landfill diversion targets head on. The Council has been working with the proponent now for over seven years to bring the project to fruition.
Advocating for the City
The best part of being a Councillor is being part of the journey to build better infrastructure, improve economic outcomes and implement real tangible change in the community. I also enjoy the political aspects of being Mayor and having the opportunity to advocate for Kwinana at both a State and Federal level.
My least favourite part of the Council process is setting the annual budget and often having to cut the cloth to fit the Council’s circumstances. It is also pretty challenging shopping in the local centre the week after the rate notices come out! Often the decisions we make as a Council can be unpopular to sections of the community, and you have to adopt the ‘80/20 Rule’ in that you will only satisfy 80 percent of the community at any one time.
Since being elected Mayor I have been very political, by working with both sides of parliament to achieve focus on our City. I believe this has dividends with Kwinana receiving increased political attention through additional grant funds and targeted programs to help address our high unemployment issues as well as trying to improve our health statistics.