Councillor profiles – Kon Vatskalis The Right Honourable Lord Mayor City of Darwin
Darwin is a special place and a unique city. We enjoy a fantastic outdoor lifestyle and a multicultural society that is reflected in the food we eat and the festivals we attend. For a small city we have a wide array of arts, culture, food, sport and activities on offer. These are the reasons I chose to live here nearly 30 years ago.
My wife Amy and I love to travel and during this time of COVID-19 restrictions we are taking the opportunity to spend time exploring our backyard – the Northern Territory is expansive and offers so much.
One of my favourite locations is Bicentennial Park overlooking Darwin Harbour in the central business district. This green, shady parkland extends the length of the esplanade and provides wonderful spaces to walk, cycle or have a picnic. Since I became Lord Mayor in 2017 Council has focussed time, money and resources on beautifying this area, and I have to say we have succeeded!
I was elected Lord Mayor of Darwin in 2017, following 13 years serving the electorate of Casuarina as the Local Member and a Minister in the Territory Labour Government.
Serving the public and being able to speak for others is a privilege and I’m very grateful to have this opportunity in Darwin, my
Being Lord Mayor of Darwin is a full time job and I am committed to the role; I spend many hours outside ‘normal’ work hours attending events, meeting people and groups and opening various businesses. To me this isn’t a job, I Iove the role.
Goals, challenges achievements
Darwin is a hot place to live and the experts say climate change is going to make it hotter.
Council is doing what it can; I declared a Climate Emergency in 2019 and City of Darwin is taking a leadership role in this area, by integrating sustainable principals into its operations. We have initiated commercialisation of mulch production, commenced diverting metal waste from landfill and recently started using recycled asphalt to reseal roads.
Key objectives for our city are increasing recycling and creating a greener, cooler city that is liveable, vibrant and creative. All City of Darwin’s key strategies complement that focus, including our soon to be released Waste and Greening Strategies and Climate Change Report.
I’m particularly proud of the Daly Street beautification project. This major road into our city has had a long-overdue $3.7 million facelift, creating a wonderful entrance to our city. I have also initiated the planting of 10,000 trees across our municipality – in response to the devastation of Cyclone Marcus and to provide greening and cooling to our city.
In my role as Lord Mayor, I am incredibly fortunate to meet people from around Australia, around the world and Darwin locals. I do feel that Darwin Council is making a real difference to our city and making decisions that will leave a positive legacy.
Good days, bad days
I’m sure everyone has days they don’t want to go to work?!
Again I’m very lucky, that doesn’t happen often, I’m mostly very keen to get to work each day.
What do you hope to accomplish in the future?
Well I’m focusing on what our Council can accomplish now!
Right now we have a huge responsibility to our community, to provide support as we all grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic.
I believe Council is doing just that – we released our largest ever capital budget this year that will see $77 million spent on projects across the city and our focus will be on using local businesses and contractors wherever possible.
We are also focusing on making sure our city is clean and beautiful and that our community is able to access all of Council’s services – from swimming pools to libraries.
During these times of uncertainty we are getting on with the job and delivering services to our community and making our city a
beautiful place to live.