What is your current role?
I am currently the Lord Mayor of Newcastle and Chairman of McCloy Group companies.
I was voted in as Lord Mayor by the people of this city. Those people have bestowed a great privilege on me. I passionately believe in running The City of Newcastle and the Council like a business, using business principals to get clear accountabilities, and performance indicators to get the outcomes we all need.
As Chairman of McCloy Group companies I experienced early lessons in business from my father. I think big, with a deal I go in expecting the best but also know the importance of being able to manage the worst. I look after the detail, respect the rule of law, deal only in truth and in my business, create an adventure!
What motivates you in your job?
My working life is nearly over but I will always work at McCloys (well, for as long as I am mentally capable). I love the stimulation of ideas exchange and achieving outcomes. I don’t care whether you’re male, female, black, white, old, or young. If you’re enthusiastic about what you do, I’ll enjoy working with you.
How do you spend your weekends?
Currently most weekends are spent officiating at Council functions. In my spare time I enjoy the thrills of fishing, experience the exhilaration of a great football game, and adventures of travelling. My travels have taken me to some of the world’s great cities. I love seeing how things are done differently and taking the best ideas back to my home city of Newcastle. When I’m on my boat, I have time to reflect and new ideas keep burbling up ... even more than the fish.
Do you have a special Hunter restaurant?
Subo is a contemporary bistro on Newcastle’s Hunter Street, serving fantastic creative food in a relaxed setting with impeccable service. Also high on my list is Paul’s Asian Affair restaurant at New Lambton, friendly staff and their food is so fresh and delicious.
Of anyone in the world, who would you invite to a dinner party?
Nelson Mandela if he was still alive. A truly inspiring individual, who set about trying to bring people of different races together, and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He was one of the world’s most popular leaders and a man that made history and will be remembered for bringing about peace and unity.
Tell us something that people would never know about you.
Difficult question. Most of my life is pretty much out there in the press, but the secret to my success has been fear of failure, I also often under promise but always over deliver. I’m into making decisions and not talking about it too much. I want to be judged by what I do.
I have a clear memory of the moment I learned the value of decisive action. I was 10, stuck in a piano lesson as the minutes ticked down to kick-off for my footy final. I knew the teacher was going to make me stay back. You’ve got to make a choice in life. I banged down the piano lid, shot out the door, jumped on my bike and never went back. Since then, I’ve never been afraid of making a decision.
Where do you see our region in twenty years’ time?
It is an exciting time for the City of Newcastle, Newcastle’s CBD is about to undergo enormous transformation after 30 years of neglect. I am working to deliver significant projects for the City’s revitalisation such as the Hunter Street Mall revitalisation project with GPT. The long-termed lease of Newcastle Port will see some proceeds invested in a world class light rail system into the CBD. Coastal revitalisation - Council’s Bathers Way project linking five main beaches from Nobbys to Merewether with a 4 – 6 metre shared pathway. Let’s bring cultural diversity to Newcastle, and The University of Newcastle is making ready for a new campus which will bring thousands of students living and studying into the City.
My vision for the previously known dirty old steel town will be for Newcastle to become a trendy place to visit. Cruise ships, back packers, sports athletes, national and international events like Surfest, Australian Water Ski Racing, Nutrigrain Iron man. People in China, UK, and India watching Newcastle based sport on TV. Historically people only came to Newcastle for business; they’re now coming to Newcastle to experience tourism and leisure.
Newcastle has a spectacular harbour and some of the best golden beaches in the world and it’s wonderful that Novocastrians and overseas visitors get to sample and enjoy a variety of quality tourism experiences in the Hunter Region.
I am seeing increased investment, development and people to our City and this trend is set to increase.