A proud Kastellorizian who wants nothing more than the people of Perth to be proud of their city. Nothing else could better describe the man who is running to become Perth’s next Lord Mayor this year.
Basil Zempilas has so far had a successful career as an Australian television host, radio presenter and sports commentator. Yet the Greek Australian wishes to take his career to the next step, or more appropriately, take the City of Perth into a new direction.
“Perth’s not broken but it can be improved. It can be better,” Basil Zempilas says exclusively to The Greek Herald.
“The city needs strong leadership at the moment and I see myself as a strong leader.
“Perth has been very good to me and my family and this is an opportunity for me and my family to give back to the city that’s been so good to us.”
The Perth radio breakfast host says he’s always been on the lookout to give back to the city and run for office, yet the time never seemed right until now. With no council or Lord Mayor for two and a half years, Basil says it’s the closest Perth is going to get to a “fresh start”.
“I’ve always been very interested in local government, particularly the city of Perth. I had to assess if the time was right for me.
“Given it was a fresh start and there was no incumbent Lord Mayor, it did feel like it was the right time.”
The lack of leadership has seen the conversation around Perth have more of a negative approach, with Basil saying the city has an issue with “anti-social behaviour”. Seeing the protentional for a “better Perth”, Basil plans to use his resources to deliver the demands of the people of Perth.
“People continue to tell me they want a safer and cleaner Perth and there’s no doubt to me that’s not the first and most significant building block to a better Perth,” Basil says.
“We need to clean our city up. But we also need to attract and create compelling events and attractions and we need to make it a more people focused and people friendly city.”
A project that Basil recognises as the greatest step in the right direction is the construction of Australia’s first and pre-eminent Indigenous museum and cultural centre built in Perth. The Lord Mayor candidate plans to use the City of Perth’s “enthusiasm, state government finances and private sector funds” to make the opportunity become reality.
“I’m determined to play a lead role in that if I’m successful, bringing the various stakeholders together to make it happen for Perth.
“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for our city and I don’t want to see it wasted.”
With a passion for media, Basil enjoys his current role on breakfast radio and as an AFL commentator, as well as his former role on the popular breakfast show ‘Weekend Sunrise’. Asked if he would continue his media career if elected, Basil said he had no intention of pausing one dream to pursue another.
“My plan is to continue as a working mayor… I have a lot of flexibility with my employers, I’ve got a lot of energy as well, and I have a commitment to make it work.
“I can make it work and I wouldn’t of put my hand up if I didn’t think I had what it takes to give this everything.”
A beautiful city that has seen great development, particularly in the last ten years, the Western Australian capital has seen many migrant families call the city their home. Hailing from Kastellorizo at various stages in the 1900’s, Basil’s family has made a legacy in the City of Perth.
“My grandfathers both had businesses on Barrack Street…. My mum’s dad had the Olympia Café and my dad’s dad had a shop at the town hall just across the road, and that started a long association of the Zempilas family with the city of Perth.”
The Zempilas family’s legacy was permanently recognised by the City of Perth with a street in the cultural hub of Northbridge being named in honour of his family’s contribution.
“My family’s contribution to the area was acknowledged with one of the streets in Northbridge which is just next to Perth central. It was named Zempilas street in honour of my family’s contribution.”
Much of Basil’s family still lives in Greece, with his sister being married and living there since 1979. A proud member of the Greek community in Perth, the Lord Mayor candidate is honoured to call Greece and the City of Perth his home.
“My heart beats true for Greece and beats true for Perth,” Basil says proudly.
“I’ve been involved in many different levels of the Greek community here in Perth. In 2018 I was named Kastellorizian of the year by the Victorian Kastellorizian association.
“I’m very proud of my Greek heritage and it drives a lot of what I do and has driven a lot of what I’ve done throughout my career.”