It is ten years since Clover Moore became Lord Mayor of the City of Sydney.
The community first urged her to contest because the then Labor Government had changed electoral boundaries in an attempt to seize power of the city. Clover and her team were elected, and since then we have had stable governance, budget surpluses, and new and improved services.
There is a long history of intervention in the City of Sydney by the government of the day to get control of Town Hall, and a long history of governments trying to get rid of Clover Moore’s grassroots representation. Democracy has never had anything to do with it and I’m not the only one suss that it has nothing to do with this latest proposal.
Why is the Shooters and Fishers Party introducing a bill to change how the City of Sydney is elected? A party focussed on hunting, gun laws, fishing restrictions and land clearing, and with a predominantly rural support base, the Shooters and Fishers Party is also notorious for doing deals with the government to pass pro-gun reforms. Its bill reflects the government-run inquiry recommendations, with the media messaging identical.
Many fear another deal.
Business can already vote in the City of Sydney but the proposed compulsory model has alarming features that would allow votes from non-citizens, overseas corporations and overseas governments. Companies could set up separate business occupancies to maximise the number of votes they can cast. Residents’ influence on their neighbourhood would be diluted.
The committee chair and the Shooters and Fishers Party Robert Brown repeat “no taxation without representation” but business pays tax to state and federal governments, and the lack of voting rights at these levels has never been raised. Other councils such as North Sydney and Parramatta have strong business presence but have not been slated for any changes.
Why is the City of Sydney being targeted?
Could it be related to the city’s strong budget managed and its independent progressive leadership?
True or false, the Liberal State Government has always assumed that a stronger business vote means a stronger Liberal vote.
Independent and transparent elections of governments and representatives are fundamental to a healthy democracy. In places where corruption is rife, there are high levels of political intervention in terms of elections, boundaries, voting and candidates. Any changes to who can vote should come from an independent and expert-led inquiry. Governments in cahoots with minor parties should not be setting this type of agenda.
The City of Sydney works with the business community. Under Clover’s leadership, it has helped commercial building owners and tenants reduce their carbon footprint, while reducing their water and energy costs. It has encouraged cycling for the city’s strong workforce and its work over the last decade has ensured that CBD light rail could proceed following a change of government, an aspect of the city’s infrastructure that will reduce the congestion currently grinding the city to a halt.
Businesses are represented and supported by the City of Sydney. Any changes to the city’s democracy must be done with the Council and communities that are affected, not behind closed doors with fringe political parties looking to make a deal.
How do you feel about the proposed changes?