Changes to Council voting could be bad news for Sydney’s LGBTI community
Aug14

Changes to Council voting could be bad news for Sydney’s LGBTI community

LAST UPDATED // Thursday, 14 August 2014 17:11 Written by // Cec Busby

A proposed Bill by the Shooters and Fishers Party has been introduced to Parliament today that would give businesses in the Sydney City Council area two votes compared to the single vote of local residents. The Bill also seeks to make voting mandatory for businesses.

In a speech to Parliament today MP Robert Borsak made a number of claims as to why the City’s voting rules should be changed. Many of which the Lord Mayor Clover Moore has refuted in a statement today.

Borsack suggested Moore had made it increasingly harder for businesses to vote, and suggested the needs of business or the  economy were rarely discussed during Council meetings. He also claimed that local businesses were not consulted in the city’s plan to tackle climate change.

Moore denied the allegations and said she had no involvement in the development of electoral procedures.

“Elections are run by the independent NSW Electoral Commission under rules set by Parliament and they decide what people need to do to confirm their eligibility to vote. At the last election the City gave the Commission $250,000 to run a campaign encouraging businesses to vote," Moore said in a statement to media.

In regards to local business, Moore said the City had committed to a1.9 billion infrastructure program over the next ten years.

“This includes an investment in our CBD of more than $560 million to support business including $220 million for light rail and the pedestrianisation of George Street – a project the CBD business community lobbied hard for.”

Moore also said claims that the City did not consult local businesses on matters of climate change were untrue.

“The City ran the largest consultation process in its history to develop Sustainable Sydney 2030 – our long term plan for the City. Businesses were a key part of its development," Moore said. "Businesses are amongst the leading groups taking action on climate change. While the Shooters and Fishers Party and Liberal Party deny the need for action the business community is streets ahead and they’re working with the City on a range of innovative programs.

“Our Better Buildings Partnership includes leading public, private and institutional landlords that collectively own 60 per cent of Sydney’s CBD office space. They’ve signed up to reduce emissions and so far have achieved a 31 per cent reduction saving $25 million.”

Sydney independent MP Alex Greenwich said the Shooters and Fishers Party Bill could see non-residents being given the major say over the people living in the area.

Greenwich was also alarmed at the Shooters and Fishers’ proposed candidate for Lord Mayor, Edward Mandla. In the past months, Mandla has voted to oppose several issues that were of importance to local residents, business and in particular the LGBTI community.

On February 24, Mandla voted to oppose a minute that called on all levels of government to end discrimination against LGBTI people and to legislate for same-sex marriage.

The same minute also lobbied for the withdrawal of the Provocation Defence Bill and called upon NSW parliament to legislate to erase convictions for offences now repealed relating to homosexual sex. Mandla again opposed.

“The City of Sydney’s strong support for the LGBTI community would be under threat should the Shooters and Fishers party get their way and install Edward Mandla as Mayor," Greenwich told GNN.

“Their bill would halve the vote of Sydney’s LGBTI residents and risk giving us a mayor who believes it is not council’s responsibility to defend the LGBTI community”

Greenwich has introduced his own Bill to parliament today to improve business voting in the city. The alternative Bill will make it easier for businesses to enrol and will place restrictions on who can vote.

"The Baird Government has two clear options: support my bill and improve business voting in the City of Sydney or do a deal with the Shooters Party to halve the vote of Sydney's residents,” Greenwich told GNN.

Greenwich said the Shooters and Fishers Bill is an unsustainable model that over represents the interests of business.

"Halving the votes of residents is offensive to democracy and you can expect that such legislation will be repealed when there is a change of government.

"I urge the government not to rush the Shooters and Fishers bill through, but to consult with businesses, residents, the City of Sydney and local representatives to ensure democracy in local government elections."

Image: Sydney lights up for Vivid

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Cec Busby

Cec Busby

Cec Busby is the news editor of SX and GayNewsNetwork.com.au.

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