Clover sadly farewells NSW Parliament
Having never lost an election she has contested, popular Independent MP for Sydney, Clover Moore, was nevertheless forced to bid farewell to NSW Parliament on Thursday amid emotional scenes after 24 years of service to the local community.
Parliament’s Lower House was packed with supporters in the public gallery and apart from the glaring omission of Premier Barry O’Farrell who was noticeable by his absence, the likes of Labor leader John Robertson, a contingent of Greens and other high-profile MPs were all in attendance to hear Moore’s valedictory speech.
A presence at Macquarie Street since 1988 when she won the inner-city seat then known as Bligh, Moore leaves NSW Parliament as its longest serving woman and the longest serving Independent.
A long time ally and advocate of the LGBTI community, Moore was made to vacate her seat following her win at this month’s City of Sydney lord mayoral elections and the recent implementation of O’Farrell’s new laws to prevent sitting MPs from serving as councillors at a local government level.
In her speech, Moore listed some of her achievements while in office and thanked her family and friends as well as the grassroots support she received throughout her time in Parliament.
“When I came in to this Parliament, homophobia was rife, and homophobic slurs were common. My 1993 Homosexual Anti-Vilification Bill which became law made it illegal to incite hatred of gay men and lesbians.
“2010 saw the introduction my Adoption Amendment (Same Sex Couples) Bill having failed to get these changes passed in 2000. The bill passed in a nail biting conscience vote and now children can be adopted by both their parents if they are in a same sex relationship,” she said.
“I was a very early supporter of gay and lesbian rights and the first member of the Legislative Assembly to march in Mardi Gras.
“I was the only MP willing to support the trial of the supervised safe injecting room in my electorate and I brought my community on the journey to understand why we needed it – to save lives, get users in to treatment and to take injecting off the street.”
Outside Parliament House, Moore said she would now back outgoing Australian Marriage Equality national convener Alex Greenwich as her endorsed candidate for the by-election in coming months. Greenwich said despite being "honoured" to be endorsed it was a “sad day” for democracy.
“I’m one of the many Sydneysiders who have had their vote taken away from them. I voted for Clover at the last election and I did at previous elections. But now, we have to win our vote back,” Greenwich said.
“Come the by-election I look forward to being a strong independent candidate for the seat of Sydney with Clover’s endorsement.”
Asked by SX if she believed Sydney would remain an Independent seat, Moore said she was certain Greenwich would have a great chance.
“Today is a travesty for democracy and I think the most effective thing that I can now do given that I have been forced to resign as the Independent member for Sydney is to endorse someone I feel I will be able to hand the Independent baton to.
“I have been so impressed with Alex,” she said.
“[Former Independent MP] John Hatton passed the Independent baton to me, and I ran with it and I’m proud about what I’ve been able to achieve ... I believe now that I can hand that baton to Alex and he can run with it.”
AN EDITED EXTRACT OF INDEPENDENT SYDNEY MP CLOVER MOORE’S FINAL SPEECH IN NSW PARLIAMENT:
This is my final contribution in the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales. In a career spanning 24 years, I have represented inner Sydney as an Independent, initially as the Member for Bligh and following the 2007 boundary changes, as the Member for Sydney.
I am being forced out of Parliament because of legislation enacted by the O'Farrell Government with the support of the Shooters and Fishers Party and the Fred Nile group which bans the holding of elected positions in both state and local governments.
I have been an active member of this Parliament and I am proud of the achievements I have made with the support of my community.
When I came in to this Parliament, homophobia was rife, and homophobic slurs were common. My 1993 Homosexual Anti-Vilification Bill which became law made it illegal to incite hatred of gay men and lesbians. I remember the pathetic scene of Fred Nile leaving hospital in his pyjamas in a wheel chair so he could vote against the bill.
I introduced my Significant Personal Relationships Bill in 1997 to protect all relationships. While it did not pass this Parliament, it became a model for Tasmanian and Victorian legislation, and was the basis for a register in New South Wales introduced by the former Government.
2010 saw the introduction my Adoption Amendment (Same Sex Couples) Bill having failed to get these changes passed in 2000. The bill passed in a nail biting conscience vote and now children can be adopted by both their parents if they are in a same sex relationship.
I was a very early supporter of gay and lesbian rights and the first member of the Legislative Assembly to march in Mardi Gras.
I was the only MP willing to support the trial of the supervised safe injecting room in my electorate and I brought my community on the journey to understand why we needed it – to save lives, get users in to treatment and to take injecting off the street.
I successfully promoted small bars legislation after years of intransigence by the major parties in the grip of the AHA, and I rode the disgraceful and manufactured opposition to separated cycle-ways to victory at the recent City election.
I am leaving Parliament with important things yet to be achieved. Despite my efforts this Parliament has failed to achieve the more humane treatment of animals, and I hope my Independent successor will continue the fight for a better life for both for companion and farm animals. The prevailing head in the sand attitude to climate change, threatens the very survival and the prosperity of future generations, as governments continue to put protection of what is left of our natural environment before short term profits, and there has to be a highest and best use test for land use.
We need to address recidivism rates, homelessness, affordable housing, and marriage equality, as well as alcohol related violence and we urgently need to reform strata laws and enact container deposit legislation.
State Parliament must become a progressive place that works towards a vision of a better State which is sustainable and equitable.
In closing I thank my supporters and communities for sharing my view of progressive politics and choosing me to represent you for 24 years in State Parliament, and 15 years in local government including 8 and a half years ongoing as Lord Mayor of Sydney.
I look forward to a cooperative and productive relationship with the State Government for the good of our City and for its future.
I wish every success to my successor, and I conclude by saying I hope Sydney retains its independence.
Photo: Clover Moore, with Alex Greenwich, outside NSW Parliament House following her final speech (Serkan Ozturk)