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Alex is committed to government transparency and accountability; protecting the natural and urban environments, open space and Sydney’s unique heritage; retaining inner city social and affordable housing; the humane treatment of animals; improving transport options; and fairness and equality for the LGBTI communities.
 

City of Sydney Council Election

(Question Without Notice, 14 September 2016, Legislative Assembly, NSW Parliament)

My question is directed to the Premier. Given the $12 million cost, the complex process imposed on the city and business voters, as well as the undemocratic nature of giving businesses two votes, I ask: Will the Premier work with the City of Sydney to establish a fairer and more efficient way to encourage business participation in City of Sydney elections?

Response

The Premier: I thank the member for Sydney for his question and for his interest in the City of Sydney. I am pleased the question has been asked because before the 2016 council elections, the Government's rationale and concern was that businesses paid 80 per cent of the rates yet had only 2 per cent of the votes. The issue was: How can the Government address that? The local business community, which comprises approximately 80,000 businesses, had limited opportunity to participate. This is an issue not just for the City of Sydney; it is an issue that has been examined across the country, particularly Melbourne, as the member for Sydney knows.

The Speaker: Order! There is too much conversation in the Chamber.

The Premier: There was an extensive period of consultation. The Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters recommended that the City of Sydney introduce the same model of non-residential voting as applies in the city of Melbourne. That created an opportunity for businesses to have a say.

Mr Gareth Ward: It was introduced by Labor in Melbourne.

The Premier: Indeed, it was introduced by Labor in Melbourne. With the introduction of the changes, 22,972 non-residential cast their votes last weekend.

Mr Luke Foley: And you still got thumped.

Mr Gareth Ward: So did you. One quota, mate.

The Premier:  Yes. Well played by the Leader of the Opposition. The 22,972 voters who voted in the 2016 election is more than 13 times the 1,709 voters who registered at the last election in 2012. I pay tribute to Christine Forster and her team. She did an outstanding job, she is an outstanding councillor, and she was an outstanding candidate. But, most importantly, I congratulate Clover Moore.

Mr Luke Foley: Do you?

Ms Prue Car: But what have you actually said about it?

Mr David Harris: Say it like you mean it.

The Premier: What Opposition members are saying is not true. Clover Moore and I have our differences on key issues.

The Speaker: Order! The member for Maitland and the member for Cessnock will cease making inappropriate and stupid comments.

The Premier: Whether the member for Maitland disagrees with me or not, she is preventing me from paying tribute to Clover Moore. If that is not her intention, she should refrain from interjecting.

The Speaker: Order! The member for Sydney is entitled to hear the answer to his question. The member for Maitland could have asked the question if she wished. The member for Maitland will remain silent.

The Premier: Clover Moore does an incredible amount of work to assist homeless people across Sydney and has been a public advocate for a number of causes in both State Parliament and as the Lord Mayor of Sydney. Her achievements, notwithstanding our differences, should be applauded. I congratulate Clover Moore on her victory and look forward to continuing to work with her.