Update on City of Sydney Amendment (Elections) Bill 2014: each NSW business soon may be forced in Council elections to cast two or three votes against the single vote of each resident – 22nd August 2014

A bill has been introduced into the NSW State upper house that Randwick Greens Councillor Murray Matson says “will see the burying of the ‘one person, one vote’ philosophy Australian democracy is based on”

Councillor Matson said this week,

“This Bill proposes culture changing legislation that could be applied to any Council in NSW. Councils will be slanted away from ownership by their residents to being more like business entities delivering for local private sector interests that will be able to brandish two votes each plus a third if they live in the electorate as well. The Bill if passed will see the burying of the ‘one person, one vote’ philosophy Australian democracy is based on.”

Pending Greens motion to Randwick City Council on City of Sydney Amendment (Elections) Bill 2014

“That Council declares its public opposition to the City of Sydney Amendment (Elections) Bill 2014 and urgently advises accordingly LGNSW, the Minister for Local Government, the Premier and the local Government spokespersons for all political parties represented in NSW Parliament. Council will also submit a motion of opposition to the upcoming LGNSW conference.”

Local Government NSW President calls on Councils to respond to the City of Sydney Amendment (Elections) Bill 2014

Debate in the upper house has been adjourned and it does not sit again until the 9th September. Today the President of the peak body for the states’ Councils, Local Government NSW, emailed Councils  highlighting the major issues he saw with the Bill and urging them to respond to its introduction before debate resumed.

  • The proposed section 25 makes it possible to extend this business voting system to any or all other councils by regulation (see proposed section 25);
  • From the point of view of existing electors (largely residents and residential ratepayers) conferring two votes on each corporation is arguably undemocratic (see proposed section 16AA Corporations);
  • The proposed system as described will create a large new workload and significant new costs to councils (see proposed sections 16AA–16AC, 16D, 18A–18E);
  • The proposed system is difficult to interpret both for businesses as participants and councils as implementers with the multiple concepts ratepayers, rate paying leaseholders and occupiers (see Definitions regarding rate paying lessee and occupier);
  • The proposed section on ensuring the non-residential roll electoral information register is not available for public inspection seems at odds with the practices relating to other electoral rolls (see proposed section 18D (5));
  • The proposed section on powers to pursue information may be giving too much power and subsequent responsibility to council (see proposed section 18D (6)).
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