Hundreds of people braved heavy rains this morning to attend a public meeting about a push by the Shooters and Fishers Party to manipulate local government voting laws.
Speakers at the meeting, hosted by the City of Sydney, included Lord Mayor Clover Moore, NSW Opposition Leader John Robertson, Greens MLC David Shoebridge, Independent Member for Sydney Alex Greenwich, President of Local Government NSW Keith Rhoades, Secretary Unions NSW Mark Lennon, City of Sydney Councillor and small business owner Angela Vithoulkas, and actor Robyn Nevin.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the turnout was larger than expected given the weather.
"I really want to thank the hundreds of people who came to our meeting this morning to show their support for the fundamental democratic principle of one vote, one value," the Lord Mayor said.
"Because of the rain we moved the meeting inside the people's Town Hall but there were so many people who couldn't get in and who waited outside, that we all moved outside again.
"The hundreds who attended today, the 5000 people who signed a petition opposing the Bill and the unanimous support we've received from the Local Government NSW Board who represent all 152 councils in NSW, make very clear that this is not a Bill supported by the community.
"It's aimed at a Council that is corruption free, debt free and with a strong financial position, and at a time when there is a stench of developer donation corruption hanging over the State Government which is being played out in ICAC day-by-day.
"In stark contrast, I lead a Council that does not make decisions based on what's inside brown paper bags!"
Keith Rhoades, the President of Local Government NSW said an Upper House MP had told him that the Shooters Bill was the worst written Bill they'd ever seen introduced into Parliament.
"From Tenterfield to Temora, from Broken Hill to Bondi, right across this state, I have never seen councils so united against a Bill that's been introduced into the Parliament that they oppose," Cr Rhoades said.
"I'm proud to say that it was a unanimous decision by the Local Government NSW Board yesterday to absolutely oppose every single piece of the Shooters Bill."
Opposition Leader John Robertson said that while the State had very serious issues to sort out including health, education and youth unemployment, the Premier's number one priority was pushing through a Bill that undermined the democracy of the people who live in the City of Sydney.
"This is the Liberals trying to push through an agenda for them to take control," Mr Robertson said.
Greens MLC David Shoebridge asked why on earth any Government would consider doubling the vote for corporations at a local level and warned it was an attack on local democracy across the state.
"There's a sting in the tail in this Bill, which allows the Local Government Minister to impose this deeply undemocratic double the vote for corporations, to any local government area, anywhere across the state," Mr Shoebridge said.
Independent Member for Sydney, Alex Greenwich, who has drafted an alternative Bill aimed at making it easier for businesses to vote and which supports the principle of one vote, one value, warned that the Shooters Bill would actually stop many small businesses owners from voting.
"The Shooters Bill can only be described as a 'hot mess,'" Mr Greenwich said.
"It doubles the votes for large corporations, halves the votes of residents and removes the votes of many small businesses."
City of Sydney Councillor and small business owner Angela Vithoulkas called on the NSW Government to refer the Shooters Bill and Alex Greenwich's alternative Bill to a Parliamentary Committee as a matter of urgency when Parliament resumed next week.
"This should not be rushed through. For the voting laws to work, we need to develop a process that is built on consultation," Cr Vithoulkas said.