Today the Government announced to the media that they would support a Bill by the Shooters and Fishers Party to manipulate how people can vote in the City of Sydney.
Under the pretence of increasing the business vote in the City of Sydney, the Premier told the Daily Telegraph that he would introduce the Shooters' Business Voting Bill in Parliament today.
No one has seen the detail. It's been secretly concocted between the Shooters and Fishers and the Liberal Party.
If they're so confident about what they are doing why the secrecy, why the lack of community consultation and why the rush?
This is not about business voting. This is about manipulating democracy and desperately trying to distract people from ICAC and the corruption that's been exposed between the Liberal Party and developers.
Unlike what we've seen at ICAC, I lead a Council that does not make decisions based on what's inside brown paper bags.
The Liberal Party might like to think that manipulating how people can vote will threaten my support as Lord Mayor but I have every confidence in my relationship with City businesses and the work we've done to support them in the last ten years.
In 2012, this Liberal Government changed the law to get rid of me in State Parliament and now they want to do it again. I'm confident the community will see this for what it is - an attempt to manipulate democracy and take control of the City.
Businesses already have greater rights to vote in the City of Sydney than anywhere else in NSW. I support making it even easier for them to vote, but the Melbourne model is flawed and leaves Sydney exposed to serious corruption.
Even the NSW Business Chamber said compulsory business voting wasn't necessary. In 1995, the use of a permanent business roll led the NSW Crown Solicitor to warn it would be 'unsafe to hold an election for the City of Sydney'.
These changes will give businesses two votes and residents just one. They will also allow people who have never lived in the City of Sydney or Australia the right to vote.
The Government needs to make the Bill public and ask the community what they think and they need to come clean on their deal with the Shooters. What have they agreed to give them?
If you are concerned about these changes, now is the time to make your voice heard. Can you urgently contact Premier Mike Baird and let him know what you think?
The facts on business voting
For the last ten years, this council has made Sydney City one of the most desirable places in Australia to live and work.
We are the fastest growing residential area in NSW and in the past five years and the last Census showed that 40 per cent of all jobs growth in metropolitan Sydney was in our area. Some of the biggest jobs growth has taken place in our villages - Pyrmont and Ultimo grew by 46 per cent while Surry Hills and Redfern grew by 20 per cent.
Five years ago, less than 50 per cent of our residents lived and worked in our local government area, that figure has now increased to 65 per cent.
During the term of this Council alone, over 70 significant policies, strategies and action plans relating to the development of the city economy and providing support for business have been presented for Council's consideration.
In June, Council adopted the budget for the CBD over the next 10 years. The forecast investment of more than $560 million includes:
- $220 million investment in light rail and the pedestrianisation of George Street - a project the CBD business community lobbied hard for;
- $170 million for public domain works including links to Barangaroo, public space and footpath upgrades, new street furniture and our new way-finding system;
- $23 million to upgrade Hyde Park; and
- $146 million for other works including footpath upgrades and other public domain improvements.
Since 2004, we've approved around $25 billion worth of high quality development providing jobs and investment.
In the last ten years, our own public infrastructure projects have won 50 national and international design awards.