Misinformation about business voting

It's disappointing that supporters of the Shooters & Fishers Bill on business voting in the City of Sydney need to rely on misleading claims and factually incorrect information to support their case.

In a recent letter sent by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier, David Elliott MP, they claimed "that businesses contribute 78.5 per cent of the City of Sydney's revenue" - this is simply not true!

Last year business rates contributed less than 32 per cent of the City of Sydney's total revenue.

The Liberal Party and the Shooters also argue that the case for adopting the Melbourne model was the result of a bipartisan Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters run by the NSW Parliament.

But the truth is that only the Shooters and the Liberal Party supported the changes. The Labor members of the Committee voted against the proposal. Labor MLC Amanda Fazio, a member of the Committee, has said:

"As a member of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters I can say that this recommendation was opposed by Labor and the only support for this proposal came from the Liberal Party and the Business Chamber. Undue weight was given to the evidence of two first-term Liberal Councillors from the City of Sydney."

The most fraudulent claim the Shooters and their supporters make is that businesses don't support the work of this City Government.

But in a letter to the Editor in the SMH on 16 August, Glenn Byres, the NSW Executive Director of the Property Council of Australia wrote:

"Here are some facts. The city's commercial property owners partner with the council to reduce emissions from their portfolios. So far, we're exceeding the city's own target of a 24 per cent reduction from the 2004-05 baseline.

The Property Council was a member of the Strategic Light Rail Roundtable that sharpened the case for light rail's introduction.

Office owners keep increasing the ratio of end-of-trip facilities in their assets to encourage workers cycling to work. On small bars - the Property Council was the first major business group to support the lord mayor's agenda as they add to the dynamics of a city."

And in the Saturday Paper, Patricia Forsythe, Executive Director of the Sydney Business Chamber said "There is a good strong process of consultation between the city and key business groups. The council CEO and the business unit are absolutely first rate."

I support making it even easier for businesses to vote, but the Shooters and Fishers's Bill is trying to cut and paste a business voting model used in Melbourne which is not suited to Sydney. For a start, we have different rating systems and their model leaves Sydney exposed to serious corruption.

Tonight I'll be asking Council to support a Lord Mayoral Minute asking Council to auspice a community meeting about this issue to be held with a broad coalition of individuals and groups, including the President of LGNSW and to call on the Premier to rewrite, with the correct information, a new letter to the many objectors of the Shooter Bill who received the incorrect letter.

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