The NSW Parliament is looking at how businesses vote in the City of Sydney area.
Businesses have a right and a responsibility to be involved in decisions about the future of our city. Sustainable Sydney 2030 was developed after research and discussion with thousands of residents, businesses and visitors.
The City has worked to develop strong, positive relationships with many businesses and business organisations, and they have made clear that they appreciate and support the work we are doing.
We invest hundreds of millions of dollars to help businesses in our city.
We're contributing $220 million towards the light rail project on George Street - strongly backed by our business community. Other projects include beautiful public domain upgrades, grants for local chambers of commerce, affordable accommodation, sponsorship of events and musicals to encourage people to shop on our streets, stay in our hotels and eat in our restaurants, partnerships with property owners in the CBD to improve sustainability and drive down costs and millions of dollars' worth of grants to boost our economy.
Many City residents both live and work here and lots of our small business operators' are also locals - everyone benefits from a prosperous city. Neighbourhoods where people want to live, are also the places people want to work and visit. Our livability helps makes Sydney Australia's major attractor for 'global' jobs and business.
Everyone who pays rates to the City, either directly or indirectly through rent, is entitled to enrol and vote. This includes business owners. If the business is a corporation or partnership, it can nominate someone to enrol and vote on their behalf. Unlike all other Councils in NSW, businesses can do this after operating in the City for only three months. In other council areas businesses need to operate for at least three years before they can claim a vote.
Last year, the City gave the NSW Electoral Commission $215,000 to run an awareness campaign encouraging businesses to vote. The campaign included print advertising, a website and video, social media campaign and direct mail letters.
I believe we should encourage businesses to vote but the elections should be run by the independent Electoral Commission, not politicians.
Some people want us to return to the dodgy rules that operated before 1995 which led to the City's electoral roll being inaccurate and out of date - so much so that the NSW Crown Solicitor warned it would be 'unsafe to hold an election for the City of Sydney'.
It's critical we do not repeat past mistakes.