Ratepayers foot $12m bill for businesses to vote

On Monday, Council's Finance Committee will be discussing a staff report on the implementation of the Shooters Business Voting Bill, which became law on 6 February.

Business owners have always had the right to vote in City elections, and I have always actively supported their right to vote. Businesses make an immense economic and social contribution to our city.

Click here to read the SMH article.

Click here to read the SMH article.

I also support the right of business people to decide for themselves whether they wish to enrol and vote. The process for doing this should be as easy as possible.

The undemocratic Shooters Bill gave businesses two votes, when residents only have one. As respected independent election analyst Antony Green said:

The two votes idea is completely at odds with Australia history, and with democracy as understood in most western democracies.

Business owners will now be automatically enrolled without their consent. Once they are enrolled they will be compelled to vote. If they don't vote they risk being fined.

The SMH said this afternoon that in his legal advice to the council, Bret Walker, SC, said "the breadth and depth of the exercise required (by the legislation) requiring an Orwellian conception of record keeping by government in respect of its citizens, borders on the impossible. At best it is highly impracticable".

You can find a copy of the Council report that will be discussed on Monday by clicking the following link and scrolling down to Item 6: http://bit.ly/1H8yBxG.

The Shooters legislation makes the City's CEO responsible for preparing the non-residential roll for City of Sydney elections. This requires the CEO to identify and create a register of all businesses and non-resident landowners who should be on the roll.

The CEO is required to ensure the non-residential register is continually and absolutely accurate. This is impossible given the frequent changes in businesses and landownership within the City of Sydney.

This is one of many problems with the Shooters' legislation. Despite these problems, staff have developed a comprehensive process to implement the legislation as best they can. This is complex and potentially intrusive for business.

Staff estimate that the cost of implementing the Shooters legislation is $12 million, and this estimate has been independently reviewed by Price Waterhouse Coopers.

The Shooters and Fishers claim they based their Bill on the system used by the City of Melbourne. Yet, while the Bill was being debated in Parliament, the Victorian Government released a report on the Melbourne model following an inquiry conducted by former Liberal MP, Petro Georgiou.

That inquiry recommended:

  • Corporations should have one vote - not two;
  • The Victorian Electoral Commission should be responsible for preparing the City of Melbourne roll, not the City's general manager; and
  • Automatic enrolment of business voters should cease.

The implementation of this undemocratic Bill will be discussed by Council's Finance Committee on Monday. Council's committee meetings are open to the public. You can also address the Committee about any concerns you have with the issues raised in the report for up to three minutes. More information about addressing Committees is available at: http://bit.ly/1rxWmLC.

If you would like to address the Committee please phone 9265 9310 before 12 noon on Monday.

The Committee begins meeting at 1pm. Given the Committee's agenda, it may not begin discussing this item before 2pm.

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