Mood: not sure
Topic: nsw govt
The Sydney Morning Herald today solemnly advises
"[Local] Council elections were last held in 2004."
Which indeed was the case. This is by way of background reporting this story:
So now the local council elections are on Sept 13 2008, two weeks earlier. At first we thought most local govt elections were in Sept 2003 and thus now a year over due (from Sept 07), because we know they were held in Sept 1999 before that, and Sept 1995 before that. That is every 4 years at a time we held such humble office. The AEC website confirms councillors are elected for “4 years”. But somehow a 4.5 year term has effectively been inserted twice between Sept 99 and Sept 2008
The Hansard March 5th 2008 via NSW Minister Tony Kelly in the 2nd Reading speech in the Upper House ‘explains’ it all in convoluted fashion, as follows:
The Hon. TONY KELLY (Minister for Lands, Minister for Rural Affairs, Minister for Regional Development, and Vice-President of the Executive Council) [3.37 p.m.]: …..
The Act was then amended in 2003 to postpone council elections from the second Saturday in September 2003 to the fourth Saturday in March 2004. The change was the result of the Local Government Amendment (Elections) Act 2003, which, when introduced into Parliament, was intended to change the election date from the second Saturday in September to the fourth Saturday in March for all future elections. The purpose of these proposed amendments was to align the local government election cycle with the local government strategic planning process.
The amendments were also designed to shift local government council elections out of the same four-year cycle as the State elections so that New South Wales voters would no longer be required to go to the polls twice in the same year. This shift will also ease the burden of the New South Wales Electoral Commission having to conduct State and local government elections within six months of each other.
We don’t find this explanation in bold above about delay of 6 months from Sept 2003 to March 2004 very convincing. Indeed the Opposition’s Don Harwin MP in Hansard states 26 June 2003 when the first 6 month delay was enacted:
It says a lot about the attitude and cynicism with which the Government has approached the entire electoral process and its mandate. If ever there was a bill for which the Government did not have a mandate, it is this bill [Local Government Amendment (Elections) Bill]. The loud and articulate opposition of Ministers, Government members, and Labor Party activists in the lead-up to the March State election on the issue of forced council amalgamations, when the Government articulated that it stridently opposed forced council amalgamations, has been shown to be utter deceit. The bill is the foundation of a process that will lead to forced council amalgamations. The Coalition strongly opposes that.
The arguments that the Government has put forward for this bill are, at face value, plausible. Few people would argue against the suggestion that there is a benefit in not having council elections in the same year that a general State election is held. For a long time I have believed that that is desirable. However, the Government's second principal argument, in relation to the council budgetary process, is much less plausible. The idea that a councillor elected in March can get on top of all the complexities and issues involved in preparing a budget for the coming financial year, only a matter of weeks after being elected, is complete nonsense.
Rather we think the whole schedule went topsy turvy when the ALP started stalking Sydney City Council from at least 2003 as per Harwin's speech, but quite possibly as early as 2001 as per this call:
REV MOYES CALLS FOR COUNCIL AMALGAMATION IF POOR AND HOMELESS ... dated May 16 2001.
Interestingly the simply Rev. Gordon Moyes became a colleague of Rev Nile in the Upper House in 2002 replacing Elaine Nile MP who retired. Fred Nile MP is very friendly with the ALP govt and supported the disruption of the 4 year fixed term by the ALP in 2003.
Sydney City council was indeed amalgamated with South Sydney Council in a massive power play by the ALP:
City super-council on the way - www.smh.com.au 21 Nov 2003
South Sydney Council is about to give up its fight for survival, merging with the City of Sydney to create an inner-city super-council controlled by Labor.
The Mayor of South Sydney, Tony Pooley, will propose the merger at an extraordinary meeting of his council next Wednesday, following a damning internal assessment of its financial future.
The move would end the stand-off between the two councils and give the State Government an opportunity to ram through amalgamation.
A merger would also greatly strengthen Labor's chances of controlling the City of Sydney for the first time in more than a decade, installing the former federal minister Michael Lee as lord mayor.
The election for the new super council was held on March 27 2004 along with the rest of the state 6 months delayed, but the ALP’s cynicism was punished severely and they lost City Hall (with this writer a volunteer for Clover Moore MP):
Clover Moore is off to Town Hall By Alex Mitchell, State Political Editor
March 28, 2004 The Sun-Herald
So in summary the State Govt appear to have invented 4.5 year terms in 2003 pushing it to 2004 to get the super council in, which then got pushed out yet another 6 months in 2008 courtesy of Fred Nile MP and the Govt pandering to the vain old man, who for some reason liked the month of Sept rather than March. Actually his reason is here from Hansard 2003 again:
Over the years the local government election. has been held effectively in September. Why does the Government want the election to be held in March? I will put forward a practical reason for the change. It is difficult for minor parties and Independents to get ready for election by March. I know that it is difficult for the Christian Democratic Party, being a minor party, to get mobilised for an election in March. That may not be the case for the Australian Labor Party, the Liberal Party or the National Party. It is difficult for minor parties because staff go on holidays over Christmas and January.
We have puzzled over this for years because those 4 years of ours Sept 95-Sept 99 due service as Bondi ward councilor at Waverley - until we made a baton change to now Indigenous Deputy Mayor Cr Dominic Wy Kanak - are branded on our memory banks:
Dominic Wy Kanak, Deputy Mayor - Greens
If you look real close you will see the editor's name on a plaque at the front of the Library at Bondi Junction, which we do feel proud about too: