Politics

Ill-judged politics underlies Clover attacks

New South Wales now: the new state of business. Really? Could they have found anything clunkier? Could their graphic be more redolent of some rock-jawed 1950s Texas oil-co?

Yet it is disturbingly apt, for a state so rusted-on to last-century values. A state ruled, it now seems, by an elephant-shooter, whose parliamentary office grins with the stuffed corpses of his victims. A state whose best chance now of a green future lies with China.

Excepting Sydney City, Clover Moore’s Sydney sits in Abbott’s Australia like an oasis of spring growth in a slag-heap. While Abbott snubs United Nations climate talks, scraps the carbon price and deliberately undermines renewables, the city has reduced its emissions by 21 per cent, retrofitted much of its building stock, installed LED streetlights throughout, pioneered trigeneration and, despite relentless derision, built bike-lanes.

Measured by achievement, Clover is hands down the best mayor this city has had. But she, too, is firmly in the elephant shooter’s sights.

Robert Borsak’s City of Sydney Amendment (Elections) Amendment Bill, known colloquially as the Elephant Shooter’s Bill, became law last month. It is designed to maximise the business vote by replacing one optional vote per business with two compulsory votes.

The government says it is not about Clover. They said that, too, about the last law they passed, two years ago, to oust her from parliament. (Clover jokes grimly that she is probably the only person in Australia to have provoked two statutes designed to bar her from public life.)

Yet the gentlemen protest too much. During one day of parliamentary debate on the bill, the lord mayor scored fully ninety-eight mentions. No other local politician was mentioned once.

Borsak himself is less coy, telling parliament in his second reading speech that he wanted to remove Ms Moore as Sydney Lord Mayor.

It’s easy to see Borsak’s motives. He likes limelight, couldn’t care less about the city and wants revenge for the 28 parliamentary years through which Clover steadfastly opposed the gun lobby. She doesn’t support us, we don’t support her, he says. Bush justice.

Government support is more mysterious. Business itself was content — even Alan Jones noted they weren’t exactly marching in the streets — and many Liberals, including Sydney Business Chamber head (and former MLC) Patricia Forsythe, believe the new law undemocratic.

The Melbourne model, on which it is based, has few defenders. Melbourne mayor Robert Doyle insists that city planning is just about property rights and 50 new towers are now pending, but a recent review by former federal Liberal MP Petro Georgiou describes this two-votes-per-business model as deeply flawed, and recommends its abandonment.

In NSW parliament, Premier Mike Baird also seemed embarrassed by the blatant breach of the one-entity-one-vote principle. Former premier Barry O’Farrell was openly derisive. Yet they both voted for it. So where is Borsak’s power base?

Rogue media. Here again, Borsak is disarmingly frank, explicitly thanking both Alan Jones and the Tele for campaigns waged on his behalf. The man may not be sophisticated, but he knows how to stiffen a floppy premier.

Needless to say, however, Borsak did not hatch this ugly duckling alone. It was brought to him, already mangled, by failed Liberal mayoral candidate and current city councillor Edward Mandla — via redwolf.newsvine.com

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