Thursday, May 19, 2022
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Sitting Member’s last stand

In a career spanning 24 years, I have represented inner Sydney as an Independent, initially as the Member for Bligh and following the 2007 boundary changes, as the Member for Sydney.

The seat in its various forms, with the harbour as the northern boundary, has extended as far east as Point Piper and Bellevue Hill, as far west as Ultimo/Pyrmont and as far south as Redfern and Darlington. During this time there have been seven Premiers of the State and five speakers of this House.

I am being forced out of Parliament because of legislation enacted by the O’Farrell Government with the support of the Shooters and Fishers Party and the Fred Nile group which bans the holding of elected positions in both state and local governments.

I have held both positions since 2004 by majority popular vote, state and local, but my recent election as Lord Mayor of Sydney for a third term means I have to resign my state seat following the passage of the Government’s legislation.

This decision had previously and properly been the choice of the people since the beginning of representative government in this State in 1856. And I note that in the recent local government elections the people voted overwhelmingly for Joanna Gash as Mayor of Shoalhaven in the full knowledge that she is also a sitting member of Federal Parliament.

The negative implications of this legislation include the unchecked manipulation of our democratic rights by the Liberal/National Party Government using its parliamentary majority to further its own political interests at the expense of our democratic rights.

Worse still is the worrying precedent of the removal by Parliament of a sitting member elected by the people.

There was no referendum, the Government’s intention was not flagged prior to the 2011 state election, and the vice regal office shockingly has no role in defending our basic democratic rights against predatory political parties, but it would seem is merely a rubber stamp for majority governments.

Independents and minor parties with progressive and reformist agendas are always going to be in the crosshairs of the major parties, vested interests and some elements of a cowardly and bullying media fighting to resist change in their efforts to maintain the status quo …

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