Clover Moore’s City of Sydney council has told the business community that it is “no longer compulsory for non-residents to vote” in next year’s council election, in a move which has sparked angry claims of “gerrymandering”.
The new voting condition comes after the Minns government changed City of Sydney voting rules which gave businesses in the city two votes, and automatically put them on the role. The new rules – which bring the City of Sydney in line with other councils – will wipe the non-resident electoral roll clean at next year’s election.
Any non-resident business owners or property investors will need to re-enrol to vote.
In an email on Monday, the City of Sydney wrote to businesses telling them they no longer needed to vote in the upcoming elections.
“If you wish to vote as a nonresident at future City of Sydney elections, you must submit a claim form to the City’s chief executive officer by close of rolls,” the email said.
In September, the Minns government repealed so-called “get Clover” laws introduced by the Baird government in 2014. Local Government Minister Ron Hoenig likened the laws to something out of “North Korea”.
But Business Sydney Executive Director Paul Nicolaou yesterday reiterated his “dismay” at the business community being disenfranchised.
“The Council’s message conveys the process being employed to disenfranchise the non-resident business community,” he said. Angela Vithoulkas, a former City of Sydney councillor and business owner, said the requirement that non-resident voters re-enroll presented more “red tape that’s preventing democracy”, adding: “The non-residential roll contributes 72 per cent to the rates collected by the City of Sydney.” . “We’ll pay – but have no representation or voice.” Liberal Councillor Lyndon Gannon said wiping the nonresident roll was a kind of “gerrymander” - the manipulation of voting boundaries - that would benefit Labor rather than Ms Moore. “This is clearly an effort to (sway) the next election in Labor’s favour,” he said.
“It’s not about the two votes rule, it’s about wiping the current non-residential roll so that Labor is in with a shot of a second quota on Council.”
editorial page 20