Discusses the implications of two Bills both dealing with voting in local government elections for the City of Sydney.
On 14 August 2014 two Private Members’ Bills were introduced in the NSW Parliament, both dealing with voting in local government elections for the City of Sydney, specifically as this relates to non-residents. One Bill, the City of Sydney Amendment (Elections) Bill 2014, sponsored by Robert Borsak of the Shooters and Fishers Party, was introduced in the Legislative Council; a second Bill, the City of Sydney Amendment (Business Voting and Council Elections) Bill 2014 , sponsored by the Independent member for Sydney, Alex Greenwich, was introduced in the Legislative Assembly. The first Bill will be referred to henceforth as the Borsak Bill ; the second as the Greenwich Bill .
While the two Bills are concerned with broadly the same subject, their approach is markedly different, as is the substance of the legislation they propose . It is also the case that the Borsak Bill in particular has been the subject of extensive media comment, based on support or opposition for the proposal to extend the rights of the non-residential or the “business” vote in the City of Sydney .
This proposal follows on from an inquiry by the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters [the Committee report] into the 2012 Local Government Elections, the key recommendations of which are set out later in this paper; as are the findings of the October 2013 Local Government Acts Taskforce report, A New Local Government Act for New South Wales and Review of the City of Sydney Act 1988 [the Taskforce report].
For City of Sydney elections, as for local government elections generally in NSW, electors include ratepayers who may reside outside the local government area. For local government elections generally, the relevant provisions are set out in the Local Government Act 1993, whereas a separate legislative sche me is in place for the City of Sydney. Under the Local Government Act 1993 (s 286), voting is not compulsory for those enrolled on the non-residential rolls; for the City of Sydney, on the other hand, voting is mandatory once enrolled.