Should politicians be able to hold state and local government roles at the same time

Clover Moore, Electric Car

Clover Moore, Electric Car

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by StreetCorner
03/02/2012

Streetcorner wants to know whether you think politicians should be able to simultaneously hold the role of a Councillor in a local government area as well as a Member of NSW Parliament.

A number of locals have posted articles on Streetcorner outlining their reasons for opposing 'dual roles' (remember Streetcorner is an open news network so locals set the agenda and you are welcome to join in) and today Sydney's Lord Mayor and Member for Sydney, Clover Moore sent out information from her office detailing her submission to State Parliament. The O'Farrell Government is currently considering legislative changes to prohibit MP's from also holding the position of Councillor.

Below is an extract from Clover Moore's website outlining her reasons for opposing a ban on politicians concurrently being both a Councillor and Member of Parliament (MP).

'Since the beginning of representative government in NSW, in 1856, voters have had the option to choose a single person to represent them in both State and Local Government.

This proposed change is an attempt to reduce peoples’ voting options in NSW State and Local Government elections. Peoples’ democratic rights should be defended and not manipulated by partisan party politics and limited only after constitutional change.

Any judgements about the one person’s ability to successfully carry out both responsibilities should remain the preserve of voters and put in the context that a person undertaking the dual roles has to face an election approximately every two years. This constitutes a rigorous endorsement from the people.'

You can read the full transcript of Clover's submission here http://www.clovermoore.com.au/dual-roles...

Is it a conflict of interest for a politician to represent electorates both as a Councillor and a Member of Parliament? Holding dual roles is banned in the majority of states, do you think banning dual roles would change anything in NSW?

Streetcorner welcomes everyone from all sides of the debate to publish their views and thoughts on dual roles.


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Comments

jedenetwas posts

Yes it is a conflict of interest for a politicians to represent electorates both as a Mayor/Councillor and a Member of Parliament.I contacted Clover Moore's MP office in Darlinghurst about a cycleway complaint. I was told to phone City Council. I wanted the local MP to help, but as Clover held both roles it was a waste of time.I felt my democratic rights had been lost. I agree, that as holding dual roles is banned in the majority of states it should be in NSW too. Yes I do you think banning dual roles would change things in NSW . Clover as an Independent has no power as a MP, these days you have to be a Member of a major party.Clover's case above is unconvincing for voters whom had issues about this matter.

The Cottage posts

Clover Moore's submission has 2 main thrusts. 1. A MP has a long standing "right" in NSW to nominate for election to council, and this "right" should not be taken away. The taking away of "rights" is totally justifiable, where the exercise of the right causes harm. Dual role holders cause harm to our governance system, inter alia because of the loss of the peoples right to full representation in all matters (reps refused in counci matters) and in Parl. at all times (Clover Moore attends the chamber for less than 20% of its deliberation hours). Slave owners had a "right" to own slaves for centuries. The harm slavery caused, led to its prohibition. A person in the USA had the right to nominate for election as President as many times as they choose up until 1951. However, from the earliest Presidents a convention was established that A President would not serve more than 2 terms, because to do so was not in the spirit of the Constitution. FDR ignored the convention and the Constitution was amended to prohibit more than 2 terms. In NSW, apart from a few exceptions to which Clover Moore refers, there has been a general convention that MP's not simultaneously serve on councils e.g. Richard Torbay sttod down as Mayor of Armidale and did not seek a further term on Council following election to State Parliament in 1999. 2. That the banning of dual roles will create vacancies,cause councils to operate without full complements and cause expensive by-elections. Such claims are sheer nonsense. Making MP's ineligible to nominate for Council will not do any of that. Clover Moore's failure to acknowlege, let alone propose any solution to the problem of loss of representation,in her submission is disappointing.

BourkeStreet posts

Politicians should not be able to hold state and local government roles at the same time as it it a conflict of interest. If MP's are doing their job they will not have time for two jobs. The 29 MP's in NSW Parliament should choose one job or the other.

johnlangmann posts

No matter how much Clover Moore dresses up her case for dual roles the reality is her Lord Mayor & MP roles are treated one and the same. Locals ring up her Electoral Office and are told to phone Council on 9265 9333. It doesnt matter how many reasons Clover gives for the dual roles, other states have stopped the double dipping. It really is about Clover's lust for power and 'I' not about service to community

That Clover Moore attends the chamber for less than 20% of its deliberation hours is enough to ban dual roles! Thanks for that The Cottage.

Sydney electorate does need a full-time MP

Stevie posts

This anti-Clover obsession from a very small group of people is really quite sad. They have a bee in their bonnet and can't let go. Well guess what... you're in the minority! The majority of the Sydney electorate and LGA want Clover Moore for both positions, hence why she keeps getting re-elected. If the majority of the electorate thought dual roles were unfair or Clover was not being effective, she would be voted out! So simple! The only reason she should be forced to step down from either role is if the people vote her out. Anything else is pathetic. These people just can't accept that they are the odd ones out and want to inflict their wishes on the rest of the community

The Cottage posts

Stevie, you have got the dog by the tail. In March 2011 the vast majority of the Sydney electorate (64%) expressed a wish to have a separate individual as their MP, only a minority (36%) wanted a dual role holder as their MP. A study conducted this year showed that the Sydney electorate by a margin of 2 to 1 (sample size 106)wanted to see parliament enact a law to abolish dual roles. Using your argument, if the parliament passes a law prohibiting dual roles, no one should criticise it, and those critical of it should simply vote out those MPs who support it at the next State election.

Stevie posts

This is the way the voting system works! You clearly can't accept the fact that more people want Clover Moore to represent them than any other candidate... just as they have every election since 1988! And there's a very good reason for that - her independence, decency, ethics, commitment and willingness to stand up to vested interests. Maybe instead of negatively obsessing over Clover and dual roles (and trying to change a system which has been in place since 1856) you could put that energy into finding/supporting a credible alternative candidate. Giving the people of Sydney a reason to vote for someone else would be far better than forcibly removing someone against the will of the voters

The Cottage posts

Stevie, whether you like it or not local government is merely a delegate of the State parliament to carry out the mundane tasks (e,g, roads, parks and garbage) of the state parliament which has been invested with the responsibility of the good governance of NSW. Local government is a mere creation of the State Parliament. As such, the state parliament may alter the rules of the thing it has created. This is how "democracy" works in NSW. Maybe you should stop wasting your energies defendig the indefensible and expend some of it in solving the problems in the City of Sydney, e.g. alcohol fuelled violence, liquour outlet creep, residential disamenity, inequitable funding to areas outside of Sydney electorate, lack of representation for those with council problems, loss of a voice in parliament.

DP posts

I am against dual roles. I have personally experienced the situation where my local MP who is also on the local council refused represent me on an issue of council wrongdoing and was not even willing to discuss the issue. This was a clear case of lack of representation in Parliament by my MP and a clear case of the conflict of interests that dual role MPs experience. By the way, Stevie, I am anti-dual roles for *all* (not just Clover Moore) of the 28 MPs in State Parliament who are also on local councils. Some of these dual-role MPs are Liberal, some are Labor, some are independent. I am advocating that *all* political parties lift their game and stop having any dual role MPs, just as in the case in Queensland, Victoria and South Australia.

RE: Stevie posts I sincerely doubt that it's correct to claim that ALL opponents of Dual Roles for ALL the 28 double-dipping State MPs are anti-Clover Moore: hers is not the only snout in the trough. The real issue is not actually about Clover Moore, per se. It’s actually about public probity and conflicts of interest generally and how Dual Roles tincture outcomes. This issue affects all current - and all future - MPs. In last week’s Letters to the Editor, The Sydney Morning Herald, 3.2.12, a Mr David Wagner of Potts Point wrote: DUAL ROLES CAUSE LACK OF REPRESENTATION The move to ban dual roles is based on real, not "manufactured", concerns ("Moore fights back over criticism for dual roles", February 2). During the Save Fitzroy Gardens campaign I rang the office of Clover Moore, MP, to seek her advice and assistance on heritage aspects under NSW State law which were then being ignored by the Sydney City Council. I was repeatedly told by staff to ring Sydney Town Hall (that is, the Council itself) about this issue. I was denied my right of representation in Parliament by my MP. Yours faithfully, David Wagner Potts Point This is only the tip of the iceberg, I suggest. There have been many others, as well as community-based groups, also expressing concern over a considerable period of time. These are just a few examples I located in a few minutes this morning over coffee: 1 “I haven’t received any help from my local member” re: small business owner -v- sydney council recalcitrance link: http://www.altmedia.net.au/bettys-kitche... 2 “Residents feel isolated because their local member ... has a conflict of interest” re: lane closure by Sydney Council link: http://www.altmedia.net.au/berwick-lane-... 3 "We have written to Clover Moore asking her to intervene but expect no response as she clearly has conflict of interests" re: new drugs facility in prime residential zone, Victoria Street, Potts Point link: http://www.altmedia.net.au/victoria-stre... 4 "In her time, being both the member for Sydney and Lord Mayor, Ms Moore has faced criticism for her "conflict of interest"." February 2011 link: http://www.altmedia.net.au/clovers-misus... 5 "In ordinary circumstances we would have taken this to our state MLA ... [we are] in the bizarre position of having the Lord Mayor of Sydney as our State MLA. It appears that complaints directed to the Lord Mayor in her role as our State MLA have mysteriously disappeared in much the same way as our hundreds of submissions to Council on the Cycleway itself were buried.” July 2009 link: http://www.altmedia.net.au/clover-moore%... In all these cases the conflicts of interest at council could have been easily been avoided if Clover Moore had stood aside from the matter when dealt with by the City of Sydney Council. But she refused. And refusing to deal with a matter as MP actually creates another, separate conflict of interest. Clover Moore thus has two conflicts of interest running concurrently, one as mayor and the other as MP. No wonder such Dual Role positions are already prohibited by law for others in NSW such as council employees, judges and magistrates and have been since 1902 when section 13 of the Constitution Act prohibited any MP from holding an office of profit under the crown, ie, getting money from the same ultimate source via state government twice. In the UK, USA and all major Australian states such Dual Roles are rightly banned. Such Dual Roles do not increase democracy; the decrease it because we have less overall individuals holding these positions simultaneously. It’s time all this nonsense stopped and NSW caught up. Thank you to streetcorner for the opportunity to add an on-line discussion tid-bit. from Jake and Elle local inner-city residents for 22 years and FORMER Clover Moore supporters.

Stevie posts

The Cottage: Now that is something we can agree on! Alcohol-related impacts in the inner Sydney area are out of control. This is an issue we should ALL be putting more energy into. The liquor & hotel industries have literally been getting away with murder, while both the Labor & Liberal State Governments turn their backs. Research shows time and time again the serious negative impacts created by liquor outlet/venue density and extended trading hours. The latest research conducted for Sydney Council again backs this up. The Police & Emergency Services have been BEGGING for more restrictions yet the Liberal Government keeps ignoring it. Why? Because the industry has plenty of 'mates' in the party and their influence is so strong. Meanwhile more and more people come into our neighbourhoods, party all night, use it as their own personal toilet and show no respect whatsoever. We all need to put our differences aside and come together on this issue and say 'enough'!

The Cottage posts

Stevie. I am not into playing the blame game like Clover Moore. Each person has to take responsibility and do their bit. Clover Moore's clustering policy is largely to blame. As is her encouragement of small bars, which are springing up in residential type areas (the City website tells them how to do it) , but few in the CBD where they are sorely needed. The CBD has not been activated by Clover Moore, and this is a shameful indictment on her administration. Until Clover Moore acknowledges she is part of the problem and accepts responsibility, she cannot be a part of the solution.

Stevie posts

^ Wow... you just said you were not into playing the "blame game" and then proceeded to blame Clover Moore in every sentence above. This is the unhelpful obsession I was referring to. You are very misguided if you think the problems with alcohol & pubs we have in this area can be entirely blamed on Clover Moore. She has been calling on the State Governments for years to introduce a cumulative impact policy to stop the clustering of pubs and clubs but they have not yet done it. The only reason the temporary liquor freeze was introduced was because she campaigned for it. She called on the Government to remove Kings Cross & Oxford Street as special 'late night zones' which allowed pubs in those areas to trade later than any other areas, but Libs/Labor voted to keep the status quo. When she tried to strengthen the Late Night Trading DCP to give Council more power to reject extended trading hours for poorly managed venues, the State Labor Government OVERTURNED it. At the time she was featured in a massive campaign by vested interests accusing her of being a witch who wanted to "shut Sydney at midnight". Even though it wasn't true, the Government folded on this. The Liberal Government is no better and Barry O'farrell has refused to listen to the pleas from the emergency services. He promised to introduce a drunk & disorderly law but ended up watering it down so that all it ended up being was a slight strengthening of the 'move on' laws - so if a person hasn't left an area more than 6 HOURS after they were originally asked, they can be arrested. He watered down the '3 strikes' policy after pressure from the AHA. It will now be VERY difficult under the watered down version to actually get a pub closed down. While I'm sure there is even more Clover could do to work on this issue, my point is that it is very misguided to blame her while ignoring the massive part the State Government plays. In reality, the Council is extremely limited in what they can do. It is the Government who can change the laws. I was trying to find common ground on an issue we all need to get more involved in, it is unfortunate you had to twist it again with a rather myopic viewpoint

DP posts

stevie: Please stick to the streetcorner topic, "Should politicians be able to hold state and local government roles at the same time? Is it a conflict of interest for a politician to represent electorates both as a Councillor and a Member of Parliament?". Several examples have been given in previous posts of Clover Moore's failure to act due to conflicts of interest. Examples could also be given regarding the conflict of interest inhibiting the actions of the other dual role MPs. Another point: dual role MPs simply do not have enough time to fulfil the requirements of their two positions. As a result, Clover Moore has missed 25% of sitting days in Parliament since the March 2010 state election and has missed 67 sitting days between 2004 and 2010. Bottom line: dual roles are a conflict of interest and involve more work than one individual can possibly do.

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