Progressive campaigns influence City of Sydney election results

December 22, 2021
Redfern Town Hall
Redfern Town Hall on December 4. Photo: Andrew Chuter

Long-term Mayor Clover Moore has been returned to the position in the City of Sydney local government elections along with four others from her Independent Team, including Emelda Davis, a descendent of the 19th century Blackbirding slave trade.

The Greens’ Sylvie Ellsmore secured a position as did Wiradjuri woman and Independent Yvonne Weldon. Weldon is the chairperson of the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council and was the lead candidate of the team formerly headed by outgoing councillor Kerryn Phelps.

Shauna Jarrett and Lyndon Gannon from the Liberal Party and Labor councillor Linda Scott were also elected.

Small Business Party councillor Angela Vithoulkas lost her position. She was a vocal supporter of gerrymander that gives businesses in the local government area two votes.

Housing affordability and the “2 votes for business” law, introduced by the Mike Baird government in 2014, were widely discussed in the lead-up to the poll at a well-attended candidates’ forum organised by Friends of Erskineville, Alexandria Residents Action Group and REDWatch. Public housing and housing affordability became the main topic of discussion, along with climate change and transport.

Another joint resident campaign was to abolish the 2 votes for business law that applies in the City of Sydney.

These resident-driven issues flowed in to debates at other candidates’ forums, notably one organised by the Property Council of Australia.

The Greens’ flagship initiative, announced during the campaign, is for council to co-invest in affordable homes. The plan would involve shifting $200 million of the $660 million council holds in low-yield financial assets and invest it in community-run housing projects.

One model cited is the Sydney University student-run cooperative STUCCO. Council would retain ownership of the properties, in contrast to current practice that sells land at discount rates to private community housing providers.

Former Deputy Lord Mayor Jess Miller and Philip Thalis are departing councillors from Clover’s Independent Team. Both were involved in resident campaigns against the WestConnex tollway, for public housing, city night life, and public and active transport.

[Andrew Chuter is the President of Friends of Erskineville.]

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