The NSW Bruvvas are trying to rig local government elections in NSW to seize Labor Party control of the Town Hall for the first time in 20 years. This is how Crikey subscribers have been informed about this latest disgracefully arrogant move by NSW Labor.

Sydney City Council for Beginners Part II

The Zetland Zorro writes:

As predicted, the ALP’s City of Sydney limited preselection was over before it started. Preferences from the Albanese-Roozendaal crafted ticket of Verity Firth (Burgmann) and former South Sydney mayor Tony Pooley all went to Jill Lay, Firth’s sub-factional ally.

The ALP’s multiple preferential voting system works in local elections to ensure the right ticket is elected. Firth and Pooley insisted, “there is no ticket”. However, although Greg Shaw was ahead of Lay on the first and second counts, Firth and Pooley’s big block of preferences landed the wildly unpopular “Jet Set Jill” the cosy third spot.

Two weeks previously, Luke Foley the left assistant secretary, had blocked the rank and file demand for a fully preselected ALP ticket. Instead, the pre-selection was for only three positions.

However, moving into damage control over branch anger, the Sydney Federal Electoral Committee carried Meredith Burgmann’s motion on Sunday calling on Head Office to also allow members to select number four on the ALP ticket.

Burgmann’s concern didn’t extend to the other six candidates. The field included former city councillor Robert Ho, whose wife Helen Sham Ho had cast crucial votes in the NSW upper house on a number of bills Labor was most anxious to win.

Also locked out was former South Sydney deputy mayor Peter Furness whose defection made the right-functionary Tony Pooley mayor. This sham preselection was all a show. Head Office will dole out the remaining positions.

From the beginning this has been a ham-fisted exercise. Firth used her unadvertised Head Office job to campaign full-time for herself with Michael Lee presenting her as his deputy-in-waiting. It’s simple really. Michael Lee goes back to high school days with Michael Egan who’s chief-of-staff is one Michael Coutts-Trotter.

The latter is married to Tanya Plibersek, Federal member for Sydney. Tanya was pre-selected for the ALP’s safest seat in a deal securing Vic Smith’s (former South Sydney mayor) block of votes. Pooley’s patron was Smith.

Sounds complex? No, just a reminder that the big deals at Sussex Street are kept all in the family.

Zetland Zorro full of garbage

Darlo Deep Throat writes:

Dear Crikey,

Loving your work as always. However, I cannot let yesterday’s extraordinary Crikey contribution by Zetland Zorro pass without comment.

Usually, contributions on inner city council shenanigans bear the imprint of Shayne Mallard, perpetual Liberal candidate and extraordinary luncher, desperately striving for relevance. Zetland Zorro, though, looks like the work of a couple of Labor whingers who have been howling from mountaintops since their preselection rejection on Saturday last, convinced that their low votes are the consequence of a vast and malignant plot.

For Crikey’s edification, the count in the preselection ballot went as far as the elevation of three candidates. Multiple preferential systems generally, as Zetland Zorro indicates, favour the election of tickets. However, in this preselection there actually were no tickets – and inner city Labor preselectors are notoriously independent minded, not following recommended voting patterns just because some factional heavy has suggested it. The ticket that Roozendaal was initially trying to craft included Greg Shaw. He’s bitter because nobody would swallow it.

Because no candidate ran a ticket, the count could have been long and painful. However, it was fairly quickly resolved because no one ran close to the top three.

Firth and Pooley got 120 out of 176 primary votes cast – how can that be a rort? This put them well ahead of the game and they quickly went over in succession. Shaw wasn’t ahead of Jill Lay on the first and second counts, as Zetland Zorro has claimed. On the first, Lay was on 21.6 (with the 1.2 affirmative action weighting which goes to all female candidates), Shaw was on 11, and Jo Holder was on 10.8. On the second count, Lay was on 24, Shaw 15, Jo Holder 14.4. On the third count, Lay was on 105.6, Shaw on 22, Holder on 16.8. That’s a pretty inexplicable margin if you follow Zetland Zorro’s judgement that Lay is “wildly unpopular”.  And it’s an odd definition of “ahead”.

The main barrier to preselection of some of the key failed canmdidates such as Shaw and Holder was that many preselectors had met them. If anyone was done over, they were done over by a democratic vote of the rank and file.

So the outcome was Firth and Pooley – who got votes because they work hard and aren’t mad – then Jill Lay then daylight. Previous City Councillor Robert Ho got the wooden spoon – with no votes (repeat no votes, not even his own) on the first two counts, and one preference in the third round. The rest bobbed around on a small number of votes – Mary Appleby, who ran as “Voice of the People”, turned out to be the voice of only twelve of the people (after preferences).

Calling the preselection a sham and a show is pretty wide of the mark. Were 214 preselectors locked in a smoky back room and told all about the nefarious plot? Were their pinkies threatened with removal if they didn’t comply? I think not, Zetland Zorro. The sun has boiled your brains.

Oh, and Luke Foley didn’t block the demand for a full preselection. Tony Pooley isn’t a right-functionary. Peter Furness wasn’t “locked out”, he just didn’t get the votes of Labor members suspicious of his recent Democrat past. Nice tip on February 17, Zetland Zorro, about Pooley winning the “head office controlled sham preselection being held this Saturday 21 February, making him second on Michael Lee’s ‘new vision’ ALP ticket”. Wrong again. If you’re trying to masquerade as a well informed local insider, ZZ, you have a lot more work to do.

By the way, Crikey, love the epithet “Captain Wacky’s Cabin Boy”. It’s the best I’ve heard in a good while.

Sydney City Council for Beginners

Sealed Section – February 17, 2004

Crikey is proud to present a primer on inner-Sydney council politics that explains the shenanigans in our country’s largest city to out-of-towners – and why we’re devoting so much space to them.

A new contributor, the Zetland Zorro, has put together an indispensable and wonderfully concise guide to developers and the Sydney City Mega-Council.  Read on:

Property development is a major reason for the forced amalgamation of Sydney and South Sydney Councils by the Carr government.

Over the past five years, the property and construction industry donated $5 million to NSW ALP.  These donations rose to a record height in 2002-03.  The NSW government also hopes to reap $800 million in stamp duty in twelve months.

While the state government already controls large city developments through the Central Sydney Planning Committee, they want a tame council to keep the lid on protest.

South Sydney Council introduced new development controls in 1998.  Most economic controls moved from mandatory to the discretion of council.  Inappropriate development has multiplied since then.

The architect of the South Sydney Plan was ALP Mayor Vic Smith.  Tony Pooley, now an appointed City Administrator, is a close mate of Smith.  He was Smith’s campaign manager in the 1995 South Sydney Council election.

Also part of Smith’s dream was the South Sydney Development Corporation, a statutory authority controlling vast property around Green Square standing between the CBD and the airport.  The mayor and general manager are appointees to a board controlled by the Minister for Planning.

In 1999, after the SSDC is realized, Smith made a bid for Clover Moore’s state seat. Smith stood down to become a property consultant when soundly defeated and gave Pooley the leg-up to his place on council.  Pooley was elected mayor when Peter Furness defected to Labor in 2002.

As an incumbent mayor Pooley will win a head office controlled sham pre-selection being held this Saturday 21 February, making him second on Michael Lee’s ‘new vision’ ALP ticket.

Next in line on the tame ticket will be Verity Firth, a Sussex Street staffer and Meredith Burgmann’s niece [Firth as in The Chaser Firth – Ed].  Jill Lay, another minor Albanese hard-left operative is tipped to be next in the sub-factional deal.  The remainder of the ticket will be head office nominees.

Pooley states he is in favour of removing the tight planning controls of the old Sydney City Council and replacing them with the loose South Sydney controls.  Property developers will be given the green light throughout the City.

The faceless men of Sussex Street must be rubbing their hands in joy.  That is if the popular independent MP Clover Moore doesn’t put her hand up for Lord Mayor.  With Lord Mayor Moore in office those dollar bills would then quickly slip away from the ALP!

And for more Sydney City Council Shenenigans from past Sealed Sections:

Junk the Sydney City Council

Sealed Section – February 10, 2004

Local government is incompetent, corrupt, nimby hell.  True.  And can you trust someone who labels himself a Balmain separatist?

Well, Paddy McGuinness defies expectations in the Sydney Morning Herald this morning as he looks at the Sydney City Council.

Tammany on Sussex is, well, Tammany on Sussex.  But Nick Greiner played football with the SCC, too – and Sydney’s Mayors and its councillors have all too often been luvvies.

It isn’t unfair to write as PP does:

“The only real tragedy in the dismissal of the Sydney City Council is that it will not be permanent. It has always been pretty clear that the council, as it was constituted until Friday, was neither democratic nor under sensible guidance…

“It is in any case a travesty of democracy when the governance of the City of Sydney, the metropolitan centre of Australia and of vital importance to the welfare of the whole populations of the Sydney basin and of the state, should be in the hands of a tiny number of voters who happen to live in the central business district or on its fringe.

“The numbers of those who work in, or whose livelihoods depend on, the CBD are far greater than those of the residents, and they are disenfranchised by the present local government set-up.

“This will not be remedied by the amalgamation of Sydney and South Sydney Councils. The see-saw of control of the CBD by gerrymandering its boundaries has gone on for years – when Labor is in power it has tended to throw in its rotten borough of South Sydney to ensure control by the Labor machine, and when the Liberal-National Coalition is in power it has thrown South Sydney out to ensure that its supporters or sympathisers will run Sydney.

“Sartor only lasted as long as he did by effectively delivering Sydney to Labor government control, and finally revealed his true colours in order to enter Parliament and the ministry.”

And it’s hard not to argue with his conclusion:

“The City of Sydney and its harbour and other infrastructure should be governed not by an inner-urban rump but by the people of NSW through their Parliament.”

The full PP is at:  More than a few deserve a say on who runs Sydney

Sydney City Council rolling in clover

Sealed Section  – February 15, 2004

Do we take Clover Moore’s candidacy for the Sydney City Council as a fait accompli?  The weekend Sydney papers seem to. And an independent victory?  There’s the rub.

What will a NIMBY occupation of the Town Hall mean for the CBD and inner city?  Roll up the street directory, we will not need it for a generation?

NSW Labor is in crisis – but the poor old Libs don’t really have traction. Opposition Leader John Brogden, his deputy Barry O’Farrell and a couple of shadow ministers try, but don’t appear to be a political alternative.

There are no Liberals on the current Sydney City Council, and the Liberal-aligned councillors Kathryn Greiner and Nick Farr-Jones are retiring at the 27 March election.

Former South Sydney councillor Shayne “raging against the machine” Mallard will head a Liberal ticket – but he makes most of his impact as a curio for the gay press.

It might have just been Fairfax being Fairfax, but the Saturday Sydney Morning Herald had a wonderful axe job on Cranky Frankie Sartor, the former “independent” Lord Mayor now in the Carr Cabinet that well and truly showed him up as a thin-skinned bully:  Speaking too frankly

This was followed up on Sunday with a great Alex Mitchell column in The Sun-Herald contrasting the deluded detachment in Bob Carr’s office atop the Governor Macquarie Tower – that beautiful skyscraper featured in the opening scenes of Mission Impossible II, for you residents of the Gloomy City and even lesser provinces – and the fury amongst the sweaty throngs on the bottom levels of Town Hall station:
After runaway failures Carr may be moving on

Independents day is looming – and the reverberations will be felt just as strongly on Macquarie and Sussex Streets as they will down at the Town Hall.

See some of Crikey’s earlier sealed section material on the council sackings here:
Sydney Lord Mayoral Shenenigans

And in a related area, see some of Crikey’s coverage on the NSW local gov elections here:
NSW local government elections