Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore, who doubles as the Independent MP for Sydney, has executed an awesome backflip … with pike.

After years of railing against the iniquities of political parties she has formed one of her own and registered it with the NSW Electoral Commission.

Called the Clover Moore Independent Team, its abbreviated name on the official ballot paper will be the Clover Moore Independents.

Application for its registration to take part in the council elections in September was made on June 28, 2007, and approval was granted on April 17, 2008.

Party secretary is Larry Galbraith, the lord mayor’s longest serving political operative. He is also the party’s registered officer.

Moore is adamant that she has turned herself into a political party for simple pragmatic reasons: so her team can be placed “above the line” on the ballot papers and therefore maximize their vote and have a better chance to maintain control of the town hall at the next election and defeat Labor.

“This registration will create an even playing field for the Independent Team,” she said in an explanatory letter.

“It will not establish a new party structure. It will not involve caucusing, binding votes, vested interests or special access. I will continue to work for Sydney communities as an Independent, in the manner I have established during my time as elected representative.”

All well and good, except that her position is difficult to stack up philosophically. She now heads a political party at Sydney Town Hall in George Street but remains a staunch Independent at State Parliament in Macquarie Street.

Under the electoral rules, Moore obtained registration by supplying the names, addresses and signatures of 100 party members as well as a copy of the party constitution.

As a document, the constitution is a joke and it’s a wonder that it passed muster at the Electoral Commission. In essence, it is a motherhood statement about transparent, accountability and upright governance plus a sweeping commitment to “the environmental, social, economic and cultural sustainability for the city of Sydney both as both a city of villages and Australia’s leading global city” — whatever that may mean.

Anyone subscribing to these misty ideals — and provided that they don’t belong to any other registered party — can become a member.

The party has no rules. There is no annual conference, no election of office bearers, no committees, no procedure to select candidates for election, no reference to party financial controls and no constitutional process to adopt new policy or modify existing policy.

The Lord Mayor has unveiled her party just as she is being duchessed by the Iemma Government on an eye-opening scale:

  1. She’s just back in town after Premier Morris Iemma invited her to join his taxpayer-funded 10-day trade mission to China. This represents explicit ALP recognition of her “two hats” as Lord Mayor and an MP, something that Labor has savaged in the past;
  2. On April 29, amid blaring media hype, Iemma and Moore unveiled an affordable housing project for inner-city Glebe. But, on closer inspection by Green councillor Chris Harris, it turned out to be little more than a warm and fuzzy memorandum of understanding (MOU);
  3. Two weeks ago the government was again courting Moore with an unbelievable (literally) announcement that after years of ridiculing her commitment to light rail as a people-moving concept, it was embracing the idea;
  4. At the ALP conference on May 3-4, Iemma’s ruling right-wing faction shafted Dr Meredith Burgmann, the former upper house president, as the ALP candidate for Sydney Lord Mayor thus giving Moore an armchair ride back into the town hall job in September. It signified that after four years of guerrilla warfare against Moore, the premier has decided to work in harness with her — and perhaps collect another vote in support of his plan to privatise the electricity industry next month.

After 20 years in parliament Moore’s reputation as a paragon of independent virtue is under its closest ever scrutiny.