Among the barmy boroughs in Sydney, Rockdale City Council in the city’s south ranks as the barmiest.
Take the case of Rockdale’s Liberal councillor Judy Feeney who was elected last September on a nomination form which she filled in incorrectly and contrary to electoral laws.
Instead of recording her full residential address on the nomination form, Ms Feeney gave her office address and the Administrative Appeals Tribunal has now found that there was an “irregularity” in her election.
However, the tribunal declined to dismiss her from office and call a by-election.
What makes her oversight remarkable is that Ms Feeney is a solicitor and a public notary.
In all, five Liberals were elected to Rockdale Council in last September’s elections. But when the official Electoral Funding Authority report on the election was published recently, it was revealed that the Liberals did not spend one cent on their campaign.
Perhaps they just floated into office on hot air.
Yet a Liberal flyer was distributed on behalf of the Liberal team which said we “will be self-funding our campaigns and will not be accepting donations from developers or corporations”. So who paid for the leaflet? Voters haven’t been told.
While Liberal and Labor councillors are at each other’s throats all over NSW, not so in Rockdale where they work hand-in-glove.
Earlier this year the unholy Lab-Lib alliance decided to abandon fortnightly council meetings and hold them monthly instead. A few years ago the council axed committees even though they provided an important forum for councillors, staff and ratepayers to review policy directions.
The game of musical chairs heats up in September when current Labor mayor Bill Saravinovski will step down and hand over to a Liberal, tipped to be Councillor Peter Poulos who works for the hard-right moralizer, Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells.
Poulos is anxious to build his local profile so he can challenge sitting Rockdale MP Frank Sartor — or whoever Labor pre-selects as its candidate — at the next state election.
Since being dropped from Cabinet last September, Sartor, the former Lord Mayor of Sydney, has been the subject of intense media speculation that he is the premier-in-waiting if Nathan Rees can’t rebuild Labor’s position in the opinion polls.
If Sartor doesn’t get the call to high office, he will quit politics and go to work for the infrastructure and development industry.
When will he leave? Because he was elected in 2003, Sartor needs to clock up seven years before he qualifies for a lucrative parliamentary pension of more than $100,000-a-year for life.
That means decision time will be next year. Sartor must then decide whether to quit before the election inflicting an unwanted by-election on Rees or coordinate a smooth departure at the election on March 26, 2011.
Spare a thought for the long-suffering burghers of Rockdale. They have to put up with this vaudeville.