07 April 2014
The recent Upper House report on the 2012 NSW local government elections has found a major imbalance between the contribution towards council rates made by commercial business owners and the low number who vote, says the Urban Taskforce.
“In the City of Sydney 78.5% of rates come from commercial business owners yet less than 2 per cent of the votes in the last local government election came from this group,” says Urban Taskforce CEO, Chris Johnson. “Clearly there is something wrong with the voting process if non-residents are not voting.”
As Sydney becomes a more urban city with more jobs in town centres and more shops and amenities serving apartment dwellers, the input of the business community into the governance of these areas will be essential. The best way for this to occur is if non-residential business owners can vote and the voting system encourages them to do this.”
“The state government and urban councils need to actively nurture the business vote to balance that of residents. In this way we will get more jobs in centres as councils will see the benefits of keeping this voting group positive about the development of their own urban centre.”
“Sydney siders are increasingly moving to urban living in centres with cafes, gymnasiums, office buildings and retail shops and the lifestyle needs the businesses to feel part of the community. They add to the vitality, they pay significant rates to the local council and they should be encouraged to vote in local government elections.”
“The Urban Taskforce supports the comments made by a number of City of Sydney councillors to the Upper House Inquiry that businesses were effectively denied a vote. There needs to be an advocacy campaign to maximise the number of non-resident businesses voting in the city of Sydney and more widely in urban centres like Liverpool, Parramatta and North Sydney.