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June 14, 2024

Councillor-MP bill passes parliament

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A bill prohibiting local councillors from sitting in state parliament has passed the upper house.

The controversial bill was widely claimed to be deliberately designed to prevent Sydney’s lord mayor Clover Moore from sitting in state parliament but a number of other MPs are also affected by the bill.

One would have been Byron mayor Jan Barham, should she have decided to recontest the upcoming September council elections.

Local government minister and Ballina MP Don Page said the Local Government Amendment (Members of Parliament) Act 2012 brings NSW into line with all other mainland states, where it is already prohibited to serve concurrently as a state MP and a councillor or mayor.

This legislation ensures that one person serves in one elected position in state or local government, dedicating their effort to one role in the NSW political system, Mr Page said.

It eliminates the problem of elected MPs who are also councillors or mayors trying to be in two places at once.

I note that this legislation has been described as the Get Clover Bill, mostly with the encouragement of the Member for Sydney, but it has never been about that.

It is also important to note that this legislation is not about the capacity of a person to hold down two or more jobs – there are many people who, through choice or necessity, hold down two or more jobs, Mr Page said.

Having a second job is not the same as holding two elected positions in two different tiers of government.

This proposal is about optimal governance. It is about the separation of two distinct levels of government to ensure clearly defined segregation between the three tiers of government in our political system.

Just as federal MPs are prohibited from sitting in a state parliament, it is appropriate that that same separation exists between state and local government.

Asked by this newspaper about whether she was opposed to the bill, the Byron mayor declined to comments, saying since her decision to step down the new legislation did not affect her.


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