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Elected Mayors a Step to Stronger Local Governance

Release Date: 12/02/2015
The Sydney Business Chamber said the policy announcement by Luke Foley that, if elected in March, Labor would introduce popularly elected mayors for Sydney’s local councils as an important step to make local government stronger.
The Executive Director of the Sydney Business Chamber, Patricia Forsythe said, “The policy recognises that where mayors are drawn from names in a hat, shared in a deal amongst mates or elected for just one year does nothing to grow the reputation or capacity of local government.
“The Chamber has championed popularly elected mayors for Sydney councils as a step to enhance the role of local councils at the same time as reducing the number of councils from the current 41 to council boundaries that align with the subregions defined in the NSW Metropolitan Strategy.
Mrs Forsythe said, “It is exciting that the NSW Opposition has put reform of local government on its agenda as it remains an area of unfinished business in terms of the current government.
“What Sydney needs is a local government system with fewer councillors on each council but who are each better remunerated and better trained to have oversight of multi-million dollar budgets and complicated infrastructure projects.
“The current system is out of step with the governance of other global cities,” said Mrs Forsythe.
David Borger, Western Sydney director of the Sydney Business Chamber said, “Popular Mayors bring greater accountability to the role. It’s a real challenge to know who is accountable when four mayors are leading most councils over each term. The business community would welcome the certainty of having a fixed point of responsibility.
“Mayors can be great champions for jobs and growth, but only if they are given a proper chance to do the job. This policy change is a no-brainer.
“The NSW Business Chamber has long championed the need for councils to better support the needs of business and the community both within Sydney and across the state.
“While there may be different approaches for reform for metropolitan and regional councils, doing nothing is simply not an option.
“Making Sydney mayors accountable to the people they represent is a great step forward in ensuring NSW has a responsive system of local government,” said Mr. Borger.
Media contact: Patricia Forsythe 0418 165 466, David Borger 0408 239 262 or Kate Bryant 0424 186 367

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