IT IS a fundamental principle which is at the heart of our democracy. Why then has the NSW government denied “the will of the people” by enacting legislation which prohibits members of parliament serving on local councils?
Clover Moore, the long serving member for Sydney, was 10 days ago overwhelming endorsed as the lord mayor of Sydney.
But under the government’s new legislation she will have to resign as a member of the NSW Legislative Assembly before the first council meeting because the government says she can not perform both roles.
The cabinet decision is not about any individual’s capacity to do two jobs, but restricting an individual’s earnings from the public purse.
Mr O’Farrell and others say the taxpayers of NSW and ratepayers of Sydney should not be paying Ms Moore twice.
Those who have elected Clover Moore as their local MP and those who have elected her as lord mayor have done so knowing she will perform both jobs.
To a majority of electors it has not been a problem. Many before her have served as elected representatives of the people in two chambers.
The late Frank O’Keefe of Gunnedah served as the federal member of parliament and also sat on Gunnedah Shire Council. He did so with the blessing of his constituents. Many other country politicians have done the same.
It is not within the government’s mandate to dictate that a duly-elected person can perform only one role.
That surely is a decision for the people, and in Clover Moore’s case she should be able to do both jobs if she enjoys the necessary support.
This is not about Clover Moore. It is about the principle of the people democratically determining who represents them and where.
We should all defend the democracy we enjoy. The constitution of the parliament of NSW does not prohibit honourable members from also serving within the local government ranks.
If they cannot adequately do the job, the people will ultimately determine their fate, not the members of the cabinet where there is no community debate.