Tears and a lift home for Clover – Lord Mayor accused of using council car on MP business
BICYCLE-mad Lord Mayor Clover Moore has been using a council car and driver to take her to parliament – in what appears to be a bending of council rules.
Ms Moore came close to tears yesterday as she said she would be forced to resign from parliament after 24 years because Premier Barry O’Farrell wants to ban councillors from being MPs.
But a classic conflict in Ms Moore’s two jobs can be revealed, with Ms Moore’s driver regularly taking her – or her bags – to and from parliament on sitting days in a black council Prius.
Yesterday the driver picked her up from a coffee shop, took her to a press conference at the Botanic Gardens and then drove her to parliament.
A spokesman for Ms Moore said she was not breaching council rules and her “daily program while parliament was sitting routinely included appointments related to her duties at the City of Sydney.
“The Lord Mayor takes action on City of Sydney issues in parliament, and with the Premier and ministers at parliament house.”
As Ms Moore fought back tears saying she would be forced to resign as MP for Sydney – causing a by-election – so she could run in lord mayoral elections in September, it emerged the four Christian Democrat and Shooters MPs, who include the affected Shoalhaven Mayor and CDP MP Paul Green, may yet block Mr O’Farrell’s proposals.
While neither party would declare their hands yesterday, Ms Moore was seen leaving the Shooters MPs’ offices after lobbying them to block the bill.
“If I am unable to continue to represent the people in the state seat of Sydney after the local government elections it will not be out of any desire of mine, it’ll be because I will be forced out,” Ms Moore said..
“I feel that there’s a bullying attack from the premier.”
The move affects 29 MPs – many of them on Mr O’Farrell’s side of politics.
Mr O’Farrell yesterday said the move was about bringing NSW into line with other states and cutting conflicts of interest, and he was backed by affected Coalition MPs.
The Nationals MP for Bathurst and councillor Paul Toole said he had decided not to contest this year’s local government election.
The Liberal Granville MP and Parramatta councillor Tony Issa said: “If you want to do one job correctly, you need to step down and let somebody into council who has plenty of time to do it.”
But independent MP and Lake Macquarie Mayor Greg Piper said the laws seemed aimed at Ms Moore.
Parramatta Lord Mayor Lorraine Wearne, an independent, welcomed the change, saying the demands of a lord mayoralty were so great she wouldn’t have the time to be a member of parliament.
“Being an MP at a state level, you are party to state planning and development issues – but as a lord mayor you might have a different view. I don’t think I could cope,” Ms Wearne said.