Debate builds on business voting rule

Opposition to a NSW government plan to force businesses to vote in local government elections has continued to grow, as a Wollongong councillor plans to raise the issue at next week's meeting.

Independent Vicki Curran will ask councillors to support a notice of motion for the council to "urgently" contact Premier Mike Baird about a bill to change the voting rules for businesses in the 2016 City of Sydney elections.

The new laws would be based on the City of Melbourne model, where landlords, business owners, corporations and other non-residents must vote in council elections.

A business owner is entitled to two votes and the landlord of their building also has two votes.

Labelling these laws as "an attempt to gerrymander votes", Cr Curran said she was worried they would be introduced in Wollongong and unfairly skew votes towards the city's business interests.

"I have concerns about the democratic process, especially about giving businesses two votes," she said.

"I'm happy to make it easier for businesses to apply to vote, because I want everyone to be represented, but if they get two votes per company I'm worried you could get businesses enrolling just to sway the votes towards a certain political party.

"This could make it less likely of having a [Lord Mayor elected] who represents a diverse range of people across the whole community."

Cr Curran said she hoped drawing attention to the issue at Monday's council meeting would increase the chance of the government conducting "proper consultation and public review" of the changes.

Liberal councillor Bede Crasnich said he did not support Cr Curran's motion.

"No taxation without representation is the philosophy behind this and I'm a big supporter of it," he said.

"A lot of the time people don't live in the city they have a business in, and they often don't get a vote in that city and that means businesses don't have the best of representation on their council."

He said he did not believe giving businesses and landlords two votes each was unfair, as "households often have more than one person in them".

The Illawarra's state Labor politicians have voiced concerns, with Keira MP Ryan Park calling them a "complete undermining of democracy" and Shellharbour MP Anna Watson asking the government for assurance that the changes would not be introduced at Shellharbour council.

However, the government has argued the bill - introduced by the Shooters and Fishers Party last week and based on recommendations from a committee headed by Kiama MP Gareth Ward - is "fair" to businesses, which contribute a large share of rates to economic centres such as Sydney.


Discuss "Debate builds on business voting rule"

Please note: All comments made or shown here are bound by the Online Discussion Terms & Conditions.