Delayed from last year due to COVID, the NSW local elections will take place on 4 September. Among the 126 councils up for grabs is the City of Sydney. As well as electing nine City councillors, Sydneysiders get to vote for lord mayor. Most political analysts — including our own Ben Raue of The Tally Room (see page 18) — predict an unprecedented fifth consecutive term for Clover Moore. After all, Moore easily won the 2016 election with almost 60 percent of the vote and — five years on — appears as popular as ever.
Moore’s detractors — baited by talkback gammons and Murdoch hacks — like to portray Sydney’s longest-serving lord mayor as a latte-sipping, tree-hugging, bike-loving, multicultural embracing social justice warrior for the woke brigade. Moore’s supporters view her as a transformative and progressive leader committed to — among other things — greening the city (see page 6) and equal rights for all.
Under Moore’s 17 years of leadership, Sydney has attained global city status — a city of creativity, which protects open space and offers eco-transport options. Running on a narrative of sustainability and liveability, Moore has dedicated herself to reducing the city’s greenhouse gas emissions. Indeed, the City of Sydney was the first local government in Australia to become carbon neutral in 2007 and its operations are now powered by 100 percent renewable electricity. Her championship of design excellence has been described as “pioneering”. In April, Moore was named one of the top 10 people who’ve been most influential in shaping Sydney — ever.
The 2021 mayoral contest had been billed as a battle of the rivals, with Moore pitted against her former deputy Kerryn Phelps. But, in early May, Phelps pulled out of the race for family reasons. Christine Forster was touted as the Liberal candidate but has since announced she will not stand for preselection. As of writing, this leaves three candidates competing for Moore’s mayoral robes: Labor’s Linda Scott, the Greens’ Sylvie Ellsmore, and independent Yvonne Weldon.
Weldon — a Wiradjuri woman and an Indigenous leader — is the first Aboriginal candidate for Sydney’s mayorship. In all reality, it’s unlikely that Clover will be ejected. When Scott ran in 2016 she scored ten percent of the vote; the Greens just five percent. Moore’s nearest challenger was Forster, who secured almost 20 percent. It seems — at least from where I’m clacking away — the election is Moore’s to lose.
Sticking with NSW politics, Fred Nile has announced his retirement from parliament. Two words: ‘good’ and ‘riddance’. I first heard of Reverend Nile not long after arriving in Sydney 20-odd years ago. Back then, I was a freelance journo writing for the gay press. I soon discovered that Nile’s hostility toward the LGBTQ community was long-established — each year he would pray for it to rain on our parade.
Every year, the crimson-faced mouth-frother and his acrid acolytes would get down on their knees and fervently pray for Mardi Gras to be deluged. Imagine how sour your soul would have to be. And imagine the cheers when one year, rather than rain, there appeared a rainbow.
Nile’s hang-up with the gays has always amused me. The man is obsessed. Dismissing our innate sexuality as a “lifestyle choice”, Nile thinks us “unnatural and abnormal”. Mardi Gras promotes “indecency and obscenity” and is “a public parade of immorality and blasphemy”. Geez, talk about a party pooper. He once said that gay people have a “mental disorder”. This from a man who believes in an invisible wizard in the sky. Anyhow, come November Nile will depart parliament and the place will be better off without him. Bye, bye Fred. You — and your toxic brand of Christianity — can go to hell . . .