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Confusion ahead for business owners in the countdown to City of Sydney elections

There is increasing confusion for business owners in light of IPART findings that the City of Sydney was not ‘Fit for the Future’ as a global city.

While City of Sydney staff are busy advising business owners that they must register to vote in the forthcoming City of Sydney elections less than a year away, the NSW State Government is working towards its own self-imposed deadline.

So, there are two countdowns that currently apply.  One relates to the fact that businesses must register to vote in the September 2016 election and the other relates to the NSW Government’s comments that they want to consider the responses from councils, decide on next steps and inform councils and the community of the outcome of the Fit for the Future review by the end of the year.

So what does this mean for business owners?  It’s truly significant that small business finally have the voice they deserve but it raises a very important question – what will they be voting for?

If we re-trace our steps a bit we can see that the NSW Minister for Local Government Paul Tool supported changes to business voting in the City of Sydney so that non-residential electors could exercise their democratic right.

The new version of the City of Sydney Act 1988 subsequently came into force during February this year.  The City of Sydney has commenced advising business owners that enrolment letters will be sent and those people who satisfy the criteria will be added to the roll for the local government elections scheduled to occur during September 2016.

This initiative is occurring at an estimated cost of $12 million for the 2015-17 period.

As we know businesses tend to thrive in a stable environment where they can make decisions and plan.  But, the findings of the IPART report and the NSW State Government’s communication strategy is only adding confusion.

IPART has recommended that the City of Sydney merge with Randwick. Waverley, Woollahra and Botany Councils or form a joint organisation.  They have also advised that the Global City Council option may have implications for business voting.

Despite what is in anyone’s mind a massive overhaul, Local Government Minister, Paul Toole and the Premier, Mike Baird have stated that they are still very much committed to holding the local government elections less than 11 months away.

So, the countdown is on, but at present there is a lot of confusion and mixed messages that definitely don’t give business owners the certainty they need.

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