web-Moore,-Clover-(court)Tensions between City of Sydney Council and the state government have again come to a head, with Lord Mayor Clover Moore branding a proposed overhaul of local government powers “undemocratic”.

Moore has spoken out against a series of proposals floated by the state government that would expand council sizes and revamp development application community participation

The Sansom Independent Local Government Review, commissioned by the state government in March 2012, proposes a new “Super Sydney Council” that would absorb the City of Sydney, Randwick, Woollahra, Waverley and Botany Bay councils into a combined local government area of more than 800,000 people. Marrickville and Leichhardt Councils may also be absorbed into the new zone.

At the same time, the proposed Local Government Amendment (Early Intervention) Bill 2013 would give the state Minister for Local Government expanded powers to suspend councils or stop local campaigns, while the ‘New Planning System for NSW’ White Paper seeks to reduce community input on site-specific development applications in local neighbourhoods.

The state government has also released its own draft Metropolitan Strategy for Sydney, which proposes a “Global Sydney” region subsuming 18 councils from the Eastern Suburbs to Ryde and installing a Sub-Regional Planning Board to oversee them.

Moore has vocally condemned the proposals in recent weeks, calling them “assaults on local democracy, local communities and local neighbourhoods” in a speech at Sydney Boys high School in May.

“Local government should be answerable to the local community, not to the State, not to major party politics and not to wealthy vested interests who are behind the proposal for amalgamations,” Moore said.

The City of Sydney Council has a history of conflict with state governments. In 2004 then-Lord Mayor Lucy Turnbull was sacked by the Carr government when the Sydney and South Sydney councils were amalgamated in an attempt to install Labor mayoral candidate Michael Lee. Lee was in turn defeated by Moore, who condemned the government’s actions as undemocratic.

In 2012 Moore was forced to resign as state member for Sydney, a position she had held for eight years, after the O’Farrell government passed legislation banning MPs from sitting on local councils.

Submissions to each of the reviews close on June 28.

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