BY JOSEPH FENAUGHTY
Labor and the Greens were the biggest winners in this weekend’s Inner West Council elections with the Liberal party trailing a distant third. The weekend’s election ended over a year’s uncertainty since the forced amalgamations in 2016.
This was the Inner west council’s first chance since to have democratically-elected councillors to preside over the ‘super council’ since the State government imposed the compulsory amalgamations.
The former councils held a total of 36 councillors, made up of 12 each for Ashfield, Marrickville and Leichardt. However, now it forms one council with 15 councillors shared between 5 wards (Marrickville, Ashfield, Leichardt, Stanmore and Balmain).
The Labor party secured 33.9% of the overall votes with the Greens securing 28.9%. Both parties managed to have a member elected in each of the 5 wards of the inner west council. Labor also has a chance to score a 6th councillor in Balmain. The Labour party has had an upward swing of 1.6% whilst the Liberal party has lost -5.6% of their votes, and the Greens seem to be on par with their 2012 results.
The Liberal government will likely be disappointed they only managed to scrape 17.8% of the vote.
State opposition leader Luke Foley (Labor) said “What we saw yesterday across NSW was the Liberals receive a hiding… They forced mergers, they rigged boundaries and people across NSW punished them.”
The amalgamations were particularly unpopular in the inner west with several protests taking place at council meetings last year. It appears the area has punished the Liberal state government at the polls over the weekend. With Greens MP and Local Government spokesperson David Shoebridge saying, “NSW has seen through the ugly politics of forced amalgamations, privatisation and overdevelopment being pushed by the Liberal government and demanded change.”
Liberal Councillor Julie Passas managed to hold onto her seat in Ashfield and seemed unsurprised by the swing against her party saying “There’s no doubt there was a backlash but that’s always going to be the case when you have a party that actually makes decisions.”
Independent candidate Pauline Lockie comfortably won Stanmore and has announced her first priority is to consult with local businesses and urban planners to revitalise the village centre.
At this time the only candidate who has so far put their hat in the ring for Mayor of the Inner West Council is Balmain Councillor Darcy Byrne.
Darcy Byrne said, “Labor has won the popular vote. We will finish first in 4 of the 5 wards. In Balmain Ward, with 43% of the primary vote, I have received more votes than any other candidate across the Inner West Council area.
“As the only candidate to have been nominated for Mayor before the election, I am entering into respectful negotiations with all parties with the hope and expectation that the view expressed by voters at the ballot box will be respected and I will be elected to lead the new Council.”
The Greens have yet to put forward a candidate for Mayor with Greens candidate and councillor for Marickville Colin Hesse stating on polling day that the party plans to wait until all votes were in, despite already having candidates secured in all five wards.
“We can’t make a decision on that until the final makeup of the council is determined.”
Liberal councillor Julie Passas has entertained the idea of working with a Labor mayor saying “I have no problem backing a Labor mayor … because the Greens are too much ‘up in the air… I only hope the Greens that did get on council channel their energies on local issues rather than State and Federal issues.”
The breakdown of the elected councillors by ward are:
● Tom Kiat (Greens)
● Julie Passas (Liberal)
● Mark Drury (Labor)
Balmain (one councillor to be decided):
● Darcy Byrne (Labor)
● Rochelle Porteous (Greens)
● Victoria Raciti (Liberal)
● Marghanita Da Cruz (Greens)
● Lucille Mckenna (Labor)
● Colin Hesse (Greens)
● Sam Iskandar (Labor)
● Louise Steer (Greens)
● Pauline Locke (Independent)
● Anna York (Labor)