The planned for Randwick mayoralty change over went smoothly on Tuesday night in accordance with the Labor and Liberal agreement of last year with Liberal Scott Nash being automatically chosen without a vote because he was the only nominee.
But the choice of Deputy Mayor went to a vote with a majority of Councillors opting for the Liberal endorsed independent Anthony Andrews ahead of the Greens Murray Matson.
Councillor Matson only won the support of fellow Green Lindsay Shurey and Labor Councillor Geoff Stevenson.
The decision by the Greens to stand for the Deputy Mayoralty reflects the local group concerns that its environmental and urban planning positions may be losing profile amongst the majority of Councillors.
Councillor Matson explained his candidacy as “a signal of a measured step back” from the Council consensus by the Greens. He said after the election,
“The Greens wanted to maintain stability in the mayoral hand over but chose to stand in the Deputy Mayoralty to flag that we have concerns in a number of Council areas. We are not confident that all Councillors fully support maintaining the Greens initiated Sustaining Our City program. We also want to emphasize that we will not support any undermining of the long term financial plan that we initiated and which has now put the Council in a position to argue against the need to be amalgamated.”
The Greens also find the emerging urban planning scenario in the local area worrying. Councilor Matson said,
“The government’s urban activation program was not flagged by the Liberals during the state election. The Greens note that it could make redundant the exhaustive consultation process that the Council has already gone through in setting heights and residential densities under its relatively new Local Environmental Plan. We believe that the Government should postpone the UAP to get a mandate from the next state election.
The Greens are enthusiastic supporters of the return of light rail but want to strongly emphasis that the Council must remain independent to act to maintain the community’s amenity as the Government builds it. We think that the Government should clearly disengage the necessity for light rail from its emerging intent to increase residential density via the UAP. A rail line to UNSW is already justified based on our current residential densities and student numbers.”
He concluded by pointing to the looming amalgamation threat to the Council.
“The Greens believe that Randwick has won the argument that it is financially sustainable through the reforms that the Greens and Liberals put into place in 2004 and thus does not need to be amalgamated. We are appalled at the possibility that the Government may force us into a super Council with six other Councils. We want to emphasize to all Councillors that any forced amalgamation that occurs must come with a system for electing Councillors that allows minor party and independent to gain seats. Otherwise the full spectrum of the community voice will be lost.”