O'Farrell accused of bullying Sydney mayor
Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore has accused NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell of mounting a bullying campaign to squeeze her out of parliament.
Ms Moore, who is also the member for Sydney, lashed out at Mr O'Farrell for hijacking democracy by forcing MPs to choose between local or state politics, after cabinet approved new laws which would stop state MPs serving as councillors.
Mr O'Farrell on Tuesday denied the changes were "all about Clover".
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They would simply bring NSW in line with Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland, he said.
Under the changes, the 29 current state MPs who are councillors will have six months to decide whether they'll stand at local government elections in September.
Staying in local politics, as Ms Moore has indicated she will do, would trigger an immediate by-election.
Ms Moore said the premier's intervention in local government was "pathetic", adding he was engaging in a "bullying attack" against her.
The Sydney MP was elected to state parliament in 1988, and as Sydney Lord Mayor in 2004.
"If I am unable to continue to represent the people of the state seat of Sydney after the local government elections, it will not be because of any desire of mine, it will be because I'll be forced out," Ms Moore said.
"It is (voters') democratic right to allow me to represent them, and by passing this legislation the premier and his majority are interfering in the democratic process.
"If I'm out of parliament I will be forced out by Premier O'Farrell, no one else."
Ms Moore said combining both her roles reduced duplication and allowed her to better represent her community - and was no different from an MP also holding a ministerial portfolio.
Another MP with "two hats", Independent Greg Piper, dismissed claims from Local Government Minister Don Page that the laws were necessary to avoid a conflict of interest.
Instead, Mr Piper, the MP for Lake Macquarie and Mayor of Lake Macquarie, accused Premier O'Farrell of a cynical attempt to wrest power from Ms Moore.
"The two roles are very compatible, they work together," said Mr Piper, who has already decided not to contest the September local government elections.
"It's all about Clover Moore, and I refer to this as Clover's law."
Mr O'Farrell said he would "leave Clover to the name calling", but said the changes would affect MPs from all sides, not just Ms Moore.
"She'll be treated the same way as every other councillor that sits in the NSW parliament," he told reporters in Sydney on Tuesday.
"It's not about Clover, it's about a class of politicians who happen to be councillors.
"The fact is I have many councillors in my party room, some of them are happy, others aren't happy, but they accept that there are conflicts that occur at times between the duties of a state MP and the duties of a councillor."
The legislation, which will soon be introduced into parliament, will affect 17 Liberals, one National, four Greens, four Labor, two independents and a Christian Democrats MP.
The NSW Business Chamber said the new laws would ensure MPs and councillors were not "answerable to two different masters".
"Quite simply, it is impossible to be in two places at once, and this legislation allows the community to have confidence that their elected representatives are best serving their needs," Chamber chief Stephen Cartwright said in a statement.
Meanwhile, independent Sydney City councillor and former Deputy Lord Mayor Marcelle Hoff on Tuesday announced she was resigning from the council, citing health issues.
Ms Hoff, one of Ms Moore's team of independents, said "I feel I am no longer able to adequately fulfil the obligations inherent in my role as councillor".
Her resignation would take effect on March 23, she said.