You are here: Home / Media / How Moore's ‘kinda’onside with RWA - 15.07.2005

How Moore's ‘kinda’onside with RWA - 15.07.2005

The support of Sydney's Lord Mayor is vital for the success of the Redfern Waterloo redevelopment plan. But as DHEEPTHI NAMASIVAYAM finds out its not guaranteed. (Southside News issue 3/2005 page 10)

There are no prizes for predicting that the relationship of community-focused Sydney City Lord Mayor, Clover Moore with the Redfern Waterloo Authority (RWA) and her lord mayoral predecessor, Frank Sartor, would not be smooth.


It was hoped if she accepted membership of the RWA, her position as Lord Mayor would help link the council with the government appointed authority responsible for overseeing the redevelopment of Sydney's inner-city suburbs, Redfern and Waterloo.


The Lord Mayor's relationship with the RWA was going to be even further complicated by her other political role. She is an Independent member of the NSW parliament and has represented Bligh since 1988.


In the end though it was a confidentiality clause which thwarted any wish she might have had to serve on the RWA board.


When she took the invitation to join the RWA to a council meeting on February 21 the majority of councillors opposed her involvement because of an RWA confidentiality requirement - an $11,000 fine could be imposed upon the Lord Mayor if as a RWA board member she revealed confidential details about the Redfern-Waterloo project to the council.


She publicly expressed concerns that being on the RWA board would prevent her from criticising the authority.


"There are important principles which will influence my support or opposition to the actions of the Redfern-Waterloo Authority and I reserve my rights to promote them," she wrote in the Bligh News newsletter in March.


Another factor propelling her decision to decline membership was the constitution of the board.


She is recorded in the minutes of a Council meeting in February as saying she was sceptical about the "unfettered power and lack of public accountability" vested in the Minister for Redfern Waterloo, Frank Sartor, and the Redfern-Waterloo Authority through the RWA Bill, which was passed in December last year.


"The legislation gives the minister unprecedented power to override normal. planning controls, going so far as to enable the minister to take control of other areas at will, cherry pick developer contributions from adjacent areas... and override the Heritage Act" It was obvious that the former South Sydney councillor was very much aware and concerned at the potential conflict of interest between RWA board membership and her ability to represent at grassroots level.


"Clearly there is a trade-off here between the capacity to influence outcomes by being on the board and my responsibilities as an elected representative to speak out or criticise the operation of the authority if I believe it to be necessary," she also told Council in February


But it was not just that Ms Moore had vehemently opposed the RWA Bill from the moment it was proposed.


In November last year, she attacked the Bill, accusing the State Government of using it as a cash cow to address the lack of funds for public infrastructure in Sydney.


She still had those concerns and this year told the city council: "I would have hoped that a progressive and well-informed State Government would be looking at world-class examples of best practise in urban renewal ... rather than taking the easy but short-sighted route they have to turn this into a land development exercise to shore up state finances."


With a background as a hardliner on development issues and close ties with the South Sydney community and a history of disagreement with Mr Sartor, Ms Moore was bound to find herself in a dilemma.


That dilemma she stated publicly and succinctly in February: "The council's first obligation is to the people of Redfern and Waterloo, to work with the State Government to ensure the best social and urban outcomes for the area.


In an attempt to resolve the personal dilemma, she had considered appointing Peter Seamer, the Sydney City Council's general manager, to the board instead of herself, but in the end it was decided there would be no City of Sydney representative on the RWA.


This fracturing of the RWA board before it was properly up and running meant that Mr Sartor had more than one job of reconciliation on his hands.


Reconciling the Aboriginal Housing Company to RWA plans has gone by the wayside, (see pages 13 and 14) and now an important player - the Lord Mayor of Sydney- was not onside.


In April Mr Sartor found a compromise he announced that a peak liaison meeting would be held between the Sydney city council. The agreement was that the respective chiefs-of-staff and chief executive officers of the council and RWA would meet with Mr Sartor and Ms Moore monthly.


According to council minutes for May 9, Ms Moore confirmed that the meeting aimed to acknowledge the vital role that council plays in the Redfern Waterloo plan.


She also said: "It is a mechanism to provide high-level communication between council and the NSW Government."


At the Ms Moore's electorate office in Paddington, her spokesman Roy Bishop told Southside News: "Clover has had one roundtable meeting with the minister for Redfern-Waterloo, and I understand that they hope to continue meeting to discuss the RWA's work and co-ordinate Council and RWA activities."



Recent editions of Southside News can be found at