Liberal candidate for Sydney lord mayor, Christine Forster, at her campaign launch. Photo: James Alcock Clover Moore’s ticket for Saturday’s election. Left to right: Jess Scully, Philip Thalis, Catherine Lezer, Clover Moore, Kerrin Phelps, Robert Kok and Jess Miller at Prince Alfred Park, Surry Hills. Photo: James Brickwood
The Liberal candidate for lord mayor of the City of Sydney, Christine Forster, has vowed to take “the fight to Mike Baird” over inner city lockout laws, and push hard to excise Oxford Street from the lockout zone.
The controversial lockout laws have provided a focus of campaigning in the countdown to Saturday’s poll.
Incumbent mayor Clover Moore and her ticket for the council led a crawl of small bars on Thursday night, where patrons and staff demonstrated their support for her record of promoting a varied nightlife.
But Cr Forster, likely to be Cr Moore’s main challenger for the mayoral job, said the global city of Sydney needed to do more to claw back ground from Melbourne’s active nightlife.
“I will fight Mike Baird on this one,” said Cr Forster, first elected to council in 2012. “It might be a popular policy but it has also cost the small businesses in this area very dearly.
“Oxford Street is a safe place, it is a place where diversity is celebrated and people are made to feel especially welcome. I don’t think it should have been included in the lockout zone.”
A review of the lockout laws by former High Court judge Ian Callinan will be received by the government on Tuesday.
As well as Cr Forster and Cr Moore, who has been lord mayor since 2004, other challengers for the top spot on council include Labor’s Linda Scott and independent Angela Vithoulkas.
Cr Scott used the last week of campaigning to promote a raft of policies. These included more skate parks in central Sydney, development conditions that require car share, electric car charging, and cycling facilities, and a push to accelerate works on a long-promised “Town Hall Square” public area across from Sydney Town Hall.
“Green space targets are the only way to make sure we have clean air and find the balance between the hardness of our built environment and living green space,” said Cr Scott, who wants to increase the amount of open space in central Sydney from about 15 per cent to 20 per cent.
Cr Moore, who added high-profile locals Dr Kerryn Phelps and architect Phillip Thalis to her ticket in 2016, is largely running on her record of promoting bike paths, strong design, environmental sustainability and changing small bar laws.
The impact of business voting laws, which guarantee two votes to thousands of corporations in the city, remains uncertain. About 23,000 potential non-residential voters have been added to the council’s electoral roll. About 70,000 people voted in the last council election.
Although on many issues the policy differences between the candidates are not too distinct – they all support, for instance, a draft plan to increase building height limits in the city but preserve open space – the personality politics of the battle for Town Hall have been particularly fractious.
Forster’s one-time campaign manager, Mitchell Price, stood down after it emerged he had spent charity funds on personal expenses while working for the Mardi Gras.
Then leaked emails showed Edward Mandla, the former Liberal candidate for mayor who jumped ship to Cr Vithoulkas’ ticket, disparaging his current political ally. You need to vote if you live in:
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