Labor to strengthen Mayoral leadership and stop the revolving door with popularly elected Mayors for all Sydney councils


A NSW Labor Government will move to popularly-elected four year terms for all of Sydney’s 41 local mayors – putting a permanent stop to the revolving door that sees mayors on 27 Sydney councils replaced every year. 

Only 14 local councils in Sydney currently elected their mayor by a popular vote of ratepayers for a four year term – the other 27 councils select their mayor by a vote of councillors every September.

Labor will also establish a “Congress of Mayors”, under the auspice of a powerful Greater Sydney Commission, to develop and implement coordinated policies beyond their council boundaries to support jobs and better local services across metropolitan Sydney.

Labor Leader Luke Foley was joined by Shadow Minister for Local Government Sophie Cotsis and the Western Sydney Director of the Sydney Business Chamber David Borger in Parramatta to make the announcement.

“Local government in Sydney can resemble the plot from an episode of Game of Thrones – backroom deals and backstabbing to secure the prize of being a mayor for the next 365 days,” NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley said.

“Over four years the mayoralty of a local council can pass between Liberal, Labor, Green and independent councillors – hitting the reset button on the direction of a local council every September.

“A mayor selected by councilors in September spends the first six months of their term learning the job and the last six months trying to keep it. That doesn’t provide the good government that ratepayers deserve.

“I want to bring certainty, stability and stronger leadership to local councils by making the mayoralty a prize that is bestowed by ratepayers, not the drawing of short straws in the backroom of the Town Hall.

“Under Labor’s plan, Mayors will receive a mandate from their community every four years to implement their local vision and work with other mayors and the NSW Government on the broader policy challenges facing our city.

“I outlined late last year my vision for a powerful Greater Sydney Commission reporting directly to the Premier – planning the homes, schools and hospitals we need to support our growing population and attracting the thousands of smart jobs we need in the suburbs to beat our congestion challenge.

“The Greater Sydney Commission will bring Sydney’s mayors together to develop the solutions to problems like urban renewal along the Parramatta Road corridor.”

Mr Foley said Parramatta City Council was a prime example of why we need to empower local communities to vote directly for their Lord Mayor. Parramatta is Sydney’s second CBD and the economic and cultural heart of western Sydney yet it has had nine different mayors in the last 10 years – not one directly elected by ratepayers.

“Parramatta is the only major city CBD in NSW with a Lord Mayor that is not popularly-elected by its local community – the City of Sydney, Wollongong and Newcastle all have popularly-elected Lord Mayors.”

“If we want a strong Parramatta providing economic, cultural and social opportunities for the people of greater western Sydney then it needs the mayoral leadership to make it happen.

“Labor’s plan is a fresh approach to strengthen local government and make it more responsive to the needs of their communities. This stands in stark contrast to the Liberals’ plan to forcibly amalgamate councils and poison the relationship between councils and their communities.”

Shadow Minister for Local Government Sophie Cotsis said: “Many local councils in Sydney are facing tough decisions about their budgets and economic future, we need mayors who can look beyond September each year to be building the long-term vision for their councils.”

“Directly-elected mayors brought together in a “Congress of Mayors” will provide the framework to build a more coherent and coordinated response to the housing, employment and transport challenges we face in Sydney.

“Ratepayers deserve a stronger say in the decision of who leads their local council and a Labor Government will deliver that by giving them a direct vote in who wears the mayoralty chains for the full four year term of the council.”

“Labor is committed to being a constructive and supportive partner with local councils. There will not be any forced amalgamations under a Labor Government.”

Read more about Labor's plan to strengthen Mayoral leadership.