In the weeks since the NSW local council elections in mid-September, Clover Moore has been the most talked-about person in Sydney. At restaurants, in businesses, creative events, small bars, festivals, community halls, libraries, parks, on the bike lanes, in the gay and lesbian community and across social media channels, the "Moore effect" has been a hot topic.
Why? Because last Thursday the "Get Clover" bill forced Clover Moore, who’d just been elected Lord Mayor of Sydney to choose between the mayoralty and the state seat of Sydney, which she’s held as an independent for 24 years. Moore chose to stand down from her state seat. It’s a good occasion to examine the legacy she has left for progressive politics in Sydney and nationwide. It’s work that has helped foster a new generation of progressive voices now emerging in Sydney.
Moore made a few enemies in her time in Parliament — such as when she played a part in the resignation of Nick Greiner over corruption claims. She provoked a bullying tabloid and shock jock media to constantly campaign against her. In pushing forward the Get Clover bill, NSW Premier O’Farrell claimed that he was trying to remove an obvious conflict of interest. "The Sydney CBD is too important to be held hostage to political constituency of Clover Moore," he said.
In a valedictory speech last week, Moore told a sitting parliament, a packed gallery of supporters and a crowd watching on a screen outside (who cheered and gave her two standing ovations): "I am being forced out of Parliament because of legislation enacted by the O’Farrell Liberal government with the support of the Shooters and Fishers Party and Fred Nile." She expressed her concern over "the negative implications of this legislation as a manipulation of democratic rights."
Moore’s achievements in NSW legislative council are many. She was responsible for more legislation being passed into law in the NSW parliament than any other MP. Along with two other independents, she made a big dint on police and bureaucratic corruption in the early 90s, with her involvement in the establishment Independent Commission Against Corruption.
As the first member of legislative assembly take part in Sydney’s Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras, Moore has led the fight for gay and lesbian rights, including promoting anti-vilification laws. Through small bar legislation, she reinvigorated a nightlife scene under the stranglehold of the hotel industry and poker machines through small bar legislation.
Moore has worked hard in state politics for 24 years — but she’s done so in an era that has seen trust for politicians decline.
What’s more, the lack of a progressive mainstream media means that community views aren’t always fully represented. Current mainstream media’s once lucrative revenue models are no longer effective, as we’ve seen recently with the demise of Fairfax. Tabloid media and shock jocks are flourishing at the lack of quality content. There are alternatives. Progressive voices flourish online and the community can participate in dialogue on political issues via social media and Gov 2.0 tools.
Clover Moore has been pushed out of state politics as the role of government is changing and as individuals and the community are taking matters into their own hands. In inner-Sydney, and across the rest of Australia, individuals and groups are working hard, communicating their visions of a progressive society, creating new models and ventures, solving environmental and social issues and building strong vibrant communities. Social ventures such as the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence, Food Connect, The Inspire Foundation and Jayride are having an impact and providing alternatives for communities.
Clover Moore has been an inspiration for progressives. The "Get Clover" bill is undemocratic and unfair — but we need to ensure that we continue to build on her legacy.
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