Clover hit by new ‘conflict of interest’ claims
- Peter Hackney
- Thursday, 30 August 2012
In what’s fast becoming Sydney’s most acrimonious local election campaign in living memory, Lord Mayor Clover Moore MP has been hit by new accusations of using parliamentary facilities to conduct Council business.
Angela Vithoulkas, the Lord Mayoral candidate for the Living Sydney team, has sensationally claimed that Ms Moore not only offered her a place on her local government election ticket – but that she did so at State Parliament, where Ms Moore has an office as Member for Sydney.
Ms Vithoulkas told City News Ms Moore summoned her to parliament on Tuesday, May 1 for a meeting, at which she urged her to join the Clover Moore Independent Team.
“I got a personal phone call from Clover Moore, which I have never had before,” said Ms Vithoulkas.
“I was asked to attend her offices at State Parliament, where I was asked to join her team.
“I apologised and said I had no idea she had ever thought of me in that way, and that I had already accepted running with Living Sydney.
“When I said no, she asked me what she could do to change my mind. I told her ‘I’m not that kind of girl’.”
Ms Vithoulkas said she was not aware at the time that the use of a parliamentary office to conduct local government business may be seen as a conflict of interest.
“As a total political novice at the time, I had no idea about the concept of conflicts or anything like that.
“But I assume that [Clover Moore], a politician of some 24 years standing, would be aware.”
Ms Moore made no bones about offering Ms Vithoulkas a place on her ticket when asked about the matter by City News.
“Yes, it’s true,” admitted the Lord Mayor. “Angela was such an active member of the City of Sydney’s retail panel and she told me with such sincerity how much she supported everything I do, and what a great job I do as Lord Mayor, that I thought she might want to contribute to our team.
“But I must say I’m really very glad with the team I have now. I’m confident I’ve ended up with the right team.”
Ms Moore said that while the meeting took place in her parliamentary office, it was held in her own private time.
“This particular meeting was conducted after business hours,” she said, noting that the meeting commenced at 5pm on the day in question; a fact agreed to by Ms Vithoulkas.
“All MPs and Ministers hold meetings about various topics with various people on any given day in their parliament office,” said the Lord Mayor.
She added that with the exception of North Paddington and small parts of Edgecliff and Woollahra, “the state electorate of Sydney is contained within the local government area of Sydney”.
“There is considerable overlap and shared issues between my responsibilities as Lord Mayor and State MP … In other words, the things that affect City communities are the same things that relate to the same people in the State seat and vice versa.”
This is not the first time Ms Moore has been accused of blurring the boundaries between state and local business.
In March, The Daily Telegraph reported that Ms Moore had used “a Council car and driver to take her to parliament – in what appears to be a bending of Council rules”.
Last month, President of the Potts Point & Kings Cross Conservation Society, Andrew Woodhouse lodged a complaint with the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) over an alleged instance of Ms Moore using state funds to run her Lord Mayoral campaign.
Mr Woodhouse said a phone number on a local government newsletter belonged to the Lord Mayor’s parliamentary ofﬁce.
ICAC has since dismissed the complaint.
Ms Moore, who has been Member for Sydney (formerly Bligh) since 1988, has held the position of Lord Mayor since 2004. She will soon have to surrender one of the dual political roles, due to the O’Farrell Government’s so-called ‘Get Clover Bill’, which prevents NSW MPs from sitting on local councils.
Ms Moore has chosen to pursue the Lord Mayoralty, necessitating a by-election in the seat of Sydney if she wins the September 8 local government elections, as expected.
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