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Council’s Liberal-ALP alliance to be tested by Mayoral elections next month 

Aug 3, 2023

The state government has set mid-term Mayoral elections for next month that will test the Hawkesbury City Council’s unusual Liberal Party-Australian Labor Party alliance.

The elections must be held in September, according to a public notice issued by the Office of Local Government, the NSW councils’ regulator. Due to the delay in the last local government elections due to the COVID-19 pandemic, whoever is elected mayor will only have a term of one year, rather than the usual two year term. The new Mayor’s term will end with next year’s 14 September Council elections.

Like many NSW councils, HCC does not have a popularly elected mayor, instead, the election is conducted by the 12 councillors. The assembled councillors will decide at the start of the election meeting whether to hold the election by a show of hands or a secret ballot. HCC has used show of hands in recent elections.

Following the Dec 2021 elections, Liberal Councillor Patrick Conolly was elected unopposed as mayor and ALP Cr Barry Calvert was elected deputy mayor – a job that comes with an extra $10,000 compared with a regular councillor.

Cr McMahon then won the job in August, 2022 after Cr Conolly decided to step down after a traumatic home invasion. She was backed by the Liberal-ALP alliance that allowed Cr Calvert to also keep his job as Deputy.

McMahon was elected mayor after received backing from the Liberal-ALP alliance that allowed Cr Calvert to keep his job as Deputy.

HCC management said: “Council will not be making a comment”, in response to procedural questions and a query about whether Mayor Sarah McMahon was intending to run for mayor once more.

Under the Local Government Act a person elected to fill a casual vacancy in the office of mayor holds the office for the balance of their predecessor’s term. This means Cr McMahon’s term as mayor will expire at the time her predecessor’s term would have expired, in September this year.

If Cr McMahon successfully runs for another term she may run into a potential conflict of interest, as Liberal Party preselections for the Federal seat of Macquarie are likely to be held during the next year. A Liberal Party spokesman said the organisation was keen to complete its preselections in good time, as Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is setting up a trigger for a double dissolution. This would see all seats for the House of Representatives and the Senate contested in Federal election, that could be held early.

Since the last election, there has been a change in government in Macquarie Street and councillors which could see some councillors change their view on whether having a Liberal Mayor is in its best interests. Cr Calvert and Cr Mary Lyons-Buckett who has previously been mayor and who unsuccessfully stood against Cr McMahon last year, did not answer a query on whether either would run for mayor. 

Cr McMahon has been the failed Liberal Party candidate twice for Macquarie. In the 2002 election, incumbent Labor MP Susan Templeman turned the seat – which encompasses the Hawkesbury and Blue Mountains local government areas – from the state’s most marginal to a safe Labor seat with a swing of 7%.

Cr McMahon also recently voted to censure Cr Eddie Dogramaci for using his position on council to promote himself in the state election held earlier this year. Cr McMahon has declined to answer questions from the Hawkesbury Post.

The future of Federal MP Alex Hawke, a Liberal powerbroker and Cr McMahon’s chief backer in her preselection bids is also under a cloud with a motion to expel him from the Party now before the state executive.

Cr McMahon was selected to run for the Liberal in Macquarie unopposed in 2022.


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