Jamie Parker MP, Member for Balmain, and Jenny Leong MP, Member for Newtown, issued the following statement:
On Tuesday May 24, 2016 a peaceful protest was held at the former Marrickville Council Chambers where the state government-appointed Administrator was to conduct the first meeting of the Inner West Council.
There had been an overwhelmingly response from residents in our electorates since the government announced on May 12 that it had sacked the elected councillors and forced the merger of Leichhardt, Marrickville and Ashfield councils. For the next 16 months, when 185,000 inner west residents will be without elected local government representation, the state government will push ahead with major projects like WestConnex, Parramatta Road Urban Transformation and Bays Precinct - each of which have significant impact on our inner west communities.
We attended the meeting as local Members of Parliament to stand with the communities we represent. Also present were former local Councillors and former Mayors. Hundreds of local residents attended the meeting and, while their opposition to the sacking of their elected councils was vocal, the vast majority acted reasonably and respectfully. Of course, we do not condone in any way spitting or aggressive behaviour. Those types of actions have no place in peaceful protest.
It is disappointing that some media has focused on the behaviour of two people, rather than the undemocratic actions of this government which has deprived over one million people throughout New South Wales of their democratically elected representatives.
The right to peaceful protest is an essential part of our democratic process. We support the residents who attended the meeting to peacefully voice their concerns about the sacking of their elected councils.
It is important to note that in the government's own report, Leichhardt, Marrickville and Ashfield councils were each shown to be economically sound and 'Fit for the Future'. Nevertheless, Premier Baird sacked the councils, imposed an unelected Administrator, and delayed democratic elections for 16 months.
We also strongly support council staff and recognise the important work that they continue to carry out for our local communities. After Tuesday's meeting was adjourned the residents warmly acknowledged the work of the staff, thanked them for their service and gave them a round of applause.