February 25, 2015

Horse 1845 - Please Tell Me About The Civic Reform Association

If you look through the list of Mayors of Sydney, something is conspicuous by its absence - The Liberal Party. This is going to sound absolutely daft considering that the Liberal Party was formally started in a meeting in the Sydney Town Hall on 31 August 1945 but it's true.

I wondered when I saw the Mayors of Sydney, how such a thing could happen and then noticed that apart from the Labor Party the other group which is consistently listed is "Civic Reform".

According to The Register of Adelaide on 21st January 1921:
A civic reform association was formed a meeting attended by about 70 ratepayers at the Sydney Town Hall to-day. One of the principal objects of the association is to remove civic administration from control by the Labour Party, which at present dominates the actions of a majority of the Aldermen. A statement of the objects was adopted, and a committee was formed to advance the movement.

That seems to me like a pretty straightforward sort of goal. The Civic Reform Association which was nominally non-aligned, was set up in opposition to the Labor Party. I suppose that this means in principle that it probably should be economically rightist and broadly socially conservative.
When you consider that some of the Lord Mayors of Sydney like Sir Emmet McDermott
KBE who was a dentist, Nelson Meers who was a lawyer and Leo Port who appeared on ABC's "The Inventors", I guess that this is borne out.

I think that it's really weird that there's never been a Liberal Party member whose been Mayor of Sydney considering that the job has always been seen as something of the cherry on top of a very strange political pie. This pie has either been cut into slices by Liberal state governments like Askin's and Greiner's and then mashed back together by particularly Labour state governments like Wran's and Carr's.
The current problem with Clover Moore being elected as Lord Mayor, is that the Labor Party would prefer to include the surrounding areas and the Liberal Party has resorted to including corporates and landholders in order to stack the deck in their favour. I expect that in 2016, the Liberal Party will return its first Mayor of Sydney.

All of this makes me question what the Civic Reform Association was in the first place. This is starting to look suspiciously like the Liberal Party by de facto means; so I'd be curious to find out what the heck they actually were/are. Was the Civic Reform Association a real thing? I don't know.

Someone please tell me.

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