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Liberals would cut Sydney rates by 10%, says Turnbull

Promises council rate slash ... the federal member for Wentworth, Malcolm Turnbull.

Promises council rate slash ... the federal member for Wentworth, Malcolm Turnbull. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

THE Liberal Party has pledged to cut City of Sydney council rates by 10 per cent as candidates for the job of Sydney's lord mayor step up their appeals to voters ahead of the September 8 local government elections.

The federal Member for Wentworth, Malcolm Turnbull, yesterday joined the lord mayoral candidate Edward Mandla for the announcement - a centrepiece of the party's pitch to wrest control of Sydney from the independent Clover Moore, who is running for her third term in the top job.

''It will appeal to every ratepayer, every resident, every business in the City of Sydney,'' Mr Turnbull said.

''The city is building up an enormous cash hoard, it's gigantic. It can well afford to cut the rates by 10 per cent.''

Another group campaigning to topple Cr Moore - Living Sydney, led by Angela Vithoulkas - wants to make bicycle registration compulsory for all cyclists aged over 13.

It also wants to set up a system of compulsory third party personal injury insurance, similar to green slip insurance for cars, to apply to all cyclists on the city's roads.

Ms Vithoulkas said she would use a ''citizens' jury'' of randomly selected residents and ratepayers to determine whether the cycleways should be pulled out.

Mr Mandla has pledged to immediately freeze plans to extend the cycleways pending a cost-benefit study.

He said yesterday that by cutting back on ''nutty capital expenditure'' council would ''end up with more cash in the bank at the end of four years than we have now''.

If elected, a Liberal council would reduce council operating costs by a net of 5 per cent and cut capital spending by $250 million following an immediate audit of council spending.

Christine Forster, No. 2 on the Liberal ticket, said council's plans for a network of small gas-powered electricity generators was an area likely to face the axe.

Despite previously winning the support of Sydney's sole Liberal councillor, Shane Mallard, the more energy efficient system, called trigeneration, was ''not council's core business'' and carried a huge cost risk to ratepayers, she said.

Such cuts would help fund the promise of a 10 per cent rate cut for businesses and residents based on 2012-2013 levels, frozen for three years.

Cr Moore condemned the Liberal's plans as ''code language for slashing jobs'' and said the city had the second-lowest average residential rates in the Sydney metropolitan area.

''They need to come clean on whose jobs they will slash,'' she said. ''For the last eight years we have produced balanced budgets, with no debts, free rates for pensioners and we've saved money for new projects over the next 10 years.''

Jobs will be the focus of Labor's campaign launch in Redfern tomorrow.

Its lord mayoral candidate, Linda Scott, will pledge to promote local employment for the delivery of services, protect wages and working conditions for employees and contractors, and create more apprenticeship opportunities for local youths.

If elected, Labor would also move a referendum to reinstate wards, which were abolished when the city was amalgamated with South Sydney Council in 2004.

''Although a previous referendum to re-establish wards was unsuccessful, people in the community are now telling me they feel the needs of their neighbourhoods are being overlooked without representatives from their local area,'' she said.

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