NO SO: Melbourne's John So quits as Catherine Ng looms

sosaysno2 Melbourne’s Lord Mayor John So announced at 11 o’clock this morning that he won’t be running again in November’s municipal elections.

Elected in 2001, So emerged as something of a cult figure across Melbourne due to his good humour and positive outlook.

Council insiders reveal that a factor in So’s decision was a fall-out with pugnacious councillor Catherine Ng, who plans to run for Lord Mayor herself. Ng is married to Douglas Campbell, Liberal leader Ted Baillieu’s economics adviser.

Ng was elected to the council twice on So’s coat-tails and had grown impatient about taking over as Lord Mayor. She recently told the local press there was a 40 per cent chance she’d run for the top job, even bizarrely referring to herself as the “City’s mother”.

She’ll be able to draw on a large bloc of Chinese community support and also present herself as a Liberal sympathetic candidate. This gives her potentially large groups of support within the municipality providing she doesn’t alienate them between now and the election. Her personal style – intense, pushy and odd – could easily cost her an election she might otherwise have won.

So is believed to be supporting other candidates, including possibly Labor’s Peter McMullin, a former deputy mayor of Melbourne and one-time mayor of Geelong.

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20 responses to “NO SO: Melbourne's John So quits as Catherine Ng looms

  1. Not Stainless

    McMullin was only a deputy for one year out of a three year term of office. he was dumped from the Deputy position following his betrayal of policy over the siting of Melbourne Melbourne’s Museum. Having lost his bid for Lord Mayor in 2001 he then jumped ship and moved to Geelong where he unsuccessfully sought pre-selection for the seat of Corangamite. Facing possible-defeat back in Geelong McMullin is now seeking a comeback to the City of Melbourne. One of the problems facing Peter McMullin is his conflict of interest. Peter McMullin is the direct beneficiary and eyre apparent to the Spotless group, a major supplier and service contact 6 holder to the City of Melbourne.

  2. Anonymous

    Wasn’t Catherine NG involved in the scandal where she illegally offered Kate Redwood, a former City Councillor who was elected on Peter McMullin’s ticket, a paid position on City of Melbourne Library board. Under the terms of the Local Government Act a City Councillor can not be employed by a City Council immediately following their term of office.

    It is understood that the City of Melbourne as a result of Councillor NG’s kind offer had to cancel Kate Redwood’s appointment when it was pointed out that her appointment was illegal. Kate Redwood supported Catherine NG and John So’s re-election to Council in 2004 and the appointment was seen as some form of possible pay back for her support. The City Council as a result of Ng’s generosity had to pay out a large sum in compensation to Ms Redwood when they then cancelled her contract, in spite the fact that the appointment and any contact of employment was null-en void. The exact amount of the payment was never disclosed. It cannot get any more corrupt or incompetent then that.

    The State Auditor General should investigate the situation to reassure ratepayers that the payout made was above aboard and not some form illegal gratuitous payout.

  3. Rough Justice

    So was good.

  4. Ratepayer

    Good for what? Highest spending council verging on corruption. Feather bedding at ratepayers costs. Not to forget the illegal payment to ex-councillors, questionable grant process to selective organisations without any scrutiny of budgets and expenditures of the grant recipient. There is talk that John So would have come under intense scrutiny of campaign expenses. 2008 is the forest city of Melbourne election under the new electoral funding disclosure laws.

  5. Anonymous

    Below is John So’s statement of resignation:

    LORD Mayor John So won’t stand for re-election.

    Be the first to read his full speech from the press conference at Melbourne Town Hall at 11am today, where Cr So announced he won’t stand for re-election in November.

    Here is what he told a packed media gallery.

    “Good morning, thank you for joining me.

    It has been 17 years since I entered the doors of Melbourne Town Hall as a Councillor.

    Those years have been a period of transformation; of new beginnings for Council and the city it represents.

    Melbourne has become the city the world and Australia talks about – a place where people from all nations and all backgrounds are invited to contribute.

    In environmental management, urban planning and cultural expression we have become a model for capital cities once considered our superior.

    We set ourselves a goal of becoming one of the world’s most liveable cities – we succeeded three times in under a decade.

    This year we set ourselves a goal of becoming one of the world’s most sustainable cities – just four weeks ago, we were recognised as being in the top ten sustainable cities globally.

    Growth of the city’s businesses and residents has brought life back to the city centre.

    Melbourne is forecast to be Australia’s largest city within 20 years.

    These are achievements that define a city and build a sense of pride among citizens.

    They are achievements that require courage of conviction and a steady approach to leadership.

    The Melbourne Living team has brought stability back to capital city governance.

    We’ve maintained the focus on achieving outcomes for the community and business in Melbourne.

    We’ve regained the trust of governments and voters.

    One of my personal goals has been recognition of the vital role capital cities play in securing quality of life for the majority of Australians.

    The City of Melbourne now enjoys strong partnerships not only with the State but Canberra as well.

    Effective policy is something my team has never lost sight of.

    We have achieved the vision and most of our policy commitments made at every election.

    Among them are some of history’s defining moments:
    • The Commonwealth Games will be remembered as one of the greatest and most seamless events ever staged in this city;
    • Integration of Docklands has created one of the world’s most exciting waterfront domains;
    • And multi million dollar investment in services and infrastructure has made the city of Melbourne a fantastic place to live, work and enjoy.

    While busy achieving the vision we set ourselves, we’ve kept focus on the horizon.

    The City has completed the most ambitious community consultation project ever undertaken in its history – Future Melbourne, which was endorsed by the Council last night.

    Drawing on the collective intelligence and ambitions of 15,000 individuals, businesses and organisations, we now have a vision ‘for the people by the people’.

    That vision is backed by a Government in such good financial shape: it has a AAA credit rating, is debt free and has strong cash reserves.

    After integrating Docklands into the city, building CH2, Australia’s first 6-star green office building, contributing $43 million to the Convention Centre precinct, and staging the Commonwealth Games – all while delivering the lowest rate increases in Victoria in the past 8 years – we have a balance sheet that is the envy of governments Australia-wide.

    I have called you here today to make this announcement.

    After deep consideration, I have decided not to stand for re-election.

    This decision has been one of the most difficult I have ever made.

    I’ve given almost a quarter of my life to public service and, in return, it has given me many of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

    You cannot work at 110% forever, and that’s what this job requires.

    I am confident this is the right decision – it’s time to pass the baton.

    The future Council inherits a solid foundation to drive the city forward.

    And I still have keen interests I wish to pursue.

    This city has a lot to gain from the connections it holds with the region.

    I’m looking forward to the new possibilities presented by Australia’s increasing international engagement.

    There are many people I must thank for the opportunities afforded me.

    I wish to thank my Deputy, Gary Singer, former Deputy Lord Mayor Susan Riley and the Councillors on my team who have given so much to the city they represent.

    Together, we ensured the people of Melbourne have always come first.

    I want to thank City of Melbourne management and staff, particularly my Chief of Staff Kevin Louey.

    To my supportive family, my children Nat, Alex, Eva and John, and my wife Wendy, what can I say? I love you all.

    Finally, I want to thank the people of this great city.

    Thank you for the faith, trust and encouragement you have given me.

    Thank you for the privilege and opportunity.

    Thank you Melbourne.’’

  6. Anonymous

    I support Kate Redwood for LM too. Kate is great, and will make an outstanding Lord Mayor.

  7. Neff

    I thought that the new disclosure rules haven’t kicked in yet….

  8. Anonymous

    John So was a Vexnews scoop. Two exclusive scoops revealed on the other blog in one day. One about John So was by Cait Catt. The one below is by Anon and was reported today also. Read on:

    It is not the practice of Vexnews to make capital out of a personal tragedy. It was Vexnews that was the very first media organisation to report the tragic accident suffered by former Darebin Mayor and VLGA CEO Rae Perry. That news has now been reported by the Leader newspapers about two weeks after Vexnews.

    We all wish Rae Perry the very best, and we also would like to know where Vexnews gets its exclusive scoops from? This is clearly another one.

    Former mayor hurt in Kyneton bike accident

    29 Sep 08 @ 11:39am by Julia Irwin
    Former mayor hurt in Kyneton bike accident

    Former mayor Rae Perry was rumoured to be running for Darebin Council before her accident.

    FORMER Darebin mayor Rae Perry sustained serious head injuries in a motorbike accident near Kyneton earlier this month.

    A senior neurosurgeon at Royal Melbourne Hospital said Ms Perry’s injuries were “extensive and permanent”.

    Her partner, Damien Kingsbury, said she had been moved from intensive care, where she was in an induced coma for 12 days, into a high-dependency unit.

    Mr Kingsbury said Ms Perry would undergo rehabilitation, expected to be a long process.

    Ms Perry is the CEO of the Victorian Local Governance Association.

    Association president Beth Davidson said: “This sad news is heard with deep regret by all who know and love Rae for her vibrant and outgoing personality, her infectious laugh and her frequent challenges to us to be better.”

    Active in local politics for more than a decade, Ms Perry was rumoured to be contesting the Darebin Council election in November.

    During her two terms on council including a term as mayor in 2004, she always said local government extended further than rates, roads and rubbish.

    She helped establish a community learning centre in the District of Baucau in East Timor after the council signed a friendship agreement with the district in 2001.

  9. B. Sverson

    How can John So be a PoxViews scoop when the ABC and AAP – and even the newspaper websites, which is usually AAP copy rebadged – had it an hour before? Caught with yr pants down again, Andy.

  10. Oenghus

    Scoop? Google News shows U were 2hrs behind Herald Sun on John So.

  11. emily jackson

    Andrew you must stop Catherine of Arrogant becoming Lord Mayor.
    She is awful

  12. Anon

    Neff The disclosure rules kicked in in 2005 If I recall.

  13. Too Long Dong

    Catherine Ng is very fond of me.

  14. Professor Maku Dong Long

    Cr Catherine Ng is not very fond of Cr Just_In McKeegan – who has still yet to pay me for my surgical skills!

  15. snony

    A search of all news sites reveals that the Leader was actually first with the scoop. Scooped by a local rag Andy. tut tut tut.

  16. get in line, professor.
    Catherine floats the boats of right thinking melbournians.
    sure she’s made some deals along the way – forward-thinking, ambitious politicians must if they’re to make an impact.
    she’s seen off So-So, now she’s ready to take the possum skin robes.

  17. anon

    Catherine Ng has had numerous flings with married men in the Law Institute when she worked for a legal software company and also with several through the Gym at the Grand Hyatt Hotel.Ask her,she cannot deny it.

  18. Playing Possum

    John So plans to keep the Possum suit It was` gift to him he claims not not the Town Hall’s to Keep.

  19. Anonymous

    anon, who would you vote for?

  20. possum

    it was a gift to him, not the council ~ it signifies him as being an aboriginal elder.

    the herald published the letter from the elders back when this became an issue

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