Marrickville mayor Fiona Byrne has defended her decision to support a controversial boycott of Israel, saying it achieved some success.


Marrickville Council, in Sydney’s inner west, dumped its proposed boycott on Tuesday night after widespread criticism from political and business leaders.

But Ms Byrne was largely unrepentant.

“Council has put the human rights of the Palestinian people on the national agenda, that’s success to me,” she told AAP.

“This is an ethical purchasing policy. Every organisation, every individual has a right to decide, by whatever criteria, who they’ll do business with.

“There’s been an avalanche of criticism and pressure, I think from those who put politics before principles.”

The council is a sister city to Bethlehem in the Palestinian territory of the West Bank.

That relationship prompted the original December motion that would have banned all purchases of products and services linked with Israel.

It was in support of the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, which accuses Israel of ethnic cleansing and racial discrimination.

But a council report suggested the boycott could have ended up costing ratepayers almost $4 million.

That launched a backlash culminating in NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell intimating he may sack the authority and demanding it refocus on its basic remit.

State Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian reiterated that stance on Wednesday.

“Councillors are elected to represent their community on local council issues and not these issues,” she told reporters in Sydney.

“They should stick to what they need to do. That’s the premier’s view, that’s the government’s view.

“We don’t support these boycotts.”

Meanwhile, Labor members of neighbouring Leichhardt Council on Tuesday night tried to pass a motion banning any future boycotts of international goods.

The motion was voted down.