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Councillors given the heads up that party time is over

Dear Beagle Editor

Attached is a generic letter sent to all community members who take the time to front up to council and demonstrate their democratic right to be heard by our elected representatives.

The agenda for each council meeting is posted online on the Wednesday prior to such meeting the following Tuesday. All good so far.

The public then has plenty of time to prepare their presentations based on the agenda as published. Righto, all good.

However, on the morning of the Tuesday council meeting, councillors have a 'private' pre meeting briefing @ 9.00 am where the wording of the motion(s) can be changed by the person who put the original motion if they so wish. Such amendments can also take place during the usual ‘comfort’ break following Public Access and Public Forum presentations. Very sneaky.

Such was the case last Tuesday when the motion to replace Mr MacLachlan with a member from the business community was changed at the 11th hour by Clr Brown to not replace Mr MacLachlan - 'at this time' being the operative words so that at some future date, the matter could come before Council again for consideration ‘at a (implied) future time’.

In the meantime, was the Sunset Committee consulted on this last minute change to the motion? Did they wish to have a replacement for Mr MacLachlan? Was this last minute amendment made to give the general manager time to run around Batemans Bay seeking someone ‘sympathetic’ to Council’s agenda as a preferred ‘replacement’ and to ensure that no one from the swimming fraternity was given a spot? Well, it surely looks that way to me.

Both Maureen Searson and I prepared our presentations based on the published motion. As it turns out, our time and energy was wasted as the motion was changed at the pre meeting briefing.

Any amendments to published motions or questions on notice should be discussed during the public meeting and not done behind closed doors.

Same thing happened re the dog park matter and we all know how that turned out.

Note to Councillors: Please keep in mind, when the time comes to review the Code of Meeting Practice, all of the constructive comments you have received re improvements to this code ie no texting during the meeting, councillors to at least appear to be interested in what the presenter has to say by not staring at and playing with their devices, no chatting during public presentations (particularly those on the ‘bench’) - in other words, listen to and respect the community members who are brave enough to front up to the Judge and Jury members. And another:

Any amendments to Notices of Motion as appears in the published Agenda shall be debated and decided upon during the public meeting and not behind closed doors either before the meeting or after Public Access/Forum during a break.

Coral Anderson