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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

Presentation: Lei Parker to Council on the Code of Meeting Practice Mar 26th 2019

Audio: Ordinary Meeting of Eurobodalla Council Date: March 26th 2019 Presentation by Lei Parker, Under MOU with Eurobodalla Shire CouncilCreative Commons Attribution NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia more

Public Forum Presentation: GMR19/005 Draft Code of Meeting Practice. Ordinary meeting of TUESDAY 26 MARCH 2019 Presenter: Lei Parker Councillors,

The time has come for Eurobodalla Council to have a good look at itself and consider how it is perceived by the community and where it could improve its poor reputation and the need for local government to address its image. This can be done via a sound Code of Meeting Practice. I wish to discuss Public Forum. Might I offer some guidance: There are a number of strategies that would address the image of local government. The first strategy is the implementation of a comprehensive public relations or communications campaign. There is a need to address the way that the media predominantly portrays local government in a negative light. The media has a significant role in creating and perpetuating local government’s poor image. The second recommendation is for local government to more successfully engage and consult with the community. The achievement of this objective requires the lack of trust and interest in government to be addressed Effective community engagement would achieve more community involvement and control of issues that impacted on them, address the general mistrust and apathy in relation to government issues and respond to the political alienation and disenchantment of the community with the political system. There are a number of interrelated strategies that could be implemented by management to enhance local government’s role in community engagement and democratic processes. The first category; focus on local government’s internal processes and include the development of specific structures and programs to engage the community Local government should also develop processes and consultation models that facilitate input from a broad range of citizens and take account of people’s time committed lifestyles. A further recommendation is that local government management and officers should undertake additional training in the areas of Community Building and relationship management. This is particularly relevant in regard to the leadership skills of the chief executive officer.

Councillors, as you have listened to this guidance you may well have ticked some boxes thinking you do some of this already however your report card, as scored by the community, is presently a FAIL. Councillors, the guidance I just offered are not my own words but are in fact extracts of a thesis written by the Eurobodalla Shire Council General Manager, Dr Catherine Dale Where it refers to Local Government it was originally written by the author as Victorian Local Government; I have removed the word Victorian to give the guidance Eurobodalla relevancy. Now the General Manager and her staff are recommending that Public Forum not be Live Streamed nor video recorded. Why? The Live Stream video archive serves well in providing evidence in Codes of Conduct reviews and show evidence of rhetorical tirades, denigration and bullying. It also serves well in showing the lack of regard held of those who dare present, challenge and question Council. It also captures live and unpredictably the outbursts of Councillors that have all too often come back to bite them. It is understandable that the General Manager wants this opportunity of evidence gone. In recent times the Beagle has legally packaged and published Public Forum presentations including Councillor questions and the occasional tirade. The General Manager intends to close this loophole down with the recommendation before you that Public Forum not be Live Streamed and therefore not recorded. By not being recorded it removes evidence from the public record of what is said and it also removes evidence of any public criticism made of Council. Dr Dale offers in her thesis: There is a need to address the way that the media predominantly portrays local government in a negative light. The media has a significant role in creating and perpetuating local government’s poor image. Might I suggest that this Council “has a significant role in creating and perpetuating its own poor image” While briefings to councillors might offer that there are those in the community who do not wish to appear on video and removing video recording would encourage more to present there is no anecdotal evidence to support this. Of interest is the General Managers proposal that the Public Access be dissolved saying, by way of background, that Public Access was developed to enable the community to connect with Councillors. “Since its implementation, the way we communicate has evolved and Councillors are now more connected with their community. Councillors can be contacted via email or mobile with all contact details published on Council’s website.”

Really? Is that justification enough to close down Public Access? I look forward to your debate.

NOTE: Comments were TRIALED - in the end it failed as humans will be humans and it turned into a pile of merde; only contributed to by just a handful who did little to add to the conversation of the issue at hand. Anyone who would like to contribute an opinion are encouraged to send in a Letter to the Editor where it might be considered for publication

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