As the General Manager of Euorbodalla Council, Catherine Dale, moves ahead with her intention to remove future recording of Public Forum from the pubic record we have witnessed firsthand the results of such a move by the example of the overt censorship of last week's (March 26th, 2019) Council meeting video archive and the, as yet to be adopted, minutes of the meeting. Last week Council chose to censor more than twelve minutes of a Public Forum presentation from its public record. They cut out 12.15 minutes of the presentation of Mr Peter Bernard from their video and audio records and unless you happened to catch the Live Streaming or have been in the gallery you would be none the wiser to what was said. The Beagle was in the gallery and heard the entire seventeen minutes of which Council only offers five. Fortunately the full seventeen were recorded under Fair Dealing. If you look at the public record of the meeting in the video archives you will find the following statement that explains the overt censorship.
Fortunately the following Beagle video, along with the missing 12 minutes, has been assembled (minus the use and inference of a word found offensive that is replaced with the call of seagulls)
VIDEO: Public Forum address by Peter Bernard - March 26th 2019
While the overt censorship of the Public record is of concern what is more concerning is that the minutes of the meeting also dismiss the missing twelve minutes. At the 12:36 minute mark of the above video you can clearly hear the Mayor say that she has a mover (Clr Rob Pollock) and a seconder (Clr James Thomson) for Mr Bernard "to either apologise and retract your statement or you will be removed from the meeting". That is a motion. The Mayor did not put it to the vote. She then continued in dialogue with Mr Bernard. At 14:20 the Mayor says "I am asking you to apologise or we will ask you to leave the chambers". When Mr Bernard said "You can't ask me to leave this chamber" the Mayor responded "we WILL have a Notice of Motion to expel you from this Council meeting". The Mayor then reminds Mr Bernard that they have a mover and seconder and that they will vote on removing him from the Council meeting. In meeting protocol the only thing the Mayor should have been dealing with was the MOTION made two and a half minutes before. Instead she failed to put that motion to the vote.
Whilst all this might appear nitpicky there is a more concerning element to it.
Council censored out twelve minutes of Public Record and they also censored out any formal record of what occurred in those twelve minutes. Below are the Minutes that the Councillors will be adopting at next Tuesdays meeting
The above Minutes are to be tabled at next Tuesday's meeting.
Note that the Minutes DO NOT include the Motion of Clr Rob Pollock for Mr Bernard to either apologise and retract his statement or be removed from the meeting Code of Meeting Practice 16.2 Matters to be included in minutes of Council meeting (1) Council is required to ensure that full and accurate minutes are kept of the proceedings of a meeting of the Council (other provisions of the Regulation and of the Act require particular matters to be recorded in Council’s minutes). LGA Sec 375 (2) The General Manager must ensure that the following matters are recorded in the Council’s minutes as a minimum: (a) details of each Motion moved at a Council meeting and of any Amendments moved to it, (b) the names of the mover and seconder of the Motion or Amendment, (c) whether the Motion or Amendment is passed or lost, The above video that includes the censored twelve minutes is evidence of an overall failure by the Mayor to deal with the motion before Council that required her to put it to a vote. It also provides evidence of a failure of the General Manager to carry out her duties and ensure that the details of Clr Pollock's motion, moved at the March 26th, 2019 Council meeting, providing the names of the mover and seconder of the Motion, accurately appeared in the minutes that she was presenting for adoption to become the Public Record. A Code of Conduct against the General Manager and Mayor could be raised however under the new rules being put forward by the General Manager to be voted on next Tuesday if a Code of Conduct was raised and they were found to have breached the Local Government Act then that would remain confidential and that there would be recourses set in place if anyone was to leak the findings. We live in interesting times where Council censors the Public Record and then puts in place rules to ensure any breaches found of Councillors and staff never see the light of day and all voted on by a majority of Councillors who were elected to represent the community.