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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

Eurobodalla councillors vote to become mediocre

While all the other councils in the South East have embraced technology and video record and live stream their Public Forum sessions seven out of nine Eurobodalla Councillor voted today remove future video recording, streaming and archiving. From now on if you want to know what your fellow community members said to councillors in Public Forum you will have to go to Council's website and read it rather than watch the video archive or catch up here on the Beagle. The meeting today was well attended as to be expected of such a historic event that would see Brown, Thomson, Nathan, Tait, Constable, Pollock and Innes all vote to remove video recording that had been in place since 2015. One speaker after another presented to councillors pleading that they vote against the General Manager's recommendation that would see Eurobodalla become the horses-arse of the South East when it came to openness, transparency and community inclusion. Presentation by : Donald Macdonald, Jeff de Jager, Peter Cormick, Jim Bright, Lei Parker

VIDEO: Following the Eurobodalla council meeting of June 11th, 2019 members of the community met to debrief on Council's decision to remove video recording and live streaming of Public Forum

It was clear from the start that the majority of councillors had already made up their minds even though they were being well advised by speakers of their sworn oaths to represent the community. To be commended was Councillor Pat McGinlay who put up a host of amendments that, in the main, were defeated by the Gang of Seven supporting the General Manager's recommendations instead. Congratulations also to Councillor Anthony Mayne who provided peer support to McGinlay's well informed amendments only to be dismayed at the decisions made by the majority of councillors to dismiss them one by one. There were a few tiny wins for Councillor McGinlay but the biggest one for the day was the revelation that the majority of Eurobodalla Councillors supported the General Manager and not the community, all but ignoring the submissions and presentations made and the sound advice of Councillor Anthony Mayne pleading not to remove videoing and streaming of Public Forum who said: "We have this wonderful forum here that has worked that has worked .... that has put us as one of the leaders of NSW and we are going to walk back from that." "It is an absolute sad day if we move this way forward" Clr Anthony Mayne The meeting fell into farce on several occasions as the Mayor castigated the gallery for applauding public speakers after their presentations. With seven very well informed, eloquent speakers delivering their presentations that well reflected the opinion of the community assembled in the gallery it was only natural they might applaud what could well have been the very last opportunity they would have to change councillors minds. As if it was a special rule somewhere only the Mayor knew of she did what she could to close down what was polite acknowledgement of a good presentation. It did not go unnoticed that in an absolute double standard the Mayor later lead a round of applause for those named in the Queens Birthday List. Much to the amusement of the gallery, in what was a laboured meeting, was the Mayor's castigation of "Here Here" from the gallery when they offered agreement to a presenter of a recommended amendment by Councillor McGinlay, even dressing down a member of the public when he said "Hear Hear" offering support to her own Mayoral perspective. As there is no policy or guidance on NO applause, NO laughter NOR vocalised support in the form of Hear Hear the gallery basically ignored the Mayor equating her to little more than an overly officious Seinfeild Soup Nazi (No soup for you !!) and continued to represent the Community in all its unwashed glory by way of modified applause and muffled "here heres". The moment of the day came with a random unexpected comment which the Mayor did not recoil at when Councillor Pollock responded, on microphone, of a point saying "I think I outlined that before" to then have his councillor tablet Siri robotic helper adding over the chamber speakers "I don't know what you mean by that...." The second hilarity of the day was in the Eureka moment of Councillor Tait when he advised his fellow councillors, when asked by Councillor Mayne "What is causing this Council to close Public Forum down?', that the presentations had "all been political and had been for the past fifteen months". It was good to hear Councillor Tait, representing the fourteen shire residents who voted for him realised that, after more than two years, he was in a political arena. "It's political, every one of those things (presentations) this morning was political. It has been for the last 12 to 15 months, all politics, all political". Councillor Jack Tait This outburst was only excelled by Councillor Nathan, best representing the four members of the community who voted for her, when she called on a Scottish philosopher of 1723, Shakespeare and a random rabbi for quotes to support her vote to remove live streaming while the Mayor read from a prepared piece with both debate closures putting a final knife into modern, accessible democratic open communication processes in Eurobodalla. Following the final determination that Council will now abolish live steaming and recording of Public Forum the gallery left in general disgust with comments of "f#$%ing disgusting" and "tw*ts" grumbling their thoughts of the seven councillors who voted for the removal that left Councillors MacGinlay and Councillor Mayne to hold their heads high as they stood firm to the end representing democracy, openness, transparency and the oath they stood for to best represent the community. "Only sixteen months until these mongrels are voted out and the Code of Meeting Practice comes up to the next Council, This WILL be an election issue and this lot have shat in their beds" said one disgruntled member of the public on hearing of the decision. Post meeting Councillor Anthony Mayne offered this statement: Live Streaming of Public Forums is History! A sad day for Community Engagement with our Shire at Eurobodalla Shire Council on Eurobodalla - South Coast NSW. Thank you to the 8 speakers today, all whom spoke against the motion to stop live streaming. Great presentations and all are available on record, though these are the last ones. Thank you to Clr Pat McGinlay for his amendments. We tried, though unfortunately the motion got through 7 to 2. Our Council was a leader in this space; being an early adopter of this technology. Now we return to the pack, while Councils around us continue on with this live streaming. Why have we stopped! 50% of Councils still live stream their Public Forums. We are no longer a leader, as we take a large step backwards.So to the house bound, the disabled, the elderly, those working on a Tuesday, the media and so forth, you will no longer be able to watch your fellow community members present to Council. A record of their typed transcript will instead be placed on the Council site. We heard from presenters today that the Chamber is your Town Square! I shared a few thoughts about the need for Transparency and Engagement. How does removing this medium do anything to grow transparency? Shire's Delivery Program has a number of pillars, one of them being: a Collaborative and Engaged Community.Suffice to say, I am very disappointed and think that today was an unfortunate chapter in our Shire's history. I am yet to hear a good reason Why Council would walk backwards from live streaming Public Forums. As Peter Cormick, one of the presenters said, there is a Public Interest test here - and that part of this is the need for an Open, Accessible and Transparent Council.

Only two Councillors stood to support the community and retain video recording of Public Forum today at Eurobodalla Council's historic meeting that has left the community gutted and bewildered of why they would take such draconian actions - Above Councillor Pat McGinlay and below Clr Anthony Mayne

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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