Presentation: Jeff de Jager June 11th 2019

VIDEO: Ordinary Meeting of Eurobodalla Council Date: June 11th 2019Presentation by Jeff de JagerUnder MOU with Eurobodalla Shire CouncilCreative Commons AttributionNonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia more Public Forum Submission – 11 June 2019

GMR19/010 Draft Code of Meeting Practice

Public Access and Public Forum sessions allow members of the community to make submissions face-to-face with council. Such opportunities are not otherwise available and are not as frequent or convenient as in past years - the number of council meetings open to the public this year will be 18, in 2010 it was 32.

It is important too that the content of these submissions made in Public Access and Public Forum sessions, and the responses of council if any, be known to those who cannot attend meetings and be on the public record for future reference.

Rather than eliminating Public Access, removing livestreaming or video recording from Public Forum or any part of meetings other than confidential sections, rather than in any way limiting the time or access to make submissions, the proactive and responsible thing for council to be doing is to actually extend meetings to include Public Access and to provide the same livestreaming and video recording as for the rest of the meeting and even allowing for Questions on Notice to be submitted by members of the community as is done in some other shires.

There are times when there might be many submissions on a particular issue but these are rare and they do, by the very numbers, indicate the level of concern in the community and therefore something that council should be most inclined to consider and to provide the means to be available to the broader community. In the past, some such issues were the subject of extraordinary meetings with in-depth debates - this avenue is open to you still at appropriate times.

It is suggested in the agenda that issues can be raised directly with councillors by phone or email but please reflect on how many times you actually respond to such approaches and if you had been on the other end, how satisfied would you have been with your response?

While it could be accepted that some matters can be time wasters or even embarrassing, wise leaders know that there is no such thing as a dumb idea and that it would be a dumb thing to be dismissive of any submission without acknowledgement and without offering advice to correct any misapprehensions. There are adequate means available to “censor” tracts on video tapes that are legally unacceptable but the occasions where this might be necessary are extremely rare.

Importantly, if you believe everything you do here is as pure as the driven snow, then please be mindful that any restriction people perceive to be designed to exclude them, will only exacerbate any inclination to doubt or suspicion.

Think back to your own motivations to stand for election to Council: I’m sure it was not to make members of the community feel they are excluded wherever possible from expressing an opinion or offering a suggestion or some constructive criticism.

Following are some extracts from the Local Government Act highlighting the importance placed on representation, transparency, engagement, consultation, accountability and responsibility. Please read them and think about why they were written into the Act and most importantly, please make amendments to the draft Code of Meeting Conduct to ensure members of the community are, and feel, welcome, included and engaged.

Public Forum Submission

By Jeff de Jager on 11 June 2109

Extracts from the Local Government Act 1993

(as at 6 June 2019)

7. Purposes of the Act

(d) to facilitate engagement with the local community by councils, councillors and other persons and bodies that constitute the system of local government,

(e) to provide for a system of local government that is accountable to the community and that is sustainable, flexible and effective.

8A Guiding principles for councils

  1. Exercise of functions generally

(a) Councils should provide strong and effective representation, leadership, planning and decision-making.

(2) Decision-making The following principles apply to decision-making by councils (subject to any other applicable law):

(a) Councils should recognise diverse local community needs and interests.

(b) Councils should consider social justice principles.

(c) Councils should consider the long term and cumulative effects of actions on future generations.

(e) Council decision-making should be transparent and decision-makers are to be accountable for decisions and omissions.

(3) Community participation

Councils should actively engage with their local communities, through the use of the integrated planning and reporting framework and other measures.222 Who comprise the governing body?

The elected representatives, called “councillors”, comprise the governing body of the council.

223 Role of governing body

(1) The role of the governing body is as follows:

(b) to provide effective civic leadership to the local community,

(k) to consult regularly with community organisations and other key stakeholders and keep them informed of the council’s decisions and activities,

(l) to be responsible for ensuring that the council acts honestly, efficiently and appropriately.

226 Role of mayor

The role of the mayor is as follows:

(b) to advance community cohesion and promote civic awareness,

(k) in conjunction with the general manager, to ensure adequate opportunities and mechanisms for engagement between the council and the local community,

232 The role of a councillor

(1) The role of a councillor is as follows:

(a) to be an active and contributing member of the governing body,

(b) to make considered and well informed decisions as a member of the governing body,

(d) to represent the collective interests of residents, ratepayers and the local community,

(e) to facilitate communication between the local community and the governing body,

(2) A councillor is accountable to the local community for the performance of the council.

233A Oath and affirmation for councillors


I [name of councillor] swear that I will undertake the duties of the office of councillor in the best interests of the people of [name of council area] and the [name of council] and that I will faithfully and impartially carry out the functions, powers, authorities and discretions vested in me under the Local Government Act 1993 or any other Act to the best of my ability and judgment.