The Beagle Editor,
Contrary to the advice apparently given to councillors, the Office of Local Government (OLG) in fact encourages councils to adopt Public Forums to be part of Council's decision making process. All through the Local Government Act, engagement and consultation with the community is encouraged and the OLG says that the public forum input should form part of the decision making process, but not necessarily actually be a part of the council meeting proper.
The OLG guidelines do not advise against live streaming or video recording the Public Forum in fact all 5 of our neighbouring councils, like around half the other councils in the state, do telecast and retain videoed public forum sessions as records of proceedings.
What we saw on Tuesday, though, was blatant evidence that a bloc of councillors had seemingly decided which way to vote before hearing submissions from members of the community or participating in a decent debate within the meeting itself.
Mayor Innes referred to a small number of presenters who could create problems - that's a problem of her own making, it could be said, and in any case Council has a procedure for handling “difficult customers” which could be invoked rather than resorting to the disgraceful decision made on Tuesday, despite the valiant efforts of the two truly democratic and altruistic councillors. (Thank you, Pat and Anthony!)
Councillors when taking their oaths undertook to “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”. If what we saw on Tuesday is the best of their ability and judgment, then heaven help us!
Something to remember come September 2020, eh?
Jeff de Jager
EDITOR: Photo reconstructed to show the voting divide that is more often the norm at Eurobodalla Council Above: an obvious divide at the last Council meeting where the community have backlashed against what they consider a "BAD DECISION" on the part of the seven councillors who voted to remove video recording, broadcast and archiving of Public Forum presentations. Councillors McGinlay and Mayne (Right) did their best to challenge the proposal as a "Backward Step" especially for a Council that continues to claim it is "Moving Forward". Was it a Bad Decision? Let us know what you think.