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Council prefers to throw contractor under bus rather than take responsibility

In an interesting turn of events Council has decided it would throw one of its contractors 'under the bus' rather than accept responsibility of the recently exposed editing of the May 26th 2020 Council meeting that saw four minutes and forty seconds of video deleted. When asked if Council staff had deleted the video that appears on Council's website Council advised that the management of Council meeting videos is done by a third party and that they had edited the video without any direction or authorisation by Council. The third party, it has been discovered, is Interstream, the primary contractor and software and hardware supplier for council meeting webcasting services across Australia. Of concern, in establishing that it was a contractor who deleted the footage, is the fact that in doing so they have brought the Eurobodalla Council into disrepute as the video did not carry any statement that it had been manipulated and was not a true and accurate record of the meeting as per the NSW Office of Local Government Guidelines.

Can a webcast recording be altered before or after it is published?

A webcast recording can be altered after it is recorded (including livestream webcasts) to remove any content that is not suitable for public broadcast or that may expose the council to a potential legal liability. Councils have the flexibility to decide how to edit a webcast recording. It can simply be muting the sound in the recording or removing portions of the recording. The general manager is responsible for deciding if a webcast is to be altered. Before making such a decision, it may be appropriate for the general manager to seek legal advice and to consult with the Chairperson and the other councillors. Councils should include a statement on their website where the recording can be accessed advising users that the webcast has been altered for legal reasons.  This is not the first time that Council has been challenged on its editing of Council meetings. An earlier example under this council was the deleting of 13 minutes of footage during a presentation to council by Mr Peter Bernard. Rather than muting the word "malfeasance" in the recording they stated that they had received legal advice to delete 13 minutes of discussion. Council have lied in the past about receiving legal advice and their reputation for such lies did not calm the waters of their editing actions. One of the most memorable examples of the Council's manipulation of the public record happened on June 26th 2012. TRANSCRIPT OF PART OF THE AUDIO RECORDING OF THE ORDINARY MEETING OF THE EUROBODALLA SHIRE COUNCIL ON 26 JUNE 2012, CONCERNING COUNCIL’S IN-PRINCIPLE APPROVAL OF THE USE OF THE NAROOMA SPORTS AND LEISURE CENTRE BY THE SOUTH COAST HUNTERS’ CLUB.

Note: The following abbreviations for names are used: Mayor Fergus Thompson, FT; Councillor Chris Kowal, CK; Councillor Keith Dance, KD; Councillor Rob Pollock, RP; Councillor Lindsay Brown, LB; Councillor Allan Brown, AB; Director of Infrastructure Warren Sharpe, WS; “?” indicates that the speaker is not able to be identified.

The recording commences with:

FT: Good morning and welcome .... press either of those .... you have five minutes ... please sit. [Commencement of Public Forum. The mayor is explaining the operation of the microphone to the first presenter. The minutes show that all councillors were present at the commencement of the meeting.]

At 1 hour and 53 minutes into the meeting, Agenda Item O12/117, concerning the proposed demolition of the Kyla Community Hall, is being discussed:

CK: ... a retrograde step to demolish the hall and let go of the land ...

FT: ... if you retain it, do you fund the maintenance of it?

KD: ... it’s done and dusted ... no one’s gonna look after it ... come on ... let’s go with it.



. [The motion was carried]

WS: ... if you understand my meaning. [Warren Sharpe elaborating on an issue raised in relation to the hall]

Immediately after these words by Warren Sharpe, on the issue of the demolition of the hall and its replacement, Rob Pollock spoke, commencing at 1 Hour 58 Min into the meeting.

Above: The MINUTES of June 26th 2012 indicate MINUTE 12/148 MATTER OF URGENCY E12.6277 12/148 MOTION Councillor Rob Pollock/Councillor Keith Dance THAT the proposed use of the Narooma Sports and Leisure Centre by Huntfest be dealt with as a matter of urgency. (This Motion on being put was declared CARRIED). The words above never happened. The Urgent Motion did NOT happen. At timestamp 1:52:37 FT advises "As a matter of urgency Councillor Pollock wishes to bring forward a matter as well". The Matter of Urgency Motion as minuted above NEVER happened yet the official minutes of Council say it did. The issue at hand is that BECAUSE there was NO MATTER OF URGENCY raised to deal with the proposed use of Narooma Sports and Leisure by Huntfest the following Motion that was NOT on the AGENDA should NOT have been permitted. USE OF NAROOMA SPORTS AND LEISURE CENTRE E12.6277 12/149 MOTION Councillor Rob Pollock/Councillor Keith Dance THAT Council note its support, in principle, for the proposed use of the Narooma Sports and Leisure Centre by the South Coast Hunters Club for Huntfest. It is clear that the MINUTES were manipulated to appear as if the Urgent Motion had taken place when in fact the audio transcript accessed under Freedom of Information clearly shows that there was NO Urgent Motion put forward, voted on and declared.

Audio: Listen to the FULL meeting HERE or from 1:58m HERE

RP: Could I just have the official name of the proposed use of the, the youth and leisure centre at Narooma, please.

?: Um ... Huntfest

RP: Can I sugges