There has been a relaxation of some restrictions on the attendance by councillors and others at council and committee meetings during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The new Public Health Order removes the “stay at home” direction contained in the earlier Public Health (COVID-19 Restrictions on Gathering and Movement) Order 2020. After being in hibernation for seven weeks the Eurobodalla Councillors will be able to come out into the light once again on May 26th after their long slumber knowing that it is now permissible for councillors, council staff and others to leave their homes for the purposes of attending council and committee meetings. Councillor Pat McGinlay publicly slammed the seven-week gap between Eurobodalla Shire meetings as "ridiculous". telling the Bay Post that the shire was in "a critical period, with COVID-19 on top of bushfire recovery" and that "It's coming close to the end of the financial year where we talk about the budget, rate increases, fee charge increases and the Mackay Park project." "We should be meeting once a fortnight, rather than have this ridiculous seven-week gap", he said. This condemnation came shortly after the Mayor, Liz Innes refused to allow the Councillor to put forward his Urgent Matter requesting that the Council meeting schedule be returned to normal and conducted via Zoom. Knowingly aware of his Urgent Matter, having only been briefed an hour before, the Mayor dismissed a technical issue and refused to 'reopen' the meeting that had NOT been officially closed. The General Manager and Mayor were asked to advise on exactly where the ruling states that a meeting that has been closed CAN NOT be reopened by the Chair when there has been an issue as this The response from the General Manager, Catherine Dale was: "The Model Code of Meeting Practice for Local Councils in NSW, Local Government Act 1993 and Local Government (General) Regulation 2005 is silent on reopening a Council meeting after the completion of business. Therefore, there is no process to reopen a Council meeting after the completion of business." In reading the Model Code it also appears that the Act and Regulation are equally silent on the Closing of a Council meeting as well. One might suppose that the word CLOSE would be a key word to use - the fact that this word was NOT used will beg the question at the next Council meeting in regards to the Minutes of the previous meeting asking "was the meeting actually closed?"
VIDEO: Did the Mayor close the meeting? Did the Mayor treat Councillor McGinlay with respect? Ordinary Meeting of Eurobodalla Council Date: April 7th 2020 Discussion around the Urgent Business Under MOU with Eurobodalla Shire Council Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia licence. read more http://bit.ly/beagleCC There are some key points to the new directive:
Councils should continue to allow councillors and staff to attend and participate in council and committee meetings by audio visual links where it is reasonably practicable to do so. This might be an option that Clr Lindsay Brown, who claims to be Cr Brown, who advised the Bay Post he was immune suppressed, could take.
The new Public Health Order maintains the existing restrictions on gatherings and councils must not:
allow 100 or more persons to attend meetings at the same time, or
allow persons to attend meetings if the size of the meeting venue is insufficient to ensure there is 4 square metres of space for each person attending the meeting.