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Editorial August 16th 2019

Welcome to this week’s editorial,

Unless you were one of the gallery at this week’s Council meeting you would not have heard the stunning presentation by 11 year old Kaeleigh Peard as she and six other speakers during Public Forum. Once live-streamed, recorded and archived Council have now removed this option of community inclusion.

The Eurobodalla Mayor, Liz Innes, offered justification for the decision to the Bay Post on June 12th saying that “there was a disappointing trend by a small group of presenters who abused the opportunity to engage with councillors and instead used it to "harass, bully, make defamatory comments and continuously promote misinformation, and to also make defamatory and derogatory comments continuously about members of our staff".

Earlier a member of the public had addressed Council applied the word ‘malfeasance’. This example was used to show that Council might be exposed to defamation if it was to broadcast live such statements and without controls they could therefore not allow Live-streaming. The video record that contained the ‘defamatory’ presentation was edited by Council staff, however rather than deleting just a few minutes Council deleted 13 minutes of footage that presented nothing at all of legal concern. The footage was CENSORED.

Using this rare example of one outburst saw a domino knee-jerk reaction that now demands all presenters provide their written presentation 24 hours before Public Forum. In the event that they might venture off their script live-streaming, recording and archiving was also removed and Public Forum was disconnected from the Council meeting by half an hour to satisfy a loophole that supported their action.

As a consequence no-one, other than the gallery, heard the presenters on Tuesday, no-one other than the gallery heard the applause for speakers like Kaeleigh and no-one other than the gallery heard the questions asked by Councillors nor the responses give. And no-one other than the gallery witnessed the disdain, the body language, the distraction of mobile phones and ipads, the sneer, the flippant laugh nor the actions of the mayor demanding that the gallery cease their applause of speakers following their presentations.

Of interest this week were the emails and comments that the Beagle received around the suspected muting of gallery applause during the live-streamed section of the Council meeting, especially in light of the Mayor’s self declared rule of NO CLAPPING. We reviewed the footage and found that it was correct. Vision of clapping but with no noise.

With confidence and trust in the Council at an all time low and suspecting, like many, that the Mayor may well have control of a Muting Button to ‘kill the applause’ the Beagle enquired to discover that the Mayor, General Manager and Executive Services Coordinator do have the ability to mute microphones. In this case however the muting was of gallery clapping during the live-steam broadcast.

Case solved however by one of our dedicated readers. The muting happens when there are NO microphones in the chamber open. With Mayne the applause stopped directly after he turned off his microphone. The same with McGinlay. Fortunately there is footage to prove that no intended muting took place.

Now that we know the Mayor, General Manager and Executive Services Coordinator do have the ability to mute microphones it makes a mockery of their justification to cease Live Streaming, recording and archiving given to remove Public Forum in case someone might say something untoward. Until next Lei

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