My name is Jim Bright. I’m a resident of Narooma.
I’m here to comment on some of the matters that the councillors are being asked to decide today in respect of the draft of the Code of Meeting Practice that is about to be circulated to our community for comment.
I’ll start by repeating a couple of the points that I made in my presentation to the previous councillors at the council meeting on 11 June 2019. (That was the council meeting that approved most of the content of the current code including the highly controversial decision to cease the webcasting of the Public Forum.)
The first point is that the staff report that is before you today makes frequent references to OLG’s claims about (so called) “best practices”. In my presentation in 2019, I explained the background to this “best practice” concept and the processes that are normally undertaken by (say) some appropriate central government agency to identify the particular practices that might reasonably justify the use of the word “best”. The point I made in June 2019 was that there was no evidence at all that OLG had ever undertaken any acceptable process for the identification of such practices. As I said at that time -
“I expect that what is claimed by OLG to be “best practice” is probably little more than the views of some officers in the Council Governance Unit of OLG.”
I continue to hold that view.
The other important point that I wish to make is that, yet once again, the staff report fails to advise you that it appears that all the other surrounding councils in the south east have continued to livestream their public forums. As I said at the 11 June 2019 meeting -
“Now if I was a councillor being confronted with the clearly controversial and unpopular proposition that I should approve the cessation of livestreaming of Public Forum ... I would expect to have been provided with this type of information. The GM’s failure to have done this is remarkable and you should be demanding an explanation and assurances about future practices.”
Well - that 2019 comment is even more relevant to today’s consideration of the Public Forum livestreaming issue by councillors given that each of you had specificly and publicly addressed this particular issue during the recent election campaign. Never-the-less, the GM has again apparently decided not to bring the livestreaming practices of all the surrounding councils to the attention of you - the decision-makers!
In closing, I would strongly recommend that, after the completion of the community consultation period on 22 June, a workshop should be convened involving councillors, council staff and members of the community in order to properly work through the issues and complexities associated with this crucial matter before any final recommendations are put to the body politic for decision on 26 July.
The Eurobodalla General Manager, Catherine Dale, appears to consider Eurobodalla as a stand alone bubble when it comes to web-steaming - is it time for the bubble to burst?