What is “en bloc” voting?

Order please!

Order please!

Redland City Council appears to be acting against the interests of the City’s ratepayers by using “en bloc” voting to minimise debate about important matters like the Budget.

En bloc voting is, by definition, putting a group of motions together and taking a single vote to pass the group of motions. Is it legitimate for passing motions within Local Government?

Redland City Council would appear to think that it is a legitimate tool for passing motions during budget session voting as it has used this method to pass rate and levy motions in both the 2013/2014 and 2014/2015 budgets. It does raise the question as to whether this was used as a measure to expedite the chamber process or was it simply being used to stifle any meaningful debate about the increases in rates and levies that passed through Redland City Council chambers on budget day.

One may draw a conclusion that the reason is the latter. The Council’s minutes of the day show that a councillor’s request for five minutes of extra debating time on the issue was refused. It does not seem to be allowing for natural justice for the ratepayers of Redland City when our elected councillors are not able to fully debate matters of great concern and financial impact to the City’s population.

Concerns about en bloc voting have been raised by other local government jurisdictions resulting in formal legal advice being obtained. Key points of this legal advice were:

  • Voting en bloc is a widely recognised method adopted by the elected body of Councils of transacting business at Council meetings.
  • It is not inherently consistent with the Local Government (Procedures at Meetings) Regulations 2000. As a matter of law the method is flawed and it should be avoided other than for a limited range of agenda items such as information only items and/or reports which only require receipt and noting. Otherwise, it places in doubt, informed and responsible decision making. Where a Council uses such a method to make decisions of substance it should do so with caution and be aware of the attendant risks.
  • Voting en bloc has no role to play if the decision either will or is likely to affect a third party.
  • Councils should be encouraged to implement measures to reinforce informed and responsible decision making and to safeguard both the integrity of the meeting process and the accuracy of Council minutes if they are to address matters en bloc.

Based on the above legal opinion and given the lack of due process in debating issues of great financial importance to the ratepayers of Redland City it would suggest that our council is not acting in the interests the ratepayers of this City.

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3 thoughts on “What is “en bloc” voting?

  1. en block voting is an affront to true democracy …BUT… that’s the essence of party politics !!!. Past council was rife with it and I think it’s comical that those who were party to some of the most blatant en block voting would now cry wolf…it’s known as Karma ,when what was dished out so regularly and with nil debate in the past is now deemed unfair by those who also remain in en block voting but without the numbers they use to have.
    ….gotta love Karma ,

    • Sam how true, in 2001 when Mayor Seccombe was elected we witnessed the abuse of the block and then in 2004 it was worse, the Seccombe Six were born, staff and the community became disgusted with the blatant abuse of some Councillors’ positions. In 2008 the community had their say and voted in a community based Council only 2 Councillors (Williams and Dowling) received donations from developers, the remaining Councillors funded their own campaign, but sadly the development money and the push for power and control was overwhelming and the developers got their disciples elected, there are no committee meetings open to the public to give the community the chance to hear debate and the general meetings are no more than a tick and flick. I just hope the Karma kicks in soon.

      • Toni, you forgot to mention the last councils en bloc , especially when it became very obvious to the entire Redlands community, that certain Councillors where protecting their investment properties rates by attacking the SMBI ratepayers and serving up the most expensive rates in Australia per land value …..The arrogance of the last en bloc was They chose to live there and Coochie and Straddie where protected from the greatest rates rorts for reasons of???? pecuniary interests …..the land slide was the voice of the ratepayers telling you all that Napoleon et al was not acceptable ….please pots calling kettles black is just so tiresome

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