Today Redland City Council wisely decided to think before acting to restrict filming of its general meetings.
Cr Paul Gleeson moved an urgent motion without notice that all recording and filming equipment be removed from the chamber. Councillors voted 6-5 to reject Cr Gleeson’s motion. It is likely that the issue will be discussed again at another meeting in the near future.
The discussion and voting on this motion was filmed and recorded by Redlands2030. An unedited version of the video recording is available here.
Why should filming of meetings be allowed
Redlands2030 has been providing commentary on Council meetings for over 12 months. Having access to an accurate and complete record of proceedings helps us to provide the community with more accurate information about Council activities.
The official minutes of Council meetings are very uninformative. They contain no record of discussion by councillors or officers at the meetings.
Council produces a twitter feed but is very selective about what is tweeted to the extent that it seems biased in favour of the Mayor and the councillors who support her.
Council makes an audio recording of meetings but this is only made available to the public if they first lodge a Right to Information request. This costs a minimum of $43.35 and can take many weeks to obtain.
To assist in keeping the community informed, Redlands2030 recently commenced filming some items of discussion at Council meetings. This was discussed at the last meeting and councillors agreed to let us continue. Redlands2030 notified the Council yesterday that we also intended to record at the meeting today.
Concerns about filming meetings
The concerns about allowing Council meetings to be filmed or recorded by the public seem to be varied and insubstantial.
One point raised by Cr Gleeson is that councillors do not have parliamentary privilege. This is a furphy. What councillors say is already being recorded – it’s just difficult to access.
It has been suggested by Cr Gleeson and a couple of others that Redlands2030 will misuse the recording of council deliberations. How can such a judgement be formed in advance of us doing anything?
If anyone was to misuse the information obtained by recording council meetings then there would be plenty of ways for this to be dealt with.
It is quite possible that these “concerns” are being raised spuriously because these councillors prefer to have a tightly managed flow of information to the community which supports their political agendas.
More transparency please
The Gold Coast City Council provides live streaming of its meetings that are open to the public. Here is a link to their live streaming webpage where it is possible to view coverage of recent meetings. It demonstrates how modern technology can be applied to improve the transparency of local government.
Redland City Council should consider following in the footsteps of the Gold Coast and introducing live streaming. This would be of particular benefit for residents who live on the islands for whom getting to Council meetings can be time consuming and expensive.
In the meantime, Council should make audio recordings available promptly (within 24 hours of the meeting) to anyone at no charge. If it did this then there would be less reason why people would go to the trouble of making video recordings of subject matter that is unlikely to smash box office records.