Lets make Council meetings more public

Councillors discuss if people should be able to record Council proceedings

Councillors discuss if people should be able to record Council meetings

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.

People interested in this issue might like to read the Redland City Bulletin’s report Redland considers banning video, recording as well as discussion on the Bulletin’s Facebook page

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.

 

Redlands2030 – 20 May 2015

Please note: Offensive or off-topic comments will be deleted. If offended by any published comment please email thereporter@redlands2030.net

5 thoughts on “Lets make Council meetings more public

  1. The only reason any councillor would want closed meetings is because they have something to hide. Today’s politicians forget they do not own us nor the land but are acting caretakers of the land for future generations and are in office because we voted them in to speak on our behalf. Problem is once they are in power some forget that and operate according to their own personal agenda. Some of our councillors should re- familiarise themselves with Council policies 0248 and 3096 which cover the way in which they must perform the duties of their office after all we do live in a democratic society and not a dictatorship, or do we?

  2. it would appear that the councillors have forgotten the basic tenent of why they are there in the first place – they are public servants put there by the community. The community has a right to hear what is said and by whom. Councillors are probably worried that the community will find out how childish and befuddled most council meetings are with very little real debate occurring. Council currently uses the reporting mechanisms of Council to hide what really happens or produce mis – information. If Council was “open and transparent” like the the spin doctors of Council keep telling us they would allow live streaming of Council meetings. Of course the Councillors may not like the idea of having on video a record their performances………….

  3. hahahahah what a joke. Councillors should understand that there is no privilege protection, but everything they say is recorded by Council anyway and able to be acquired by the Public but as the author says the residents have to go through FOI and a cost involved. The other option, any residents can contact a councillor and receive the info free, as Councillors have quick and easy access to recordings. Today I have been informed that a member of the public spoke in the public participation time, this woman who attends every General Meeting and would be aware that the Mayor reads the rules of the meeting to all highlighting that no member of the public can denigrate a councillor. a Council officer or a member of the community. This woman took it upon herself to denigrate myself without being picked up by the Mayor, this woman I am told continued in her ravings until a member of the public had enough and called a Point of Order which is unknown, but as all in the gallery were frustrated by this ill informed woman, the community found it necessary to call a stop to the rantings. Without being there I am wondering if this woman has a personal connection to any Councillor or is relying on her property being rezoned in the next Planning Scheme.

    I also read on the Redland City Bulletin blog that Ms Talty said General Meetings were not public forums and the public had a right to speak without being concerned about how they were being recorded. Firstly the General Meeting is a public space and secondly community people speaking at a General Meeting had their speech recorded, anyone can get a copy of that. Have these Councillors being asleep in the past 3 years to not know the rules. Great work Judith Kerr and well researched story showing that some in Council don’t have a clue, the video is like watching Dumb and Dumber.

    • Re Council meetings being open to the public. I recall when local people fought and won the battle against Bunnings taking over much of Brewer St (after buying and demolishing 3 houses needed for their big green shed in Capalaba) after work hours meetings were held in council, but after court hearings with senior Judge Skoien having walked the site twice, saying NO both times ALL after hours meetings were banned. People work..no time to attend meeings unless they take time off work frowned upon by bosses.Too easy for inappropriate development approvals with zonings changed overnight behind closed doors. Community have a right to know issues under discussion and what better way than 2030 Group members or others, showing those of us unable to attend meetings by adopting Gold Coast council’s live streaming to view coverage of recent meetings. Bring it on! .

  4. Free theatre!
    But seriously, it has been reported that Thornlands resident from CARP “railed” against the Corporate Plan adopted by Council today because it did not reflect the Redlands 2030 Community Plan. As this speech would be in the public domain now, could you please add a copy so we can follow what would have been a reasoned and logical address?

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