Transparency In Council

There has been some discussion about the merit, risks and benefits of recording and publishing proceedings of our council meetings.  Council has conducted some closed, internal reviews and determined that they don’t consider it to be in the best interests of the community that we have a video record of the conduct of council meetings.  Recent behaviour and procedural chaos might actually suggest that it’s not in the interests of some councillors that too many people see what they get up to on the last Tuesday  of each month.

However, even when it’s potentially very embarrassing to some, there are councils who are not afraid to put their meetings online both live and for subsequent review.

Consider this very controversial meeting at Darebin (http://councils.apstream.net/council/public/Darebin/player.asp?Tab=2&OrgEntity=91&Meeting=1680) in which there was a serious disagreement between councillors as to whether or not they were operating in accordance with the requirements of the Local Government Act – you can’t get a lot more serious than that.

Despite the clearly strongly held divergent views and the sensitivity of the matter in question (Councillors appeared to be challenging the legality of the recent appointment of the CEO!), the meeting was conducted in a generally civil manner (at least up to the point at which four councillors walked out) and the council has not felt it necessary to censor or remove the recording.  The citizens of Darebin have the opportunity to see their council meetings live from home (especially important for those with mobility or other access issues) and to review the meeting in order to develop an informed opinion on matters of significance to their community.

Not so in Monash.  It’s time to get down to Council on the last Tuesday of each month to see and judge for yourself.  Do we need our councillors’ behaviour and processes online for all to see?  Do we have a right to know what’s going on even when we cannot get there in person?

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4 thoughts on “Transparency In Council”

  1. Recording equipment, network speeds and bandwidth and data storage costs have all fallen at roller-coaster rates in the past few years. What was unaffordable even as little as five years ago can now be provided for the cost of an Oakleigh community barbecue lunch. But we’d need the Mayor to approve it first!

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  2. Monash Council needs to be more transparent. Many citizens are denied access to meetings because of their stringent Local Law 1 and their refusal to record meetings. The Council’s argument that expensive equipment is needed does not hold weight. Cardinia Shire Council, for example, use MP3s to record meetings.

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