Item 9.14 – Audio Visual Recordings of Council Meetings

Delahunty moved a motion that more information be provided on how Kingston and Melbourne City Council operate their recordings of council meetings. Magee seconded.

DELAHUNTY: said that she basically wants to ‘increase the participation in local government’. This would let people see what council does at ‘a time that’s convenient’ for them. Thought it was very important that they keep looking at the various ‘options’ around and how other councils have ‘found solutions’. Said that ‘I’m quite okay with spending some money in the next budget’ on this. Wanted information on streaming as opposed to ‘digital recordings’ because choices on costs are involved here. Looked forward to the report coming back.

MAGEE: said that many people don’t come because of various reasons like shift work or child care and can’t make it. But they say that they ‘wished’ they could and want to know what happened. The minutes of meetings ‘doesn’t fill in all the blanks’ like ‘who said what, when and where’. It’s also good as a ‘historical’ record or ‘archive’. Said that all the history of GESAC is gone and that’s a shame. Also schools would benefit when they’re studying local government. Mainly it’s a way for the ‘other 140,000 people’ to find out what’s going on and they probably don’t even know when council meetings are on at the moment. People might only be interested in one thing like a planning issue so with this they could look it up and see what happened. Said he wasn’t in favour of live streaming but it’s something that ‘could be released with the minutes of the meeting’. Saw it as a ‘tool’ for the future.

HYAMS: supported the motion to ‘increase’ involvement and would like to see more people in the gallery. Even the reporter is absent tonight but with this they could write up their reports from the office the next day without attending because ‘we all know how cash strapped the Leader is’. Said that there are probably a lot of reasons why people can’t make it to meetings so it’s worthwhile to ‘at least examine’ the issues.

LOBO: said it was an ‘important tool’ so residents will know how ‘we are performing’. Said that residents have told him about councillors coming and ‘knocking on their doors’ and that they ‘know nothing about the candidate’. Therefore this should help people ‘gauge how the councillor is performing’, ‘how they are behaving including banging on the table’. Also ‘how they are gossiping, how they are passing remarks’ .

PILLING: thought it was a ‘good idea’ to ‘investigate’ this further.

DELAHUNTY: reiterated the point about increasing participation. Thought that there ‘was all round merit’ to the motion.

MOTION PUT and Lobo asked for a division. The only councillor to vote against was ESAKOFF.

COMMENT

Once again there is a motion for ‘more information’. We interpret this as an implied criticism of the original report though of course not one word to this effect was uttered by anyone. We also find it interesting that Lipshutz, Okotel and Esakoff remained silent throughout the discussion. According to the Code of Conduct councillors are expected to voice the grounds for their votes. Surely it is incumbent on both, and especially Esakoff to state her reasons for voting against the motion? We predict the logic of their actions go something like this:

1. This is only the call for another report. The real ‘debate’ will happen next time around when there could possibly be a motion to install audio/recordings. Better to keep our powder dry until this eventuates.
2. This gives them time to ‘work’ on their colleagues and to concoct some further spurious arguments against
3. To be seen to reject a motion for a report is not good public relations. As Hyams has so often said, to reject a report would imply that they are not ‘democratic’ and open to new ideas and that they’ve got something to hide!

We will be watching this with great interest but doubt that if it eventuates it will be clear of ‘editing’ and ‘censorship’. The only certainty is that this is all still a long, long way off. Further, does this call for another ‘policy’? Inclusion into the Local Law? or merely another set of ‘guidelines’ that are entirely ‘flexible’ and open to interpretation. If the former, can we expect that the Local Laws Committee will be involved? We also remind readers that not so long ago Hyams made the comment that he was opposed to recordings since there were often ‘asides’ that might be picked up! All in all, the potential permutations and combinations are fascinating to contemplate! Decisiveness is definitely not the hallmark of this set of councillors!

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