NEWS FLASH: Peter Waite announced his resignation to staff yesterday.

Once again under ‘Urgent Business’ Hyams and Pilling moved the following motion (our emphases in bold)

Crs Hyams/Pilling

That Council release, distribute to the Leader newspaper and place on Council’s website the following statement:

‘At its Special meeting of October 20, Council considered a motion in the confidential part of the meeting that related to the provision of security services on Council property. Council stands by its decision to consider that item confidentially, as we give priority to public safety, and believe it is potentially detrimental to public safety if details of security measures and any limitations on those are revealed to those who may wish to disrupt or attack an event – operational matters related to security are not generally put into the public domain, nor should they be.

However, Council wishes to make clear the following points:

o As stated in a statement dated December 11, there is no authorisation by Glen Eira Council for the carrying of firearms for any current or future event anywhere in Glen Eira;

o Council is aware of no specific threat beyond the heightened alert;

o At recent major events on Council parks where extra private security has been provided, such security has been provided in coordination with the police, and the police have been informed of the security measures to be taken; and

o Council’s role in such events is to decide whether to accept a booking for a Council venue and, if so, on what conditions’.

Note: when a seconder was called for the above it took an unprecedented amount of time for a councillor to put up his hand. Pilling, rather sheepishly, eventually did.

HYAMS: he thought that ‘the motion speaks for itself’ so didn’t have anything to say ‘at this stage’.

Pilling also didn’t have anything to say and called for speakers against.

DELAHUNTY: said that there is ‘denigration’ of the ‘processes which brought us to this point’. Agreed that a meeting took place on the 20th October but the meeting was ‘constituted’ to consider the ‘security of council property’ and said that ‘at no point was that raised’ so that the statement is therefore ‘incorrect’ and ‘brings into question whether or not the original meeting’ was legal and according to the Local Government Act. The Act ‘compels us to consider only those items that are advertised to the public and no other’. Said that Hyams is ‘now telling us that we didn’t get to the business that was advertised to the public’. She’s against the motion because it ‘asks me’ to ‘ratify a decision that I didn’t endorse in the first place’. Said that she doesn’t believe it accords with the guidelines of the Local Government Act and doesn’t agree that ‘operational matters relating to security’ shouldn’t ‘generally’ be in the ‘public domain’. Didn’t agree that this could be ‘detrimental to public safety’. Gave examples of grand final day at the MCG where ‘police issues statements’ about their arrangements to ensure ‘security at those events’. Claimed that ‘this all aids us in feeling safe’. Said that council ‘isn’t experts on this – they are experts on this’ (ie police). Thought there was ‘good intent’ about the motion but it ‘underlines’ support for what went before and that when ‘we allow those discussions’ to happen ‘behind closed doors it doesn’t have the level of debate’ that the public expects. Said again that she is not having a go at the ‘intent’ but can’t agree with the part of the motion which refers to the meeting of October 20th because ‘we told the public we were doing something else’ and that is contradictory to ‘the Act’.

SOUNNESS: said that he is aware of what ‘needs to be said’ and ‘how I can say it’. Said he has got a ‘lot of concern’ about how ‘my country, Australia’ can be a safe place for everyone. For him there needs to be ‘clear markers’ as to who has the responsibility for ensuring it is a safe place. Said ‘I find it uncomfortable that Council can be in a position behind closed doors’ about something that he doesn’t think is ‘core business’. Other ‘sectors’ do this ‘far better’. Admitted he was ‘beating around the bush’ but wanted to say that the way that councils should go about security is of being ‘more accepting and calming fears’. Repeated that this was again ‘beating around the bush’ but didn’t feel that he could ‘say anymore’.

MAGEE: said this was about discussion in camera and that in ‘my time as a councillor we’ve always taken such decisions’ very seriously. Claimed that these decisions were based on ‘merit’ and ‘information’ and councillors make the decision as ‘individuals, moms and dads’. When they make decision to move in camera and sometimes after going into confidential mode they wonder ‘why we even bothered’ so ‘until we get there’ they find that the ‘information can’t be’ revealed before ‘we go in camera’ and ‘sometimes’ when they are in camera they think it ‘shouldn’t have been in camera’. ‘But at the point where you are asked’ is the important decision and he prefers to decide on ‘the side of caution’ and how he ‘believes my community wants me to act’. And if he doesn’t think it should be in camera then ‘I will make my voice known within that forum’. Didn’t want people to think that ‘moving into in camera’ was just something council did to be ‘blasé’ or ‘just being secretive’. Repeated that moving into confidential meetings is ‘very serious’ and that councillors do it with ‘the utmost respect for people’.

LIPSHUTZ: said we ‘live in the real world’ and there is a ‘world wide threat against Australia’ and against ‘Western civilisation’ and the ‘impact on all of us’. So no matter how ‘we deplore’ this and ‘feel uncomfortable’ about it ‘I feel more comfortable to know that our government’ and others are ‘doing something to protect us’. Said it was the ‘height of naivety’ to expect authorities to disclose what they are doing. Some might disclose that ‘yes we have police there’ but ‘do you think that’s the only’ security they have? Claimed to have ‘connections with a number of security agencies’ and ‘you don’t go and tell the public every operational matter’ because ‘if you are a terrorist here is what we are going to do’. You don’t do this. You give the public ‘some comfort’ but what is not revealed is the ‘second layer’ – the ‘other security measures’. If you do tell everything then ‘you are almost guaranteed that there will be a tragedy’. Council has the ‘same role as government, the same role as State Government’ so ‘if there is a situation where we believe’ there is a ‘threat, wherever it may be’ you then ‘have another layer’. Last week council had Carols in the Park and there were police there but also ‘private security guards’ and that was because ‘council took the view that we needed it’. Said he wanted a ‘safe place’ and didn’t think it was ‘acceptable to have armed guards outside Jewish schools’, or synagogues and that his grandchildren ‘have to hide behind fences’ because of the ‘fear of threats to the Jewish community’. So ‘when council faces an issue where there may be a threat’ and ‘we’ve been told by our Prime Minister’ that ‘we can expect’ a tragedy. ‘We don’t know where, we don’t know when’. Thus ‘we have heightened security’ and ‘don’t go around and tell the public this is what we’re going to do’. Councillors are ‘responsible’; they ‘do deal with the police’ and ‘liaise with them and get their advice’ but ‘ultimately we make a decision as a council’ what happens in our parks and ‘we then determine the conditions’. There was ‘no actual threat that we were told about’ but ‘there is a general threat to every institution’ in the country. Because of this they have been ‘responsible as councillors and to do otherwise would be negligence’.

Delahunty then wanted to move an amendment that part of Hyams’ motion be deleted.

Points of order from Hyams in that ‘you completely wipe the motion and instead put something else’. Delahunty agreed – ‘quite right’. Pilling said that he ‘has to hear’ what is proposed before he can over-rule. Delahunty then read out her motion and the important part was that ‘council release the minutes of that meeting’ (October 20th) and that ‘those minutes cease to be confidential’. Hyams didn’t accept the proposed amendment. Pilling agreed that ‘this is so far removed’ from the original motion.

MOTION PUT – VOTING IN FAVOUR – HYAMS, LIPSHUTZ, ESAKOFF, MAGEE, PILLING, OKOTEL.

VOTING AGAINST – DELAHUNTY, SOUNNESS, LOBO

Under ‘Urgent Business’ Delahunty tried to move the motion in its own right. Lobo seconded.

Crs Delahunty/Lobo

That an item relating to the Minutes of the Special Council Meeting commencing at 7.59PM on 20 October 2015 dealing with security cease to be Confidential and be released to the public be dealt with as Urgent Business.

 

This attempt was voted down. Readers should note that since this was not accepted as ‘Urgent Business’ there was no opportunity to even debate the motion. And of course, since Glen Eira does not have Notice of Motion, again the issue will not be debated in open chamber.

Delahunty asked for a division on the voting but under the Local Law there is no facility to impose this requirement on Urgent Business. Here however is how the vote went-

AGAINST – LIPSHUTZ, HYAMS, ESAKOFF, OKOTEL, MAGEE, PILLING.

Voting to treat the matter as Urgent Business – Delahunty, Lobo, Sounness.

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