The Ombudsman  recently met with the CEO and the Mayor in relation to her investigation into ‘secrecy’ and lack of transparency in council decision making. It is therefore astounding that the following has occurred so shortly afterwards.

1.The online and hard copy agenda published on the Friday before the last council meeting did not contain any items for in camera consideration

  1. On the evening of the council meeting (ie last Tuesday week) there was this ‘insert’ into the agenda – please note the in camera item.

P1000440

  1. The minutes have finally been published. Wonder of wonders, the above description has disappeared into the ether. All that residents are now told is this wonderfully uninformative single line –

12.1 Under s89(2)(d) “contractual”.

Then on ‘outcomes’ of the in camera discussion, the minutes state –

Item 12.1

Crs Lipshutz/Delahunty

That the recommendation in the report be adopted.

The MOTION was put and CARRIED unanimously.

What has happened to the far more expansive explanation regarding the open space item? Why was this edited down and by whom? Why is so much effort expended to keep residents uninformed? And why does this council continue to push the envelope when it comes to transparency and sound governance? Who is behind this latest attempt at secrecy? We would even suggest that given the resolution the item is no longer ‘confidential’, since the Local Government Act states on disclosure:

in relation to resolutions recorded in the minutes, incorporate relevant reports or a summary of the relevant reports considered in the decision making process.

Residents have no idea as to the ‘report’ much less any idea as to what this resolution concerns, or what its ramifications are? Will council be spending money for open space? If so, how much? Did the report recommend no purchase? Where is this potential open space?  Is the location good value? We can only assume that if the wording of the item was changed then it is a deliberate attempt to conceal from the public what is really going on! What makes this even easier to conceal is that council sees fit to provide only half a dozen or so agendas in the chamber when the gallery over the past few meetings has at times contained 10 times this number of residents. Please remember that council has ‘promised’ several times over the years to consider displaying motions, amendments via some form of overhead, so that residents can follow what is going on. Nothing has eventuated!

We are confident that the ombudsman would be very interested in this latest example of Glen Eira’s approach to transparency and sound governance and non-adherence to the strictures of the Local Government Act!

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