Perth councils make it freedom of information

LISTENING to your local councillors in action is a piece of cake if you live in Perth, but it can be a tall order if you live in Cockburn, Melville, or East Fremantle.

Everyone in WA is entitled to attend open council meetings, but the ease of catching up on missed episodes is up to the vagaries of local councils.

Perth council uploads recordings of its meetings to its website, so listening to debate is never more than a few clicks away.

Vincent and Bayswater currently charge about $30 for people to listen to recordings in their admin buildings, but both are soon to follow Perth and make them available for free online.

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Stirling and Fremantle don’t charge fees to access recordings from the town hall, although Fremantle charges $62 for a take-home CD.

Melville and Cockburn say they only record for the purpose of minute-taking, and both require Freedom of Information requests to access the audio; which can knock ratepayers with a $30 application fee on top of costs.

The Herald was recently quoted $90 by Melville council to have audio from one section of a council meeting copied onto a disk.

Antiquated East Fremantle doesn’t even take audio recordings of its meetings.

Perth councillor Reece Harley was behind his council’s move online, and says making them available online would help people who are out of town or have mobility issues.

“To me it’s a basic tenet of democracy that people — the community — has access to the decision-making processes of local, state, and federal governments,” Cr Harley says.

“At federal and state level the parliaments have Hansard, so any member of the public can read the entire proceedings of parliament. However at local government level, that is not the practice so the next best thing is to have audio recordings available,” says Cr Harley.

“I find it extraordinary that someone has to do an FOI to get a copy of the recording. That is a sad state of affairs in my opinion,” says Vincent mayor John Carey, who’s pushing for more transparency in local government.

“I just think – what do you have to hide?”


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One response to “Perth councils make it freedom of information

  1. Transparency – do you think the City of Melville embraces it. I think not.

    The MRRA has also asked for a copies of public meeting recordings, particularly to review CEO Silcox’s reported derogatory comments about the MRRA and it’s questions to Council. It took them 11 days to respond to our request, there are quoting 2 hours worth of effort to put it on to a CD. They state “an IT team member will then need to set up equipment to create the files and copy them ..” Really??

    We are still waiting for copies of the audio recording of meetings dating back to February this year.

    Everyone should make a stand for our democratic right to hear these public meeting. The Fremantle Herald summed it up with Cr Harley’s quote ““To me it’s a basic tenet of democracy that people — the community — has access to the decision-making processes of local, state, and federal governments,”

    If you feel strangling write to the Minister for Local Government, the Hon. Tony Simpson at, and ask him to protect our democratic rights and legislate to ensure Councils provide or make available audio recordings of all public Council meetings.

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