Questions back with limits

PUBLIC question time is back at Melville agenda briefing forums, but with restrictions.

The local government act doesn’t require question time at ABFs, so it was axed by city officers after a barrage of questions from the Melville Residents and Ratepayers Association.

Cr Nicholas Pazolli thought this was a blow to openness and accountability, and asked council to reverse the decision.

Social media

But Cr Duncan Macphail was among those in support of the axing.

He argued Melville should stick with the bare bones of the act, pointing out that ABFs are designed for elected members to ask the questions, and social media has made communication between councillors and residents better than ever before.

“We’ve got to sharpen our pencils and say look, the act is the act,” Cr Macphail said.

“If the objective is seeking information, there’s plenty of options to do that.”

Councillors Cameron Schuster and Mathew Woodall put their heads together and came up with a compromise: questions would only be allowed at ABFs if the mayor decides they’re relevant to the agenda, and only if the questioner is in attendance.

“A limited question time is better than no question time at all,” Cr Woodall said.

The amended motion was ultimately passed 9 to 2.

by TRILOKESH CHANMUGAM

One response to “Questions back with limits

  1. SUCCESS for the MRRA!!! Question time at the agenda briefing forums is back (see our 12 September post below).

    The fact that Council voted overwhelmingly at to bring back ABF question time demonstrates that City CEO Shayne Silcox acted beyond his authority with his unilateral decision to stop question time at these meetings. Silcox’s action were intended to reduce a resident and ratepayers window of opportunity to ask questions, and receive responses; something that reduces the transparency of council affairs.

    Now we need to work on getting the City to:
    • Provide free access to audio recordings of all public council meetings. The Cities of Joondalup and Perth lead the way in best practice in this area and live stream and provide recording on line. Why does Melville want to adopt this best practice? The same reason Silcox wanted to scrap question time at the ABF?
    • Hold Council to account to provide honest, full and forthright answers to the questions. We have proved that Council has provided false/misleading responses to a number of questions in the past. A lot of their responses do not actually address the questions, a large number are answers to questions that were not even asked. Look at the minutes and judge for yourself.
    • Encouraging Councillors to speak with residents and ratepayers over operational failures in other concerns without fear of favour. Currently, so we are lead to believe, CEO Silcox threatens to take Councillors to the Standards Panel if he deems they may be impinging on an operational matter; particularly, it seems, if there has been a suggestion of a failure on the City’s part. We should remember that the Local Government Act s 2.7 states that Council is … responsible for the performance of the local government’s function. Isn’t that mostly operational? Don’t they have the right to make inquiries if they are informed about an operational failure?
    • Encouraging Councillors to express their views to the press. The City puts overly restrictive constraints on this; again it appears we have a Mayor and CEO that do not encourage Councillors expressing their own views publically; particularly if it is at odds with the views of the “purple circle”. See our 21 October post below.

    Help us. Leave your thoughts and/or if you agree with our views send the Minister for Local Government Hon. Paul Miles at: Minister.Miles@dpc.wa.gov.au Phone 6552-6600 with a link to this facebook page.

    City of Melville Residents and Ratepayers Association
    https://www.facebook.com/MelvilleResidentsRatepayersAssoc/
    Melville.residents@outlook.com
    9330 4350

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