Transparency setback

A MOVE to make voting more transparent at East Fremantle council has been shot down.

The tiny municipality is one of the few remaining councils which doesn’t record which way councillors vote at meetings, only noting the count.

Deputy mayor Michael McPhail, 23, said informing ratepayers how councillors vote is basic democracy.

“If someone votes for us, they should be able to see how we vote,” he said.

“It’s a basic function of democracy, and one that’s observed in state and federal parliament — so why not at grass-roots level?”

But mayor Jim O’Neill said revealing voting patterns could result in councillors being targeted by ratepayers and might inhibit decision-making.

“If people want to see the vote they should come to the meetings,” said Cr Andrew McPhail, who is Michael’s father.

• Cr Michael McPhail. Photo supplied.

• Cr Michael McPhail. Photo supplied.

Accountable

Cr Dean Nardi said councillors were held accountable every four years during local government elections, irking the younger McPhail.

“We should be held accountable every time we make a decision; not every four years,” he said.

“People have busy lives and we shouldn’t expect them to attend council meetings; we should be taking democracy to them.

“In the digital era we should be making information as accessible as possible.

Cr Jenny Harrington was the only councillor to support his motion.

“It’s true under the standing orders we can request for the vote to be recorded, but it comes across as a hostile gesture and it should be standard,” she said.

Cs Harrington then requested details of the vote to be recorded.

For: Crs Michael McPhail, Harrington

Against: Crs O’Neill, White, Nardi, Andrew McPhail, Collinson, Nicholson and Watkins.

by STEPHEN POLLOCK

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