By Michael Giles
IT’S an absolute disgrace that a majority of Bass Coast Shire Councillors couldn’t support the introduction of livestreaming for its monthly council meetings, as recommended, at last week’s council meeting.
And we’re prepared to name names here.
The following councillors voted against the opportunity “to be accountable and transparent” while recognising “the important role that access to information has in facilitating the aims for people of all abilities”: Cr Rothfield, Cr Tessari, Cr Fullarton, Cr Whelan, Cr Ellis and Cr Kent.
Councillors voting in favour of making the council more accessible were Cr Les Larke and Cr Julian Brown. Good on them. They deserve your vote next time around.
And local residents and ratepayers should be prepared to drill their council representatives on this point, asking why they didn’t support it.
As it says in the report to council last week, just over half of Bass Coast ratepayers live outside the Shire and, according to the report to council, because many local residents are unable to travel due to restricted mobility, “the distance to travel to a meeting is still a significant barrier”.
“Livestreaming represents an opportunity to overcome this barrier, enabling people to watch a Council meeting from their computer, tablet or smartphone.”
Introducing live streaming is a no brainer that has the support of the Federal Government and the Victorian Ombudsman and has also been introduced at many councils across the state, including South Gippsland where it played a crucial role in holding that rogue council to account over the past few years.
The councillors can no longer say “I didn’t say that”, as they are inclined to do. It’s on the record and that record can be used for a whole lot of purposes, not the least being holding the administration to account for council directives as well.
So, what was the cop-out reason given by the named councillors for not adopting live-streaming? It was going to cost too much. Hogwash!
Even given the red herring of wanting captions to appear on the screen so that hearing-impaired people could be informed, it would only have cost council $20,000 a year to livestream its meetings, far less if they simply adopted a six-month trial and held off on captions until a report on its effectiveness was in.
It’s not about the cost. They’re scared of the accountability and the scrutiny livestreaming provides.
If you don’t like the heat, get out of the kitchen!
And to think they made a kneejerk reaction to the calls to adopt a climate change emergency policy at the previous meeting, allegedly at an annual cost of $200,000, virtually without any investigation of the implications.