When reading the article in the on-line newspaper. South Gippsland Voices, titled “Limited time to view Council agenda before Council meeting” (7 Aug 2020), I soon realised that what council is quoted as saying didn’t add up. As someone who frequently takes an interest in council matters that comes as no surprise to me. But really, trying to get away with claiming that from a Friday afternoon to 9am the following Monday is allowing six days to get a public presentation submitted in time for the council meeting on the next Wednesday, is ‘spin’ of the highest calibre.
Why is it that this administration never misses an opportunity to say they are supportive of ‘openness and transparency’ whilst at the same time altering or introducing new rules to ensure things can be hidden from public scrutiny? At almost every council meeting they take away or constrict one or another of our rights.
For an organisation that clearly has no other reason to exist other than to look after the best interests of the ratepayers, it never ceases to amaze me that the South Gippsland Shire administration doesn’t want to grab every opportunity to further their knowledge base by collaborating with the people they work for. The people, or their representative organisations, are not the enemy. Not many constituents bother to have a say, but from my perspective most that do so offer constructive criticism or suggestions. There is no shortage of highly qualified people in SGS, with an abundance of life experience, who are worth listening to. Many come from ‘skin in the game’ backgrounds-which is not something quite so prevalent amongst public servants. It’s, I would suggest, often the missing ingredient in council decision making.
Is it possible to quickly get to a point where there is no longer any need to pose the question: ‘What is there to hide?’
Can I suggest substituting more’ noblesse oblige’* for less’ totalitarianism’ into the culture of the administration and things would work more smoothly.
* The obligation of honourable, generous and responsible behaviour associated with high rank or birth.
John McCombe, Leongatha