As a candidate for the upcoming Bass Coast Shire Council elections for Island Ward, I have read through the Bass Coast Shire governance rules 2020 which were adopted at the August council meeting.
Having been the constitutional officer for various jewellery industry bodies (1991-2013) and having contributed to the writing of the constitution of the Reason Party (Victoria) (2017-18), I am concerned with some sections of the document.
I am aware that this document is subject to the Local Government Act 2020 but the shire governance rules are meant to be a ready reference document for the governance officer of the council.
The Act states (part 2, 61.4) “a quorum at a council meeting shall be an absolute majority”. Bass Coast Shire has nine councillors so why not state in division 2, 13.1, a quorum for a council meeting shall be five councillors. The Local Government Act part 3,
division 1, 55-56, emphasises the importance of public engagement with councils.
The Bass Coast governance rules division 8, 53.9, state that “questions must be limited to 50 words inclusive of any preamble and additional information”.
This severely limits the ratepayers’ participation in the council process due to the word limitation and the question may be so truncated as to not give its full intention. It goes to the heart of engagement and accountability. In this day and age of electronic media, I believe a video question (two-minute length) should be able to be submitted, and put on the screen during question time. Putting a face and nuances to the question will greatly increase the community’s engagement with council.
Ronnie Bauer, candidate for the Island Ward.
Authorised by Ron Bauer, 324 Little Collins Street, Melbourne, 3000.