Sunday 30 March 2008

Public allowed to speak at Council meetings

On Friday, the new Councillors met and discussed a range of issues before the first formal meeting of the Cairns Regional Council, ahead of the swearing-in ceremony, to be held on Thursday.

Incoming Mayor Val Schier, chaired the meeting, with assistance from Acting CEO, Noel Briggs.

The election of Deputy Mayor was discussed and it is likely that long-term Councillor Margaret Cochrane will be appointed at next week's meeting.

The appointment of Standing Committees and membership of each Committee was also discussed, along with the representatives on Boards of the Cairns Regional Gallery and Advance Cairns.

The Councillors’ Code of Conduct was on the agenda and how the new councillors should interact with Council staff.

Two things dear to the new Mayor's heart, is the public access of Council information and the ability for ratepayers to speak at Council meetings. Her Cairns 1st team campaigned for a more open and accountable style of local government and she was keen to set the scene from the first meeting.
"We will be conducting business a different way," Val Schier says.

There was objections from existing Councillors about allowing the public to speak at full Council meetings.
"This isn't allowed, is it?," questioned one long-term male Councillor. Acting CEO Noel Briggs confirmed that this was an allowed practice if the Councillors agreed to it. This, however, had not occurred for the last two terms of the previous Cairns City Council.
In a radical departure from the past, an allocated time at the end of each ordinary Council meeting will probably be set aside for the public to raise questions or subjects for all Councillors to hear. Previously, this had to be done in writing and advised well in advance of meetings.
It is expected that the numbers for voting may well fall into two groups with Councillors Paul Gregory, Alan Blake, and Sno Bonneau, all existing Councillors. Whereas a natural grouping of Robert Pyne, Kirsten Lesina, Diane Forsyth, Margaret Cochrane, Julia Leu, along with Mayor Val Schier in the other group. New Councillors Nancy Lanskey, Linda Cooper could well play a key role deciding voting.
The swearing-in ceremony will occur this coming Thursday. Everyone is welcome to attend, and should be at the Council chambers around 9:45am.
"The ceremony and subsequent meeting [on Thursday] represents a changing of the guard and hopefully a period of greater transparency, accountability and community engagement," says new Division 3 Councillor Robert Pyne.


Anonymous said...

I want to know who the councillor is that questioned the new policy for public comment.

I'd also like to know why you haven't reported this miscreant's name.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the same reason why you didn't "report" your name..... "Anon"!!

Anonymous said...

I think that particular councillor will be 'educated" when we all start attending Council meetings. I have every intention of attending when there are issues which interest me on the agenda. I congratulate Val on insisting the community engage more with Council.

Anonymous said...

I would also like to see more weight put on submissions against development applications. In the past, sometimes hundreds of submissions were received against proposals such as Buchan Point, and these were just ignored.

Also, the submissions must be acknowledged and as long as the submissions lodged by the due date, they should all be counted. In the past, there has been some very dodgy practices going on by CCC where individual submissions are not counted i.e. excluded for reasons not transparent to everyone.