At the Public forum today, I asked this question. ” I want to clarify if Councillors will be directed not to ask me questions as I am representing Maureen Searson, who herself has identified as belonging to Eurobodalla Labor”
I asked this question because at the access forum on 17 August, Simon Cox, the spokesperson of the Coila Cultural Heritage and Environment Group (CHEGG) made a presentation on a proposed development at Coila. When councillors said they would like to ask questions on Mr Cox’s presentation they were told by the Mayor, on the advice of the General Manager, that as he was a member of a group, they could not ask questions of him. You can read a full account on the Beagle site below
As is increasingly usual, the Mayor was not present at the public forum today, so the Deputy Mayor Cr Rob Pollock responded to my question. You can hear his response here, courtesy of the Beagle:
The General Manager also wrote to the Beagle regarding this unwritten protocol. She wrote
Council’s protocol is to allow questions of presenters when they are able to demonstrate that they conclusively represent the organisation to which they refer in their submission to Council. This is demonstrated, for example, by the presenter being the convenor or co-convenor, president or member of the executive body. This provides both certainty for the Councillors and also does not place undue pressure on the speaker with the expectation that they would fully know and be able to articulate the views of the group they are speaking for.
For example, prior to this protocol being introduced, there was an incident where a presenter purported to be representing a group and spoke at Council on behalf of that organisation. Council was later informed by a member of the group’s executive that the presenter in question did not speak on behalf of that group and did not represent their views on the particular matter in question.
The protocol that has (sic) now in place for some years makes it clearer for all participants, including members of the public and Councillors.
I am intrigued. Does the OLG actually have nothing to say about unwritten protocols, as suggested by Cr Pollock? That would be a surprise. What other “evolving” protocols are there that the Mayor can use at their discretion? Who decides to “evolve” an unwritten protocol – are these decided by Councillors at one of their confidential briefings, or are they made up on the spot? How does the public identify an “evolving” protocol: is there a list of them somewhere?
So many questions, so few answers.