One councillor says it was how the bid to livestream meetings was posed, not opposition to the idea, which caused a notice of motion to be voted down last night.
Councillor Grant Tillett said he felt Cr Belinda Coates was trying to “curtail what is the natural process’ by bringing push for livestreaming in the form of a notice of motion, rather than asking for a report on the costs and practicalities.
“Those of us who voted against it last night said, ‘Bring it through the proper channels and then we’ll know where we stand,” he said.
“If livestereaming is appropriate, and it would appear that it is because of the number of other councils doing it, then it is a sign of the times and we would need to consider to be involved.
“But I will not be bulldozed by someone coming in through the back door. She could have easily ordered a report back through council ... We want to understand it before we’re prepared to accept it.”
Where the original notice of motion failed, an alternative motion moved by councillor Ben Taylor succeeded, which will see a report on the logistics of livestreaming come back through the council chamber.
In another fight over transparency, City of Ballarat’s council have shot down a call for meetings to be live streamed online.
In a notice of motion tabled by Councillor Belinda Coates, she called on City of Ballarat to live stream all meetings, except sections considered ‘in camera’, and for arrangements to be made to commerce live streaming as soon as practicable.
The notice of motion was voted down 6-3 at Wednesday night’s ordinary council meeting, with Cr Coates, Cr Hudson and Cr Moloney favouring the move to live streaming.
Cr Coates said the local laws made it possible for a live stream to be set up immediately.
“We have the provision for recording the meetings now, and there’s a strong precedent with 23 councils already live streaming to inform and educate community, and improve community engagement,” she said.
“The community expectation is very high on this, and anything we can to improve transparency and accountability is a good thing.”
There are 79 municipalities in Victoria, with 23 currently live streaming including City of Stonnington, City of Monash and City of Greater Bendigo.
Cr Coates said that technology was now “quite cost efficient”, and with media and communications staff already attending the meetings, it could be as simple as filming off a mobile phone.
Opposing councillors noted that there would be no legal protection for councillors or the public for what was said on the live stream, unlike privilege given to state or federal parliamentarians.
An alternative motion succeeded, with council officers to create a report on live streaming of council meetings, which will eventually return to the council chamber to be considered.