|Since the current council was formed in April 2016, the Sunshine Coast Regional Council has held 208 closed door meetings.
Compare this with our neighbouring Noosa Council which has only held 16 in the same period.
This is a concerning pattern emerging from our local government. It is understood that we are a larger council than Noosa, however, when discussions and official meetings are conducted about public money, it goes against the principals enshrined in the Local Government Act 2009.
(4)(2) The local government principles are—
(a) transparent effective processes, and decision-making in the public interest and;
(b) sustainable development and management of assets and infrastructure, and delivery of effective services; and
(c) democratic representation, social inclusion and meaningful community engagement; and
(d) good governance of, and by, local government; and
(e) ethical and legal behaviour of councillors and local government employees.
There are sometimes appropriate reasons for a council to go into closed session but it is the frequency that is concerning and appears to be a breach of the spirit of the legislation.
As the cartoon above implies, councillors must make decisions whether to move into closed session to discuss major issues impacting on the community – this must be made in an informed and educated way with full understanding of how commercial in confidence is being applied.
If I am elected to Council on 28 March I will give a commitment to be more analytical than the current councillors have been on CEO recommendations to go into closed session to ensure that these sessions are really necessary. I will be putting the community’s interests to be informed before that of the Council’s interests.