Warrnambool City Council candidates address whether general business should return to meetings | The Standard

news, latest-news, WARRNAMBOOL City Council candidates have been put to the test. The Standard has…

news, latest-news,

WARRNAMBOOL City Council candidates have been put to the test. The Standard has asked the 24 candidates seeking election for their stance on some of the city’s big issues. The first issue was their preferences. See here. A war of words has broken out on preferences. Candidates were allowed 50-word responses. Candidates have been listed in the order they appear on the ballot paper. Here’s a link to profiles on all candidates. BEN BLAIN: Definitely, bringing back general business gives councillors a powerful tool to raise community issues with council. Currently councillors are forced to follow the agenda and have no opportunity to be able to raise issues in public at monthly meetings. This could help reconnect council with the community. JACINTA ANDERSON: Definitely yes. Newly passed Local Government Act 2020 legislation states the council are obliged to consult the community and ratepayers on all matters including financial decisions. I also believe that the community should be invited to participate in a casual cuppa before or after each council meeting. JIM BURKE: Yes, and there should also be a facility for community members to address the council on matters then before the council. This was also proposed last year but quietly dropped. TRACEY TOGNI: If that’s what the majority of people want then yes. DEBBIE ARNOTT: I think it is important to give the people of Warrnambool a voice. General business allows residents to raise issues and was part of our council meetings for 97 years until our current council decided to abolish it. It is important for transparency and honesty with council decisions. MICHAEL McCLUSKEY: Most definitely. Councillors are supposed to be there to serve the community not themselves. General business if used wisely and appropriately will help facilitate that. Giving the community an opportunity to have their voice heard is a crucial element in fostering an inclusive and listening council. ANGIE PASPALIARIS: Yes. General business is a basic principle of any meeting process, and it must be returned. It was removed in July 2015 with support from two current long-standing councillors, and then dismissed in July 2018 after Cr Hulin’s notice of motion to return general business – this is not acceptable. BRUCE CAMPBELL: I support the return of general business. But it must not be for councillors to grandstand on petty issues that should be dealt with through council’s normal channels. It has been a big time waster in the past. It should only be used to raise urgent matters of strategic importance. STEVE MOORE: I believe general business should return to ensure transparency and allow councillors to raise issues or matters that community members are concerned with. RICHARD ZIEGELER: General business is an essential element of the democratic process and it will be one of the first things that I ask to be reinstated to council meetings. Public question time encouraged, real community engagement, consultation and debate promoted. SUE CASSIDY: Yes. I advocated for this recently in council. I think it should start as a trial, so long as the right is not abused. MICHAEL NEOH: This issue is overrated and in the past has been used for grandstanding by some councillors. Council has public question time, a customer service system and councillors should be accessible at all times. Citizens shouldn’t need to wait for a monthly meeting to hear back from a councillor. ANTHONY EARNSHAW: I am supportive of suggestions regarding changes to question time and the reintroduction of general business. KYLIE GASTON: General business is an opportunity for councillors to thank community members and organisations for their work. I do not believe general business should be used for political point scoring or negativity. However, if general business is structured to be positive and constructive, I would be comfortable with its return. THOMAS CAMPBELL: Yes, undoubtedly. General business is one step that should be taken to introduce greater transparency to our council. CASSANDRA PRIGG: Absolutely. There should also be an opportunity for observers to ask questions without notice, and council meetings should continue to be live streamed to make sure they are accessible to all. VICKI JELLIE: Overwhelmingly yes, live streamed, to provide the community with the transparent nature of how council should be run. To regain the trust of our community we need to be open and clear in all discussions. Other councils include general business and is remiss of WCC to deny our community this. MAX TAYLOR: General business should be returned to meetings so that councillors may raise subjects, ask questions and move motions that they would normally be restricted to do. DAVID OWEN: Yes l believe general business should be returned to council meetings. It provides broader communication between the councillors and the public, as long as the meetings are not hijacked by grandstanding opinions, bordering on conflict of interest. MATTHEW WALSH: Absolutely, the community needs an avenue to raise issues, and councillors need to stay in touch with the residents’ needs. No exorbitant dinners on the ratepayer’s purse strings, instead I would like to increase community interaction afterwards and engage with those interested with a cup of tea and a conversation. LYNN HUDSON: Yes within reason. Agendas are valuable useful tools however it is often the case that other issues may arise. I would be happy to see a return and monitor its efficacy. ANDREW SQUIRES: Yes, general business should be returned to council meetings with “no hidden agenda”. This will allow for transparency in all council activities. PETER SYCOPOULIS: General business is a fundamental meeting requirement of any functioning democratic society. I was entirely opposed to the removal of general business from council around 2015 by the then majority of councillors. I absolutely see no reason why it should not be returned by a new and enlightened council. OTHA AKOCH: Yes. I think general business should be returned to council meetings because it is part of being open and transparent.