BY KRISTEN TSIAMIS
At the City of Sydney Council meeting on Monday October 24, a notion to webcast Council meetings was brought forward by Liberal councillor Christine Forster.
Cr Forster’s motion was rejected by a vote of six to four.
Cr Forster brought forward her motion declaring “this has been the subject of discussion several times over the last couple of years in Council. The last time it was discussed, a resolution was passed that was in favour of it. The CEO was asked to investigate the costs and come back to the new council with a proposal to put this in place. I asked them to get on with it and do that.”
“Sadly the Lord Mayor and all her new councillors don’t believe it’s something we should be doing, which strikes me as unusual…Many councils have introduced webcasting to meetings. The City claims that they want to embrace innovation but will not put forward a simple measure to broadcast our meetings.”
Cr Angela Vithoulkas said Cr Forster’s motion “was a follow up on what had already been resolved; and given that the memo from the CEO asked for consideration before a new council began in September, it was an ideal time to see the discussion re-opened and to see where we stand.”
“We still don’t see where we stand, we don’t know when or if webcasting can happen. It feels very much like its not wanted. There has been no case to say why not to have it, and nothing to say if you want to do it here are the costs and reasons why – It’s not a massive investment on a trial period.”
Cr Forster said that re-introducing the motion to council happened because “the resolution of last council was that it should be brought back to new council for discussion. They have slapped it down out of hand. I haven’t been told about cost or that the community doesn’t want it. Anything Council can do to making its public meetings more accessible to the public is a good thing” she said.
The motion didn’t result in any debate and Cr Forster said that the swiftness with which the motion was overturned shows that in her opinion the councillors who voted down the motion “aren’t prepared to engage in a simple technological change that would make our meetings much more accessible to our community, more transparent, and would enable people to get involved.”
Cr Vithoulkas also said that people want to participate in the Council process, and doesn’t think that Hansard is a feasible option to webcasting. She said “I don’t believe Hansard is going to meet the ways that people want, it’s probably not a cheaper option that webcasting.”
“I think this is a great item to come to a briefing for the Councillors, so we can have a discussion in an open and frank way. Let’s have the ins and out explained to us so we can understand it. “
According to Cr Forster, this isn’t the first time the notion of recording council meetings in one way or another has been brought up. She said that she “put up a motion regarding Hansard being installed as a method a couple of years ago that was passed, and nothing has happened. That just shows me how much they are digging their heels in.”
“They are hell-bent on preventing this from happening,” she said.
A City spokesperson told City Hub: “The additional cost of live streaming Council meetings hasn’t been supported by evidence of community demand for the service.”