Damage control: Councillor spills on transparency push
COUNCILLOR Rick Baberowski says his push for greater council transparency is not politically motivated, but rather a bid to prevent further reputational damage.
He said there was "no one thing" that had sparked his announcement last week that he would push for live streaming of council meetings and the release of confidential meeting recordings once commercial reasons for secrecy had passed.
He said he'd felt strongly that there was a growing perception of secrecy within the council which he said was doing the organisation reputational harm.
Cr Baberowski said he didn't believe the perception was fair, and the council was operating soundly, so he felt it necessary to throw open the doors before more damage was done.
"I couldn't come up with a good reason (not to do it)," he said.
The long-time Division 1 councillor said every time they went into confidential sessions, to some extent they relied on the advice given to them by the chair, and "generally speaking" he trusted that advice.
He thought they'd generally been going into confidential session for appropriate and legitimate reasons, but it was hard to reverse the community perception it was being overused.
Cr Baberowski said he hadn't received much feedback yet, but expected to in both the agenda review meeting and during debate at the public meeting next week.
"I think it's pretty observable that the attention being paid to it (transparency issues) in the last year … (and more so) in the last six months … it's certainly been much more intensive," he said.
"We have all noticed an increase in the number of times it's been reported or mentioned."
He hoped the report would enable them to explore whether live streaming could be done "at a reasonable cost" in the current council chambers in Nambour and Caloundra, before being rolled out when the council shifted to the new city hall in the Maroochydore CBD.
"That's still some time that will pass (before they are in the new city hall)," Cr Baberowski said.
He felt reputational damage "could intensify" if they didn't act now, and he didn't want to see that, as he didn't believe it was justified.
"This is a good council," he said.
He said he hoped his call for a report would be supported by fellow councillors at this month's ordinary meeting to explore the mechanisms for declassifying confidential material.
But he said he wouldn't try to second-guess what other councillors may do, when it came to a debate and vote on the matter.
"If the argument's strong enough I would hope they'd support it," Cr Baberowski said.