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Dollar grab for democracy

July 15, 2014

What price the public’s right to know (and follow) what is going on in Unley’s Council chamber at committee and full council meetings?

Answer? A STAGGERING  TWO DOLLARS  PER  PAGE…from  an agenda which can often  contain an equally staggering 100 pages plus.

During the lead up to the acceptance by Council of this year’s budget I objected …unsuccessfully and largely unsupported… to the introduction of what I saw as an undemocratic, indefensible and unworkable impost. Last night’s Council meeting, I believe, justified my criticism.

Sure, in the case of the agenda-less representative of the  “Courier Messenger”, the physical if not the financial problem could have been overcome before the weekend  by simply handing over the loot and acquiring –at considerable cost– a copy. But for the large gallery..mostly gathered to hear  debate on the pros and cons of the Council’s approach to public consultation on the vexed question of the flood potential from the Brownhill Keswick Creek…Council’s budget  move proved an insoluble barrier.

Of course it costs to produce agendas (and minutes which, incidentally, attract the same $2-a-page impost). And any move which saves the ratepayers money is to be applauded…so long as it can be justified.  Which, I contend, cannot be the case where the provision of public  information comes at an unjustifiably high price.  Meanwhile I have undertaken some investigation of the Local Government Act and Local Government scene regarding public access to minutes and agendas.

For a comparison with Unley’s excessive $2, Burnside   charge a (mere) 20cents  a page for photocopying council and committee agendas and minutes..  West Torrens is 25 cents. At Mitcham? I’m still awaiting a reply. Prospect : Agendas and minutes free minutes free. 2ocents a page for any photocopying. So we are ever-so-slightly out of step

Meanwhile I am still struggling with the provisions of the Local Government Act on this issue. But at present I rest my case…Watch out for more.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Angela permalink
    July 16, 2014 3:29 pm

    Absolutely outrageous.
    It’s getting close to the election and more people will take an interest in the Council’s activities and reports.
    These costs need to be slashed and need to be a cost for the document rather than per page.

    Like

    • cllrmikehudson permalink*
      July 16, 2014 4:40 pm

      I have already drafted a motion on notice to go before Council later this month, the effect of which would be to reduce the Unley charge to reflect the 20cents per sheet (or less) charged by surrounding Councils, with a reasonable limit on the overall price for a large document. I would assume that this motion will be supported by my fellow Councillors.

      Like

  2. Roger Dereuter permalink
    July 16, 2014 4:22 pm

    I must agree.
    The cost quoted is quite unreasonable.
    It’s an affront to the average resident.
    This needs to be reviewed.

    Like

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