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“Secrecy” minefield for local Councils

January 29, 2017

Just when is  an “informal” meeting of your local councillors an unacceptable example of secrecy?

Last year the Local Government Minister stepped into the minefield and said that if councils did not comply with his request in relation to such gatherings he would regulate rules on the contentious issue.

And so it came to pass last Monday, when Unley Council met out there in the open, the whole secrecy  issue was on the table…wrapped in the usual unintelligible legislative jargon.

The Local Government  Act allows for informal gatherings or discussions, provided that they do not lead to a decision, or lead to a decision that would ordinarily be dealt with at a Council or committee meeting.

With me so far?

Good. Then I’ll keep going.

A “designated informal gathering” is “an event organised and conducted by or on behalf of the council or chief executive officer to which members of the council or council committee as the case may be  have been invited and that involves discussion of a matter that is, or intended to be, part of the agenda for a formal meeting of the council or council committee”.

When planning an agenda, administration will need to review whether the discussion of a matter is or is intended to be part of an agenda for a formal meeting of the Council or Council committee. If the answer is yes, then it is a ‘designated informal gathering or discussion’ and should be open to the public, including the media.The Council or CEO may however, on a case-by-case basis, declare a ‘designated informal gathering or discussion’ to be a ‘confidential information gathering or discussion’.

Enough already!

I feel a massive migraine coming on.

If you REALLY  want to negotiate the whole minefield of governmental gobbledegook, front up to the front counter at the Unley Civic Centre and ask to sight the minutes of the January Council meeting.

Good luck.





2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 29, 2017 12:19 pm

    A good explanation, but I’m still a bit confused; in fact, more than a bit.
    eg. what is a workshop vs. a briefing. Both allow discussion, expressing sentiments and giving direction. And then there is the situation of a collection of Councillors (ie. a gathering of 2+) who meet to discuss a matter.
    I think that Council errs on the side of caution and holds too many sessions under confidentiality. I can see no problem with residents and the media attending most sessions. Yes, it will be awkward at times, but that is the cost of transparency.

    Now, tell me again how the rules are to be applied. I’m a bit unsure.


    • cllrmikehudson permalink*
      January 29, 2017 12:46 pm

      Only “unsure”. Are you sure?. I am puzzled, perplexed and profoundly confused. Not to mention anxious, apprehensive and agitated.


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