On December 18 last year I attended the MidCoast Council meeting at Taree as an approved public speaker.
I went along to speak against a council staff recommendation to move the council's open forum and the council's public forum, normally held immediately prior to council meetings, to a morning time with the council meeting to continue as an afternoon event.
Notwithstanding my best efforts and those of councillors Kathryn Bell, Peter Epov and Jan McWilliams, who opposed the recommendation, the majority of the councillors supported it.
One of the arguments used in support was that the several hours between the public speeches and the council meeting under this new arrangement would afford councillors an opportunity to properly consider and research the issues and points raised by members of the community prior to the council meeting - an argument that cannot possibly apply to the open forum because, by definition, an open forum is where community speakers talk about things which are not on the council's agenda for the meeting.
While the reasoning in the argument may apply to the public forum, which is a forum where community members speak about items which are on the agenda of the council meeting, an after-lunch council meeting to be addressed by community speakers at breakfast time makes a dog's breakfast of community convivia.
For example, all those worthy community members who trot along to observe council meetings and, at the same time, get to see fellow community members engage with council on matters of public interest, will no longer be able to do so because they will need to turn up at council chambers at 9.30 in the morning for the community speeches and then again at 2pm to find out what council did with the information given in those speeches.