Councillor Kathryn Bell has called on MidCoast Council to record and minute presentations which are made by members of the public prior to the afternoon monthly council meetings.
At the same time, Cr Bell asked for the current arrangement, which takes place at 10am on the morning of the meeting, to once again be held immediately before the 2pm meeting.
"Regardless of whether members of the public address council during or prior to a council meeting, the identity of the speaker and the content of their speech is often mentioned during a formal council meeting," Cr Bell said.
"Accordingly, it appears consistent with the principles of accountability and transparency that when public speakers present outside of a council meeting on a matter council will determined at that meeting that a recording be made, retained and be publicly accessible," she said.
"Otherwise, there is no accountability regarding the way in which the speech has been represented versus what was said or how it may have influenced debate and a decision."
Cr Bell presented her notice of motion at this month's ordinary meeting last Wednesday, October 27.
Cr Peter Epov, who supported the motion, urged councillors to support the proposal to demonstrate they were working in the community's best interests.
Previously a number of councils had public forums embodied into the meeting and while to some degree it was cumbersome, messy and sometimes difficult for councillors, what actually functioned was democracy, Cr Epov said.
The opportunity to allow our community to participate with us in consultation demonstrates our accountability so that we can build real trust and confidence out there that we are all working in their bests interests, he said.
"The current system where people show up in the morning, before that they are vetted and they are advised that they can come along and speak - but what they say isn't published, it isn't recorded - and frankly the general public doesn't know what is going on, plainly they were never there."
And the thing that troubles me with this, there is no access then to see what these people say, he said.
"This is a good motion, but it is asking us to do something when we have just one month to go before a new council (is elected)," Cr Len Roberts said.
Regardless of whether members of the public address council during or prior to a council meeting, the identity of the speaker and the content of their speech is often mentioned during a formal council meeting.- MidCoast Council councillor, Kathryn Bell
"This discussion should have been made some time ago, and not left for the new council.
"This now needs to be discussed early in the life of a new council."
"I think there should be some type of recording of these matters and it be published," Cr Troy Fowler said.
"It would be of great benefit to the community moving forward."
"This flags something important that the community is passionate about."
Addressing council at the morning public forum, Tionee resident, Christine Stanton said public forums held immediately prior to meetings gave the community the feeling of being part of the decision-making process and created a sense of transparency, accountability and democracy in action.
"Many people would have to take time off work to address council," Mrs Stanton said.
"Many people would want to hear the outcome of their attempt to persuade council to agree with them.
"What happens now is that people will have to take more time off if they want to come back and listen to the meeting.
"For those who live in the outer reaches of our area, two journeys would be needed or they spend the day in town, time which they may not be able to afford."
Mrs Stanton also was concerned speakers were not recorded in the minutes.
"The object of that record is for those in the community who are interested to be able to see whether people have spoken on a subject they care about.
"This is not grandstanding; addressing council is not easy," she said.
"I am nervous, believe it or not. Many would not speak because they cannot overcome their nerves."
Councillors agreed unanimously to workshop the motion within the first three months of the new council.
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