The bizarre things that went down today at council
IT was meant to be a simple matter, but it proved anything but.
Debate on proposed changes to council meeting procedures took more twists and turns than a bad night’s sleep at Livingstone Shire headquarters on Tuesday.
On the table for discussion was a push from councillors Adam Belot and Glenda Mather to have notices of motion reinstated on council meeting agendas.
An advantage of giving notice is that all seven councillors are made aware of intended motions prior to meetings, therefore giving them time to consider possible implications before making decisions.
Before Tuesday’s debate on this issue got underway, council chief executive Chris Murdoch left the meeting leaving chief financial officer Andrea Ellis to deputise throughout.
Cr Jan Kelly supported a council officers’ recommendation that permitted notices of motion on agendas, but Cr Mather spoke against it stating the conditions were over the top.
“We’re trying to make something that is simple, very complex,” Cr Mather said during her objection to the officers’ recommendation, which was contained in a seven-page report.
Crs Kelly, Bill Ludwig and Nigel Hutton didn’t have the numbers to get the officer’s recommendation over the line.
This led to Cr Mather tabling an alternative but Mayor Ludwig said he had legitimate concerns with that, and he attempted to convince his fellow councillors to let the matter “lay on the table” while more work was done on it.
But some councillors seemingly had their minds set on getting the issue finalised and that being the case, the mayor decided to defer it until the end of the meeting after all other matters had been dealt with.
And that’s when the complicated became even more complicated.
Cr Mather then tried to raise, in urgent business, a totally separate matter relating to the controversial Bungundarra Rd development application which is under investigation after several councillors declared possible conflicts of interest.
Cr Ludwig said because of the investigation this could not be brought up at the council table and when Cr Mather persisted, the mayor called an adjournment to seek legal advice.
During the adjournment Cr Mather decided that she would withdraw her urgent business item, meaning the council could get back to discussing the notices of motion without further delay.
When the meeting resumed, Cr Mather, who’d sought advice from council officers during the break, produced an edited version of the alternative she had put forward earlier.
Most councillors again had their say on it.
By this time Cr Mather’s alternative had the support of all councillors except for Cr Kelly, giving the green light to notices of motion (and questions on notice) being included on council meeting agendas.
Perhaps Cr Ludwig summed up the bizarre series of events best when he said: “Today I cannot say that I believe this council demonstrated good order of business....(but) getting this thing framed the right way, and the right words, is important.”