Question cutbacks approved

ONLY two councillors voted against proposed changes to the public question policy when it was debated at tonight’s Derwent Valley Council meeting. Several councillors expressed misgivings about the restrictions, but only Councillors Craig Farrell and Narelle Molan voted against the motion.

Councillor Judy Bromfield told the meeting she had been responsible for the introduction of public question time at the council and the original policy allowed only one question per person. She said understood the new allowance of two questions per person was in accord with the Local Government Act, but she queried whether or not questions could be debated. General manager Stephen Mackey said the Act allowed for questions to be asked and answered, but not debated.

Cr Richard Parker said the new policy was deficient in a number of areas, and noted that he had “availed himself of questions” before he was a councillor. He said the major deficiency was in the matter of debate, as on a number of occasions councillors could be able to provide answers to questions if they were allowed to do so. He said councillors heard many questions being asked, but they were not privy to the answers provided, if any. “We were questioned tonight by Mr Bester and I am sure someone could have provided the answer [instead of the mayor taking the question on notice],” Cr Parker said.

Cr Craig Farrell said he was in general agreement with the new policy but was concerned there had been no public consultation. Cr Narelle Molan agreed with Cr Parker’s remark that councillors were not provided with copies of written answers. “Is it too much to ask to be provided with the answers?” she said..

The record of voting is as follows (note: Deputy Mayor Scott Shaw was absent from the meeting:

Those in favour

  1. Cr Nicholson
  2. Cr Lathey
  3. Cr Evans
  4. Cr Elliott
  5. Cr Bromfield
  6. Cr Parker

Those against

  1. Cr Molan
  2. Cr Farrell

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