Podcasting of Council meetings

Hawkesbury Council chamber

Since I was elected, I have sought to improve the ways in which our Council engages with the wider community. Back in January, I seconded a motion brought by Clr. Rasmussen to look into what is called “podcasting” our Council meetings — making the audio of what is said available on the Internet for those unable to attend on the night.

This seems to me to be an elementary way of improving our accountability to you, and as I explained to Councillors and staff, very easy to implement at low cost. Early estimates of the cost of such initiatives were ridiculous. We received a report from Council staff claiming that Webcasting (the next step up, including video streamed live) could cost over $43,000 a year! I have an app on my iPhone that can do it for free.

This reminds me of the time 16 years ago that I advocated that our Council record the votes of individual Councillors at meetings. I was told that this was either impractical, expensive or dangerous. I was told there was no provision in the Act, that it opened up Councillors to individual liability for what they said, or that it would impede the progress of meetings. A few years later and it was mandated as the law. Ahead of the curve, as usual. How times have changed!

As it is, Council have worked out that podcasting can cost only about $12 a month. And look, I have no illusions about whether a podcast of us pollies jabbering on represents gripping entertainment. It doesn’t. Trust me; I’m there. But it does send a message about our responsibility to the community to be accountable, and for there to be a way for you to compare what we say when we seek election, and then the way we end up voting on your behalf. Sometimes, you just want to know what a Councillor said about a controversial issue, or a planning decision that affects you. And unless you’re a political tragic that attends our run-until-midnight meetings, you can’t. $12 a month seems money well spent in that case, and I encourage you to hold us to account.

So here’s the link to Council’s SoundCloud page where you can listen to and subscribe to the audio (which will be kept there for 12 months), and here’s an example of an issue I spoke to at our first Podcasted meeting:

The State Government have proposed to implement IHAPS — planning panels consisting of planning bureaucrats appointed by the Minister — and usurp the role of democratically elected Councils in determining most DA’s on planning matters worth more than a few million dollars. This has occurred because of genuine corruption in other Council’s planning processes, but my view is that it is improper to apply this punitive remedy to so many other Councils not suffering from that disfunction.

I am pleased to find myself in good company in holding this concern, and the Liberal-dominated Hills Shire Council has extended an invitation to join with them and other Councils in opposing IHAPS.

In the below clip, I state why I am supporting a Mayoral Minute on the subject. Why not have a listen to what I and the other Councillors are saying?

(If the below audio does not start at the right place, my contribution begins at 16minutes56seconds).

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