“Council is exclusive at the moment, but in my view councils should be as open as possible. I’m not interested in hiding anything, so if people have a reasonable question, come on in an ask it.”
At the City of Sydney Council Meeting on Monday the 27th of February I moved a motion to allow public questions before all of our Committee meetings. Transparency and accountability are of great importance across all levels of government and this proposal would only enhance these fundamentals at a local level.
Unfortunatly, at the Council meeting, Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore told her electors loud and clear that she is not interested in being held accountable for the decisions she makes at Council and she along with the rest of the Clover Moore Political Party voted down the proposal.
The Lord Mayor plainly has no interest in open, transparent government, or she and her party members would have supported this fair and reasonable proposal. Community participation in local government is a requirement under NSW law, which provides that Council decisions are transparent and that decision-makers are accountable.
At the meeting, Clover Moore Party Councillors suggested that allowing the public to come to Council to ask questions without notice would mean the Lord Mayor would be unable to provide adequate answers.
As Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle, who makes himself available for questions by the public, told ABC radio on Monday ‘if you’re not across the issues, then you probably shouldn’t be mayor. If the Lord Mayor of Sydney is not prepared to open herself to scrutiny by the people who elect her, I can only ask what is she hiding, and what is she afraid of?
My proposal would have allowed the public a short period at the start of each of the regular City of Sydney Committee meetings to ask questions of the Lord Mayor and other Councillors. Under the plan, the Lord Mayor would have retained the option to take questions on notice.
The people are the city, and it’s only right and fair that they should have the chance to question their elected representatives, just as they do at other Councils in Sydney, like Mosman and the Hills. If the Lord Mayor was serious about listening to the residents and business owners who make our city so great, she would relish the opportunity to engage with them on a regular basis. Instead she is hiding from them because she can’t or doesn’t want to answer direct questions in a public forum.
See below for my February 28 Media Release following the Council decision: