CITY of Cockburn residents looking for greater transparency from councillors and the Mayor are set to get it after a decision to live stream council meetings was carried 5-4 at Thursday night’s council meeting.
Last week Councillors Lee-Anne Smith, Chamonix Terblanche, Lara Kirkwood, Stephen Pratt and Chontelle Sands voted for an alternative recommendation put forward by Cr Smith that would see council live stream its council meetings on the City’s website.
It would also include a ‘Recording and Web Streaming’ policy in the City’s current policy review, and review the position in the future should there be sufficient evidence of detriment to the City.
Cr Smith, who drew comparisons to City of Vincent’s live streaming at council and briefing meetings, said they had done so in order to maintain transparency and accountability in the council decision-making processes and so far there had been no reports of detriment to the City.
Councillor Carol Reeve-Fowkes, who did not support the alternative recommendation, said it would be foolish to go against legal advice and the officer recommendation, which did not support live streaming.
She added councillors weren’t protected like parliamentarians, should they say something out of innocence or carelessness.
“Ratepayers shouldn’t have to pay unnecessary legal fees in defamation cases if someone has said something out of innocence, taken out of context,” she said.
“We don’t have the personal staff to assist us in putting together our debating points, nor do we have liberal protection afforded to parliamentarians.”
Cr Smith said while she understood Cr Reeve-Fowkes’ concerns, she argued they could happen anyway.
“We have an audience that could walk out the door now and do that,” she said.