Cr Brent Fleeton said he was “fed up” with long and opinionated public question times at council meetings and proposed to alter the system, a move rejected by councillors last week.
Problems identified in a city report included public question time length, the volume of questions, people who made statements rather than asking questions and repetitive or inappropriate questions.
Proposed changes included that public question time be limited to 15 minutes, agenda questions must be given in writing by 4.30pm on the day and not contain preambles or personal opinions of councillors and staff, and the city shall respond in writing within 21 working days.
Cr Fleeton said he was offended by a “sieg heil” comment from the gallery at last month’s council meeting in response to attempts to restrict public question time.
“It is the most demoralising experience putting up with some of the rubbish coming out of the gallery,” he said. “I want this organisation to be treated with a bit more respect.”
Cr Fleeton said often question time became a fight between different parties and he was “yet to hear a genuine question” that was not an opinion.
“This isn’t about shutting down accountability, it will help communication,” he said.
But Cr Dan Bull said public question time as it stood was a democratic right for residents.
“I’m reluctant to do anything to diminish the democratic right to put forward questions in this forum,” Cr Bull said.
“The majority of people do have respect for the institution.”
Bayswater resident Greg Smith said public participation was an indication of good governance.
Most Perth local governments require public questions to be lodged in writing before the council meeting with questions answered at the meeting, where practicable.
Verbal questions were invited if there was any leftover time at the end of public question time.