Council agendas are 27% lighter; where did everything go?
ARE councillors and the public being cut out of council decisions?
It is a big question, and one which might be asked with a review of Gympie Regional Council ordinary meetings revealing less items are being presented before the current council than the previous one.
While a total number of 305 items (excluding petitions) were tabled before the council in the 19 ordinary meetings before the last election, 220 items have been presented to the current council in the same number of meetings, a drop of 27%.
The post-election meeting and special meetings were excluded from the count.
Planning and development items plummeted, from 5.4 items per meeting down to 2.57.
In contrast, items which were discussed in committee increased from 39 to 45.
Not a large jump in itself, the reduction in total items before council meant the proportion of items discussed by the council in committee has gone up from 13% to 20%.
While some people could be quick to say the council is closing itself off from the public, Mayor Mick Curran suggested the changes reflect the council's commitment to getting on with the job.
"Gone are the days where councillors are sitting around talking about potholes," Cr Curran said.
"We should have the policy... staff don't have to come back to council every time that some sort of works have to be done.
"If you're building a house, and you've got the plans... should you wait for that to be decided by councillors?"
While the number of in-committee items had increased, Cr Curran said the council had to comply with requirements set by governing bodies.
Do you think councils are becoming too closed off?
This poll ended on 01 October 2017.
Yes, the public and councillors are being cut out.
I think the public is being excluded, but our councillors are still involved.
Councillors are becoming redundant, but the public still has a voice.
No, councils are as open and involved as they can be.
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
"There's rules about how we operate and they're not set by council, they're set by the State Government. We've got to act within those rules," he said.
Without any form of Parliamentary privilege, in committee was the only way councillors could have a "full and frank" discussion on some matters without fear of criticism. And the decision to move an item into committee did not belong to a single person, either.
"To go into committee, councillors... vote for those matters to be discussed in committee."
It was also a significant drop in the number which occurred in the system councils used to work under.
"When it was the old committee system, which we'd have four councillors as committee chairs... in 2011 I believe it was 122 items dealt with in committee," he said.
And did he think the public and councillors were being cut out or ignored?
"There has been discussion about the mighty mayor and CEO syndromes, and I certainly haven't seen it, bearing in mind I didn't work in council until 2012," Cr Curran said.
"I can't think of one unilateral decision I've made as mayor where the matters weren't discussed with other councillors."
It was also impossible to force people or councillors to be involved if they did not want to be.
"I'd like to see more people coming to our council workshops and our council meetings, but the reality is a lot of people out there want us to get on and do what we're supposed to do," he said.
"It's also up to councillors to attend those briefing sessions, it's also up to councillors to attend those workshop meetings, and it's also up to councillors to read the material provided to them to make an informed decisions."
Councillors were also available to the public, too.
"Try and contact your local Member of Parliament, your Premier, your Federal Member and I guarantee that you won't find a phone number in most instances and be able to speak to those people directly," he said.