Council live-streaming debate goes offline
FEAR of legal reprisal has spooked Gladstone councillors into deciding against live streaming its meetings until such time when they are afforded the same parliamentary privilege as their state and federal counterparts.
The issue of broadcasting council meetings over the internet was raised via a notice of motion by Cr PJ Sobhanian at Tuesday's council meeting.
However, Cr Sobhanian and Cr Natalia Muszkat were the only councillors to vote in favour of the motion after a robust debate with colleagues.
While no councillor was against being open and transparent with ratepayers, fears over legal repercussions caused them great concern.
Crs Peter Masters and Rick Hansen questioned why the issue was being raised as a notice of motion after it had been discussed at a 2019/20 council budget meeting two weeks prior.
Cr Sobhanian argued that it was a part of "good governance" and to clarify the issue.
Cr Kahn Goodluck raised concerns relating to parliamentary privilege and the public's perception of watching a live-streamed council meeting.
"Every person who I have talked to out on the street who has watched Question Time will tell you it's an absolute joke and it's like (watching) a bunch of kindergarten students throwing tantrums and grandstanding," Cr Goodluck said.
"I would hate to see the quality of the debate we have in this council put into some detriment because all of a sudden we've got a camera on us that's broadcasting to millions.
"We'll probably end up there anyway but I don't think we are ready for that."
Acting mayor Chris Trevor spoke on the issue, more with his solicitor's hat on than his councillor one.
"My first concern is an economic one and how much it's going to cost us," Cr Trevor said.
"The second (concern) for me is a legal one. I couldn't possibly support live streaming until the state government provides us with the same safeguards by way of legislation that they are able to rely on."
An alternative motion was raised by Cr Glenn Churchill in which Gladstone Regional Council would call upon the state government to give the same privileges to council as state and federal governments when it came to debates.
The motion passed and is set to be added to a list of proposed motions for GRC to take to the annual LGAQ conference in October.