Cone of silence on councillor dissent
GYMPIE Regional councillors are preparing for a brave new world of enforced silence and complex new rules which in some cases may make council unworkable.
The new Local Government Act, coming into force from July 1, will ban councillors from expressing dissenting views other than at public council meetings, a process which itself has been seriously eroded under the Dyne council's new system of private rehearsal meetings where consensus is developed before public meetings are held.
Several Gympie councillors are believed to be concerned that the combination of the two could mean that voters will not know where councillors stand on issues, with councillors virtually subject to a “cone of silence” on any public comment outside the meeting room.
Others are worried that extended conflict of interest rules may prevent them voting on issues affecting the interests even of relatives they do not know and whose interests they are not aware of.
Councillors spent yesterday being educated on the new rules, at a special session at the pavilion, organised by the Local Government Association of Queensland.
LGAQ lecturer Tony Goode said the association, which represents councils across Queensland, was working to educate councillors before the changes come in. There would also be new rules affecting the powers of Mayors, he said.