GYMPIE mayor Ron Dyne has refuted claims by former Noosa mayor Noel Playford that the portfolio system adopted by Gympie council would create a culture of secrecy not seen in 30 years.
Mr Playford, the spokesman for the Noosa Independence Alliance which is seeking to de-amalgamate Noosa from the Sunshine Coast Regional Council, has urged new coast mayor Mark Jamieson to not replace his council's committee system with portfolios - Gympie Regional Council did just that in May, and the Sunshine Coast council is expected to do the same.
Cr Dyne said he was "at a loss on what Mr Playford is on about".
"Large councils that have 12 councillors plus a mayor would possibly find it advantageous to have committees," Cr Dyne said.
"In the case of Gympie, where there is eight and one and all councillors are on all committees, then it is felt that adequate discussion can be achieved at a general meeting."
But Mr Playford says the portfolio system will create a lack of decision-making transparency not seen in local government in Noosa since the 1980s.
"If that's what they are contemplating, then it would really be a retrograde step," he said.
He said eliminating the committee system would cut down on the level of public and media scrutiny and the worst-case scenario would be that councillors started to meet behind closed doors to discuss issues before rubber stamping them in a formal council meeting.
"That's certainly keeping things from the public and is completely contrary to the spirit and intention of the transparency provisions of the legislation under which they operate," he said.
"That would take us back to worse than we were 40 years ago. In the early 1980s, Noosa council was if not the first, then one of the first councils in Queensland that opened up their committees to the public.
"All the staff reporting and agendas were available in the public gallery. I cannot believe all councillors would be in favour of that, but with the current system they've been operating under we wouldn't know what is being said within council about the issue."
He said failure to have controversial issues aired by the community and the media before a monthly meeting, could see items presented to the council as a "fait accompli".
"That's what dictatorships do - that's not a modern democracy."