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Meeting changes proposal rejected

Cr Ian Petersen.
Cr Ian Petersen.

AN ATTEMPT to make more Gympie Regional Council meetings open to public and media scrutiny was rejected by all but two councillors this week.

Councillor Ian Petersen found little support for his plan to hold two general meetings a month instead of one every three weeks.

"The format will be an initial meeting to make recommendations followed by a general meeting to endorse the recommendations of the previous fortnight's meeting," he said.

Cr Rae Gate seconded the motion.

Deputy Mayor Tony Perrett foreshadowed an opposing motion that the council's meeting schedule stay the same, arguing that Cr Petersen's suggestion would delay council decisions by two weeks.

"I am happy to endorse the current process," Cr Perrett said.

"I believe the portfolio system is working well and the meeting cycle is appropriate.

"We need to make decisions on the day and be decisive and we need to demonstrate that to the community."

Cr Petersen said his proposal would avoid the situation where decisions were given immediate force and would allow disputed decisions to be sorted out before the lawyers were brought in.

"This would result in potentially significant savings for council and for the proponent," he said.

"It would also be a step towards demonstrating that the decision making process is open and transparent.

"One would expect that this cycle would be no more staff time intensive.

"In any event, it is difficult to see how the claimed savings in staff time translate into dollars saved."

Mayor Ron Dyne said he did not believe the council had a problem with openness and accountability and said "one more meeting is not going to build that up".

"In the last four years you could count on one hand the number of times we have had to go back and change a development decision," he said.

"I don't agree we need to have additional meetings at this stage. If an increase in development applications occurs then we can accommodate that with extra meetings."

Topics:  gympie regional council

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