Fast Buck$, Coorabell
It’s not often one makes a particular point at a Council meeting and then sees that point boldly illustrated.
I addressed Council on the subject of transparency. I argued that the way council staff filter the information councillors rely upon and the way they fudge answers to questions, means that often councillors don’t have sufficient information to engage in meaningful debate. This constitutes a brake on free speech.
I suggested that the mayor, despite allegedly being in favour of free speech, actively protects the staff in terms of this.
Immediately after my address I got to put my public question – which, having to be filed the previous day left plenty of time for Council staff to hone their fudge.
The RMS has now come up with the balance of funds for the bypass. The announcement so close to Christmas made me suspicious that Council might try to commence work over the holiday period, so I framed my question to bring a bit of heat to the situation.
Staff have in the past failed to inform councillors about the strict environmental conditions attached to the consent issued by the Land & Environment Court, and consistently with this the staff have told the Butler St community that, ‘Yes the conditions have been fulfilled’ without providing supporting details or documentation.
I sought to put Ralph James (Council’s chief legal rep) on the spot by asking him to put his professional reputation on the line by guaranteeing that the conditions had been fulfilled. Instead I got the usual fudge: Council supplied the Butler St community with all relevant documentation during the court hearing. My question, of course, referred to what has happened since the hearing, not during it.
Mr James then went on to say that if anyone wanted information the’d have to go through FOI, a tedious process where staff can and do stuff you around for months.
Clearly Mr James was not prepared to offer a guarantee, which in turn tells me that the consent conditions have not been fulfilled
This means that Council has no right to proceed with construction at this stage; they’d be risking serious litigation if they did. Meanwhile the FOI process has begun.