If we ratepayers and the public are to have faith in the council, then we need to be able to read and witness the record of account.
The minutes of a council meeting are this record. Most of us belong or have belonged to a club and have a fair idea how to run a meeting. We know what it means when you adopt the previous minutes at the next meeting. It means that all agree that they are a true and accurate record of matters.
Yass Valley Council does not see it that way and over the years I have complained about changes to minutes.
My current complaint is where in March the adopted minutes of February showed a councillor declaring a conflict of interest,leaving the room, then being in the vote count and then returning to the room.
My questioning of the council got me nowhere so I made a complaint to the Office of Local Government.
The response was that there was a mistake in the minute taking and that council had been notified.
Around August I noticed that the councillor's name merely disappeared from the February minutes so I wrote to the council for clarification. The answer was, ‘It was only an administrative error’ and seemingly staff delete such errors. Staff made the call to change adopted minutes without any councillor tick.
I have since written again to the OLG and asked that the council be told to provide transparency by showing the changes and to amend adopted minutes via a process that includes councillors.
So the reason I write is to inform all that council staff decide what stays in the minutes, not councillors. Councillors resolving to adopt the previous meeting's minutes is no guarantee that they won't be changed.
As a reader of council minutes I notice things like a complete motion and vote count not included, minute numbering incorrect and some meeting minutes stay as ‘draft’ for months after being adopted.
So much for transparency; so much for true and accurate record keeping. For those old enough to remember, Don Chipp probably said it best.