Council may record future meetings

Macedon Ranges council will consider installing recording equipment in its coming budget deliberations, after councillors deviated from officers’ recommendations last Wednesday night.

The decision was part of a marathon four-hour meeting at Gisborne, during which many in the crowded gallery struggled to hear what councillors were saying, and vice versa.

Councillors also approved a meeting cycle for 2016-17, which means all their meetings will be held in Gisborne.

A report prepared in response to a petition by Newham resident Matthew Nickson said while making recordings of meetings available online had merit, it was likely to be too costly.

Councillors were advised to defer any decision pending further investigations, but instead voted to consider changes when preparing the 2016-17 budget.

A revised motion, moved by Cr Henry McLaughlin and seconded by Cr John Letchford, eventually received unanimous support.


Cr John Letchford


Cr McLaughlin said audio or visual recording of council meetings was in the interests of good governance.

‘‘Not everyone can attend meetings for a whole variety of reasons,’’ he said. ‘‘It would be relatively simple to make council meetings more accessible.’’

Cr Jennifer Anderson initially opposed the motion, saying she feared the proposal would get lost in a competitive budget process, ‘‘especially in light of rate-capping’’.

Ready to record

Cr Letchford said many people had forgotten that the former Gisborne shire offices had been set up to enable recordings, and changes should be relatively easy.

As part of his proposal, Mr Nickson compiled a survey showing 26 of the state’s 79 councils recorded or streamed meetings live via the internet, or had plans to do so.

His campaign was supported by the Macedon Ranges Residents Association, which led a 2010 campaign to have meetings recorded.

Cr Anderson and Cr Sally Piper were among those who fought for one-off council meetings at Kyneton, Woodend and Romsey to be maintained.

But other councillors argued that experience has shown it was a meeting’s content, not its location, that attracted people to come along.

‘‘It’s been shown that having meetings in those towns does not increase attendance rates,’’ Cr Letchford said.