Peel's leaders weigh in on live streaming council meetings concept

Peel's leaders: Murray shire president David Bolt, Mandurah mayor Rhys Williams, Serpentine-Jarradale shire president Michelle Rich, Boddington shire president Martin Glynn and Waroona shire president Mike Walmsley. Photo: Caitlyn Rintoul.
Peel's leaders: Murray shire president David Bolt, Mandurah mayor Rhys Williams, Serpentine-Jarradale shire president Michelle Rich, Boddington shire president Martin Glynn and Waroona shire president Mike Walmsley. Photo: Caitlyn Rintoul.

A Mandurah councillor has sparked debate on whether local government meetings should be live streamed, citing it would be an important step to "increase accessibility and participation" in their decision-making process.

Town Ward councillor Matt Rogers took to social media last week to gauge the community's response to the concept.

Cr Rogers, who was elected in late 2017, pitched that the move would allow those unable to make meetings due to various commitments or travel issues to still engage. 

"This should not limit your ability to participate and should not mean you miss out on a seat at the table," he wrote. 

While the idea has not been opposed by other local governments in the Peel region, several elected representatives questioned the need for live broadcasting. 

In December 2018, the Shire of Murray changed the time of their council meetings to evenings rather than mornings in an attempt to make them more accessible.

"Council is committed to providing easier access and inclusion to and opportunity for the community to be involved in its decision-making processes," Shire of Murray president David Bolt told the Mandurah Mail.

"While live streaming of meetings may be an effective method to further bolster this commitment, it has not been considered by council at this stage."

Shire of Waroona president Mike Walmsley and Shire of Boddington president Martin Glynn said they were not opposed to the idea, however, both believed their communities did not have the appetite for it.

Cr Glynn said the council was lucky to get four or five people at their regular meetings and they were generally from the same handful of engaged community members.

"No we don't think we would have enough interest. We have very low attendance at council meetings," Cr Glynn told the Mail.

Cr Warmsley echoed that sentiment and said the idea had never been put to council in his time at the local government. 

"I just don't think there would be an appetite for it. I can understand for bigger councils but not for smaller ones," Cr Warmsley said.

On Friday, City of Mandurah mayor Rhys Williams and Shire of Serpentine-Jarrahdale president Michelle Rich said they also were not opposed to the concept and suggested it would make all elected members more accountable for their actions. 

They also both agreed it could be a good opportunity to gain greater community engagement.

Cr Rich said the Shire of Serpentine-Jarrahdale was often short of space in their public gallery.  

In recent years, the Shire of Serpentine-Jarrahdale was even forced to expand their premises to house attendees.

The push from Cr Rogers in Mandurah comes as the WA Parliament looks to reform the sector through its proposed Local Government Legislation Amendment Bill 2019

What are your thoughts on live streaming council meetings? Send a letter to our team via editor.mandurahmail@fairfaxmedia.com.au.

Follow Caitlyn Rintoul on Twitter via @caitlynrintoul or get in touch with her through caitlyn.rintoul@fairfaxmedia.com.au.