Live streaming council meetings back on City of Mandurah council agenda

Photo: File Image.
Photo: File Image.

Live streaming council meetings could be a step closer to fruition after City of Mandurah councillors voted in favour of a report to reform transparency.

The question of live streaming City of Mandurah meetings was first raised in April this year by Town Ward councillor Matt Rogers, who took to social media to gauge the community's response to the concept.

At the time, Cr Rogers said the move would allow those unable to make meetings due to various commitments or travel issues to still engage, improving accessibility and participation in the decision-making process.

The debate was reignited at a City of Mandurah council meeting on August 27 when Mandurah mayor Rhys Williams raised a notice motion to request council officers to look into the practicalities of a number of accountability measures, including live streaming.

Mr Williams asked for councillors' endorsement of the motion, which has three parts to it.

The first acknowledges the City of Mandurah's commitment to "transparency, good governance and community engagement practices".

The second requests officers to undertake analysis and provide a report of the best approaches and potential reforms to increasing transparency and accountability, including the "feasibility of live streaming council meetings".

Lastly, the motion requests officers to facilitate a workshop with councillors after the upcoming October elections to explore the potential of the transparency reforms.

Mr Williams told elected members at Tuesday's meeting the city had a long history of transparency and commitment to community engagement.

"I put this before you tonight, not as a reflection of our current practices being reformed, because they are somehow inadequate," he said.

"We know that this is an area that we excel in but, as new technologies become available and best practice is always changing and improving, the opportunity for us to reform our transparency practices to elevate that reputation even more so, is something I think we should take seriously.

"I urge you to support this motion because, I think, at the very heart of building a strong community is transparency and accountability and ensuring that our community are absolutely in trust of us and our ability to govern, but also know that they can be actively involved in the decision-making process."

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It was met with unanimous support from councillors, including Cr Rogers, who seconded the motion.

Cr Rogers applauded the mayor's leadership for bringing the item to council and said he supported the motion "wholeheartedly".

"Live streaming is where a lot of local governments are moving and I think we should too," he said.

"Voting for this is a vote for transparency and accountability and the enfranchisement of residents.

"I think as well it is also important that local governments test what they think they know and make sure that they are in line with community standards and expectations."

Cr Fred Riebeling also threw his support behind the motion, citing that his experience with introducing live streaming into the West Australian Parliament had been a success.

"I think live streaming is the key to increasing transparency and I think there are no downsides to live streaming," he said.

"I suppose people will need to think of their words more clearly when it is live streamed which is about the only drawback but I think that is a healthy step forward that people have to stick by what they actually say."