THE decision to amend an audio recording policy split the Shire of Mundaring council this month.
Deputy president Lynn Fisher’s amendment sought to define which reasons the chief executive could execute his authority to withhold all or part of council meeting audio recordings.
“There are only two reasons in this policy that justify a deletion,” she said.
“One is inaccurate comments…this policy is concerned with significant inaccuracies that could be reasonably assumed by a listener to be true.
“Any statement made in a council meeting is not necessarily correct, it may have an error of fact or name.
“The second reason is if it’s inappropriate.
“Comments and behaviour in council must be respectful, this is not a place where people are allowed to behave disgracefully or threaten.”
The amendment also specified that the chief executive would advise the presiding member of the action to withhold all or part of the audio recording and the reasons and for the president to advise council of the action.
The previous policy gave the chief executive the same authority but did not specify under which reasons.
“In practice, the CEO will confer at the time of an incorrect or inappropriate comment or behaviour and make a note that it will be removed from the audio tape,” Cr Fisher said.
“The chief executive will advise the presiding member of the action to be taken and the reason… the presiding member, who is responsible to council, should explain the reasons to council why the actions are taken.”
Councillors Fox, Martin, Jones and Lavell spoke against the amendment.
“This proposed change introduces the opportunity to tamper with evidence, in the worst case,” Cr Lavell said.
“Why change the recording if you don’t have to, why not leave it as it is and let the public determine for themselves.”
The decision was tied 6-6 with councillors Fox, Burbidge, Jones, Lavell, Martin and Brennan against.
As president John Daw exercised his authority to cast a second vote in favour of the motion.
By Claire Ottaviano