Mayor’s comments on free press don’t add up
IT'S pretty hard to take Mayor Mark Jamieson's comments about his support for press freedom seriously.
Many in the community feel a culture of secrecy has flourished under his leadership, and it's hard to argue with.
Faux updates on projects, which in reality offer very little insight, and the creation of council-owned businesses, which in essence do nothing but ensure the vital details are harder to access, are just two hallmarks of the Jamieson council.
Community groups tracking council meetings have recorded 202 times Sunshine Coast Council has entered confidential session during public meetings in this term of government alone, compared to only about a dozen in Noosa.
We've been charged hundreds of dollars, and given estimates of more than $1000, in recent bids to access information.
For the average punter, that sort of cost burden is simply too much of a roadblock to overcome.
I've covered council meetings for a number of years.
They had a scripted feel to them, no doubt aided by the 'pre-meeting' meetings carried out, and confidential session was an all too frequent occurrence.
Commercial-in-confidence has become a buzzword, right up alongside game-changer.
One example that springs to mind is the bright new city hall building to be built, whose cost remains a mystery to the ratepayers funding its creation
Council's handling of the extension of CEO Michael Whittaker's contract spoke volumes about this council.
If he'd been doing such a great job, wouldn't you want to celebrate his reappointment and shout it from the rooftops?
Instead they chose to slip through an extension with an election looming.
What's that saying about perception?
These aren't problems exclusive to our council, or other local governments.
All tiers of government are becoming increasingly less transparent.
In an era where sharing information has never been easier, the fact our elected representatives are moving to make information harder to access, is an alarming trend.
It's why the national Your Right To Know campaign is so vital.
These people, at all levels, are using tax and ratepayer funds and working in our names.
We have a right to know exactly how they're spending our hard-earnt, and what they're doing in our name.
It makes it harder to swallow when they don't seem to be working in our best interests all the time.
Whether it's a complete lack of common sense in the application of local laws, from parking fines to carports, or a heads in the sand approach to tackling the issue of climate change, our governments are, for the most part, treating us, their seemingly unlimited bank accounts, with disdain.
Whether you respect the media or not is irrelevant when it comes to this campaign.
We all have a right to know what's going on, and if the government won't tell us, the media should have the ability to do so, without reprisal.