Mayor slams new committee format
Tuesday, 1st March, 2011
by Gina Wilson
The first of City Council's new standing committee meetings was "embarrassing", according to the mayor.
For the past four-and-a-half years, Council has operated with two standing committees which met monthly: Infrastructure and Sustainability, and Governance and Community.
Standing committees allow councillors to deliberate over Council business and have until now been attended and voted on by all councillors.
Under the new structure, which began last month, four committees operate: Policy and General; Environmental Services; Technical Services; and Corporate Services.
Having more committees is meant to give councillors in-depth information and allow them to ask more questions so they are better informed on matters before they vote on them at Council meetings.
But under the new structure, councillors only have voting rights at two meetings and are not required to attend committees they are not part of.
Mayor Wincen Cuy said at two of last week's meetings, only two councillors and himself attended, meaning voting on some matters could not take place.
"It was embarrassing," he said.
"On two occasions declarations of interest (were made) so people had to then leave the meeting and defer (the vote) to the Council meeting.
"What I found ludicrous was that we had all the councillors available that were available ... why are we doing this?"
Mayor Cuy said just three councillors turned up at two of the four meetings, meaning votes were unable to be cast. That, he said, was "ludicrous".
"I normally work with the majority but in this instance it's absolutely ludicrous."
The man who brought the changes to a vote, Councillor Neville Gasmier, said there would be no adverse impact.
"I just want to say that the four committee system has worked in Broken Hill for many years and provided a good and stable working council," Clr Gasmier said.
But the move takes Council back to 2006, before a decision to halve committees from four to two was made as a way of making Council more efficient.
And the timing of the changes has been described by some councillors as the "ultimate low blow" by Clr Gasmier, who brought the motion forward while he was acting mayor in Wincen Cuy's absence.
"The timing was very questionable," Clr Cuy said.
He said while reviews were done on standing committees on a yearly basis, the vote was not due until January this year.
"Voting on the deputy mayor and the standing committees was not done until January 2010."