Councillors Bob Fredman, Warren Polley, Dolly Jensen, Shane Waldock, Mayor Glen Hartwig, Bruce Devereaux, Jess Milne, Dan Stewart and Deputy Mayor Hilary Smerdon will grapple with how general business can return as part of tomorrow’s workshop.
Councillors Bob Fredman, Warren Polley, Dolly Jensen, Shane Waldock, Mayor Glen Hartwig, Bruce Devereaux, Jess Milne, Dan Stewart and Deputy Mayor Hilary Smerdon will grapple with how general business can return as part of tomorrow’s workshop.

Council’s plan for greater transparency hits first hurdle

GYMPIE councillors' ability to once more ask questions at meetings about unplanned items could soon be restored - but some hurdles remain.

The return of general business is expected to be discussed at tomorrow's workshop as one of four items on the agenda.

The item was controversially axed from the council's standing orders in 2016 at the last council's first meeting after the election.

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It was replaced by a new system in which all items had to be provided to the CEO seven days in advance.

New and re-elected councillors strongly supported the return of general business to council meetings during the election campaign.
New and re-elected councillors strongly supported the return of general business to council meetings during the election campaign.

The Gympie Times campaigned during the election for the return of general business and its return was widely supported by most candidates, including those newly elected or returned to their seats.

The comeback may not be as smooth as some hope.

A key hurdle appears to be the State Government's new conflict of interest rules.

These were introduced in the wake of the corruption scandals that ripped through councils, including Ipswich and Logan, in the past few years.

Four items are on the workshop agenda tomorrow.
Four items are on the workshop agenda tomorrow.

It is understood that under these rules, even voting to simply table an item without declaring any potential conflicts of interest could leave councillors legally exposed.

The review of standing orders is the first of four items to be discussed at the workshop.

A review of the councillors' expenses reimbursement policy, the council's portfolio policy and update on its technology and business systems are on the agenda, too.

The workshop starts at 9am and will be livestreamed.

Although it is open to the public pandemic restrictions prevent the community from attending in person.