Council opens workshop meetings to the public

Veil lifts on Gympie council's ‘secret’ workshop meetings

GYMPIE Regional Council yesterday ended years of secrecy by opening up its previously confidential councillor workshops.

Or so it seemed.

It was hard to tell, because yesterday's open council workshop meeting was followed by a further closed briefing session.

Gympie Regional Council
Gympie Regional Council Greg Miller

And it is understood the meetings now made public are quite different from the ones formerly held behind closed doors under the Ron Dyne council and the early days of the new Mick Curran administration.

Cr Dyne had always rejected arguments from then Gympie Times editor Nev McHarg, who said the Local Government Department had advised him the meetings breached the intentions of Local Government law.

The Act was intended to provide for council debate to be held in public, he said.

The "secret meetings" process was also strongly criticised within the council by Cr Ian Petersen who shared Mr McHarg's view and said the meetings had been used to develop consensus in secret.

Yesterday he said the more open process was "a step in the right direction, but a small step".

Cr Curran said the meetings were not part of any consensus development process.

Opening them up was "another way councillors can engage with the community".

"While the meetings don't go to consensus and are not part of the decision-making process, they show the information we get so we can make well informed, information-based decisions."