Council once again voted to amend its Code of Meeting Practice in regards to Public Forums, this time limiting the number of speakers to four each 'for' and 'against' an item of business.
Since June the matter has been back before Council a number of times, firstly to stop members of the public speaking at the 'Open Day' section of a council meeting on subjects that aren't listed in the business papers. This was later reinstated and limits to the number of speakers on a particular subject added.
At the February meeting a motion to not restrict the number of speakers was carried. However, on Wednesday that resolution was rescinded with the new proposals carried.
Mayor Des Kennedy said that evening's Public Forum was an example of why he voted to "put a number on it".
"The reason being, and I think it was just witnessed half-an-hour ago, nine people wanted to say basically the same thing. If four people come on one issue, surely to Christ that's enough," he said.
"We'll now listen to any item at all, it doesn't have to be on the business paper, but I think you need to put a number on it. If that wasn't a case in motion, the last 40 minutes of that meeting, I don't know what was."
Cr John O'Neill concurred. "I think there were at least two people who stood up and said 'everything has been said, I don't need to say anything'. If that doesn't support that motion I don't know what does," he said.
However, Cr Russell Holden, who voted against the motion, said that evening's forum rather was an example of their "obligation" because "25,000 people in this shire and they elect nine people to represent them".
"Tonight for me, having been burned out, was very painful hearing some of the things that were said - because I've been there and done that and it's very upsetting. I felt like getting up and leaving at one stage, but it's my obligation and what I've been elected to do was listen to the people," he said.
"And if I had to listen to 30 of them, it would've been equally as painful but I think it is my obligation. I understand, but at the end of the day 25,000 people put their trust in nine of us and should have the right to come and address us.
"I applaud your point that some people said 'everything has been said, I don't need to repeat it' and I acknowledge that doesn't always happen. But I believe they have the right to come and address us as a collective."
Cr Peter Shelley said, "this has nothing to do with democracy as I see it", rather, "it's about being efficient". And that a smaller number of people on a point can be "far more impacting".
"Everybody has the opportunity, and everybody does, contact us individually. They have more than enough avenues to councillors - as they should - but to stand there and speak to us as a collective, there isn't anything we haven't read in an email or anything new to help our decision," he said.
"It has happened a couple of times, but that's not because we've had 30 people speaking, it's because we've had one or two speaking. It's far more impacting.
"It does them a disservice to have 30, 40, 50 people speak, because it muddies the waters and we're only human like everyone else. So we need to be concise and efficient, because that's what they elected us to do and that's my point-of-view."
- The proposed change to the Code of Meeting Practice has been placed on public exhibition for 28 days, allowing 42 days during which submissions may be made to Council, until Friday, May 1.