Communications Panel Meeting
A Communications Panel Meeting of Byron Shire Council will be held as follows:
Conference Room, Station Street, Mullumbimby
Thursday, 30 March 2017
Acting General Manager I2017/407
What is a “Conflict of Interests” - A conflict of interests can be of two types:
Pecuniary - an interest that a person has in a matter because of a reasonable likelihood or expectation of appreciable financial gain or loss to the person or another person with whom the person is associated.
Non-pecuniary – a private or personal interest that a Council official has that does not amount to a pecuniary interest as defined in the Local Government Act (eg. A friendship, membership of an association, society or trade union or involvement or interest in an activity and may include an interest of a financial nature).
Remoteness – a person does not have a pecuniary interest in a matter if the interest is so remote or insignificant that it could not reasonably be regarded as likely to influence any decision the person might make in relation to a matter or if the interest is of a kind specified in Section 448 of the Local Government Act.
Who has a Pecuniary Interest? - a person has a pecuniary interest in a matter if the pecuniary interest is the interest of the person, or another person with whom the person is associated (see below).
Relatives, Partners - a person is taken to have a pecuniary interest in a matter if:
§ The person’s spouse or de facto partner or a relative of the person has a pecuniary interest in the matter, or
§ The person, or a nominee, partners or employer of the person, is a member of a company or other body that has a pecuniary interest in the matter.
N.B. “Relative”, in relation to a person means any of the following:
(a) the parent, grandparent, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, lineal descends or adopted child of the person or of the person’s spouse;
(b) the spouse or de facto partners of the person or of a person referred to in paragraph (a)
No Interest in the Matter - however, a person is not taken to have a pecuniary interest in a matter:
§ If the person is unaware of the relevant pecuniary interest of the spouse, de facto partner, relative or company or other body, or
§ Just because the person is a member of, or is employed by, the Council.
§ Just because the person is a member of, or a delegate of the Council to, a company or other body that has a pecuniary interest in the matter provided that the person has no beneficial interest in any shares of the company or body.
Disclosure and participation in meetings
§ A Councillor or a member of a Council Committee who has a pecuniary interest in any matter with which the Council is concerned and who is present at a meeting of the Council or Committee at which the matter is being considered must disclose the nature of the interest to the meeting as soon as practicable.
§ The Councillor or member must not be present at, or in sight of, the meeting of the Council or Committee:
(a) at any time during which the matter is being considered or discussed by the Council or Committee, or
(b) at any time during which the Council or Committee is voting on any question in relation to the matter.
No Knowledge - a person does not breach this Clause if the person did not know and could not reasonably be expected to have known that the matter under consideration at the meeting was a matter in which he or she had a pecuniary interest.
Participation in Meetings Despite Pecuniary Interest (S 452 Act)
A Councillor is not prevented from taking part in the consideration or discussion of, or from voting on, any of the matters/questions detailed in Section 452 of the Local Government Act.
Non-pecuniary Interests - Must be disclosed in meetings.
There are a broad range of options available for managing conflicts & the option chosen will depend on an assessment of the circumstances of the matter, the nature of the interest and the significance of the issue being dealt with. Non-pecuniary conflicts of interests must be dealt with in at least one of the following ways:
§ It may be appropriate that no action be taken where the potential for conflict is minimal. However, Councillors should consider providing an explanation of why they consider a conflict does not exist.
§ Limit involvement if practical (eg. Participate in discussion but not in decision making or vice-versa). Care needs to be taken when exercising this option.
§ Remove the source of the conflict (eg. Relinquishing or divesting the personal interest that creates the conflict)
§ Have no involvement by absenting yourself from and not taking part in any debate or voting on the issue as if the provisions in S451 of the Local Government Act apply (particularly if you have a significant non-pecuniary interest)
Clause 375A of the Local Government Act 1993 – Recording of voting on planning matters
(1) In this section, planning decision means a decision made in the exercise of a function of a council under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979:
(a) including a decision relating to a development application, an environmental planning instrument, a development control plan or a development contribution plan under that Act, but
(b) not including the making of an order under Division 2A of Part 6 of that Act.
(2) The general manager is required to keep a register containing, for each planning decision made at a meeting of the council or a council committee, the names of the councillors who supported the decision and the names of any councillors who opposed (or are taken to have opposed) the decision.
(3) For the purpose of maintaining the register, a division is required to be called whenever a motion for a planning decision is put at a meeting of the council or a council committee.
(4) Each decision recorded in the register is to be described in the register or identified in a manner that enables the description to be obtained from another publicly available document, and is to include the information required by the regulations.
(5) This section extends to a meeting that is closed to the public.
Communications Panel Meeting
4. Staff Reports
4.1 Council meeting audio....................................................................................................... 4
Staff Reports - General Manager 4.1
Report No. 4.1 Council meeting audio
Directorate: General Manager
Report Author: Donna Johnston, Media and Communications Officer
File No: I2017/371
Theme: Corporate Management
At the end of August 2015, Council began making available audio of Council meetings on its website. The audio is uploaded to website within three business working days.
This report contains the results of the number of downloads per Council meeting as per part 5 of Resolution 15-184 from the meeting held 30 April 2015 and is seeking a recommendation from the Panel to Council, on the future direction of Meeting broadcasting.
1. That the Communication Panel notes the Council meeting audio download results.
2. That the Communications Panel recommends to Council that:
a) the audio trial (post meeting) be extended for an additional six months
b) the option of video streaming and post Council meeting availability viewing, including costs, is further investigated with regard to costs and resourcing, and reported to Council.
At the end of August 2015, Council began making available audio of Council meetings on it’s website. The audio is uploaded to website within three business working days.
This report contains the results of the number of downloads per Council meeting as per part 5 of the following resolution from meeting held 30 April 2015.
1. That audio broadcasting, post Council meetings, is the preferred delivery method for webcasting;
2. That prior to webcasting commencing, legal advice is obtained on the potential legal risks associated with the delayed uploading of audio recordings of Council meetings and presented to a workshop for councillors as quickly as possible;
3. That funding for the legal report be allocated from the 2014/2015 Legal Services budget;
4. That audio broadcasts are stored and a further report be brought back to Council if additional costs arise from perpetual storage;
5. That audio broadcasting is undertaken as a trial for 12 months and the listener uptake reported back to the Communications Committee towards the end of this period. (Dey/Cameron)
As background, the accompanying report to the above resolution has been attached and the information contained within is still current.
Webcasting objective To improve transparency, accountability and communicate the outcomes of council meetings with reasonable cost and resourcing.
As Council meetings are currently held from 9am onwards, it can be difficult for a significant number of interested community members to attend due to work and personal commitments. The geographical nature of the Shire, and the limited public transport options, may also contribute to a person not being able to attend Council meetings. Making available audio recordings post meeting, has overcome some of those obstacles.
Results from the audio have been compiled into the table below:
Where to next
With Council’s new Skype for Business conference systems coming online mid-2017, the option of live video streaming could be further explored due to technology improvements. Keeping this in mind, it is recommended that the audio trial be extended for an additional 6 months and the option for video streaming and post meeting viewing to be considered.
There are currently no costs to post meeting audio on Council’s website, except staff time of approximately 2 to 4 hours; this depends upon:
· Length of meeting
· Number of parts required to be uploaded.
Setup: $8,000 to $30,000+
Ongoing: $100 per month to $1,800
Setup: $0 to $2,200 per year
Ongoing: from $25 to $275 per month for live audio streaming
Audio post Council meeting
$250 per year for Sound Cloud account to host post meeting. This would change from the existing Databox cloud hosting system.
The above estimates do not take into consideration Council staff time to enable live webcasting and or post meeting upload. Live webcasting would require an additional staff member present to operate the hardware and software. Live or post meeting webcasting would be an additional administrative function need to be staffed.
Statutory and Policy Compliance Implications