SIXTY years ago a former editor of The Standard campaigned against excessive secrecy in Warrnambool City Council. Now election candidate Peter Sycopoulis fears history could repeat itself.
He wants meetings recorded and later starting times for open meetings so more members of the community can scrutinise council decisions.
“For the past six years I have been attending council meetings and have often aired my concerns about secrecy and lack of accountability and transparency,” Mr Sycopoulis said.
“There are many who will know and understand why I believe we should be concerned about it, but I suspect there are just as many who think I am a conspiracy theorist.
“My fear is that if we allow this to go unchecked we could spiral into the same depths of ‘obsessive secrecy of council’s activities’ that were prevalent in the 1950s and ’60s when The Standard editor, the late Bruce Morris, campaigned.
“For many years I have campaigned for much greater accessibility and inclusion of the community in council and much greater accountability and transparency.
“Essentially good councillors will be re-elected and poor performers might just find themselves out in the cold.”
Mr Sycopoulis said the history book By These We Flourish mentioned that in the 1950s and ’60s “the minutes of council meetings generally gave no more than a bare outline of proceedings and often ignored important issues altogether”.
The campaign of the late Mr Morris led to the formation of the ratepayers’ association which was instrumental in the council becoming more open to the public.