Warrnambool City Council needs to have a "hard look at itself" over "secrecy" surrounding the recent sacking of its CEO, a councillor has said.
Cr Peter Sycopoulis said he and the rest of the community were struggling with the amount of secrecy in relation to the 4-3 vote to terminate Peter Schneider's contract after just 18 months.
During discussions over the council's transparency policy - one of a number of policies being considered by councillors at Monday night's meeting - Cr Sycopoulis asked: "do we really practice what we preach and do we really practice what we ascribe in ink?"
"What I am struggling with, and what many in the community appear to be struggling with, is the amount of secrecy relating to the recent events in council with the sacking of the former CEO," he said.
"I believe this to be an exceptional circumstance and I believe the citizens of Warrnambool have every right to feel aggrieved that their democratically elected representatives - that's us as councillors - have resolved to keep the details of this social meeting confidential."
Cr Sycopoulis said he couldn't help but feel that the recent actions of council "fly in the face" of the well-meaning policies the council was asked to consider on Monday.
"I think that this council has to have a hard look at itself because it is within the scope of council to choose to lift the confidentiality status of many of its resolutions and particularly this one that we've seen in recent weeks," he said.
Cr Sycopoulis said the policy "sounds quite wonderful" and he was in favour of just about everything that the policy stood for.
Among the policy objectives Cr Sycopoulis listed were clarity around decision-making, community confidence that public money was spent wisely and being transparent about reasons for decisions.
But he also pointed out the policy didn't cover things such as legally privileged information, personal information and confidential meeting information.
Mayor Tony Herbert said he agreed with many of the things Cr Sycopoulis had raised, saying they were "well said".
He said the policies were are only good if people were prepared to follow them.
Cr Mike Neoh said the policy talked about confidentiality, and part of the process of council and local government was to protect privacy, staffing matters and data protection.
"Whilst we do have a policy, it's not about throwing out the confidentiality clause whenever we want," he said.
"We are bound by legislation and the Local Government Act and I think we've seen when people have breached confidentiality in the past through conduct panels, councillors have been suspended."
"So it's all very well to say 'let's throw everything out there' but we are bound by Local Government Act, Privacy Act, Telecommunications Act and the Data Protection Act and also confidential staffing matters.
"There are some things that are Kosher in terms of confidentiality. Having a policy doesn't mean that we should just ignore that and throw away the confidentiality legislation that we do have because that's there to protect the individuals and their information."
Monday's council meeting was adjourned for a number of confidential agenda items which included minutes of meetings on March 23, July 6 and those of July 13 where Mr Schneider was sacked.
A confidential personnel matter and confidential contractual matter were also listed on the agenda for discussion.
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