The catchcry of openess and transparency may have been forgotten, a city councillor has claimed, over Warrnambool's failure to go far enough in changes to its governance rules.
Cr Ben Blain said he was disappointed the new council was not yet allowing the public to address open council meetings, although other councillors said it hadn't been ruled out in the future.
"Open and transparent. That was the catchcry. And it seems that I think we've forgotten it a bit," Cr Blain said.
"This could have been a big step forward for Warrnambool.
"It's just disappointing to see our hesitance towards it, because we want to be connected with our community and this was a huge way in order for us to do it."
Cr Blain said nearly all of the 19 public submissions on the proposed governance rules wanted the public to have the right to be able to speak at open meetings.
"I can't remember a time when there were that many submissions to the governance rules here in Warrnambool, ever," he said.
Cr Blain said the option of addressing councillors at briefings had always been there, but the public should be able to speak in the open forum of a public meeting.
"I don't think it cuts it just having people coming in to the briefings," he said.
He said the submission hearings that had been proposed were only going to happen at the discretion of council, when they decided they need to be held.
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Cr Blain said while he was supportive of the governance rules changes, he believed the council had missed "a big opportunity to be open and transparent and listening to what the community wants".
He said many other councils around the state allowed the public to address open council meetings, not just Moyne and Corangamite shires.
Cr Angie Paspaliaris said the council was trying to take steady, small steps in "the right direction" by changing some of the governance rules.
She said she was proud to be part of a council that was making some of the changes the community wanted.
Cr Paspaliaris said the council's move to immediately remove meals after public meetings was a "small but meaningful gesture".
She said general business and urgent business - things that had gone missing for some time - were returning.
Public question time would move to the start of meetings, and people would be allowed to read their question out loud themselves.
"Even though we have not changed rules pertaining to members of the public addressing the council open meetings, I do believe with future encouragement and initiation we can have these same people addressing councillors and executives in briefings which offer question and answer and a more interactive scenario," she said.
Cr Paspaliaris said if that was not working, she was willing to explore the issue again in 12 months.
Cr Debbie Arnott said the council was making small steps forward and had not put off the agenda forever the issue of allowing the public to address council meetings.
"We have simply said 'at this point'. I just wanted to make that clear," she said.
A unanimous vote of council adopted the new governance rules.
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