Maranoa Regional Council discuss Structures for Community Contact at their general meeting, August 12.
Maranoa Regional Council discuss Structures for Community Contact at their general meeting, August 12.

Fiery council meeting sparks debate between councillors

COUNCIL portfolios and advisory groups were the hot topic at council meeting causing a debate between councillors and the mayor.

Maranoa Regional Council mayor Tyson Golder’s suggestion to abolish community portfolios was met with criticism from a number of councillors who felt they were kept in the dark regarding the decision.

Portfolios provide councillors the opportunity to develop a heightened level of knowledge and leadership in a specific area of responsibility.

Previous porfolios include Utilities, Youth, Recreation and Sport, Government Relations, Economic Development and Advocacy.

Cr Golder moved item 8.1 Structures for Community Contact.

The mayor attempted to move a motion that council;

  • “Not elect to have portfolios for the 2020-2024 term.
  • Be invited for photo opportunities.
  • Be invited or consultation with the community at meetings.
  • Elect the Mayor to be the spokesperson in press releases and if he is not available, the Deputy Mayor to be.
  • Instead of having advisory groups, schedule special meetings to hear the feedback and concerns of form advisory members and community members on topics such as wild dogs, saleyards etc. with the frequency of meetings decided by council. Thus incorporating involvement of all councillors in all issues.”

Cr Golder believes this is the perfect opportunity for councillors to have “maximum involvement” in all issues.

“I believe extra involvement for councillors in all opportunities is a positive move,” he said.

“I believe this is the best way and best decision council could make.”

Councillor Mark Edwards seconded the motion and deputy mayor Geoff McMullen asked to amend points two and three to include ‘all councillors’ to be included in photo opportunities and community meetings.

Cr Wendy Taylor said she had a numerous problems with this decision, saying she thought a full briefing was going to happen to get an understanding of council portfolios.

“We requested a briefing because we don’t know what they are or how they work, what happened to the briefing on portfolios,” Cr Taylor said.

In response, Cr Golder said if the motion does not pass, council will organise a briefing to gather all the information.

“With respect Tyson, we have asked for a briefing first,” Cr Taylor said.

“How can you bring up a motion? It just comes out of nowhere, it was on our list of things to do.

“And with advisory meetings, I don’t even know what that is or what it involves.

“I just think we’re playing left field here, I don’t understand where this all comes from – can you tell me about the advisory members.”

The mayor clarified to councillors saying based on feedback he has received, advisory groups were not useful as ‘decision-making forums’, rather special meetings would be better suited.

“Advisory groups didn’t have all councillors involved,” he said.

Cr Taylor asked councillors for examples of advisory groups.

In response, councillor Joh Hancock mentioned the Cobb and Co group in Surat saying they were very hands on.

A frustrated Cr Taylor said, “we just don’t know these things, I don’t know how you can ask us to vote on something we don’t know yet, we haven’t be informed.”

Cr Hancock added that she “agrees wholeheartedly” with issues Cr Taylor raised.

“I’m really disappointed this has come to this meeting at this time and how it’s come to the meeting,” Cr Hancock said.

“I believe we need a full briefing and full look at the all the portfolios and all the advisory groups, I believe one size doesn’t fit all.

“Especially because meetings won’t fit all the advisory groups and there is community feedback that some of the advisory groups weren’t working, but there were some that were. “We’ve had letters asking for advisory groups to be put back on the table.

“We need to look at it as a whole approach – how many are there, how is council involved in them.

“I think it’s going to be really messy if we don’t have a good discussion about – I’m not saying I’m for or against it, I’m just asking for a discussion and to have all the facts in front of us and look at what has worked and what hasn’t.

“That’s what I’m going to say about portfolios and advisory groups, but I have a lot more to say on other points.”

MRC CEO Julie Reitano said if councillors want to lay it on the table for the next council meeting to gather more information.

“If I can offer a suggestion, it’s quite a meaty topic and there’s a lot of information to get across,” Ms Reitano said.