Horsham Rural City Council is debating whether to make minor alterations to the rules on how our meetings operate.
Our formal council meetings follow a set of strict rules that guide the way we conduct ourselves. People attending our meetings for the first time may be confused or frustrated by the formality and rigorousness. However, it has been formulated to bring order and hopefully ensure good governance practices are upheld.
What is good governance? Good governance is when council makes well-informed decisions. To make well-informed decisions, we need our officers to research and advise councillors of the detailed background of the topic and the strategic implications. Councillors are also informed of the financial risk, human rights and environmental implications. We are also informed on how the community has been engaged or consulted.
At briefing meetings, councillors have the opportunity in an informal setting to ask questions of the officers to clarify anything they may be unsure of. Decisions are not made at these meetings. They are made in the formal council meetings when the issues can be debated.
This year, our chief executive Sunil Bhalla advised that some of our meeting procedures were outdated, and some were just not working. He engaged a local government lawyer to review our procedures and make recommendations. The conclusion was that some of our procedures did not encourage good governance or well-informed decision making. Changes to meeting procedure were supported by the majority of council at our August 27 meeting, however, one of the councillors gave notice of a rescission motion at the next meeting.
The changes cannot go through until the rescission motion is debated and either passed or rejected by the council.
Our council is made up of seven passionate and committed individuals who put their hand up to represent their community with good intentions.
However, we all do this in different ways and we do not always get it right.
Our community satisfaction survey showed us that we need to look at the way we make decisions that impact on our community and ensure we do get it right, as the consequences on our community can be great.
Cr Pam Clarke is mayor of Horsham Rural City Council.