Since I first started attending Council meetings eight years ago, …

Comment on Leaked letter casts light on town council pool fiasco by Hal Duell.

Since I first started attending Council meetings eight years ago, one of my perennial requests has been for the public to have the right to challenge confidential.
At public meetings of the Byron Bay Shire Council, just before the meetings adjourn into Confidential the public in the Gallery is asked if anyone wants to challenge whether or not a matter on the agenda could be discussed in Open.
On the day I was there, a matter was challenged. The Council officers argued to keep it in, but the Councillors voted to take it out. The matter was then debated in Open.
Every time I have raised this idea, there has been a mildly hysterical response assuming that I am asking that the public be given the right to determine whether or not a matter is for Open or Confidential.
Not true. At all times the Councillors would be the ones making any determination, but the public would have the right to challenge.
Perhaps if the Alice Springs Town Council adopted this practice, more oversight would be shown by the public resulting in a greater degree of transparency and, hopefully, fewer kerfuffles such as the current one regarding the YMCA and the pool.
The agendas for both Open and Confidential are posted on Council’s website by the close of business on the Friday before all Council’s Monday meetings. So it’s not hard to stay informed.

Hal Duell Also Commented

Leaked letter casts light on town council pool fiasco
@John
I appreciate your concern about a matter being moved from Confidential into Open by stealth. To clarify my position on this, and hopefully to alleviate your concerns, what follows is a rough draft of a petition I plan to present to the next Town Council.
I have included my reasons at the end.
In every public meeting, and immediately prior to Council adjourning from Open to Confidential, the public in the gallery would be asked if they wished to challenge the placement of any matter listed on the meeting’s agenda for discussion in Confidential.
In the event of a challenge, the Council officer(s) who placed that matter in Confidential would be asked to explain why they did so.
The Councillors would then vote to move the matter into Open, or to keep it in Confidential. The details of the matter being challenged would not be debated until it was determined where that debate was to take place. If the determination was to move it into Open, the debate would then proceed. If the determination was to keep it in Confidential, the meeting would adjourn into Confidential and the public and press would leave the chamber.
I appreciate that this could add to the time needed for an already long meeting.
To make this change easier to support, may I suggest that:
1) The right to challenge would not be used often or lightly.
2 Any change to Council’s fixed agenda that increases the public’s confidence that all business conducted by Council is transparent and accountable is a change for the better.
3 Any change to Council’s fixed agenda that allows for greater public participation in Council’s public meetings is a change for the better.


Leaked letter casts light on town council pool fiasco
Thank you Steve and Liz for your in principle support.
I am drafting a petition to allow this question that I plan to present to the first meeting of the 12th Alice Springs Town Council.
That will be on the 16th of April, and I hope to see you both there.
And a suggestion, Liz, if I may. Don’t ask if such an innovation is allowed under the Local Government Act. Ask if it’s not allowed. No one willingly gives up power, or likes to see it challenged.


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Pine Gap and the Nobel prize the Oz government ignores
Thank you, Russell, for sharing your family’s history. Your grandfather showed great foresight in first getting out of Germany and, later, moving to Australia.
Back to the present, and while I repeat that the Nobel Peace Prize being given to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons came as a most welcome bolt out of the blue, I can see one big problem in trying to implement its agenda.
Looking at the world today, the hot wars are being waged against countries without nuclear capabilities. These are mostly across the Middle East and in north and sub-saharan Africa. No one is seriously contemplating starting a hot war against countries with a nuclear deterrent, whether they be the big three of Russia, China and the USA or the second tier countries of England, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel, blustering and posturing notwithstanding.
Looked at in this light, having nuclear weapons makes good sense. Would that it were not so, but, unfortunately, it is.


Pine Gap and the Nobel prize the Oz government ignores
@Steve Brown
Posted October 17, 2017 at 6:28 pm
No argument with what you say about the war in the Pacific, but try as I might, I cannot place that theatre between Japan and Germany.
I can, however, place Mao’s Eighth Route Army there, but if we are to look at that it would mean opening a whole new chapter into who did what in WWII.
As to stability, the Korean war waged from 1950 to the present day has not brought stability, the war in Vietnam did not bring stability, the current kerfuffle in the South China Sea is not bringing stability and the annual Talisman Sabre is not bringing stability.
However, Nixon’s visit to China in 1972 did open a road to stability, but that was an exercise in diplomacy, not sabre rattling.


Pine Gap and the Nobel prize the Oz government ignores
An interesting comment below that the only thing standing between Russell’s father and the Japanese was the strength and commitment of the USA.
It might be more accurate to say that the only thing standing between Russell’s father and the Japanese was the Soviet army.
The Wehrmacht was broken at the battle of Stalingrad (today’s Volgograd), not on the beaches of Normandy, an inconvenient truth, but the truth nonetheless.


Pine Gap and the Nobel prize the Oz government ignores
Being in my own way an optimist, when Trump was elected President of the US I had hopes that he really would get out of foreign wars, make nice with Russia and rebuild America’s crumbling infrastructure. Instead he seems to be locked into waging yet more wars, demonising Russia and destroying infrastructure (and how many lives and hopes and dreams?) in other lands.
Foolish me!
But there may still be a silver lining to the cloud of Trump’s presidency. All over the world people are waking up to the real and present danger of anyone, let alone an unstable person, having nuclear codes at his command.
And he is hardly alone in the unstable stakes. Can anyone really find reason to hope when looking at the antics of Kim in North Korea or Netanyahu in Israel?
The recent Nobel Peace Prize came as a bolt out of the blue. Hopefully it will not be an isolated and forgotten moment of sanity in a world with an increasingly desperate need of sanity.


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