COUNCILS may be forced to record confidential meetings and hand the tapes over to WA government archives.
The proposal by the state government has Perth council staff nervous, fearing recordings might be accessed by journalists and other snoops.
Councils usually switch off livestreams to discuss items behind closed doors that include commercial secrets or personal affairs.
But the state government inquiry into Perth council’s disfunction found the mystery discussions at those meetings made it difficult to untangle what had gone wrong.
This included secret meetings about the heritage listing of a building owned by then-lord mayor Lisa Scaffidi, and an instance where a three-member CEO performance review committee met behind closed doors to plan his ousting.
Now the council reform package put out by WA Labor’s local government minister John Carey proposes that “recordings of all confidential items would also need to be submitted to the DLGSC for archiving”.
Perth council governance staff in charge of keeping operations kosher aren’t keen.
“Such action could potentially create unnecessary risk, especially where recordings are inadvertently released or live-streamed,” they noted in a report to council.
They’re not just worried about hackers, either. The recommendation to councillors says “these recordings are also likely to be discoverable under the Freedom of Information Act 1992 which could impact future decision-making processes and free flowing discussion for local government meetings”.
The FOI act has been instrumental in media and citizens uncovering truths about various councils, including this paper’s coverage into concerns about the former regime’s governance (long before the state government showed an interest).
Perth councillors are due to discuss the recommendation at their February 22 meeting, just in time to send their thoughts on reforms to the state for consideration by the February 25 closing date.