Redland considers banning video, recording

REDLAND City Council is contemplating banning members of the public from recording general council meetings.

At Wednesday’s meeting, Capalaba councillor Paul Gleeson interrupted proceedings to ask council to ban all public recording equipment in chambers.

Councillor Paul Gleeson, third right, calls for a ban on public recording council meetings, claiming there was no guarantee material would be used in context. PHOTO: Judith Kerr

Councillor Paul Gleeson, third right, calls for a ban on public recording council meetings, claiming there was no guarantee material would be used in context. PHOTO: Judith Kerr

Initially he said his request was for all audio and visual equipment to be banned.

However, he later agreed to a suggestion by General manager of organisational services Nick Clarke to allow the devices as long as they are turned off.

Mr Clarke said councillors could vote on the request under section 45 of standing orders, which are under review and will be updated at the June 3 meeting.

Section 45 of council's standing orders

Section 45 of council's standing orders

Cr Gleeson said councillors were not protected under parliamentary privilege and recording members of the public addressing council was unfair.

“We don’t know what that information is going to be used for down the track,” he told the meeting.

“People can attend to listen is fine but I’ve got serious questions why it would need to be recorded by the community.”

Cr Paul Bishop challenged the move and said councillors, as the city’s elected representatives, should discuss important matters in open public forum.

He said it was unfair for the council to assume that recordings would be taken out of context.

“I would see it as a retrograde step, in terms of our open democratic responsibilities, to remove or reduce any ability for the community to have access to the information we debate in public,” he said.

Councillor Julie Talty said general meetings were not public forums and the public had a right to speak without being concerned about how they were being recorded.

But councillor Wendy Boglary said meetings were public and questioned why Cr Gleeson brought the motion after proceedings had been recorded for many years and council even considered live streaming meetings in 2012.

She said she hoped the bid was not because of a looming election and did not want it to include the Redland City Bulletin.

Deputy mayor Alan Beard said audio recordings of meetings were available but public recordings should not be allowed because meetings were where councillors tried to influence each other’s votes.

“One of us might say something which is totally incorrect, and, in fact, influence the debate that in such a manner a development application is lost and on the basis of that comment made incorrectly, be held responsible for any loss.”

“We don’t have parliamentary privilege and for that reason we don’t live stream and for that reason nor does any other council in south-east Queensland that I’m aware of.”

Local Government Association of Queensland media executive Craig Johnstone said the Gold Coast council broadcast (streamed) its meetings live.

Mr Johnstone said under the Local Government Act councils were required to make meetings public and to keep a record, which most did in the minutes.

He said under the Bligh government, councils were asked to live stream their meetings, which proved too costly for most.

He also said most councils allowed media to record proceedings but in Redland, it was likely to be at the discretion of the chief executive.

 “Recordings are likely to help journalists report meetings accurately but most councils allow photographs and videos to be taken during meetings,” he said.

“Sometimes it’s easier for councils to allow tape recordings than to ban it and have proceedings recorded inaccurately.”

Mr Johnstone said other councils had not raised the issue of recording meetings but he expected the issue to grow as more people relied on social media.

He also said even if councils were recognised constitutionally, the state government was unlikely to ever extend parliamentary privilege to councils.

Those challenging inaccurate reports could also take their complaints to court, he said.

Redland City Bulletin will write to chief executive Bill Lyon to ask for exemption to cover council meetings.

In state parliament, it is up the speaker to decide whether to allow photography and recordings during sittings.

Redland will vote on whether to allow meetings to be recorded by the public when it next meets on June 3.