Geoff Helisma |
Clarence Care and Support service turns over more than $2million (gross) each year – at last week’s August 27 Clarence Valley Council (CVC) meeting, councillors moved into confidential session to discuss a publically unknown issue.
Clarence Care and Support is a CVC business activity.
Councillor Andrew Baker moved a detailed motion (seconded Williamson) to move into confidential session, citing relevant sections of the Local Government Act that concurred with (and expanded) the general manager’s recommendation to move into a confidential session because “the report contains commercial information of a confidential nature that would, if disclosed, confer a commercial advantage on a competitor of the council”.
In moving his motion, Cr Baker said he had “received late advice from two higher authorities that this matter should move into confidential session … bearing in my mind that we have a commercial in confidence report to consider as part of this matter”.
Councillor Toms asked Cr Baker: “Could you please disclose who the two higher authorities are?”
Councillor Baker said: “I took advice from the mayor and deputy mayor and, while I normally reject it, on this occasion I can see that there is a good reason to at least commence in confidential session, with a view to making public, after the confidential session, any decision that arises.”
Councillor Toms said the report “contained a lot of information that is [already] public”.
“So once we go confidential … will that report remain a secret for all of the time, as well?
“What is confidential, the other company’s details?”
General manager Ashley Lindsay confirmed that CVC’s related details were not confidential, however, he said the report contains “a lot of information regarding the terms proposed”.
Speaking to his motion, Cr Baker said he was “enthusiastic to get this dealt with so that no decision can be held in confidence”.
“But I am aware that as a general rule council needs to be able to do commercial business with other entities and not have the information in public, particularly when the business is not concluded,” he said.
He said he “hoped” the decision “would become public after today”.
Councillor Toms was the only councillor who voted against going into confidential session.
When councillors moved out of confidential session, Cr Richie Williamson moved the following motion (seconded Kingsley), which was unanimously supported: “That Council Resolution 08.19.002 passed in Closed Session not be made public for a period of up to 14 days when it will be published on Clarence Valley Council website.”