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How accountable should CVC be?

At Clarence Valley Council’s March meeting, councillors made their decision on whether or not it was appropriate to reveal any details regarding how and where the council spends more than $10,000 per week on advertising.
Part of their advice, as stated in the business paper, says that their decisions should be linked to the council’s community plan, as per the following concepts: “Theme 5, Our Leadership; Objective 5.1, We will have a strong, accountable and representative Government; Strategy 5.1.2, Create awareness of Council’s roles and responsibilities and the services that Council provides.”
At the end of a lengthy debate, which included a failed amendment to detail the expenditure at the April meeting, six of the nine councillors (Crs Howe, Lysaught, McKenna, Hughes, Simmons and Kingsley) decided that the community should not be advised of how this money was spent.
Councillors Baker and Toms voted against the adopted motion, as recommended by general manager Scott Greensill: “1. A petition on ‘details of the amounts spent in advertising with the Clarence Independent, DEX and 2GF and related radio stations’ was tabled at the meeting. It included the names of 146 petitioners;
2. Copies of the petition shall not be circulated with the minutes of the meeting;
3. Council notes that no formal GIPA request has been received in relation to the information sought in the petition.”
The mayor, Richie Williamson, declared a “non-significant, non pecuniary” interest in the matter, as he is “employed by a local media company [2GF] and, in the interest of open and transparent decision making, [left] the Chamber”.
The council’s statutory financial reports show total advertising for 2013/14 was $512,000, 2012/13 $520,000, and 2011/12 $466,000.
Advertising costs for 2015/16 in the council’s budget are estimated to be about $580,000.

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