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Peter Bernard - 10 October 2017

Peter Bernard made the below comments at the Ordinary Council Meeting 10 October 2017.

Council Communications Public forum 10th October 2017

On many occasions radio media make reference to the ESC at various times and different members of its staff make detailed comment and promote other issues concerning the council and its residents.

Madam Mayor through you to the General Manager

  1. Does the council have a policy on who can speak on various issues?
  2. Are you advised previously, in all cases, on what is intended to be said by the relevant council staff?
  3. Do you give written approval, in all cases, for the above?
  4. Are you advised in all cases, of what was actually said or discussed?
  5. Is a record, in all cases, kept by council? IF not - Why not?
  6. Are recordings of the complete discussions made by Council for you to analyse? This should be considered very important by you as on many occasions there is considerable talk- back!
  7. Will you instruct that a report to be written on the media discussions of say over the last two months involving council staff and or Issues raised? I personally think you should be the only person from council that should be on talk -back radio .It is not difficult even for those that are media shy and persistently take questions on notice

Madam Mayor

Several of the issues discussed are of vital significance to majority of residents in the Eurobodalla and equally important to those councillors who were recently elected to represent them. Some councillors may be totally ignorant of these discussions and their importance.

One was the possibility of imminent wide -spread water restrictions in the coming months and the capacity of Deep Creek Dam to meet those demands. This undoubtedly will be due to the pathetic forward planning by planning, engineering and management for over 25 years with regard to off -stream reservoirs for the Tuross and/ or Moruya rivers and pursuing the construction of Lawler's Creek Dam. All of this despite writing off considerable amounts of money for works which have never been carried out. The only money spent was for a special chrome plated spade for the Mayor of the day to turn the first sod for a site off the Tuross. The spade, according to the "block of knowledge from the top pub "disappeared after the ceremony.

Another issue concerned the impact of sea level rise north of Moruya and covering virtually all of the Batemans Bay area up to the border shire of Shoalhaven. Many residents in the south may have the impression they will not be affected like the 10,000 odd properties to the north of the shire. Madam Mayor it  may be of benefit to you, councillors and above all residents for a special "State of the Nation "report be written from whoever is running this "Gilbert and Sullivan "side show on what is really happening in the shire.

I may add that I requested information from council and a full transcript on the coastal management issues discussed by the chief planner on ABC South East. However, I was given the impression that a copy of the information on the discussion was not available and the council officer spoke from the "top of his head". I may add that this issue may affect the lives and lifestyle of two thirds of the population of the shire and reply of this nature to any member of the public should not be tolerated.

Council's Reply

  1. Does the Council have a policy on who can speak on issues?
    Council adopted its Media Policy on 12 September 2017. The purpose of this policy is to provide communications on Council activities, set out a framework for effective working relationships with media, promote positive coverage of Council affairs and identify spokespeople and their responsibilities.  As the General Manager, I, have delegated authority to designate specialist staff to speak and respond to media queries on technical or operational matters.
  2. Are you advised previously, in all cases, on what is intended to be said by the relevant council staff?
    All media interviews are coordinated through our Communications team.  Media outlets would contact Council with the topic for discussion, which is usually as a result of a Council issued media release which is often a recent Council decision.
  3. Do you give written approval, in all cases, for the above?
    Under Council’s delegations senior staff, who are also subject matter experts, have delegated authority to undertake media interviews on behalf of Council.
  4. Are you advised in all cases, of what was actually said or discussed?
    As previously advised, media interviews are usually a result of a media release or Council decision.  Media outlets contact Council’s Communications Team to arrange the interview with a relevant Council spokesperson.  This spokesperson would have the delegated authority to speak on behalf of Council and would be the subject matter expert on the topic.
  5. Is a record, in all cases, kept by Council? If not, why not?
    All Council media releases are available on Council’s website at www.esc.nsw.gov.au
  6. Are recordings of the complete discussions made by Council for you to analyse?  This should be considered very important by you as on many occasions there is considerable talk-back!
    No.  As you would appreciate, the services and activities undertaken by Council are extensive.  As previously advised, Council employs a number of senior staff who are subject matter experts.  These subject matter experts are best placed to undertake media interviews on behalf of Council.
  7. Will you instruct that a report to be written on the media discussions of say over the last two months involving Council staff and or issues raised?  I personally think you should be the only person from Council that should be on talk-back radio.  It is not difficult even for those that are media shy and persistently take questions on notice.
    No I do not believe that this would benefit Eurobodalla or its residents. It is important to note that local media outlets are interested in interviewing a range of voices and providing a range of talent for interviews is part of Council’s strategy.  Providing a platform with different voices assists to ensure that important messages from Council are being communicated to a wide audience.