Hobsons Bay City Council has been revealed as one of Victoria’s most transparent councils, with recent reports showing that less behind-closed doors decisions are being made at Civic Parade compared to ratepayer-funded offices in other municipalities.
Statistics in Hobsons Bay City Council’s 2017-18 Annual Report shows the number of matters decided in confidential meetings fell from 4.35 per cent to 3.98 per cent last financial year.
The number of confidential decisions in Maribyrnong was 5.62 per cent and 7.93 per cent in Port Phillip during the same period. The average for similar councils in the Metropolitan Region was 7.40 per cent and 9.29 per cent was the average across all councils.
Councils that reported a significantly higher number of confidential decisions last year include Melbourne City (25.66%), Frankston City (17.44%), Maroondah City (13.74%), Moonee Valley (12.93%) and Yarra City (11.90%).
Speaking on the latest figures, Hobsons Bay Mayor Cr Jonathon Marsden said the Council is proud to be one of the most transparent Councils in Victoria and to have a culture of transparency and openness.
“The podcast of our Ordinary Council Meetings, which has been in place since 2012, and our live streaming more recently, invites our community to participate and to be involved in Council business, making our processes more transparent,” Cr Marsden said.
“Being as transparent as possible allows us to better represent our community as they can more easily access information and engage with us on issues that matter to them.”
Hobsons Bay City Council CEO Aaron van Egmond said the Council remains as transparent as possible at all times, noting that there are unavoidable instances where an issue must remain confidential.
“The Local Government Act determines the items that are supported to be in camera. This may occur in order to honour the privacy of individuals in relation to personal, legal, industrial or contractual matters,” Mr van Egmond said.
“We regularly review the items that have been considered in camera to determine if they can later be made public. If the Council votes resolves to release in camera items, they are made public on the website for the relevant meeting date.”
A lower number of matters decided in confidential meetings reflects greater openness, honesty, transparency and accountability, with the service performance indicator one of many measures of governance in the Local Government Performance Reporting Framework.
In November 2015, the State Government launched the Know Your Council website which, for the first time, allowed the public to compare and contrast performance of similar councils across a range of services and other measurers.