I’m on a quest to visit every local government council meeting in the Perth metropolitan area. There are 29. On each expedition I will write about what I find.
The fifth expedition on my quest was the City of Wanneroo.
The Mayor of Wanneroo is Tracey Roberts and she ran a tight meeting. She is also the President of WALGA and also Vice President of ALGA (Australian Local Government Association) and it’s easy to see why she has been elected to those positions.
The hallmark of Mayor Tracey Roberts comes down to 3 things in my opinion – she is decisive, efficient and respectful. The calling for votes by raising hands was handled swiftly and effectively. The mayor sets the tone of a meeting through everything they do and Mayr Roberts calm and friendly approach works well for the efficient and effective running of the meeting.
3 things worth noting at Wanneroo:
1. The mayor wears the Mayoral Chain of office. It adds some gravitas and respect to the position.
2. A prayer is read at the beginning of every meeting – I am sure people have differing opinions about that.
3. Something all councils should copy Wanneroo is to provide a seating plan for the public showing who is sitting where with names and roles.
The meeting ran for an hour and 20 minutes. The councillors ranged from one speaking 8 times and three not speaking at all. An interesting quirk of the ward system and the resulting seating arrangements was that one side of the chamber had one man and six women and the other side with all men. No judgement – it just cannot help but be noticed.
The Wanneroos chamber is huge, modern and has 150 fixed raised seats in the public gallery so it’s easy to see and hear what is going on. The meetings are not live-streamed but apparently, an audio-only streaming is being considered. I’m surprised that in 2021, audio and visual streaming does not happen like other councils I have visited.
I have seen declarations of interest done in two ways at various councils. At some, all declarations are made at the beginning of the meeting. At Wanneroo, councillors declare an interest when the item arises. There are probably good reasons for both but as an observer, the declarations at the beginning of the meeting seems to be more business like.
Procedurally, there was some slight confusion around an amendment. Confusion around amendments confusion seems to be an issue in local government.
An issue on the agenda was clearly needing more consideration and so the mayor suggested a procedural motion to refer the matter back to the committee. That was the best way to handle that circumstance.
Almost every vote was unanimous and it was clear that the issues had been debated at the briefing sessions or committees. The end result of that is, in my opinion and experience, is good decision making and good governance and that benefits the entire community.
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