In July 2021, we began a quest to visit every local government council meeting in Perth. Elections and Covid slowed the Quest considerably but it continues. There are 29 councils to visit. The objective reports of what we observed are on this page.
WHAT & WHY of my Local Government Meetings Quest
Call me crazy, and many do. Why would anyone want to visit every local council meeting?
As my wife says, my eyes light up when I immerse myself in the intricacies of meeting procedures. Who doesn’t love a good meeting? Whether it’s a local council meeting, a business meeting or in my role as impartial chair for difficult meetings, I find them fascinating.
Because when the chair understands meeting procedures and processes and uses them in the correct way, issues that could be contentious dissipate, resulting in more efficient and effective meetings.
The Local Government Quest idea came about as I’m currently rewriting my Meeting Procedures Made Easy book (5th edition) so it’s relevant to modern times. You may think that using formal meeting procedures is old school and is irrelevant today. You would be partially correct, as the most efficient meetings use a blend of both formal and informal procedures to move the meeting along smoothly.
How and when to use the correct procedures is an art in itself and will be discussed in my new book.
By visiting every local council meeting in Perth, I’ll be sharing the wisdom from the best-run meetings so we all benefit. A short report on each meeting will highlight the strengths of each council meeting and also point out opportunities to increase effectiveness, all from a positive standpoint.
David Julian Price
David Julian Price – Speaking Coach and Meetings Sage
ABC Spotlight on Local Government
As a result of the intrigue my quest has created, the ABC invited me to attend their local government forum on 13th November 2021.
During the session, I was asked what my main observations were from visiting local councils.
These are 3 top things I’ve noticed well-run council meetings have in common:-
1. Trust is apparent
In the councils that work really well, I’ve observed there’s a trust between the elected members and the officers. The officers are all professional people with qualifications and experience, yet some councillors just don’t listen to them or their advice.
It often comes down to the dichotomy of service and power. When you’re sitting there as an observer you can often see the councillors who are there for service and see those that are there for power and trust underpins it all.
2. Don’t sweat the small stuff
Some councillors get into the minute detail when it’s not necessary. I was at a meeting a few weeks ago where the council spent 20 minutes debating where the door should be on a commercial shed. It had no relevance to the community. Instead, looking at the bigger picture generally serves the community better.
3. Debate vs Discuss
The panellists all used a word at the forum and that word was debate.
A CEO said to me a few weeks ago that the problem with our councillors is that they talk, they don’t debate. They don’t understand they’re there to debate for the purpose of serving their community to get the best possible decisions. If they framed their top points well and backed each point with facts, it would save much time in needless discussion.
Hosted by Nadia Mitsopoulos at the ABC studios
Minister John Carey, Stirling Mayor Mark Irwin, Former Nedlands Mayor Cilla de Lacy, Former Labor and Independent MP turned council commentator Larry Graham
Invited guests – Dr Julia Crews – Ethics and Leadership expert, and David Julian Price – Meetings Sage.
You can hear my comments at 41:47 minutes into the discussion.
Councils attended so far
Click on the council to see the report