Above: Councillors during last night’s meeting, from right, Jamie de Benni, Glen Auricht, Jacinta Price, Marli Banks. Mayor Damien Ryan at rear.
By KIERAN FINNANE
Mayor Damien Ryan blocked an attempt by the Alice Springs News Online at last night’s council meeting to cast light on reports – still undenied – that there are code of conduct disciplinary actions in progress against some councillors.
In public question time editor of the News, Erwin Chlanda, requested the opportunity of putting questions to all the elected members, and obtaining their individual answers.
Mayor Ryan permitted the questions to be asked but denied Mr Chlanda’s request to get answers at the meeting.
None of the elected members raised a point of order about this.
Cr Catherine Satour was absent.
“We will take [the questions] on notice and members can answer them to you after, it being a media question,” Mayor Ryan said.
“I won’t go to each person individually now but they are welcome to report back to you afterwards.”
Mr Chlanda said: “I was hoping to get the answers this evening, Mr Mayor.”
“No, I’ll take them on notice, thank you, through the chair,” he replied.
Mr Chlanda then read out his questions, directed at each elected member except Mayor Ryan who had already answered them, as reported last week:
“Are you part of a process in which action is being taken against another councillor over code of conduct issues? If so, who is the councillor or who are the councillors? What is the action or behaviour that is being complained of?
“Or alternately, is anyone taking action against you over code of conduct issues? If so, who? What is the action or behaviour that is being complained of?”
Mayor Ryan said: “Thank you for those, Mr Chlanda, and I invite members to answer those to you outside the room.”
The NT Local Government Act gives a clear indication that disciplinary issues should be dealt with in an open forum. Although last night’s exchange was not, of course, a formal process under the Act, its intention of transparency is obvious.
Section 81(2C) says: “Proceedings of the disciplinary committee are to be held in a place open to the public unless the disciplinary committee considers it desirable, in the public interest, to hold the proceedings in private.”