Councillor to advocate for live streaming
Live streaming council meetings to boost engagement with the public will be raised during the Timaru District Council’s long term plan process.
However, caution has been urged by a fellow council, which says greater transparency means councillors will have to be careful.
The idea of live streaming the meetings was broached last year by then-councillor Tracy Tierney and councillor Sally Parker, with Parker saying she was going to put it before her colleagues again during the long-term plan process later this year.
The cost - and whether rate- payers were willing to pay for it - was something that had to be discussed, Parker said.
Council communications manager Stephen Doran confirmed the council basically supported the idea of live streaming.
‘‘As it would involve a significant investment of ratepayer funds in replacing current equipment as well as ongoing costs, we would have to properly gauge the public appetite and therefore value of providing a service such as this.
‘‘In the interim we continue to ensure that our council and committee meetings are well advertised and open to the public.’’
The idea has attracted some criticism from councillor Peter Burt, who said while he would sup- port it if it had public support, it still had the potential to ‘‘stymie’’ debate.
Burt said on Thursday filming a meeting would always have an impact on debate - in particular when it came to issues which were polarising to the community, meaning people might not speak as openly as they otherwise would.
‘‘People are going to be a bit more circumspect.’’
Dunedin City Council communications and marketing manager Graham McKerracher said what was being recorded was open to the public anyway, and there were usually no problems- but councillors had to be careful what they said to one another, with ‘‘personal attacks’’ best avoided.
The Dunedin City Council has live streamed council meetings for several years.
While defamatory statements were always unacceptable, when they were broadcast to the public the consequences could be worse, McKerracher said.
Having a time delay was a good idea, so any inappropriate remarks could be edited out.
‘‘Councillors have to be more disciplined, I think, so they don’t make any defamatory remarks about each other. Councillors don’t have parliamentary privilege.
‘‘[They] have to be cognisant of how they behave.’’
When filming was first introduced to the Dunedin City Council, the councillors became more polite, McKerracher said.
However at election time, local body politicians had a habit of becoming more ‘‘vociferous’’.
Burt said he did not think personal attacks would be a problem in Timaru, but councillors would have to watch their ‘‘banter’’.
The crux of the issue was how widely the meetings would be viewed. A lot of the committee meetings were just ‘‘detail around the day-to-day stuff’’ which people potentially might not find interesting.
Other councils around the country live stream their meetings, including the Taupo District Council, which started in 2010, and the Christchurch City Council, which began live streaming them in 2013.
Councillor Steve Wills said he supported the idea, as it was ‘‘an open public forum anyway’’ and councillor Paddy O’Reilly said he supported the idea because it would give the wider community insight about how the council worked.
‘‘People need to know what’s going on, if they so wish.’’
He did not think if would make much difference to the things the councillors discussed, but thought they might have to be ‘‘a little bit more serious, unfortunately’’.
‘‘I don’t think there would be as much banter going on,’’ O’Reilly said.
Preliminary consultation on the long-term plan for 2018-2028 has finished, and the next step is to draft the plan based on the feedback received.