Mercury (Hobart)

Spend of public funds should not be a secret


CLARENCE Alderman Luke Edmunds will move for a “significan­t property matter” set to be discussed in closed council on Monday to be discussed publicly, claiming the council could vote in secret to purchase property without public input.

No detail about the item is available to the public, but Mr Edmunds said the matter was in the public interest.

The item in the agenda for Monday’s council meeting is titled “property matters”.

“We’re talking about spending public money and we should be making those decisions in public,” Mr Edmunds said.

“It’s really significan­t because every cent we spend outside our budget has an impact on how we manage our funds for decades to come.

“Major decisions that impact rates for years to come should not be stitched up behind closed doors.”

Mr Edmunds said the secrecy would erode the public’s trust in the council.

“People are sick and tired of these sort of major decisions on the Eastern Shore being stamped confidenti­al and agreed to in secret,” he said.

Alderman Tony Mulder said the public should have a say in how their money is spent.

“It’s their money, the ratepayers have absolutely got a right to know when council’s out spending their money on things outside the normal budgetary process,” Mr Mulder said.

“What we need to do is get back to a principle that the public ought to know.”

Mr Mulder said it wouldn’t be the first time the council had made deals behind closed doors.

In 2019, the council voted to purchase the Bellerive Eastside Squash Centre for more than $900,000 in a closed council meeting.

The decision was criticised for a lack of transparen­cy.

Mr Edmunds urged his fellow councillor­s to support the item being discussed publicly.

“What we want to see is this decision made in the public meeting, I’d definitely urge other aldermen to get behind it and do the best thing for our ratepayers,” Mr Edmunds said.

 ??  ?? Alderman Luke Edmunds.
Alderman Luke Edmunds.

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