The Gold Coast Bulletin
GOLD COAST BULLETIN Monday, May 14, 2012
MILLIONAIRE Mayor Tom Tate pushed for budget meetings to be held in secret to protect new councillors from “looking stupid”.
For the first time in a decade the public were barred from watching the meetings and seeing how their money was to be spent.
Veteran councillors were shocked by the move, some even labelling it hypocritical. One council source said it was to preserve the image of a “united council” as the meetings were expected to get fiery when big cuts are made to pet projects.
But Cr Tate said it had to be done because the seven new members of council, including himself, were on trainer wheels.
“Everyone should have an opportunity to ask anything they like without looking stupid,” he said. “There will be a lot of things where people ask questions. I can’t do it in open session because people might be shy.
“Until we’re learned, it’s not fair on the people who are not learned, and I’m one of them.”
Cr Tate denied it was anything to do with the council’s image.
“I’m not trying to hide any funds or any budget,” he said.
“I don’t want a result where people make choices only because everyone is looking.”
He said he wanted the meetings to remain closed until he was confident it “benefits the city” to open them.
Fledgling councillor Glenn Tozer said he was an advocate for transparent government but was not opposed to closed budget meetings while Burleigh councillor Greg Betts was opposed to secret sessions.