This paragraph featured in our post of March 23rd, 2011 –

We’ve written that secrecy and transparency do not mix. Secrecy invites speculation; it encourages distrust; and it reinforces a siege mentality – all counterproductive. Yet this is the way that this council has been perceived for years. Residents are not viewed as colleagues and/or collaborators in planning, setting visions for the future, or merely partaking in democratic processes. They are viewed as troublesome cash cows that need to be managed, sidelined and ignored whenever the legislation unwittingly allows for such manoeuvres.

Item 9.11 in the current agenda is another case where secrecy rules the roost – the Municipal Emergency Management Plan. For a council which has one of the highest flood risks in the metropolitan area and where hundreds of homes and businesses were inundated by the floods of February 2011 it is frankly unconscionable that the following statement is made by Waite –

A copy of the current version of the Plan is available in the Councillors’ Room for Councillors to view. As it contains personal information, it is not a public document.

There can be no excuse as to why this document is kept under wraps, especially not when it has the potential to impact on countless lives. Residents have every right to know exactly what the ‘changes’ are and how well positioned this council is in order to respond to any kind of large-scale emergency. Resorting to claims of ‘personal information’ simply will not do – and especially not when all of the following councils (to name but a few!) see no problem in publishing their Emergency Plans on their websites!

As always, the focus needs to be on councillors and whether they have the will to ensure that such practices are put to an end.

http://www.moreland.vic.gov.au/about-moreland/emergency-management/municipal-emergency-management-plan.html

http://www.whitehorse.vic.gov.au/Municipal-Emergency-Management-Plan.html

http://www.centralgoldfields.com.au/?id=23510100B6A0B1D9AEE15DBACA25799900168F98

http://www.maroondah.vic.gov.au/MEMP.aspx

http://www.geelongaustralia.com.au/council/governance/documents/item/b9ccbf99.aspx

http://www.bayside.vic.gov.au/search_results.php?q=municipal+emergency+plan

http://www.kingston.vic.gov.au/Services-and-Support/Emergency-Information/Emergency-Information