Cr Andrew Fechner.
Cr Andrew Fechner.

‘Very sad for this council’: Motion stifles debate

There was a clear division at Ipswich City Council's latest meeting when a procedural motion to accept recommendations for 16 agenda items without further debate or discussion blindsided the mayor.

Division three councillor Andrew Fechner proposed the motion for the sake of "moving the meeting along."

He proposed that council accepted the recommendations from the General Purpose Committee (GPC) for the 16 items, which included community donation requests, an update of ICT open data policy, and a tender consideration plan for the procurement of creative services.

The GPC, which was held the week before, deals with all matters that would normally be considered by the full council at an ordinary meeting and acts as an initial filter. Its minutes are presented to council as recommendations.


Mayor Teresa Harding. Picture: Cordell Richardson
Mayor Teresa Harding. Picture: Cordell Richardson

"We did discuss all of these at the General Purposes Committee in great detail and we made recommendations at that committee that we were bringing to the council ordinary meeting," Cr Fechner said.

"I just moved that I'm happy to accept the recommendations of the General Purposes Committee for all of them, except for 23 because of the conflict of interest."

Item 23 discussed the renaming of council community assets and infrastructure named after dismissed councillors.

Cr Harding strongly opposed the motion.

"I think it would be remiss of us and lack transparency if we push these through as a batch," she said.

"There's certainly questions I wish to ask about the tender consideration plan for the procurement of creative services and other ones. I'd be very disappointed if I'm not able to speak to those at the ordinary council meeting, where we make our decisions.

"This is the decision-making body, not the General Purposes Committee. This is the way as under the Local Government Act. There are certain things, whilst they were raised in the General Purpose Committee last week that I've, on reflection would like to discuss with the council officers and bring to the table here."

Cr Jacob Madsen.
Cr Jacob Madsen.

Division one councillor Jacob Madsen showed his support for the motion.

"I'd just say all councillors and the mayor were present at the GPC meeting and took part in the discussion at that point and asked questions and the live stream is available online for any members of the public who wish to review that discussion," he said.

The motion was seconded by Cr Nicole Jonic and put to a vote. It passed with councillors Andrew Fechner, Jacob Madsen, Nicole Jonic, Shiela Ireland and Paul Tully voting in favour.

"I think this is lacking transparency by doing a batch, I think it's a real flaw in the way the committee structure is currently set up, which I did vote against in our very first meeting," Cr Harding said.

"I think it completely disenfranchises this particular meeting and is very sad, I think, for this council."