Public questions ruled out of order

Public questions ruled out of order

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Mayor Patrick Hall ruled questions from ratepayers out of order due to objectional expressions.

A Canning ratepayer has labelled Canning Mayor Patrick Hall as overly sensitive, after a question he put to council was ruled out-of-order by Mr Hall.

Neville Lobo submitted a number of questions to council last week, all of which were accepted by the city’s governance team.

His first question, regarding the city’s rate rise public consultation results, was answered by director Stephen Cain.

However, his second question, to do with the city’s live streaming, was ruled out of order by Mr Hall.

“Just in regards to question two, I’m going to rule question two out of order under the provision of the standing orders as it contains an objectional expression which is just simply unnecessary and if Mr Lobo is listening, and I’m certain he probably is, please ensure that the questions you ask don’t contain derogatory comments in relation to staff or elected members,” Mr Hall said during the meeting.

“I feel that it’s out of order and I’m ruling it out of order. So, the question will be struck and won’t be recorded in the minutes.”

The “objectional expression” in question was “…recent technical issues mirror semi-competency witnessed in other areas of council functions too.”

Mr Lobo said he believed Mr Hall was being overly sensitive.

“The council meetings are livestreamed and at the last meeting I couldn’t see anything clearly and I couldn’t hear clearly, there were obviously technical issues.

“It’s happened a couple of times, and my question simply asked if these systems were checked regularly.

“I don’t understand why my questions was ruled out of order.

“He could have left what he said was the objectional expression out, and still read the question.

“If governance approved it, why did the mayor reject it?

“I think the mayor is being overly sensitive.”

Mr Hall also took exception to another question from a ratepayer that expressed a view that the Gibbs Street roadworks had been mismanaged, a comment that Mr Hall described as a derogatory opinion, asking the ratepayer to withdraw the comment.

Mr Lobo said he thought the mayor was throwing out questions he simply did not agree with.

Mr Hall disagreed, saying he welcomed and encouraged diverse and differing opinions.

“I encourage residents to attend council meetings, where they can, and contribute to our decision-making process, but all of us, members of the public and elected members, must remain respectful at all times and address council without using expressions which may adversely reflect on any person,” he said.