Should Bathurst Regional Council live stream its meetings? | Poll

BATHURST councillors have indicated strong support for following Orange’s lead and investigating the live streaming of council meetings.

Orange City Council voted last week to call for expressions of interest from businesses with expertise in audio and visual recording to record meetings that would be broadcast live to people’s lounge rooms.

A report to councillors had recommended live audio recording only, but councillors voted to make it a full live streaming service.

Councillor Jess Jennings first mooted live streaming for Bathurst Regional Council meetings in 2013 but the idea was never pursued.

He said he hoped there might be more support for the initiative now.

“My position hasn’t change, this is just another way to engage the community,” he said.

“The fact other councils are doing it shows there’s no reason we couldn’t.”

Live streaming is also available in state and federal parliaments but Cr Jennings acknowledged councillors were not granted the same legal protections as MPs.

“One major drawback for councillors is that live streaming would put everything they say on a public record in a more detailed way and we have no parliamentary privilege in the chamber,” he said.

“That means what we say could be held against us but, by the same token, every time a councillor speaks to a journalist we should be careful about what we say as well.”

Deputy mayor Bobby Bourke also backed the live streaming idea, saying he had nothing to hide.

“I think it’s a fair call,” he said.

“We’re moving into a more digital age and we have to keep up with it.

“A lot of the community would not want to watch what’s going on in council but there are those who would be interested but can’t get to meetings so why not stream it for them?”

Newcomer Alex Christian was another to support it.

“I’ve certainly got no problem if the interest is there,” he said. “It wouldn’t be a problem for me at all.”

General manager David Sherley said a proposal to introduce live streaming would likely come through a councillor at a monthly policy committee meeting.

Cr Bourke indicated he would be happy to be the one to get the ball rolling.

From there, staff would prepare a report for councillors on the benefits and costs of live streaming before the proposal returned to the chamber for approval or rejection.