East Gippsland Shire Council Mayor Cr John White has written to Premier Daniel Andrews seeking an exemption allowing for remote attendance at council meetings using appropriate technology as a matter of priority.
Cr White said the legislated ‘physical’ attendance of councillors at council meetings during the current COVID-19 pandemic was proving problematic. Council already live streams meetings.
“Council fully supports the anti-gathering directions made by the Government to limit the spread of coronavirus. Bringing together councillors to hold a council meeting conflicts with these directions,” Cr White said.
“Given the significant ramifications of the pandemic being experienced in Australia we need to be able to hold council meetings via video conferencing. I understand this measure has already been adopted in other states.”
Council had a meeting planned for next week (7 April) which has now been postponed.
Cr White said the Victorian Government has, rightly, been clear in its messages about when people should leave their homes.
“As leaders in our community we need to be setting an example. Holding a council meeting in person in these current circumstances doesn’t show that community leadership. We have the technology capability; we just need the legislative support to move council meetings online,” he said.
“Council meetings are an important part of supporting our economy through the awarding of contracts, grants and important policy directions for the organisation. More critical at a time like this,” Cr White said.
“I have asked the Premier to consider methods that may be available to provide an exemption allowing for remote attendance at council meetings using appropriate technology as a matter of priority.”
Council’s next scheduled meeting is Tuesday 21 April at the Bairnsdale Corporate Centre.