Residents’ group calls out Mayor on complaints claim
PEAK community group OSCAR has denied claims made by Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson this week that it had made many complaints about the council to the Department of Local Government.
OSCAR president Melva Hobson said the community organisation had never used the complaints process in relation to the issue of confidential items or sessions at Sunshine Coast Council ordinary or special meetings.
"We are disappointed that Mayor Jamieson has sought to twist and misrepresent our raising issues of transparency with our member groups and the community in general," she said.
Cr Jamieson in response to questions about transparency put during an ABC Sunshine Coast radio mayoral forum about the need for 208 items to have been discussed in closed session during the past four years, declared he was "very comfortable with the approach that council has adopted".
"And it's exactly the same approach that we adopted when Chris was Deputy Mayor (mayoral candidate and former Division 4 Councillor Chris Thompson)," Cr Jamieson said.
"The reality is Greg Smith (former OSCAR president) has got an axe to grind.
"Council has been operating within the law.
"Greg Smith and OSCAR have taken many complaints to the Department of Local Government.
"On every occasion they have been rejected.
"So, council has done the right thing."
He dismissed the numbers quoted by OSCAR as "absolutely incorrect".
Ms Hobson said OSCAR had not referred to the 208 incidences as "secret" meetings but as those indicated as "confidential" items in the agenda and minutes.
She has provided the Sunshine Coast Daily with a list of the items from April 2016 until February 2020.
Ms Hobson said the information would also be sent to the council's acting CEO who would be welcome to advise if he thought there were inaccuracies in OSCAR's record.
"OSCAR has participated actively in the State Government Local Government Reform process (Belcarra and other matters) by making submissions directly to the parliamentary committee and the department on the whole range of issues," Ms Hobson said.
"All submissions are available on the OSCAR website and are open for all to read.
"We will continue to be part of that process.
"We have also been invited to be part of presentations to the Parliamentary Economic and Electoral Committee inquiries in relation to the Belcarra reforms and will continue to be part of those processes.
"OSCAR believes firmly in working with Sunshine Coast Regional Council around issues and our first port of call is always to the CEO."
Ms Hobson said OSCAR had made responses to council strategy documents including the environment and liveability strategy, the design strategy and recent heritage amendments.
"Our responses were complimentary to the council on these initiatives while also offering suggestions as requested by the process," she said.
OSCAR had also participated in community reference groups for policy development for climate hazard adaptation strategy, the biosphere nomination and previously around the Maroochy River rock wall issue.
"In all instances we have been appreciative of the opportunity to participate and complimentary to council re the process."