- Posted by IanMuttonAdmin
- On September 28, 2021
- Bradfield Park, harbour bridge cycleway
Precincts – an exercise in participatory democracy. There’s – no better way to make Councillors aware of voters’ concerns
Back in 1972 North Sydney Council first put in place the mechanism to foster participatory democracy.
- we called it the Community Precinct System;
- divided North Sydney’s local government area in to (now) 26 precincts (not all active at all times) – each with its own Precinct Committee elected by its members.
Precinct Committees make recommendations to Councillors and to Council.
Precinct meetings provide open forums – anyone can attend and join in on discussions on community issues. The collective views are reported to Councillors and the Council.
North Sydney’s Precincts
Two factors are serving to increase the importance of the recommendations that come through the Precinct System –
- The reduction of the number of Wards (from 3 to 2), by increasing the size of the electorate served to further distance Councillors from individual voters.
- The lack of media coverage of Council meetings makes it harder for voters to be informed about Council’s activities.
It is important, critically important , that Precinct Committees operate independently of Councillors and the Council. So important that Councillors should by resolution make clear the role and the independence of the Precinct Committees – for this reason I gave notice for the following resolution to be considered at the September meeting of Council:
THAT Council resolves that Precinct Committees may determine, without reference to Council
- the matters that are to be discussed at their meetings; and
- who is to be invited to address their meetings.
THAT Council resolves that during the Regulated Election Period defined in s4 of the Electoral Act 2017 (NSW) for an election of Councillors to North Sydney Council a member of a Precinct Committee who nominates in an election of Councillors:
- will stand down from the office held until the poll is declared and
- may during the period of stand down attend meetings of the Precinct Committee and participate in discussions that are held.
I’m delighted to report the resolutions were passed (by a 6:4 majority). Council recognizes the critical importance of its Precinct system in conveying community views to Council and Councillors.
Note: “regulated period” is defined in in section 4 of the Electoral Act to mean the period starting on the date of the issue of the writ for the election and ending at 6:00pm on election day and in the case where the election is adjourned, include the period starting on the original election day and ending 6:00pm on the day to which voting for the election is adjourned.