The Brisbane City Council’s LNP administration banned the use of its live council meetings for political advertising, campaigning or satire, in a move criticized by opposition councilors.
- Brisbane City Council has restricted use of its live-streamed council meetings
- The policy is similar to that governing the Queensland Parliament broadcast rules
- Use of live-streamed meetings for political or commercial advertising, or satire is now prohibited
On Tuesday, the LNP council administration introduced amendments to the local meeting law.
The law governs the conduct of council meetings.
Under the new law, audio or video of council meetings must “be used only for the purpose of fair and accurate reporting of proceedings” and must not be used for “political advertising, campaigning. election campaign or any advertising campaign that would normally by law require a broadcaster to advertise who authorized the material ”.
Similar rules govern the broadcast by the Queensland Parliament of sessions of Parliament.
Municipal law prohibits the use of meeting tapes for the purposes of “satire or ridicule, commercial sponsorship or commercial advertising”.
The use of any recording must “be placed in its context in order to avoid any misrepresentation”.
“Short-sighted” amendments criticized
Opposition Leader Jared Cassidy said the amendments were aimed at shutting down Democratic debate and gagging Labor advisers.
“The council’s chief legal officer today confirmed that they are so vague that they are open to almost any interpretation of what ‘political advertising’ is,” Cr Cassidy said.
“There is no definition included in the local meeting law on what it is.
Journalists are allowed to tape board meetings for reporting purposes, but no other members of the public are allowed to do so, and the board chair has the power to revoke media accreditation at any time.
Greens councilor Jonathan Sri, who has been pushing for live streaming to be introduced, asked why the council is following the same model as the state parliament.
“I think it is myopic and foolish of this administration to simply copy these [state] rules without thinking more carefully about how they will be applied and interpreted in this place, ”said Cr Sri.
He said with limited media coverage of Brisbane council, councilors often had to promote local issues themselves and use video of council meetings on social media.
After briefing council officials on the proposed changes on Tuesday, Cr Sri said definitions of political advertising and campaigning were still unclear.
Urgent motions and notified motions
In a bid to block Labor’s tactic of using emergency motions to force debate, the council also extended the time limit for councilors to submit notified motions to the meeting’s agenda.
An emergency motion breaks into the day-to-day business of the council and can be called by any councilor at any time.
The councilor then has three minutes to explain why an issue is urgent before council votes on whether to allow or deny the debate.
A notified motion is submitted to the council beforehand, placed on the council’s agenda and debated at the end of a session of the chamber.
Counselors calling for an emergency motion will now also have to justify why the motion was not notified the day before.
“Misuse” of emergency motions
Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner said Labor advisers had presented 58 emergency motions in the past 12 months and were often not ready to debate the motion if the LNP majority council voted on it.
Accusing Labor advisers of being “lazy” in the use of emergency motions, Cr Schrinner says allowing notified motions to be submitted a day before council meetings will remove the apparent need for emergency motions.
But independent adviser Nicole Johnston warns LNP advisers that “one day you will be in opposition”, in which case the changes will directly affect them.
Councilors will also only be allowed to speak once on general business at the end of a meeting, instead of being allowed to speak on as many topics as they wish.