Secret agenda: Behind closed doors

Source The Age

Melbourne City Council is making too many decisions without the glare of public scrutiny, according to a former lord mayor.

The agenda for next Tuesday’s council meeting lists seven items for discussion as ”confidential” with only one item disclosed to the public.

Former lord mayor Kevin Chamberlin said the council, in charge of an annual budget worth hundreds of millions of dollars, was operating too much in secrecy.

”When you look at a council meeting agenda you get the distinct impression the real business is done behind closed doors,” Mr Chamberlin said.

The closed shop at Tuesday’s council meeting comes after The Age reported in May the lord mayor was conducting ”councillor-only meetings” that did not require minutes to be taken or councillors to declare a conflict of interest because no council staff were present.

Cr Carl Jetter, who said he represented business interests in the council, said it was a long-standing convention for the past three to four terms to have more internal discussions on operations.

”It’s not for the public or ratepayers to know,” Cr Jetter said.

But lord mayor Robert Doyle said the council was more transparent than State Parliament – despite debates in Parliament being open to the public.

”Tuesday’s meeting agenda with so many confidential items is unusual,” Cr Doyle said.

”All nine councillors, regardless of how long they have been a councillor, are free to bring up discussions to question the confidential nature of matters.”

City of Melbourne chief executive Dr Kathy Alexander said in a prepared statement: ”The City of Melbourne understands the importance of being open and transparent with its ratepayers, however there are some specific matters as outlined in the Local Government Act that cannot be discussed in open council.”

Secret agenda: Behind closed doors

Source The Age

Melbourne City Council is making too many decisions without the glare of public scrutiny, according to a former lord mayor.

The agenda for next Tuesday’s council meeting lists seven items for discussion as ”confidential” with only one item disclosed to the public.

Former lord mayor Kevin Chamberlin said the council, in charge of an annual budget worth hundreds of millions of dollars, was operating too much in secrecy.

”When you look at a council meeting agenda you get the distinct impression the real business is done behind closed doors,” Mr Chamberlin said.

The closed shop at Tuesday’s council meeting comes after The Age reported in May the lord mayor was conducting ”councillor-only meetings” that did not require minutes to be taken or councillors to declare a conflict of interest because no council staff were present.

Cr Carl Jetter, who said he represented business interests in the council, said it was a long-standing convention for the past three to four terms to have more internal discussions on operations.

”It’s not for the public or ratepayers to know,” Cr Jetter said.

But lord mayor Robert Doyle said the council was more transparent than State Parliament – despite debates in Parliament being open to the public.

”Tuesday’s meeting agenda with so many confidential items is unusual,” Cr Doyle said.

”All nine councillors, regardless of how long they have been a councillor, are free to bring up discussions to question the confidential nature of matters.”

City of Melbourne chief executive Dr Kathy Alexander said in a prepared statement: ”The City of Melbourne understands the importance of being open and transparent with its ratepayers, however there are some specific matters as outlined in the Local Government Act that cannot be discussed in open council.”

Secret agenda: Behind closed doors

Source The Age

Melbourne City Council is making too many decisions without the glare of public scrutiny, according to a former lord mayor.

The agenda for next Tuesday’s council meeting lists seven items for discussion as ”confidential” with only one item disclosed to the public.

Former lord mayor Kevin Chamberlin said the council, in charge of an annual budget worth hundreds of millions of dollars, was operating too much in secrecy.

”When you look at a council meeting agenda you get the distinct impression the real business is done behind closed doors,” Mr Chamberlin said.

The closed shop at Tuesday’s council meeting comes after The Age reported in May the lord mayor was conducting ”councillor-only meetings” that did not require minutes to be taken or councillors to declare a conflict of interest because no council staff were present.

Cr Carl Jetter, who said he represented business interests in the council, said it was a long-standing convention for the past three to four terms to have more internal discussions on operations.

”It’s not for the public or ratepayers to know,” Cr Jetter said.

But lord mayor Robert Doyle said the council was more transparent than State Parliament – despite debates in Parliament being open to the public.

”Tuesday’s meeting agenda with so many confidential items is unusual,” Cr Doyle said.

”All nine councillors, regardless of how long they have been a councillor, are free to bring up discussions to question the confidential nature of matters.”

City of Melbourne chief executive Dr Kathy Alexander said in a prepared statement: ”The City of Melbourne understands the importance of being open and transparent with its ratepayers, however there are some specific matters as outlined in the Local Government Act that cannot be discussed in open council.”

Melbourne’s Third Rate English Education Schools Under Review

The Federal Government has announced that it will be reviewing International Students visa requirements with the aim of treating all students seeking a University education in Australia equally. Under the proposed changes foreign university students will be all assessed as being level one risk factor. This is good move and one that should help bring stability and reassurance to the International Education sector

One issue that the government needs to clamp down on is the third rate “Hostel Educational schools” that proliferate the city. The facilities and quality of eduction at these institutions are of real concern and tarnish the reputation of our main educational sector.

In some cases over 200 students are crammed in space that was designed to accommodate no more then 50. Kitchen facilities are placed in a common room with computer terminals with the administration desk tucked in the corner.

On my recent visit to one such institute there was a noticeable lack of air-conditioning not to mention concerns in relation to fire and emergency exits.

One has to wonder what exactly is the City Council doing to monitor compliance with building occupation standards?

We do not allow cheap over crowded hostel accommodation, so why is it that we allow cheap and over crowded educational schools to exist.

Many students complain about the quality of the courses on offer.

The conditions at some of these schools is so appalling it is having an impact on the quality of education provided. No teacher worth their salt would teach under such conditions. There appears to be a noticeable absence of Union engagement in this sector.

These overcrowd, poorly facilitated, schools promote themselves as being low cost budget education, with fees ranging from $200 to $295 per week. Most of the students studying at these schools are not achieving there full potential.

These third rate schools are more about visas then education.

By comparison the schools that are attached to established tertiary educational institutes provide a better leaning environment and significantly better value for the student dollar.

RMIT and the Australian Catholic University and the Hawthorn institute being rated as the top three best buys in inner city education. Out side the city we have Deakin, Monash and Victoria University.

If the government is serious about developing a sustainable International education sector it has to regulate and address the issue of budget schools in terms of the facilies provided. Students should have the right to change providers if the school they have subscribed to does not meet their expectations. There is a need for a International Education Ombudsman and a central student information centre who can help students address and issues of complaints against providers.

Your comments and experiences on Melbourne ELICOS education sector are welcomed.

Melbourne’s Third Rate English Education Schools Under Review

The Federal Government has announced that it will be reviewing International Students visa requirements with the aim of treating all students seeking a University education in Australia equally. Under the proposed changes foreign university students will be all assessed as being level one risk factor. This is good move and one that should help bring stability and reassurance to the International Education sector

One issue that the government needs to clamp down on is the third rate “Hostel Educational schools” that proliferate the city. The facilities and quality of eduction at these institutions are of real concern and tarnish the reputation of our main educational sector.

In some cases over 200 students are crammed in space that was designed to accommodate no more then 50. Kitchen facilities are placed in a common room with computer terminals with the administration desk tucked in the corner.

On my recent visit to one such institute there was a noticeable lack of air-conditioning not to mention concerns in relation to fire and emergency exits.

One has to wonder what exactly is the City Council doing to monitor compliance with building occupation standards?

We do not allow cheap over crowded hostel accommodation, so why is it that we allow cheap and over crowded educational schools to exist.

Many students complain about the quality of the courses on offer.

The conditions at some of these schools is so appalling it is having an impact on the quality of education provided. No teacher worth their salt would teach under such conditions. There appears to be a noticeable absence of Union engagement in this sector.

These overcrowd, poorly facilitated, schools promote themselves as being low cost budget education, with fees ranging from $200 to $295 per week. Most of the students studying at these schools are not achieving there full potential.

These third rate schools are more about visas then education.

By comparison the schools that are attached to established tertiary educational institutes provide a better leaning environment and significantly better value for the student dollar.

RMIT and the Australian Catholic University and the Hawthorn institute being rated as the top three best buys in inner city education. Out side the city we have Deakin, Monash and Victoria University.

If the government is serious about developing a sustainable International education sector it has to regulate and address the issue of budget schools in terms of the facilies provided. Students should have the right to change providers if the school they have subscribed to does not meet their expectations. There is a need for a International Education Ombudsman and a central student information centre who can help students address and issues of complaints against providers.

Your comments and experiences on Melbourne ELICOS education sector are welcomed.

Melbourne’s Third Rate English Education Schools Under Review

The Federal Government has announced that it will be reviewing International Students visa requirements with the aim of treating all students seeking a University education in Australia equally. Under the proposed changes foreign university students will be all assessed as being level one risk factor. This is good move and one that should help bring stability and reassurance to the International Education sector

One issue that the government needs to clamp down on is the third rate “Hostel Educational schools” that proliferate the city. The facilities and quality of eduction at these institutions are of real concern and tarnish the reputation of our main educational sector.

In some cases over 200 students are crammed in space that was designed to accommodate no more then 50. Kitchen facilities are placed in a common room with computer terminals with the administration desk tucked in the corner.

On my recent visit to one such institute there was a noticeable lack of air-conditioning not to mention concerns in relation to fire and emergency exits.

One has to wonder what exactly is the City Council doing to monitor compliance with building occupation standards?

We do not allow cheap over crowded hostel accommodation, so why is it that we allow cheap and over crowded educational schools to exist.

Many students complain about the quality of the courses on offer.

The conditions at some of these schools is so appalling it is having an impact on the quality of education provided. No teacher worth their salt would teach under such conditions. There appears to be a noticeable absence of Union engagement in this sector.

These overcrowd, poorly facilitated, schools promote themselves as being low cost budget education, with fees ranging from $200 to $295 per week. Most of the students studying at these schools are not achieving there full potential.

These third rate schools are more about visas then education.

By comparison the schools that are attached to established tertiary educational institutes provide a better leaning environment and significantly better value for the student dollar.

RMIT and the Australian Catholic University and the Hawthorn institute being rated as the top three best buys in inner city education. Out side the city we have Deakin, Monash and Victoria University.

If the government is serious about developing a sustainable International education sector it has to regulate and address the issue of budget schools in terms of the facilies provided. Students should have the right to change providers if the school they have subscribed to does not meet their expectations. There is a need for a International Education Ombudsman and a central student information centre who can help students address and issues of complaints against providers.

Your comments and experiences on Melbourne ELICOS education sector are welcomed.

Beyond Review: Parliamentary Committee failed to subject the VEC to oversight by the Ombudsman

The Victorian Parliament Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee has published its report on the Review of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006.

In its report the Committee has made a number of recommendations in relation to the operation of the Human Rights charter. What was of considerable note was the Committee’s failure to address issues of concern in relation to the Ombudsman’s oversight

The Ombudsman plays a significant role in the oversight of government administration. the office of the Ombudsman is the appropriate body to oversee the administration of state authorities.

The Committee in its recommendations made two references to the Ombudsman

Recommendation 6

Complaints to the Ombudsman

If the Charter is retained, then SARC recommends that public authorities who are subject to the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction be encouraged to inform people who bring internal complaints that the Ombudsman may be able to investigate any unresolved complaints, including complaints concerning Charter rights.

Recommendation 33

Jurisdiction of the Ombudsman

If s. 13(1A) of the Ombudsman Act 1973 is retained, then SARC recommends that it be amended so as to specify the range of bodies that can be subject to an enquiry or investigation with respect to human rights.

The Committee also noted:

Complaints to the Ombudsman.

The Consultation Committee considered that the Ombudsman already had the power to handle human rights complaints, but recommended clarifying that it could consider Charter rights.

What the Committee failed to address was the provision of the Victorian Ombudsman Act that prevents the Ombudsman from reviewing the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC). s 13(3)(ca)

The Victorian Electoral Commission is not subjected to the Ombudsman Act, it is exempt, and as such the Ombudsman has no oversight over the VEC’s administrative misuse and abuse. The only avenue of review is the Courts, VCAT and the Parliament itself.

The Ombudsman has jurisdiction over a range of government authorities including the Victoria Police and Local Government in respect to administrative issues, why not the VEC?

Complaints against the VEC go unaddressed, The Parliament is reluctant to consider in detail any complaints against the VEC for fear of being seen to be partisan in its deliberations. It is incapable of considering any complaints of an administrative matter let alone misuse and abuse under the Human Rights Charter or abuses under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act.

The Victorian Parliament Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee failed to address this issue of concern and failed to recommend removing the VEC’s exemption under the Victorian Ombudsman Act.

Whilst the Committee has recognised the role the Ombudsman plays in protection of Human Rights and government oversight it failed to address this essential issue of concern.

Last year a petition was tabled in the parliament calling for the Ombudsman act to be amended to resume the VEC exclusion from review by the Ombudsman.

Recommendation 6 and 33 of the Committee’s report does not apply to the VEC as the Ombudsman cannot review any actions of the Victorian Electoral Commission.

The Victorian Electoral Commission remains unaccountable and beyond review.

Beyond Review: Parliamentary Committee failed to subject the VEC to oversight by the Ombudsman

The Victorian Parliament Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee has published its report on the Review of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006.

In its report the Committee has made a number of recommendations in relation to the operation of the Human Rights charter. What was of considerable note was the Committee’s failure to address issues of concern in relation to the Ombudsman’s oversight

The Ombudsman plays a significant role in the oversight of government administration. the office of the Ombudsman is the appropriate body to oversee the administration of state authorities.

The Committee in its recommendations made two references to the Ombudsman

Recommendation 6

Complaints to the Ombudsman

If the Charter is retained, then SARC recommends that public authorities who are subject to the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction be encouraged to inform people who bring internal complaints that the Ombudsman may be able to investigate any unresolved complaints, including complaints concerning Charter rights.

Recommendation 33

Jurisdiction of the Ombudsman

If s. 13(1A) of the Ombudsman Act 1973 is retained, then SARC recommends that it be amended so as to specify the range of bodies that can be subject to an enquiry or investigation with respect to human rights.

The Committee also noted:

Complaints to the Ombudsman.

The Consultation Committee considered that the Ombudsman already had the power to handle human rights complaints, but recommended clarifying that it could consider Charter rights.

What the Committee failed to address was the provision of the Victorian Ombudsman Act that prevents the Ombudsman from reviewing the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC). s 13(3)(ca)

The Victorian Electoral Commission is not subjected to the Ombudsman Act, it is exempt, and as such the Ombudsman has no oversight over the VEC’s administrative misuse and abuse. The only avenue of review is the Courts, VCAT and the Parliament itself.

The Ombudsman has jurisdiction over a range of government authorities including the Victoria Police and Local Government in respect to administrative issues, why not the VEC?

Complaints against the VEC go unaddressed, The Parliament is reluctant to consider in detail any complaints against the VEC for fear of being seen to be partisan in its deliberations. It is incapable of considering any complaints of an administrative matter let alone misuse and abuse under the Human Rights Charter or abuses under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act.

The Victorian Parliament Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee failed to address this issue of concern and failed to recommend removing the VEC’s exemption under the Victorian Ombudsman Act.

Whilst the Committee has recognised the role the Ombudsman plays in protection of Human Rights and government oversight it failed to address this essential issue of concern.

Last year a petition was tabled in the parliament calling for the Ombudsman act to be amended to resume the VEC exclusion from review by the Ombudsman.

Recommendation 6 and 33 of the Committee’s report does not apply to the VEC as the Ombudsman cannot review any actions of the Victorian Electoral Commission.

The Victorian Electoral Commission remains unaccountable and beyond review.

Beyond Review: Parliamentary Committee failed to subject the VEC to oversight by the Ombudsman

The Victorian Parliament Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee has published its report on the Review of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006.

In its report the Committee has made a number of recommendations in relation to the operation of the Human Rights charter. What was of considerable note was the Committee’s failure to address issues of concern in relation to the Ombudsman’s oversight

The Ombudsman plays a significant role in the oversight of government administration. the office of the Ombudsman is the appropriate body to oversee the administration of state authorities.

The Committee in its recommendations made two references to the Ombudsman

Recommendation 6

Complaints to the Ombudsman

If the Charter is retained, then SARC recommends that public authorities who are subject to the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction be encouraged to inform people who bring internal complaints that the Ombudsman may be able to investigate any unresolved complaints, including complaints concerning Charter rights.

Recommendation 33

Jurisdiction of the Ombudsman

If s. 13(1A) of the Ombudsman Act 1973 is retained, then SARC recommends that it be amended so as to specify the range of bodies that can be subject to an enquiry or investigation with respect to human rights.

The Committee also noted:

Complaints to the Ombudsman.

The Consultation Committee considered that the Ombudsman already had the power to handle human rights complaints, but recommended clarifying that it could consider Charter rights.

What the Committee failed to address was the provision of the Victorian Ombudsman Act that prevents the Ombudsman from reviewing the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC). s 13(3)(ca)

The Victorian Electoral Commission is not subjected to the Ombudsman Act, it is exempt, and as such the Ombudsman has no oversight over the VEC’s administrative misuse and abuse. The only avenue of review is the Courts, VCAT and the Parliament itself.

The Ombudsman has jurisdiction over a range of government authorities including the Victoria Police and Local Government in respect to administrative issues, why not the VEC?

Complaints against the VEC go unaddressed, The Parliament is reluctant to consider in detail any complaints against the VEC for fear of being seen to be partisan in its deliberations. It is incapable of considering any complaints of an administrative matter let alone misuse and abuse under the Human Rights Charter or abuses under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act.

The Victorian Parliament Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee failed to address this issue of concern and failed to recommend removing the VEC’s exemption under the Victorian Ombudsman Act.

Whilst the Committee has recognised the role the Ombudsman plays in protection of Human Rights and government oversight it failed to address this essential issue of concern.

Last year a petition was tabled in the parliament calling for the Ombudsman act to be amended to resume the VEC exclusion from review by the Ombudsman.

Recommendation 6 and 33 of the Committee’s report does not apply to the VEC as the Ombudsman cannot review any actions of the Victorian Electoral Commission.

The Victorian Electoral Commission remains unaccountable and beyond review.

City of Melbourne to fund Sustainability Junket

The City of Melbourne is to fork out over $360,000 to fly-in participants for a “sustainability conference” that many see as a environmental junket generating excessive carbon pollution to facilitate enviro-bureaucrats in the life style they have become accustomed to, with Ratepayers left to foot the bill.

Questions are being asked with today’s Internet technology why the 3 day enviro-fest could not be held on line with less pollution and cost to Melbourne taxpayers.