Newcastle council diaries to open if draft policy approved

Interim Newcastle City Council chief executive Jeremy Bath.
Interim Newcastle City Council chief executive Jeremy Bath.

NEWCASTLE’s top civic leaders could be forced to publish their diaries online for public scrutiny under a draft strategy under consideration at the council. 

Under the draft Open and Transparent Governance Strategy, both lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes and interim chief executive Jeremy Bath’s schedules would be published. 

Other members of the council’s executive management team would also adopt the open-book policy. 

Mr Bath said the draft strategy would align the council with the NSW government, whose ministers are required to publish diaries online each quarter. 

"[It] provides visibility of who senior management are meeting with which undoubtedly better ensures the community has confidence in Council decisions," Mr Bath said.

"Open and collaborative leadership is built on the foundation of good governance.”

The diariers of the chief executive and lord mayor are already open to the council’s legal and governance manager. 

The policy received unanimous support from councillors at their meeting on August 22. 

"At the end of the day, the decision to publish my diary online is about demonstrating to the community that I am, as the leader of Newcastle City Council, accountable for my decisions regarding who I choose to meet with," Mr Bath said.

"Going forward, when someone requests to meet with me, I'll make clear that my expectation is that they support my desire for openness and transparency."

"There will be occasions where it will be inappropriate to communicate publicly the identity of who I meet with. But these times will be few and far between.”

The draft strategy is on public exhibition until October 23. 

People can view and comment on the strategy at http://www.newcastleyoursay.com.au/open-and-transparent