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Melbourne is the most secretive

05 Dec 2017

The City of Melbourne continues to be the most secretive metropolitan council, with more than a quarter of its decisions being made behind closed doors.

The state government on December 1 released its annual survey of local government performance, and Melbourne is getting worse when it comes to including the public.

In 2015-16, the City of Melbourne determined 26.65 per cent of its decisions in secret but last financial year slipped back to 28.85 per cent.

As an excuse, the council says it made fewer decisions overall, which resulted in a higher proportion of secrecy.

“The total number of resolutions made in confidential session actually decreased to 90, compared to 105 in 2015-16,” it said.

The state average for decisions made in secret is 9.49 per cent and has been falling steadily in recent years.

Two Victorian councils held all their decision making in public in 2016-17 – the City of Greater Dandenong and Mt Alexander Shire.

The Shire of East Gippsland had the worst record, with 41.5 per cent – but explained that contractual matters made up 34 of its 39 secret decisions. It said that, unlike most councils, it doesn’t have the power to delegate decisions to officers.

In the metropolitan area, the next worst offender (after Melbourne) is Frankston (17.4 per cent). Among provincial councils, the worst are Mildura (20.5 per cent) and LaTrobe (17.3 per cent).

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