Gawler council’s grounds to refuse access to an independent consultant’s report regarding possible future directions for its southern areas have been described by Light MP Tony Piccolo as “Orwellian”.
Mr Piccolo’s analogy refers to the council’s logic and reasoning as reminiscent in George Orwell’s book ‘1984’ which denies information to their citizens and keeping them in the dark through doublespeak.
He says the council refused his Freedom of Information (FOI) request to have the ‘Jensen No 2’ report released to the community, on the grounds it would be irresponsible to make it public.
The report is to provide the council with a clearer pathway of community growth for town’s, which include Kudla, Hillier and Evanston South.
However, Town of Gawler mayor Karen Redman has defended council saying they are “not being irresponsible”. She says the matter is “subject to a confidentially order”.
“I can’t give out something that is confidential, it’s breaking the law,” she said.
A frustrated Mr Piccolo’s said ratepayers should have access because they paid for the report.
He further raised concerns for the residents, saying how they have been trying to engage the council in an “open and transparent dialogue” about the future of their community.
“Council have put road blocks put in their way at every turn,” he said.
But Mrs Redman further refuted his claims saying the council had liaised with the community.
She explained with certainty to the Barossa Herald that council has had ongoing community discussions with a number of community engagement sessions.
“There’s a number of steps that we still need to go through and the council has had ongoing engagement with the both Kudla and also the Gawler community,” she stressed. “I am sure there will be more (public discussions) once the DPA (Development Panel Assessment) is ready to go out for community consultation.”
In addition, Mr Piccolo seeks answers for the community after the council refused access to feedback provided to the secret report by councillors Shackley, Hughes and Gidman.
“I would have thought it would be a reasonable expectation of residents to know the views of their elected representatives, especially in the contents of this secret report, given it could have a significant impact on their lives,” he said.
“The council have also denied access to invoices regarding the secret report, preventing the community from knowing how much this report cost, nor what they were asked to do,” he said.
Refusing to back down, Mr Piccolo has since lodged a request for an internal review of the council’s decision to refuse the FOI application. He has indicated he will take the matter further if required.