Hills Shire Council’s new social media policy slammed by locals

ByJosephine J. Romero

Jul 8, 2022 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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A council’s plan has been considered “anti-democratic” after community boards found their social media remarks have been deleted or concealed.

A Sydney council’s transfer to block on-line criticism of political selections and councillors has been labelled “insidious” and “anti-democratic” by residents.

The Hills Shire Council policy arrives after the NSW Business office of Area Government (OLG) furnished guidelines on how councils might moderate their social media pages with the intent of aiding councils to deal with on the net harassment.

It indicates that any “comments of a political partisanship mother nature, belief or platform” will be deleted or concealed from their social media internet pages – which people say properly censors community on-line discourse.

Neighborhood Kenthurst resident Hugh Vaughan reported the choice to go the policy was an infringement of civic rights.

“I deeply oppose it, and object to it and reject it as deeply anti-democratic,” Mr Vaughan told information.com.au.

“There are several strategies in which our democracy is threatened but shutting down remarks on (council) social media … is deeply threatening to our democracy and to our liberties.”

The plan will come just months immediately after the council dissolved a community discussion board at public conferences and turned down the opportunity for councillors to increase thoughts devoid of recognize.

Past month NSW anti-corruption watchdog was requested to glimpse into corruption allegations about the dumping of last calendar year of Hills Shire mayor, Michelle Byrne, and six councillors from the Liberal ticket in advance of the 2021 council elections.

And prior to the Hills Shire’s December council election, it was described that Liberal MP David Elliott, experienced referred the Hills Shire mayor substitution candidate, Peter Gangemi, to ICAC above allegations related with the candidate’s spouse and children property dealings.

The council earlier also obtained notoriety for currently being the only Sydney council to refuse to include an acknowledgement of nation in their council proceedings. That has considering the fact that been altered.

“I imagine that that is probably a component in their sensitivity to criticism and remark, but from the community’s place of perspective, that is not a justifiable variable, it’s not a fair reaction to ban political opinions,” Mr Vaughan reported.

The council maintains the plan will not effects residents’ skill to communicate with councillors and reply to council decisions, but Hills Shire area of 23 years Denice Finnegan claimed even common solutions of speaking with the council typically felt “futile”.

As an energetic member of local community boards, Ms Finnegan has invested decades pouring above many council proposals, responding to council feed-back connect with outs and even helped oppose the social media plan when the draft was first declared.

“But there is not essentially any reaction from the council the moment you do that … so you form of create it, deliver it in to a black gap, and you by no means listen to about it all over again,” she explained.

“And then to also find out that the social media policy does not allow any sort of interchange, remark or remarks about what you professional or have make contact with with the council and the counsellors is pretty a great deal in the similar line of (the council) not building them selves offered.

“It exhibits that a group consultation is just lip services and that local community engagement is not essentially on the agenda.”

Despite Greens councillor Mila Kasby and Labor’s Ryan Tracey having voted versus the plan, Mr Vaughan reported the point that the policy passed was a wake up simply call not just for people, but for people across NSW to be additional concerned with their regional council’s final decision generating approach.

“I suspect that the extensive greater part of the group are probably not even informed of (the coverage) for the reason that they do not observe the council’s doings day in and day out,” Mr Vaughan stated.

“There are many threats to our democracy surrounding us and one particular of them, to some extent, is the apathy of us as a group simply because we have let a lot of issues pass when it should not have -and this is 1 of them.”

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