Council chooses to be run without a pledge or a prayer
MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire Council is set to drop the reading of a prayer or pledge before future public council meetings.
A template for future agendas in a draft of proposed changes to rules under which the council operates makes no provision for any declaration.
The draft was adopted by council on 18 May and exhibited for public comment on 25 May, along with a news release stating “in particular council seeks your input in relation to the [the removal from the agenda of the] prayer”.
While the council wants to end the more than century-old tradition of asking for God’s help in making decisions, it will retain an acknowledgement of traditional land owners and of country.
Cr Antonella Celi has confirmed that “prayer” will no longer be an item on council agendas.
Cr Celi said the pledge that had been said before recent council meetings, albeit under the heading Prayer, had also been “struck out”.
Council agreed to the pledge suggested by Cr Anthony Marsh after advice from its in-house lawyer that the wording could be changed provided it was called a prayer.
The pledge that masqueraded as a prayer will be gone in August, if council adopts the draft Governance Rules as shown on its website.
Cr Celi said the move to delete the prayer from the agenda was “not included in any minutes leading up to the 18 May council meeting”.
The process taken to reach that decision was detailed in report to that meeting, which also included a notice of motion by Cr Celi to “refer the Prayer and its wording to the review of the Governance Rules”.
“In the draft that has gone out for public exhibition the item and the word ‘Prayer’ has been removed from the council agenda,” Cr Celia said. “It is proposed that no word ‘Prayer’ or its content be included at all on the agenda. This decision also strikes out Cr Marsh’s version of the Prayer.”
The shire’s head of governance and legal Amanda Sapolu said adopting operating rules which excluded a prayer could still be changed in the future.
“The omission of the word prayer from the Governance Rules, means that the Prayer will not be an item that ‘must’ be on a council agenda,” Ms Sapolu said.
“It does not exclude a council from including a prayer, or a pledge or some other item.”