Friday, June 11, 2010


I recently asked the questions in my letter (Copy below) and received the heavily padded answer with the essential confirmation.

"In May we mentioned that Council was partnering with Bang the Table to provide an independently moderated online community space for discussing public policy”

Is this an independent organisation?

Lobbyists are behind community forum site Bang the Table, see:

That is bad news and the parternership should never have been entered into. Please click on the Crikey Hotlink above to read all about it.

We should see the Council Resolution authorising this action and the details of the contractural arrangements with Bang The Table should be placed on the public record. This is a very serious matter that needs further investigation to reveal the extent of what is going on and why.

What is Bang The Table is doing for the Council and why?

Also, what is the cost to the ratepayers.




Dear Newcastle Voice,

I notice that an article in a recent issue of the Sydney Morning Herald stated that Newcastle Council was using an internet company known as Bang the Table.

In what way is Newcastle using the services of Bang The Table?

I noticed their logo on a recent Newcastle Voice Email.

Is information from Newcastle Voice site being provided to private internet companies?

I would appreciate your immediate reply.

Yours faithfully

Doug Lithgow

Copy to General Manager’s office


-----Original Message-----

From: Stephanie Prouse []
Sent: Thursday, 10 June 2010 10:10 AM
To: ''
Subject: RE: Bang the Table

Dear Doug,

Thank you for your email dated 9 June and your interest in Newcastle Voice.

The Panel Satisfaction survey, sent to all members in December 2009, revealed that panel members are very satisfied with the operation of Newcastle Voice in many areas. However, specific suggestions for improvement were also received, including:

    * Feedback on consultation results
    * Feedback on impact of community consultation and how contributions are influencing decision-making
    * Survey design to ensure that the survey questions were clear, unbiased, straight-forward and not open to misinterpretation.
    * Timeliness of surveys and newsletters
    * Request online discussions as another consultation tool

In May we mentioned that Council was partnering with Bang the Table to provide an independently moderated online community space for discussing public policy.

We started hosting discussions in June on a number of projects. The discussions are open to Newcastle Voice members as well as the broader community. The online discussions are branded Newcastle Voice, as are all of our consultations – workshops, focus group sessions, information sessions, where the broad community is invited to attend along with members from the Newcastle Voice reference panel.

Newcastle Voice members were invited to join the online discussions and can decide not to participate/join if they wish. They are not automatically signed up to join the online discussions.  Council manages the panel data and for privacy, and confidentiality reasons, rest assured we will not be sharing the panel information with Bang the Table or any other organisation. We are bound by our Privacy Statement. I am enclosing the link for your review.

Stephanie Prouse
Stephanie Prouse
The City of Newcastle
Community Consultation
P.O. Box 489, Newcastle 2300, NSW
Phone: (02) 4974 2144  (02) 4974 2144
Mobile: (02) 0428619778

1 comment:

Matthew Crozier said...

Hi Doug

Matt Crozier here from Bang the Table. If you or any of your readers wants to know more about Bang the Table please visit and click the about us tab. You can also contact us directly through the site.

Bang the Table was set up to give people a say in important decisions. We host community consultations and provide moderation according to clearly set out moderation rules which can be found on all our sites.

We currently host consultations for over 60 organisations in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the US. You will find a current project list on our website and can click through and have a look.

The background that I and one of my fellow Directors have of having worked in Government and as consultants led us to understand the need for the broader community to be able to get involved in decision making. Too often important decisions are made based on the views of minority interest groups without the wider community getting a chance to have their say.

It is worth pointing out that our old consulting business ceased to trade 2 years ago and has since been wound up.

We are passionate about what we do and strongly stand by the rights of the whole community to be involved in policy making in a way that is convenient to them.

Thanks for your interest. I hope you will join in the discussion on the site.