Meeting Procedures

 

The Local Government Act 1993 (the Act) establishes and names the Council for each municipal area. The Local Government (Meeting Procedures) Regulations 2015 (the Regulations) provide for the standard procedures relating to meetings of Councils.

Council committees are also provided for under the Act. The committees are to be appointed by Council. The Regulations also set out the procedures relating to the meetings of the committees.  

Frequently Asked Questions:

 

  1. When are Council meetings held?

  2. How do I know what Council will be discussing?

  3. Can I get access to the agenda before the meeting?

  4. Can I attend the meetings?

  5. What is a closed Council meeting?

  6. Can I speak at a Council meeting?

  7. Do I need to submit something before I speak?

  8. How do I get Councillors to bring a topic up?

  9. How do I get a petition presented?

  10. How do I get input into the decision making process?

 

1. When are Council meetings held?

The  Act  provides for four types of council meetings, which affect when meetings are held:
a) Ordinary meetings of Council;
b) Special meetings of Council;
c) Meetings of Council committees; and
d) Annual general meetings.
Council meetings are not to start before 5pm unless otherwise authorised.

a) Ordinary Meetings

Ordinary meetings are called by the Council to transact ordinary business and any other business on the agenda. These meetings must be held at least once in each month.

Notice of ordinary meetings is to be provided to Councillors at least four days but not more than 14 days before the meeting. A notice of the meeting is also to be published in a daily newspaper circulating in the municipal area at least four days but not more than 14 days before the meeting.

Note: Weekends and public holidays are included in the number of days in the notice provisions.

b) Special Meetings

A special meeting may be convened by the Mayor to discuss agenda items only. A special meeting is also to be convened at the direction of Council or by the General Manager at the request of three or more Councillors.

Notice of special meetings is to be provided to Councillors at least two days but not more than 14 days before the meeting. A notice of the meeting is also to be published in a daily newspaper circulating in the municipal area at least two days but not more than 14 days before the meeting.

Note: Weekends and public holidays are included in the number of days in the notice provisions.

c) Council Committee Meetings

A Council committee meeting may be convened at any time by the chairperson of the committee. A meeting must be held if the Council or Council committee so directs.

d) Annual General Meetings

Council must hold an annual general meeting:

a) no later than 15 December in each year; and

b) not before 14 days after the date of first publication of the notice.

A notice must be published on at least two separate occasions in a daily newspaper circulating in the municipal area that specifies the date of the annual general meeting.

2. How do I know what Council will be discussing?

The General Manager is to prepare an agenda for each meeting. The agenda lists any matter to be discussed at the meeting. Any documents that relate to closed meetings may be excluded from the agenda at the General Manager's discretion. Such excluded documents are exempt from Right to Information Act 2009 provisions.

The first substantive item of business of any ordinary meeting of the Council is to be the confirmation of the minutes of any previous meeting of Council, whether ordinary or special. Discussion of any matter referred to in the minutes submitted for confirmation is not permitted but the accuracy of the minutes as a record of the meeting to which they relate may be questioned.

The order of business for any ordinary meeting is to be in accordance with the agenda but the meeting may resolve to alter that order.

The business of a special meeting of the Council is to be conducted in the order in which it is set out in the notice of that meeting.

Copies of the agenda are available on Council's website.

3. Can I get access to the agenda before the meeting?

Public office copies are to be made available:

a) at least two days before a special or four days before any other meeting; and

b) at the meeting.

Copies of any extract, other than an extract relating to a closed meeting, are to be made available upon payment of a prescribed fee of $2 plus $0.20 per page.

Any documents that relate to closed meetings are exempt from Right to Information Act 2009 provisions.

Copies of the agenda are available on Council's website.

4. Can I attend the meetings?

All meetings of a Council or Council committee are to be open to the public. However, the Council (by more than half of the number of Councillors to be elected to a Council, whether or not present at the meeting), or a Council committee (by simple majority), may decide to close a meeting where certain restricted matters are to be discussed (see "What is a closed Council meeting?" for details).

5.What is a closed Council meeting?

The Council (by more than half of the number of Councillors to be elected to a Council, whether or not present at the meeting), or a Council committee (by simple majority), may decide to close a meeting because any of the following matters are to be discussed:

- personnel matters including complaints against staff of the Council;
- industrial matters relating to a person;
- the health or financial position of any person;
- contracts for the supply and purchase of goods and services;
- the security of property of the Council;
- proposals for the acquisition of land or disposal of land which is not public land;
- information provided to the Council on the condition it is kept confidential;
- trade secrets of private bodies;
- matters relating to actual or possible litigation involving the Council or staff of the Council.

The Chairperson of a meeting may remove the public or exclude any person from a closed meeting.

Documents that relate to closed meetings may be excluded from the agenda. Minutes of closed meetings will only include the fact that the matter was discussed but no details of the meeting (unless the Council or the Council committee determines otherwise) will be recorded in the minutes.

Any documents or minutes relating to closed meetings are exempt from the Right to Information Act 2009 provisions.

6. Can I speak at a Council meeting?

The Regulations provide for public question time at the beginning of a Council meeting and Council provides Community Input Time at the beginning of each meeting. The general rules are:

  • 30 minutes maximum period with up to 15 minutes for community ideas input and 15 minutes for public questions;
  • community input time limits any one speaker to a maximum of 5 minutes; and
  • public question time limits each speaker to a maximum of 3 questions on any specific subject. A question will be answered if the information is known otherwise it will be taken on notice and responded to in writing. Where there are several persons wishing to ask questions, a rotational basis will be used.

If you wish an issue to be raised at a Council meeting, you should first contact your local Councillors and discuss your issue with them. The function of Councillors is to facilitate communication between the Council and the community. Council's website and public office have the Councillors' contact details.

7. Do I need to submit something before I speak?

No.

8. How do I get Councillors to bring a topic up?

The functions of Councillors are:

  • to represent and promote the interests of the community;
  • to facilitate communication between the Council and the community; and
  • to review the performance of the Council.

Councillors are to act in the best interests of the community when carrying out their functions.

If you wish to contact your local Councillors, visit the Council's website or contact one of the Councils offices for details.

9. How do I get a petition presented?

Rules governing the submission of petitions, including petitions seeking public meetings and elector polls are contained in Part 6 of the Local Government Act 1993.  A summary of general requirements is outlined below.

Petitions

A  person may lodge a petition with a Council by presenting it to a Councillor or the General Manager.  A person lodging a petition is to ensure that the petition contains:

a)     a clear and concise statement identifying the subject matter; and

b)     a heading on each page indicating the subject matter; and

c)     a brief statement on each page of the subject matter and the action requested; and

d)     a statement specifying the number of signatories; and

e)     the full printed name, address and signature of the person lodging the petition at the end of the petition. 

A petition would generally be tabled at the next ordinary meeting of the Council unless it does not comply with the above requirements, or it is defamatory, or if an action it proposes is unlawful.

Petitions seeking public meetings

A petition may request that a Council hold a public meeting regarding the subject matter of the petition and the Council must hold a public meeting if the petition is signed by whichever is the lesser of the following:

a)     5% of the electors in the municipal area;

b)     1,000 of those electors. 

A petition that requests a public meeting is not to be made in respect of any matter relating to rates and charges if those rates or charges have been made for the current financial year.

Petition requesting elector poll

A Council must hold an elector poll if a petition requesting the elector poll is received within 30 days after a public meeting relating to the same subject matter and the petition is signed by at least:

a)     5% of the electors in the municipal area; or

b)     1 000 of those electors, whichever is the lesser; and

c)     the petition complies with general submission requirements.

     An elector poll is to be held for the whole municipal area and held within 60 days after the receipt of the petition.  However the elector poll may be held in conjunction with that next ordinary election if agreed or if the petition is received within 60 days before the notice of election for the next ordinary election.

    The result of an elector poll is not binding on a Council.

    Your local Councillor may be able to assist you in preparing and presenting a petition. Visit Council's website or telephone the office to obtain the Councillors' contact details.

    10. How do I get input into the decision making process?

    At ordinary and special Council meetings, your Councillors are your representatives. Each Councillor has one vote at a meeting. A question arising at a meeting is determined by a simple majority of votes.

    A ratepayer may write to the Mayor or Councillor expressing their views and asking that a question be put to the next Council meeting. They may also put their views verbally to a Councillor. Councils regularly advertise public meetings where members of the general public can attend regarding an issue of special interest, and Councils also invite the public to attend community consultations on various submissions or surveys. In these ways every member of the community can actively participate through a consultative process in the workings of their Council.

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