Council Meeting General Information
The Mayor chairs all Council meetings at which he or she is present. If the Mayor is absent, the Deputy Mayor then chairs the meeting. Councillors, when speaking, will always address the Mayor or the chair of the meeting. This is not out of disrespect to anyone else in the meeting room – it is out of respect to the mayor and the role of chairperson in these meetings. Ultimately the debating is between the representatives of Council being the Councillors. Everyone else is an observer to the meeting.
Any staff in attendance are usually senior in the organisation, and includes the Chief Executive Officer and Directors for each part of the organisation as well as a representative from governance and planning. These staff are present to provide advice only if required to Councillors in order to assist with them making decisions for the community on matters before it, and to record the minutes of the meetings and other administrative functions for the meeting.
Most matters that go to a Council meeting are of a strategic nature and require Council to give the direction to the organisation – they are key policies or plans that will affect the majority of the community. Performance reports are also tabled at Council meetings for the Council to consider how the organisation is tracking against key measures. Council officers submit reports requesting decisions and direction from Council, or for Council’s information. Planning applications are able to be called into Council by Councillors instead of being determined by planning staff. Council officers provide the council a recommendation for each report – which councillors are able to move as a motion, or councillors are able to move another motion that they feel is in the better interests of the community and longer term goals of the council and community.
Under the Local Government Act 1989 (the Act), the Council can elect to close a meeting to the public, to hear an item(s) for the following reasons only:
- personnel matters
- personal hardship of any resident or ratepayer
- industrial matters
- contractual matters
- proposed developments
- legal advice
- matters affecting the security of Council property
- any other matter which the Council considered would prejudice the Council or any person
- a resolution to close the meeting to members of the public.
These meetings are usually held at 5.00pm and form part of the Council meeting. If Council resolves to, the motions from the confidential meeting are made public in the open Council meeting.
The civic ceremonies part of the meeting is now commonly used for a community group (or a Councillor on their behalf) to present a gift to Council, or perform a civic duty. Alternatively, Council can include a presentation to a group within this part of the meeting.
Under the Act, Councillors must declare a conflict of interest – this is defined within the Act. Councillors will declare their interests at the beginning of the meeting when asked, and then will again declare at the item and remove themselves from discussion and decision making for this item. They will then return after the decision is made.
General business matters are business matters of Council that are of a minor or routine nature and must be in the form of a motion. A Councillor can only propose a general business motion if the matter relates to business which does not:
- Substantially affect levels of Council service; or
- Commit Council to significant expenditure not included in the adopted Council Budget; or
- Establish or amend Council policy; or
- Commit Council to any contractual arrangement; or
- Concern any litigation in respect of which Council is a party; or
- Require, pursuant to other policy determined by Council from time to time, the giving of prior notice; and
- The proposed motion is tabled in writing before it is moved.
Generally, Councillors use this time to call for reports to be considered by Council at another time on a topic.
A Notice of motion is a motion proposed by a Councillor that is on the agenda which a Councillor proposes to move at that meeting.
Councillors are required to provide notice for any motions that they wish to put that have a substantial impact on council actions. Councillors are also required to provide notice for rescinding any previous motions of Council. This is also an opportunity for councillors to give prior notice of a motion that would usually be an item of general business. Only when a previous decision has not already been acted upon can Council rescind a previous motion.
A division is a formal count and recording of those for and those against a motion. Any councillor can call a division. Councillors can change their vote when a division is called; therefore the motion that the division is called against is only carried or lost after this process.
A point of order is an objection made by a Councillor that the motion, amendment or statement currently before the meeting is contrary to the Local Law, Councillor Code of Conduct or the provisions of the Act, or is a defamatory, derogatory, irrelevant, or improper statement.
A suspension of standing orders provides for the formalities of the meeting to be temporarily stopped in order to allow full discussion on an issue without formal constraints. It is sometimes used also to allow for a break during the meeting to allow community members to leave, or to clarify legislative provisions.
Council Meeting Minutes Information
All official resolutions both lost and carried and procedural matters are recorded in the official minutes. Also, any civic ceremonies, absences of Councillors and attendances, committee reports, questions on notice and those who have made a verbal submission in the meeting are recorded.
To finalise the previous meeting cycle, council confirms that the minutes published from the previous meeting are correct. This provides certification that the previous minutes are a true and correct record of the decisions, and are now legally binding.
The minutes are usually available by 5.00pm on the Friday after the Council meeting on the Agendas and Minutes page. The website currently has minutes from each Council meeting from 2010 onwards. The last minutes from the Council meeting are also made available for viewing in our Customer Service Centres, usually by the Monday after a Council meeting.