Council Meetings Policy

Adopted: 5 March 2018

Background

Latrobe City Council has declared a number of procedural matters to be followed through its Meeting Procedure Local Law. Development or reviews of Local Laws are onerous and can be costly. It can also inhibit the ability to utilise developing and future technologies for engagement due to these factors. By developing this policy, Latrobe City Council aims to enable more timely, cost effective and flexible reviews of certain provisions in Council meetings, in particular those that relate to the community engaging with it in Council meetings.

Objectives

In the spirit of being collaborative, accessible and transparent, Latrobe City intends through this Policy to provide for various opportunities for the community to participate or be acknowledged, and allow for future improvements in technology and engagement practices at Council Meetings.  

Council sets out the principles and general procedures that will be followed.  This policy also addresses the aspect of privacy in the provision of personal details at the point of collection and outlines Council’s responsibility to be open and transparent in making material (including submissions, questions and petitions) available to the general public.

Scope

This Policy supports Local Law No.1 (Meeting Procedure Local Law), to facilitate community participation in meetings with Council and to regulate and control the procedures that relate to this.

This Policy covers both Ordinary and Special Council Meetings, along with any other meeting where Council has prescribed that this policy will apply.

Principles of Management

Latrobe City Council will consider where possible, the inclusion of community members to engage in the meetings prescribed under the Meeting Procedure Local Law that have not been closed to the public, or to a forum where Council decides that this policy will apply.

Requirements for Councillors whilst speaking

There is no requirement for a Councillor to stand whilst speaking. However, Councillors must ensure that they utilise the supplied microphone (or any other specific device to enable clarity of speaking), to enable that all members of the public in attendance (including hearing loop or streaming services) may hear the debate and decision making of the Council.

Acknowledgements

At times it will be appropriate for the Council to acknowledge, or recognise achievements of individuals or groups, or the passing of a person who is closely associated with the Council or the community at an Ordinary Council Meeting.  Where formal honours are applicable, the Civic, Ceremonial Functions and Honours Policy must be followed.

At an Ordinary Council Meeting, the following may occur:

  • a Councillor speaking on the matter (in accordance with the debate timeframes outlined in the Meeting Procedure Local Law) noting the details of the achievements or passing of a person
  • a presentation of a certificate or plaque
  • a minutes silence recognising the passing of a person

A council resolution is not required to note the details of the achievements or the passing of a person (or send correspondence as such), however, one will be required if further action is required and cannot override provisions outlined within the Civic, Ceremonial Functions and Honours Policy.

Streaming Council Meetings

In the spirit of open, accessible and transparent governance, Latrobe City Council will consider streaming Council meetings, either in part or in whole, in accordance with requirements provided for in the Meeting Procedure Local Law.

By attending a Council Meeting those present may be recorded or image captured.  Where participating in the meeting, consent is automatically given for those participating to being recorded and images captured. Notices of this effect will be on display at the meeting, although all care is to be taken to maintain a person’s privacy as an attendee in the gallery.

Recordings are used to enable the community who are unable to attend the meeting to view the meeting and for the preparation of the official minutes. Recordings may be retained for viewing by the public for up to 30 days, and then will be erased.

Behaviour Expectations in the Meeting for visitors

All present at a meeting are required to behave in accordance with the Meeting Procedure Local Law to allow the meeting to proceed without disruption.

Appropriate behaviour includes:

  • Be quiet during proceedings;
  • Not create a nuisance within the meeting;
  • Be respectful of the protocols of the meeting;
  • Not harass those attending the meeting, including Councillors, officers and other visitors;
  • Not bring in any placards, posters or materials other than personal effects unless prior permission has been sought and granted from the Mayor/Chairperson;
  • Not display any physical violence or verbal abuse to anyone or anything within the meeting;
  • Not record meeting proceedings without the consent of the Mayor/Chairperson via photography, filming or audio unless consent has been given in accordance with clause 56 of the Meeting Procedure Local Law.
  • Have mobile devices switched off or on silent.

Members of the public who do not behave appropriately will be warned, and if poor behaviour continues, will be required to leave in accordance with clauses 58 and 61 of the Meeting Procedure Local Law.

Procedures and penalties under the Meeting Procedure Local Law will apply.

Petitions

The community has the right to lobby Council, and can do so through petitioning.

Requirements for a Valid Petition

For a petition from the community to be accepted and presented to a Council meeting on its own merits, the following requirements must be met:

  • A petition must be:
    • in the prescribed template format (attached to this policy at appendix one)
    • addressed to Latrobe City Council
    • refer to a matter on which Latrobe City Council has the power to act
    • state the reasons for petitioning Latrobe City Council
    • contain a request for action by Latrobe City Council
    • be signed by at least ten people (must not be in pencil)
    • not relate to a matter under consideration through a current submission/objection process (e.g. through the Planning and Environment Act 1987 or the Local Government Act 1989).
    • The terms of the petition must:
      • be placed at the top of every page
      • not contain any alterations
      • not exceed 250 words
      • not be illegal and must not promote illegal acts and
      • language must not be objectionable or inflammatory in nature.
      • Only paper-based petitions (in the prescribed format) or e-petitions that are submitted through an approved Council e-petition facility that meet the above criteria will be accepted.

Submitting your petition

Paper-based petitions should be forwarded by mail with the details of the head petitioner or other nominated person for follow up, to:

Latrobe City Council
PO Box 264
Morwell VIC 3840

or delivered in person to any Latrobe City Council customer service centre during business hours.

E-petitions can be forwarded in accordance with the criteria specified by Council for that facility.

Assessment of the petition

Once received, officers will provide written acknowledgement of receipt, and undertake an initial assessment against the criteria specified in this policy to ensure that it complies prior to being presented to the next available Council meeting.

Where the petition does not meet the specified criteria, the following will apply:

  • If the subject matter relates to a current submission process (e.g. through the Planning and Environment Act 1987 or the Local Government Act 1989), the petition will be considered as a submission/objection to that process
  • Any other matter it will be considered as general correspondence and not presented to Council

and the head petition or other nominated person notified accordingly.

Tabling at a Council meeting

A petition that meets the criteria will be listed for tabling at the next available Ordinary Council Meeting with the following information:

  • The terms of the petition
  • The number of signatures

No discussion or debate will be entered into when a petition is being tabled, however, if the petition relates to an operational matter, Council must refer the petition to the Chief Executive Officer for consideration. If this occurs, a further report to Council is not required.

Follow up of Petition

Once tabled, the petition is forwarded to the appropriate Divisional General Manager for action. A report is then presented to a subsequent Ordinary Council Meeting, which will include officers’ recommended response for Councils consideration.

Officers may contact the head petitioner or other nominated person as appropriate to clarify any of the issues raised in the petition.

The head petitioner will be advised in writing of the outcome of the request contained in the petition within a reasonable timeframe.

It is the responsibility of the head signatory to advise other signatories of the outcome.

Written Submissions

 

Council will invite submissions in accordance with its Community Engagement Policy from time to time. Written submissions can form part of an officer report being presented to Council; however there are no other opportunities for written submissions or correspondence to be listed as an agenda item. 

This policy does not override the provisions of the Local Government Act 1989, or change the opportunities or obligations in relation to people wishing to lodge submissions/objections to planning applications or proposed planning scheme amendments.

Where the submission does relate to a statutory submission process under the Local Government Act 1989 or the Planning and Environment Act 1987, Council will ensure that those procedures are followed, including any notifications required to those who have made a submission as specified in the applicable statutory processes.

Speaking at a Council Meeting

Requirements for a valid request to speak at a Council Meeting

For a member of the public to be able to speak at a Council Meeting, the following requirements must be met:

  • The request to speak must be relevant to an item that is on the agenda for that meeting, and that does not relate to a matter for which the meeting would normally be closed (Section 89(2) of the Local Government Act 1989)
  • Requests must be received no later than midday on the day of the meeting via contacting the Governance Officer by telephone or via the form available on Councils website.
  • The person requesting to speak must provide their name, address, contact number, who they represent (and must also provide written approval to do so) and the item they wish to speak on.
  • Where a person wishes for another person to speak on their behalf, they must provide written approval to do so (either in their written submission for any submission being heard under Section 223 of the Local Government Act 1989 or under separate advice to Council prior to the meeting).

When speaking on behalf of another person

The Mayor has the discretion to limit the full time of any one person to speak to a maximum of three minutes, regardless of how many persons (or organisations) they are speaking on behalf of.

  • The person requesting to speak acknowledges that consent is automatically given to being recorded (if the meeting is to be streamed).

Organisations are required to select one spokesperson to address Council on their behalf.  If an organisation wishes to select more than one spokesperson, it may do so if its request is granted by the Mayor/Chair prior to the commencement of the meeting.

Speaking at Council meeting opportunities is not to be used to present petitions, letters or ask questions (these can be done through alternative mechanisms available as outlined in this policy).

Procedural matters for managing speakers

The following procedural matters apply:

  • The order of speakers will be as follows:
    • Aligns with the order of reports on the agenda
    • Then in order of receipt of the request to speak

      or as otherwise instructed by the Chair

  • There is no requirement for standing orders of the meeting to be suspended or resumed to allow members of the public to speak to an item on the agenda.

Requirements for speaking at a Council Meeting

The following requirements for addressing a Council Meeting apply

  • When addressing the meeting, persons are asked to address the meeting facing the Mayor/Chair at the microphone provided.
  • Speakers are requested to keep their address brief and to the main issues of concern.
  • The time limit allowed for each speaker is three minutes. Only one extension of not more than three minutes can be granted regardless of how many items are being addressed.

Councillors may ask questions of the speaker to clarify a point, however, no debate or commentary is to be provided at this time.

Protocol for addressing the Meeting

The following protocol applies when addressing a Council Meeting

  • Any person addressing the Chair must refer to the Chair as:
    • Madam Mayor; or
    • Mr Mayor; or
    • Madam Chair; or
    • Mr Chair

          as the case may be.

  • All Councillors, other than the Mayor, must be addressed as Councillor (name)
  • All members of staff in attendance must be addressed as Mr or Ms (name) as appropriate or by their official title.

Public Question Time

Public question time is a section of the Agenda of an Ordinary Council Meeting during which Council may answer questions submitted by members of the public.

It is not designed to take the place of contacting a Councillor or Councillors directly to discuss an issue, or to replace contacting Council’s Customer Services for assistance. Rather, it is designed to allow for clarification of issues of public interest.

Requirements for a valid question

For a question to be considered at an Ordinary Council Meeting, the following requirements must be met:

  • The person submitting the question must include their name, address and contact number
  • A question must not exceed 50 words in length
  • A question must focus on an issue within Councils powers to act
  • A question must not name, allude to, or focus on an individual
  • No more than two questions (including questions asked in parts) are able to be submitted per person for any one Council Meeting.

Questions that meet one of the following criteria will not be answered at a Council Meeting:

  • Repetitive or has already been answered (either previously by officers in writing or at a Council Meeting)
  • Relates to a matter for which the meeting would normally be closed (Section 89(2) of the Local Government Act 1989)
  • Is prejudicial to the Council or any other person if answered
  • Relates to the personal views or actions of an individual Councillor or Officer
  • Relates to a matter that is the subject of negotiation, litigation or commercial interest/advantage
  • Is defamatory, indecent, abusive, irrelevant, trivial or objectionable in language or nature
  • Is considered trivial or vexatious or it is more appropriate to direct to officers of the Council during normal business hours.

Submitting your question

Questions for consideration at an Ordinary Council Meeting can be submitted:

  • electronically to egovernance@latrobe.vic.gov.au or
  • via an online form available on Council’s website, or
  • via a form available in Councils’ customer service centres (attached to this policy at appendix two).

Questions must be received by midday on the day of the Ordinary Council Meeting. Any questions received after this deadline that meets the criteria will be held until the next Ordinary Council Meeting for response.

Response at a Council Meeting

The Mayor/Chair will ask the Chief Executive Officer to conduct the public question time session.

The Chief Executive Officer will ascertain if the person asking the question is present in the gallery, and if so, will read the question or summarise its contents, and read the response to the question. The Chief Executive Officer can nominate another Senior Staff member to read the response to the question, if they deem it suitable.

If the person asking the question is not present in the gallery, the question and the response is not required to be read out. However the details will be included in the minutes of the meeting and a copy distributed to the person to their nominated address.  

Council has the discretion to seek clarification to the question if deemed necessary; otherwise the person asking the question is not permitted to enter into debate or discussion during this session.

Privacy

To comply with the Victorian Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014, personal information provided as part of any provision detailed in this policy will only be used for the primary purpose for which it was provided – (e.g. to consider the petition, question or submission).

Processes will comply with Council’s Citizen Confidentiality and Privacy Policy where applicable.

As part of Council’s operations, any document incorporated into a Council agenda must be made publically available, including any petitions which are tabled.

The agenda and minutes are printed and available for the general public, and appear on Council’s website.  However, attachments such as full submissions and petitions will be made available to Councillors; however will only be available for viewing at Council Headquarters via appointment for members of the public. A summary of the submissions, including name (unless specifically requested in writing to remain anonymous), will be made available in the agenda and minutes.

The following details as outlined in the table below will be published in the minutes.

Section

What personal information is published in the minutes and can be published in agenda papers

Further information accessible through other means

Acknowledgements

Name of the person who is being acknowledged and the reason for acknowledgement.

Not applicable

Petitions

Name of the person who has presented the petition (with the number of signatures and the terms of the petition)

Full copies of petitions may be viewed only by contacting Council.

A copy is provided to Councillors for their decision making processes.

Written Submissions

Name of the person, (with a summary of the submission).

Full copies of submissions can be viewed in accordance with the provisions applicable under legislation.

If nothing is prescribed, then a copy of a submission may be viewed by contacting Council.

Speaking at a Council meeting

Name of the person who has spoken (with the details of which item on the agenda).

Not applicable.

Other information that is collected is only collected in order to contact the person if there are any actions to be followed up by officers.

Public Question Time

Name of the person, (with the question and the response provided).

Not applicable.

Other information that is collected is only collected in order to contact the person if there are any actions to be followed up by officers (for example, if the person is not in attendance, to provide a copy of the response).

Accountability and Responsibility

Accountability and responsibility for this policy is outlined below.

Council

  • Overall responsibility for compliance with this policy
  • Responsibility to ensure this Policy is consistent with Latrobe City Council strategic directions and other Latrobe City Council Policies
  • Responsibility for the decision to approve this Policy by Council Resolution

Chief Executive Officer

  • Overall responsibility for compliance with this policy
  • Overall responsibility for enforcing accountability
  • Overall responsibility for providing resources
  • Overall responsibility for performance monitoring

Executive Management Team and Senior Managers

  • Responsibility for compliance with this policy
  • Responsibility for enforcing accountability
  • Responsibility for providing resources
  • Responsibility for performance monitoring

Officers

  • Comply with procedures developed to achieve compliance with this policy.

Evaluation and Review

Reviews

This policy will be reviewed initially after twelve months of implementation. After this, it will then be reviewed when either of the following occurs (whichever comes first):

  • on request of Council
  • in the event of significant change in the Executive team
  • significant changes to legislation applicable to the subject matter of the policy or,
  • in any other case, during each Council term (generally four years).

Administrative updates

It is recognised that, from time to time, circumstances may change leading to the need for minor administrative changes to this document.

Where an update does not materially alter this document, such a change may be made administratively. Examples include a change to the name of a Council department, a change to the name of a Federal or State Government department, and a minor update to legislation which does not have a material impact.

However, any change or update which materially alters this document must be by resolution of Council.

Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities

This policy has been developed in accordance with the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities.  The following rights are reasonably limited:

  • Entitlement to participate in public life
  • Peaceful assembly and freedom of association
  • Recognition and equality before the law
  • Privacy and reputation
  • Freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief
  • Freedom of expression
  • Freedom of movement

Definitions

Chief Executive Officer
 Means the Chief Executive Officer of Council
 
Council
 Means the Latrobe City Council
 
Councillor
 Means a person who holds the office of Council
 
Mayor/Chair
 Means the person who holds the office of Mayor, or the person who is authorised to preside over the meeting
 
Ordinary Council Meeting
 Means an Ordinary Meeting of the Council, as defined in Section 83 of the Local Government Act 1989.
 
Senior Officer
 Has the same meeting as in the Local Government Act 1989
 

Related Documents

  • Local Law No. 1 Meeting Procedure Local Law

Reference Resources

  • Local Government Act 1989
  • Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014
  • Planning and Environment Act 1987
  • Local Law No. 1 Meeting Procedure Local Law
  • Civic, Ceremonial Functions and Honours Policy
  • Citizen Confidentiality and Privacy Policy

Appendices

 

Appendix One: Petition Template(DOCX, 18KB)

Appendix Two: Public Question Time