Having your say at meetings

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Addresses to Council meetings (Public Forum)

Members of the public may make an address to Councillors at the bi-monthly meeting of the Council on any local government related matter, excluding matters that are on the Council meeting agenda, or any application already lodged with the Council for a decision, or complaints about Councillors or staff.

The opportunity to address the Council for a maximum of three minutes will be provided just after the start of the meeting. Up to three people can make use of each public forum opportunity. If you wish to address Council you must complete a Public Forum Registration Form (PDF) and submit it to Council prior to 5:00pm on the Wednesday preceding the Council meeting.

Why we restrict some matters

Items on the Council meeting agenda

Most matters that are considered by the Council at its ordinary meetings have already been the subject of consideration by a committee of the Council. These committee meetings are structured to allow for less formal debate and consideration of submissions from all parties that have an interest in a matter.

Applications already lodged with Council for decision

Council has in place a decision making process, which has checks, balances and safeguards. This process has been in place for some considerable time and provides procedural fairness and an opportunity for all interested parties to have their say and to hear what others have to say. The committee meetings are the appropriate place to make submissions.

Criticism or complaints about Councillors or staff

The Code of Conduct (PDF) and our Complaints Policy provides a mechanism for dealing with such matters. The code and procedures are designed to ensure that issues are thoroughly considered and measured against the high standards of behaviour we expect of Councillors and staff. Criticism and complaints made about individuals impinge upon their reputation. An unsubstantiated claim may damage reputations and the Council meeting is not a proper forum to make such claims or to allow individuals to respond to such issues.

Addresses to Committee meetings

Members of the public may address a Committee on any item listed on the business paper of the Committee. It is not necessary to register before the meeting if you wish to address the meeting.

When an item is called for consideration, the Chairperson will ask whether there is anyone present who wishes to address the meeting. At this stage, each person will be invited to come forward and make their presentation.

If a large number of people wish to address a Committee meeting on a particular item, it will be at the discretion of the Chairperson to determine, with a view to fairness of representation, how many people may address the meeting.

Each person will be allowed to speak for four minutes only. Members of the Committee may ask speakers questions or seek clarification of matters raised.

At the conclusion of the allotted four minutes, the speaker is to resume their seat and take no further part in the debate unless specifically called to do so by the Chairperson.

After any submission, the Committee may ask Council staff to comment on the points put forward.

After considering all submissions and staff comments, the Committee will debate the matter and either make a decision or a recommendation to Council.

Petitions

What is a petition?

A petition is generally a request for Council to take some sort of action. Any resident or group of residents may petition Council to take action. For example, petitions may ask Council to change an existing policy, a decision of the Council or take some other action. The subject of a petition must be a matter on which Council has the power to act.

Petitions on development applications may also be submitted to Council and should relate to common issues which a number of people have about the proposed development. The issues may relate to a variety of matters such as the benefits which would result if the development is carried out, concerns about environmental consequences or impacts on the amenity of a neighbourhood.

What should a petition contain?

A petition may be in hard copy or electronic format. A petition submitted to Council should:

  • contain a clear and concise statement on each page covering the subject matter of the petition, including what course of action the petitioners want the Council to take;
  • state the name, address and contact details of the main petition contact ('Head Petitioner');
  • include the name, address and signature (or email address in the case of electronic petitions) of every person supporting the petition;
  • be legible, concise, respectful and not offensive in its language;
  • not contain alterations; and
  • must contain at least two signatures.

If the petition does not identify a Head Petitioner, Council will assume the first signatory is the Head Petitioner. Unless advised otherwise, the Head Petitioner will be the only point of contact for ongoing communication with Council staff.

Electronic petitions

Council acknowledges the increased popularity of electronic petitions hosted by external platforms. Automatic updates received by Council in relation to electronic petitions will be forwarded to the Council staff who have responsibility for the matter(s) to which the petition relates and shall be treated as ordinary correspondence.

Petition organisers should provide clear contact details, including an email address, in an electronic petition so that Council staff are able to communicate with the Head Petitioner.

It is also recommended that petition organisers set a closing date if using an electronic petition format. This will then enable the Head Petitioner to collate the supporters' responses and lodge the completed petition with Council as one comprehensive submission.

Lodging a petition

Petitions should be forwarded to the Mayor or a Councillor for presentation at a Council Meeting. The Council will then determine what action is to be taken in relation to the petition and refer the petition to Council's relevant department for consideration.

If a petition is sent to Council by means other than directly to a Councillor, such as by post addressed to the General Manager, email to Records (including an incomplete electronic petition notification) or delivery to Council's Front Counter, it will be dealt with as ordinary correspondence and referred to the appropriate Council staff for consideration.

Enquiries

Further information may be obtained by contacting Council's Governance Department on 9391 7001.

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