The new Local Government Act 2020 is an ambitious reform to the local government sector and is designed to improve local government democracy, accountability and service delivery.

Section 60 of the Local Government Act 2020 requires each council to adopt and apply governance rules that describe the way they will conduct council meetings and make decisions. This means that Bayside City Council will transition from Local Law No 1 – 2013 (Governance Local Law) to the format of Governance Rules, as required by the Act by 1 September 2020.

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Governance Rules determine the way in which Council will:

  • Make decisions fairly and in the best interests of the Bayside community
  • Elect its Mayor and Deputy Mayor
  • Conduct meetings of Council and Delegated Committees
  • Give notice of meetings and record and make available meeting records
  • Be informed in its decisions making through community engagement advisory committees and reports
  • Require the disclosure and management of conflict of interest
  • Apply rules for the conduct of Council and Councillors during Elections Periods, and for the use of Council’s common seal.
  • Proposed governance changes

    Section 26.4 has been enhanced to clarify the type of motions that may be rejected by the Chief Executive Officer.

    The Chief Executive Officer may reject any notice of motion which:

    (a) is vague or unclear in intention

    (b) relates to a matter that can be addressed through the operational service request process;

    (c) relates to a matter that has been previously resolved by Council in the previous six (6) months or is acted upon;

    (d) it is beyond Council's power to pass; or

    (e) if passed would result in Council otherwise acting invalidly

    but must:

    (f) give the Councillor who lodged it an opportunity to amend it prior to rejection, if it is practicable to do so; and

    (g) notify in writing the Councillor who lodged it of the rejection and reasons for the rejection.

    Section 26.3 has been included to provide that a Councillor submitting a notice of motion must submit a written rationale for the proposed Notice of Motion.

    Section 56 has been expanded to include three additional points of order. These include:

    • A question of procedure
    • A motion which has not been accepted by the Chairperson
    • A Councillor who is not conducting themselves in accordance with the Councillor Code of Conduct.

    The number of signatories to a petition will be increased from 5 to 15, as a larger number of signatories indicates that the issue petitioned is far wider than just one household with 5 people present, for example.

    While the use of online petitions has increased, Council has not had the ability to deal with these under Local Law 1. Governance Rules Section 58 sub-rule 12, 13, 14 and 15 provides for Council to consider online and electronic petitions which include at least fifty (50) signatories for a petition to be considered.

    Nominating a Spokesperson

    Where a group or association wishes to be heard at a meeting, they must nominate only one spokesperson for the group or association to speak for an issue upon which the group or association may wish to be heard.

    Request to be heard at Delegated Committee or Council or Special Council Meeting

    The proposed Governance Rules recommends a change to the time allocation per speaker from three (3) minutes down to two (2) minutes per speaker with further requirements as outlined below:

    Request to be heard provisions for a Delegated Committee (Planning and Amenity Committee

    • Limit of ten (10) speakers per item listed on the agenda under the category of Report by the Organisation - consisting of up to seven (7) objectors to the application, and up to three (3) supporters to the application.
    • Speakers are granted up to two (2) minutes each to speak
    • Those individuals who have missed the opportunity to speak in person, individuals may make an online written statement to be received no later than 11.00am on the day of the meeting. The written statements will be provided to Councillors prior to the meeting for reading and consideration, and all written statements will be placed on Council’s website prior to the meeting.

    Request to be heard provisions for Council meeting or a Special Council meeting

    • No limit of speakers on each item listed on the agenda under the category of Reports by the Organisation.
    • Speakers are granted up to two (2) minutes each to speak.

    In addition, where an individual has requested that another individual speak on his or her behalf, the spokesperson must not have spoken or listed to speak in relation to that item (no proxy speakers).

    For statutory matters, section 223 of the 1989 Act affords submitters the right to be heard in support of their submission although it does not specify a time limit – this is determined by Council. Under the Governance Local Law the time limit is fifteen (15) minutes. The draft Governance Rules 2020 proposes that time limit is reduced to ten (10) minutes.

    A further consideration is the format and makeup of the ‘section 223’ Special Committee meetings. A suggested consideration includes:

    a) Where an issue affects a large proportion of the Bayside community all councillors will be appointed to the Hearing Committee

    b) Where an issue affects a ward-related matter, up to three Councillors to be appointed to the Hearing Committee, one of which must the ward councillors.

    Of course, the establishment of the Hearing Committee and the make-up of members of the Committee is determined by Council on each occasion.

    This provision also includes that the Hearing Committee may be held electronically via a video conferencing tool.

    Section 77(1) has been amended to refer to webcasting of meeting proceedings.

    Section 77(4) has been relaxed so members of the public can record or take pictures on their personal devices as it is difficult to control. However, no use of photographic and video recording is allowed where it may disrupt the meeting proceeding, such as film crews and television crews.

    Section 85 has been included to reference meetings conducted remotely.

    (1) The Chief Executive Officer may make a brief statement at a Council meeting in respect of any statement by a Councillor made at the Council meeting criticising him or her or any member of Council staff.

    (2) A statement under sub-Rule (1) must be made by the Chief Executive Officer, through the Chair, as soon as it practicable after the Councillor who made the statement has resumed his or her seat.

    This Chapter provides the opportunity for Council to establish a Community Asset Committee.

    This Chapter provides the opportunity for Council to establish Advisory Committees and some administrative procedures.

    This Chapter includes procedures relating for Joint Council Meetings which has been established within the Local Government Act 2020.

    This Chapter clearly articulates the process for disclosing conflicts of interest in a range of meetings and includes members of staff.

    This Chapter encapsulates informal meetings of Councillors, and Confidential Information, and also includes reference to the review of these rules (Section 3) and the inclusion of reference to COVID-19 or a similar emergency which may require some parts of the Rules to be suspended or limited (Section 4).

    This is the same section as the existing Local Law.

    This Chapter specifically relates to keeping notes of matters discussed (Assemblies of Councillors). It also provides that a register of Councillor attendance be maintained for all meetings and published on the website.

    This Chapter provides for the compliance of Section 69 of the Act and directs that the Governance Rules must incorporate an election period policy. A draft election period policy has not been included in the Draft Governance Rules 2020 as this will be presented separately to the 28 July Ordinary Council Meeting. No changes are made to the content of the Election Period Policy other than referencing the new 2020 Act.