Governance Rules describe and inform the way Council conducts meetings and makes decisions.
Governance Rules determine the way 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.
The Governance Rules were reviewed to seek community feedback on proposed changes and provide our newly elected 2020-2024 Council with an opportunity to refine and enhance the Rules adopted in August 2020.
Two changes regarding Council meeting procedures were proposed as part of this review:
- Individual presentations (Sections 59 to 63) become written statements to be submitted by 9am the day before the relevant meeting, instead of speakers attending Council meetings.
- Public questions (Section 57) must be submitted by 9am the day before the relevant meeting (instead of 11am).
Why change the format of individual presentations?
There has been a 155% increase in community engagement with Council meetings since written statements were introduced in March 2020 due to COVID restrictions. This is likely due to the relative ease of providing a written statement instead of addressing the meeting in person at a set time and date. Written statements may also encourage residents who are not comfortable speaking in a public setting to provide their feedback directly to Council.
The change in format from verbal to written statements was considered to:
- encourage fairness and participation
- provide Councillors with more time to consider statements before making decisions
- keep meetings to a reasonable duration
- improve transparency by publishing complete statements instead of speaker names only.
What were the proposed changes?
Section 62 of the existing Governance Rules provides that members of the public, where permitted, be afforded up to two (2) minutes (with no extension to be granted) and no limit on the number of speakers per item, to speak in response to reports by the organisation on the Agenda.
Since the Governance Rules 2020 were adopted in August 2020, this provision is yet-to-be tested due to temporary meeting procedures in place since March 2020 due to COVID restrictions, which allow for written statements only.
It is proposed to make permanent the temporary written statement procedures with respect to Individual Presentations at Council and Delegated Committee meetings. This change would amend Sections 59 to 63 of the Governance Rules to reflect that members of the public have the opportunity to provide written statements. Requests to be heard in person would not be permitted.
If this change was adopted, a related clause concerning Petitions and Joint Letters (Section 58 Clause 11) would also require updating to reflect that written statements are the permitted method for members of the public to address a report that may later arise as a result of a petition.
No changes are proposed to Public Question Time processes unless individual presentations (speakers) at meetings were replaced with written statements (as proposed in Sections 59 to 63). If this is adopted, it’s proposed that public questions must also be submitted by 9am the day before the relevant meeting instead of 11am to avoid any confusion.
At times where members of the public may not be permitted to attend the Council Chamber for their public question to be read out, such as due to COVID restrictions, the temporary meeting procedures currently in place would be reinstated, removing of the requirement for the submitter to be present at the meeting in order to have their question read out.