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We're proposing to enhance our Governance Rules to enable meetings to be held electronically — commonly known as ‘virtual meetings’ — or in person. This change comes as a result of new provisions in the Local Government Act 2020 relating to electronic Council meetings.

Other minor changes proposed to improve Council’s existing Governance Rules, include:

  • removing a requirement for a person to attend a Council meeting to have their public question read out and answered
  • recording which Councillors voted ‘for’ or ‘against’ each agenda item in the meeting minutes
  • removing gendered language.

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.

Council conducted its meetings electronically (using ‘Zoom’ and later ‘Microsoft Teams’) during the pandemic to adhere to Covid-19 restrictions and government health advice. This format was possible due to temporary legislation under the Local Government Act 2020.

On 2 September 2022, permanent changes to the Local Government Act 2020 will enable councils to conduct meetings by electronic means on an ongoing basis. Councils must update their Governance Rules to accommodate these changes.

Council’s management of the electronic meeting format under the temporary measures was largely well received given the limited options available. However, public participation at these meetings was limited to written statements only.

This targeted review also provides an opportunity to improve Council’s existing Governance Rules, with minor changes including:

  • removing the requirement for a person to present at a Council meeting in order to have their public question read out and answered at the meeting
  • recording in the minutes which Councillors voted ‘for’ or ‘against’ an agenda item for all items – not just when a division is called.
  • Changing the language throughout the Governance Rule to reflect gender neutral

Council is not seeking feedback on other aspects of the Governance Rules through this consultation, as the Governance Rules was subject to a major review in 2020 and 2021.

1. Scheduled Council and Delegated Committee meetings to be conducted wholly in person or by electronic means or a hybrid model (partially in person and partially by electronic means).

2. The use, as required, of wholly electronic Council and Delegated Committee meetings or a hybrid can be considered under the following guidelines:

  • by resolution of Council
  • by letter from the Mayor, or any Councillor, to the Chief Executive Officer, at least 24 hours before the meeting
  • as determined by the Chief Executive Officer in the event of receiving written advice from individual Councillors (at least 24 hours before the meeting) to indicate a quorum would not be possible were the meeting to proceed in-person
  • in all instances, consideration must be given to the level of public interest and means of public participation in the matter/s being considered at the relevant meeting.

3. Special Committee of Council meetings to be conducted wholly by electronic means or hybrid (unless otherwise by resolution of Council at the introduction of the matter to Council, or by any other means set out in point 2 above).

4. Public participation to be enabled, as required, for Council, Delegated Committee, or Special Committee of Council meetings held wholly by electronic means.

5. Removal of the requirement for a person to present for a Council meeting in order to have their public question read out and answered at the meeting.

6. When Councillors vote on a matter, the use of the ‘division’ system (records in the Minutes which Councillors voted ‘for’ and ‘against’) to be used by default for all matters. (Currently, this only applies if a Councillor calls for a division – otherwise the minutes only record if the item was ‘Carried or ‘Lost’).

7. Gender-specific terminology in the Governance Rules to be replaced with gender-neutral terminology.

It is further proposed that the Governance Rules note the opportunity to conduct meetings in a hybrid setting, subject to significant infrastructure improvements to the Council Chamber to provide for additional screens, cameras etc and this be referred to the 2023–24 budget considerations.

Read the Governance Rules with proposed amendments highlighted.

It’s proposed that public participation in Council meetings would ‘mirror’ and align with the format in which Councillors are attending the given meeting. This means that if the meeting is held in the Council Chambers, registered speakers would be required to attend the meeting in the Chambers to be heard. Alternatively, if the meeting is being held electronically, registered speakers would be heard by participating in the online meeting.

The proposed change will enable registered speakers to be heard remotely at:

  • Section 223 Special Committee of Council meetings
  • Special Council Meetings that have been determined to be held by electronic means
  • scheduled in-person meetings that may have to be moved to electronic means with late notice (perhaps due public health requirements or the inability for a quorum of Councillors were the meeting to proceed in-person), noting that registered speakers and attendees would need to be notified of the change.

The option of introducing ‘hybrid’ Council meetings provides the opportunity for Councillors and registered speakers to attend meetings in person with some online at the same time.

We do not offer hybrid meetings for public Council meetings at this time. Meetings will be held in person, by default. We are investigating options for hybrid models but it will require planning, funding and resourcing to support the model.

The proposed changes to the Governance Rules will enable this option to be provided in the future, subject to funding for an upgrade of infrastructure within the Council Chamber which would be required to deliver a hybrid meeting format.

Document library

Review the Governance Rules with proposed amendments highlighted.

Have your say logo on blue aerial image of Bayside

Timeline

  • Timeline item 1 - complete

    Review of Governance Rules

    Report presented to Councillors at Strategic Issues Discussion

  • Timeline item 2 - complete

    Community consultation

  • Timeline item 3 - active

    Council to consider revised Governance Rules

    Council Meeting 20 September 2022, 6.30pm

    Council to consider community feedback and revised Governance Rules for adoption.

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Terry Callant

Governance Manager

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yoursay@bayside.vic.gov.au

(03) 9599 4444

www.bayside.vic.gov.au

Bayside City Council, 76 Royal Avenue

PO Box 27, Sandringham VIC 3191

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