The Local Government Act 1993 establishes for the standard procedures relating to meetings of councils.
Council committees are also provided for under the Act. The committees are to be appointed by council.The Local Government (Meeting Procedures) Regulation 2015 sets out the procedures relating to the meetings of the committees.
In addition, each council is empowered to make supplementary procedures in relation to the holding and conduct of meetings.
Huon Valley Council has adopted, in the Council’s Governance Framework, policy and procedures relating to Public Question Time and Deputations before the Council.
Huon Valley Council holds different types of meetings including ordinary and special meetings. Meeting minutes are available for viewing on-line or from Council Offices within a few days of the meeting. Council meetings are also audio recorded and this is available from the website within a few days of the meeting.
You can attend Council’s ordinary and special meetings unless they are closed to the public to deal with specific matters of a private or confidential nature.
Ordinary meetings are called by the Mayor to transact ordinary business and any other business on the agenda. These meetings must be held at least once in each month.
Notice of ordinary meetings is to be provided to Councillors at least four days but not more than 14 days before the meeting. At least once a year the Council will publish in the Mercury Newspaper the times and places of the ordinary meetings of Council for the next 12 months. Any change to those times or places will also be notified.
Note: Weekends and public holidays are included in the number of days in the notice provisions.
Ordinary meetings of the Huon Valley Council are usually held at 6 pm on the fourth or last Wednesday of each month at the Council Chambers, 40 Main Street, Huonville.
A special meeting may be convened by the Mayor to discuss agenda items only. A special meeting is also to be convened at the direction of Council or at the request of a majority of Councillors.
Notice of special meetings is to be provided to Councillors at least two days but not more than 14 days before the meeting. A notice of the meeting is also published in the Mercury Newspaper at least two days but not more than 14 days before the meeting.
Note: Weekends and public holidays are included in the number of days in the notice provisions.
The General Manager is to prepare an agenda for each meeting. The agenda lists any matter to be discussed at the meeting. The business of a meeting is conducted in the order it is set out in the agenda unless Council approves otherwise by an absolute majority.
Only matters on the agenda may be discussed unless the General Manager certifies it is an urgent matter and the Councillors allow it by an absolute majority. The business of a special meeting of the Council or a Council Committee is to be conducted in the order in which it is set out in the notice of that meeting.
Copies of the agenda are to be made available free of charge:
- a) at least two days before a special or four days before any other meeting; and
- b) at the meeting.
Copies of any associated reports and documents, other than those relating to Closed Council, are made available for public inspection as above. Copies, other than planning documents and Closed Council matters, are also made available at the meeting.
Any documents in the associated reports and documents which relate to closed meetings are exempt from Right to Information Act 2009 provisions.
All meetings of a Council or Council Committee are to be open to the public. However, the Council (by more than half of the number of Councillors to be elected to a Council, whether or not present at the meeting), or a Council Committee (by simple majority), may decide to close a meeting where certain restricted matters are to be discussed (see “What is a closed council meeting?” for details). The Chairperson of a meeting may remove the public or exclude any person from a closed meeting.
The Council (by more than half of the number of Councillors to be elected to a Council, whether or not present at the meeting), or a Council Committee (by simple majority), may decide to close a meeting because any of the following matters are to be discussed:
- personnel matters, including complaints against an employee of the council and industrial relations matters;
- information that, if disclosed, is likely to confer a commercial advantage or impose a commercial disadvantage on a person with whom the council is conducting, or proposes to conduct, business;
- commercial information of a confidential nature that, if disclosed, is likely to –
- prejudice the commercial position of the person who supplied it; or
- confer a commercial advantage on a competitor of the council; or
- reveal a trade secret;
- contracts, and tenders, for the supply of goods and services and their terms, conditions, approval and renewal;
- the security of –
- the council, councillors and council staff; or
- the property of the council;
- proposals for the council to acquire land or an interest in land or for the disposal of land;
- information of a personal and confidential nature or information provided to the council on the condition it is kept confidential;
- applications by councillors for a leave of absence;
- matters relating to actual or possible litigation taken, or to be taken, by or involving the council or an employee of the council;
- the personal hardship of any person who is resident in, or is a ratepayer in, the relevant municipal area.
The Chairperson of a meeting may remove the public or exclude any person from a closed meeting.
Minutes of closed meetings will only include the fact that the matter was discussed but no details of the meeting (unless the Council or the Council Committee determines otherwise) will be recorded in the minutes.
Any documents or minutes relating to closed meetings are exempt from Right to Information Act 2009 provisions.
The Local Government Act does not provide for or allow the public to speak at a Council or Council Committee meeting.
If you wish an issue to be raised at a Council meeting, you should first contact a Councillor and discuss your issue with them. The function of Councillor is to facilitate communication between the Council and the community.
The Chairperson of a meeting may address questions on notice, without notice from Councillors, or invite any member of the public present at a meeting to ask questions. A Council or Council Committee may also invite a delegation of persons to address the meeting.
At each Council meeting, at a time provided for in the agenda, up to 15 minutes in total will be provided for any person who is a resident or ratepayer within the municipal area and present at the meeting (other than a Councillor) to ask questions.
A person seeking to ask a question must first stand and identify himself or herself.
No person will be entitled to ask more than two questions, and will only be entitled to ask a second question after all other persons who wish to ask a question have asked one question each and provided the 15-minute period has not elapsed.
All questions asked must be directed to the Chairperson, who will:
(a) answer the question himself or herself; or
(b) refer the question to another Councillor or the General Manager.
Every attempt will be made to provide an answer to your question.
Debate on questions cannot be entered into and Council cannot make decisions on issues that arise in public question time.
In addition, Council will not accept or answer any question that:
- does not relate to the activities of the Council;
- relates to an item listed on the agenda at the meeting;
- relates to any matter which would normally be discussed in the Closed section of the Council meeting pursuant to Regulation 15 of the Local Government (Meeting Procedures) Regulations 2015;
- In the opinion of the Chairperson contains an insult, makes a personal reflection on a Councillor or an employee of Council or imputes an improper motive on a Councillor or employee of Council.
Alternatively, a request may be made for deputation.
A person who intends or wishes to comprise a deputation to the Council or any Council committee is to:-
- make a written request to the Chairperson setting out the likely members of the deputation;
- the purpose of the request; and
- the nature of the matter or matters intended to be placed before the Council or Council committee.
The Chairperson is to decide whether or not the deputation is to be received.
If the Chairperson decides that the deputation is to be received, the Chairperson is to inform the General Manager to note the item on the appropriate agenda.
If the Chairperson decides that the deputation is not to be received, any person who intends to comprise the deputation may appeal that decision in writing to the General Manager who is to list this appeal on the agenda of the next ordinary meeting of Council.
The Council may by absolute majority uphold the appeal and if an appeal is upheld the deputation is to proceed in accordance with the Regulation 38 of the Local Government (Meeting Procedures) Regulations 2015 and this Policy and Procedure.
A deputation –
- is not to exceed three persons; and
- is not to be permitted to continue in attendance on the Council or committee for a longer period than 15 minutes.
Unless the Council or committee decides otherwise, the recommendation, request or other matter placed before the Council or Council committee from a deputation is not to be considered until the deputation has withdrawn.
The Council or committee may by resolution invite a person to address the meeting and to make statements or deliver reports.
See topics numbered 8 through 9 below for related information.
As a resident, you are encouraged to speak to Council Officers or Councillors at any time on matters which may be of concern and this may be a more immediate way of gaining the relevant information which you require.
The functions of Councillors are:
- to represent the community;
- to act in the best interests of the community;
- to facilitate communication by the Council with the Community;
- to participate in the activities of the Council; and
- to undertake duties and responsibilities as authorised by the Council.
Councillors may ask questions:
(a) without notice of the Chairperson, or through the Chairperson, of another Councillor or of the General Manager; or
(b) with notice given at least seven days before the next meeting, at that meeting of the Council or a Council Committee.
If the question without notice is not related to the subject under discussion, the Chairperson may require the Councillor to submit the question in writing or give written notice of the question to the General Manager. The Chairperson is not to allow debate on the question or the answer to the question.
If the question is on notice, a reply to the question need not be given if the Councillor who gave the notice is not present at the meeting.
The Chairperson may require a Councillor intending to move a motion during a meeting to provide a copy of the motion in writing.
Written notice of a motion must be given at least seven days before the meeting for inclusion on the agenda of the next meeting of the Council or Council Committee. The Chairperson of the meeting may refuse to accept a motion on notice if it is defamatory, continues offensive language or is unlawful.
At ordinary and special Council meetings, your Councillors are your representatives. Each Councillor has one vote at a meeting. A question arising at a meeting is determined by a simple majority of votes.
A ratepayer may write to the Mayor or a Councillor expressing their views and asking that a question be put to the next Council meeting.
A ratepayer may also put their views verbally to a Councillor.
Council, in accordance with its Community Consultation Framework will conduct consultation on many matters that are of interest to the community including on specific issues or proposed projects. Members of the public are encouraged to participate in Council consultation.