This ‘Guide to Meetings’ is designed as a guide for elected members to support their effective participation in council and committee meetings. It outlines the roles and responsibilities of council and committee members and details meeting
procedure in line with the Western Australian legislative requirements and accepted meeting practice.
As elected representatives in local government, elected members (Mayors, Presidents and Councillors) are required to attend council and committee meetings. It is in meetings that elected members participate in discussion and debate on a wide variety of
issues to make decisions representing the overall public interest of the local government’s area.
Well prepared agendas, orderly meetings and minutes that accurately reflect the actual decisions of council meetings are arguably the most important records of local governments. Well prepared agendas and accurate minutes ensure that:
Legislative requirements are based on the principles of the Act and relevant supporting regulations for achieving;
The conduct of open, fair and accountable meetings of local government is important in fulfilling these principles.
As the level of government closest to the people, a local government must be accessible to its community. Citizens look to their councils to provide local solutions to problems.
The effective administration of the local government area depends on the performance of elected members as the elected community leaders. The high public expectations of elected members are set out by the description of the role of council in section
2.7 of the Act;
Elected members are responsible for planning the future of their communities and developing the strategies and policies to achieve those plans. Councillors need to demonstrate strategic vision and leadership by putting in place guiding principles, policies
and local laws. A strategic focus ensures that council can plan for and meet the future needs of its community.
Effective community leadership is a vital ingredient of good local governance. Councillors must endeavour to work as a team to serve the community.
Developing a vision for the community and deciding what needs to be done to achieve that vision is an important leadership role for council members. Getting the community to contribute to, endorse and follow that vision and associated plans demands leadership
qualities. In doing so, it is important to recognise that the most fundamental task is to try to achieve a strong sense of shared purpose and commitment. The needs and desires of the community are constantly changing and evolving. Councillors must
be prepared to initiate new policies and activities in response to these changes.
Most of the decision making of a local government is undertaken in council meetings. Elected members are required to attend meetings regularly and must vote (except where a financial or proximity conflict of interest occurs) on matters coming before a
meeting. Elected members can ensure a positive and valid contribution to meetings by:
To be effective, council members need to understand the views of the people they represent. Communication is a two-way process. Council members provide information to the community about the policies and decisions of council and the community relays its
desires, concerns and opinions to the council through the members. To represent both electors and the council effectively, a council member needs to be a good communicator and keep in touch with the local community.
Members can keep in touch with electors in a variety of ways including:
Understanding the needs and aspirations of the community and bringing that insight to meetings greatly enhances the decision making process. To be an effective elected representative it is important to be able to perform well in meetings. It requires
the ability to:
Separation of powers and roles between the elected and administrative arms of government is one of the foundations of all levels of government in Australia.
An understanding and acceptance of the roles the Act has defined for elected members and for the council administration, and cooperation between all parties, underpins good governance in local government. The relationships between a council’s elected
members and their CEO need to respect the diversity of opinion and the rights for all points of view to be heard with courtesy and respect.
The Mayor or President and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) are the respective conduits between the executive and the administrative arms of council.
The elected members are the executive arm that makes local laws, decides policy and other matters at a strategic level. The elected members are responsible for the overall direction of the local government.
The CEO implements the policies and decisions of council and manages the day to day business, including directing council employees. Council members acting individually do not have the authority to influence the activities, duties and operations of council
The Act clearly defines the relationships between the roles and separation of powers under sections 2.7, 2.8, 2.9 and 2.10 and through regulation 9 and 10 of the Local Government (Rules of Conduct) Regulations 2007.
For a local government to operate effectively it is important that both the elected members and employees clearly understand and acknowledge the differing but complementary nature of their respective roles.
The Mayor or President is to liaise with the CEO on the local government’s affairs and the performance of its functions but no other elected member is allowed to do so.
While roles and responsibilities are crucial to good governance, good relationships are vital to ensure that the various players act within their roles and undertake their responsibilities. These relationships take a variety of forms.
The Mayor/President has responsibility for presiding at council meetings and controlling the debate. To facilitate good relationships, the Mayor/President must ensure that all councillors with a desire to speak are given a fair opportunity.
The Mayor/President should also encourage councillors to express different points of view and promote respect for diversity of opinion. To assist the Mayor/President in controlling meetings and facilitating debate on controversial issues where opinions
differ, local governments adopt Standing Orders or Council Meetings Local Laws.
This law provides the rules which guide meeting procedure and debate and the Mayor/President (or other Presiding person in their absence) is responsible for applying the Standing Orders at meetings. Councillors should respect the Mayor/President in their
Presiding Member role.
Elected members should be strategic in their approach, engaging with the people to ensure that council decisions mirror community needs and interests. Councils should function like a board of directors that sets the strategic direction of the local government
and designs the policies and strategies to help achieve it.
Councillors are elected by the community to work collectively in the best interests of their district. Councillors should respect the views of other councillors and acknowledge that, while agreement may not be reached on all issues, all are doing important
work. Councillors need the support of other councillors to achieve individual goals especially at council and committee meetings in the Council chamber and elsewhere. Positive relationships with other councillors are important to achieve this support.
Councillors, who treat other councillors with respect and courtesy, even when they disagree with the point of view being expressed, are more likely to receive support in the future. Disagreements between councillors should be expressed in ways which
are not personal attacks and are not specifically detrimental to individuals supporting other positions.
Legislation requires that the Mayor/President and the CEO liaise with each other (s2.8 and 5.41 of the Act). Consequently, it is vital that a good relationship exists between the two. The basis for this relationship should be trust as well as respect
for each other’s opinion. A ‘no surprises’ policy should also apply. That is, the Mayor/President and CEO should brief one another so that neither can be caught ‘off guard’ in conversations or at meetings. Features of
a good and effective Mayor/President/CEO relationship are:
Unlike for the Mayor/President, the Act identifies no specific relationship between councillors and the CEO. However, councillors and the CEO are likely to be in regular contact about issues, problems and information. A number of factors contribute to
a good relationship between councillors and the CEO including:
The Act specifies that the local government’s employees are accountable to the CEO, that the CEO is accountable to the council. All Council contact with Administration should be through the CEO. Most CEOs have agreed communication protocols in place,
and this may include councillor access to senior staff. No elected member may undertake a task that contributes to the administration of the local government, unless authorised to do so by the council or by the CEO. Consequently, it is inappropriate
for Councillors to direct employees or for employees to take direction from Councillors.
(s5.104 of the Act and Rules of Conduct Regulations 9 and 10)
Of all the meetings elected members attend, ordinary council meetings are arguably the most important. Meeting procedure is based on a majority rules, Westminster style system developed over hundreds of years by parliaments around the world to provide
for debate and decision making without conflict. Decisions of a council can only be made by the adoption of a motion by a majority of the members present at a properly convened meeting. The rules allow for only one person to speak at a time.
Effective contribution to and representation at meetings by elected members increases the quality of council decisions. Elected members should have knowledge of the following Acts, Regulations, and Department of Local Government and Communities (Department)
guidelines to assist them at meetings:
For access to published legislation, see the State Law Publisher www.slp.wa.gov.au
Elected members are required by section 2.29 of the Act and Local Government (Constitution) Regulation 13 (1)(c) to make a declaration of Office to ‘take the office upon myself and will duly, faithfully, honestly, and with integrity, fulfil the
duties of the office for the people in the district according to the best of my judgment and ability, and will observe the Local Government (Rules of Conduct) Regulations 2007.’
One of the explicit principles within the Act involves the ethical and legal behaviour of elected members. With respect to conduct, the Act has provisions (sections 5.102A to 5.125 of the Act) for reporting and investigation of these matters. Elected
members are also subject to the provisions of the Corruption and Crime Commission Act 2003 and the Defamation Act 2005.
The public interest must always take precedence over the private interests of elected members. Private interests include financial and non-financial interests, electoral gifts, as itemised in the council’s electoral gifts register, and the register
of financial interests, maintained at each local government by the CEO.
Under the Act, elected members have a responsibility to take particular action where questions of financial interest or conflicts of interest affecting impartiality arise in council deliberations or decisions. This is covered later in this Manual.
People often view the workings of State and Commonwealth governments as an adversarial arena where the various political groupings try to best their opponents through debate and often using personal abuse in the process. In contrast, the small group nature
in local government councils creates a meetings environment where good relations, good behaviour, mutual respect and an appreciation of the diversity of views of others, leads to harmonious meetings and assists good decision-making. Elected members
need each other to achieve their individual and collective goals.
Elected members have a responsibility to behave professionally in and out of council meetings. Elected members should maintain good working relationships with each other and act in a manner appropriate to their civic status. This includes compliance with
the standards of conduct at meetings as established under the Rules of Conduct Regulations and their council’s Standing Orders Local Law or meeting policy. These Standing Orders or policy should reflect the high expectations of performance and
accountability, as set out in the Act (s2.10 (a) to (e)) whereby an elected member:
When respect evaporates at a council or committee meeting, respect for the whole local government sector is diminished. Debate and argument should not lead to conflict, grandstanding, bullying or aggression. Everyone present at a council or committee
meeting must show respect for others, whether elected members, employees or members of the public.
A council must deal with any disorder of its members. As an elected member you should take responsibility for your own behaviour and that of your colleagues.
General principles to guide the behaviour of council members include that a person in his or her capacity as a council member should:
act with reasonable care and diligence;
(Rules of Conduct regulation 3)
Elected members must comply with their Standing Orders or meetings policy as adopted for the conduct of council and committee meetings.
Behaving in an offensive or disorderly manner in a council or committee meeting contrary to a Standing Orders Local Law is considered to be a minor breach as defined in section 5.105(1)(b) of the Act.
In a council meeting, elected members fulfil a public duty and are therefore given limited protection from legal actions of defamation. However, unlike a Member of Parliament, the local government elected member’s privilege is qualified. This means
that protection is only provided as long as the statements are made in good faith. Statements made with malice or made recklessly are not protected by qualified privilege. It should also be noted that statements made outside of council meetings are
unlikely to attract qualified privilege.
Elected members should also become familiar with section 5.104 of the Act which provides for regulations for the rules of conduct for elected members. Regulation 7 of the Local Government (Rules of Conduct) Regulations 2007 states that an elected member
must not make improper use of their office to cause detriment to the local government or any other person. This provision has relevance to what an elected member can say and how they act whilst performing their role and carrying out their duties as
an elected member.
Controversial issues may arise during the course of council or committee meetings. Elected members are encouraged to debate the statements made by fellow members rather than be critical of the person. If members make personal comments that slur an elected
member they risk defaming the person and breaching provisions of the Defamation Act 2005. Elected members are not protected from defamation in the same way that Members of Parliament are, for statements they make in the council chamber.
The law for defamation aims to balance free speech with the protection of the right of an individual to enjoy a reputation free from indefensible attack. Defamation may be divided into libel, which relates to written or pictorial material, and slander,
which relates to oral comments. Defamation can be defined as anything that tends to lower a person in the estimation of members of society. Therefore, elected members should ensure:
For more information, elected members can refer to the Defamation Act 2005.
Division 4 of Part 9 of the Act provides for protection from liability for wrongdoing for elected members, committee members and employees, ‘relating to’ or ‘arising from’ actions of negligence that the person has done, or has
not done, in the performance of their functions under the Act or any other written law.
Quasi-judicial functions are those which involve the making of a decision by a local government council in the exercise of a discretionary power. Local governments perform quasi-judicial functions when deciding to approve or not to approve applications
for planning or development approval and for other approvals, licences, consents and permits. Elected members (and employees when acting under delegated authority) must therefore act in a judicial manner (for example judge-like) when performing quasi-judicial
To act in a quasi-judicial manner, elected members must apply the principles of natural justice and without bias or conflict of interest, make decisions in a judicial manner based on:
Applicants submitting documents for approval may attempt to persuade individual elected members in favour of their proposals. Elected members must remain objective and deal impartially with applicants or affected persons.
Determining applications must be based on sound legislative rationale and not on specific public perception. The role of an elected member in the decision-making process is to determine the application on the information and recommendation provided by
their council’s professional employees. The role of the professional employee is to assess the application and provide an impartial, professional opinion and recommendation to the elected members. To avoid prejudicing the eventual decision,
elected members must not make up their minds about a development application until they have read the officer’s reports and heard all the meeting debate.
Decisions made in relation to development applications are made under the local government’s town planning scheme and the discretions allowed under that scheme.
Elected members must not lose sight of the fact that when making decisions on development applications they have to apply the rules and discretions, as they exist, not as they might want them to be. The local government must comply with the provisions
of the legislation dealing with planning decisions.
Elected members must be aware of their local government’s adopted procedures for dealing with a development application to ensure a clear distinction between the task of an employee assessing an application and the task of the council determining
an application. The procedures should minimise the opportunity for the two roles to be confused and should also ensure that those determining applications are not able to direct or unduly influence those carrying out the assessment and vice versa.
An elected member acting when biased and without disclosing an interest affecting impartiality, may breach regulation 11 of the Rules of Conduct regulations. Non-compliance with quasi-judicial principles could result in council decisions being invalidated.
The Department’s Operational Guideline No 12 ‘Elected Members Relationship with Developers’ provides additional information.
Elected members participate in:
Elected members have a duty and responsibility to attend all council meetings to ensure that the district’s electors are adequately represented. The number of council and committee meetings that elected members will be required to attend will vary
according to the frequency of their local government’s scheduled ordinary and committee meetings.
Ordinary council meetings are formal meetings of the elected council members and are required to be open to the public (although under certain conditions, council meetings can be closed under provisions of the Act). In order to promote the transparency
and accountability required for good governance the closed meeting provisions should be applied as infrequently as possible. See also 5.2 of this Manual.
Good decision making at a council meeting is enhanced when the meeting is well run. This requires a clear and informative agenda paper, good chairing and facilitation, adherence to meeting procedures and to statutory requirements. There should also be
a strong commitment to the principle of council meetings being open to members of the public so that they are fully informed and, where appropriate, involved in the decisions and affairs of the council.
3.1.1 Meetings frequency
Section 5.3 of the Act requires a council to hold ordinary meetings and provides that they may hold special meetings. Ordinary meetings are to be held not more than three (3) months apart.
Council meetings are, as a rule, held at the public office of the local council. It is acceptable to conduct a meeting in a place other than the public office. To do this the council must pass a resolution to determine another meeting place.
The foremost consideration when it comes to start time should be the convenience of the elected members to attend, taking into account matters such as employment and business commitments, carer responsibilities and safety issues (e.g. members having to
drive long distances and at night). Scheduled early evening meetings allow elected members and members of the public with daytime jobs the opportunity to attend meetings.
When required, a special meeting of council may be called by the Mayor or President or by at least one third of the councillors. The CEO will convene the special meeting and arrange public notice if the meeting is to be open to the public. A special meeting
Although special meetings of council are to be open to members of the public, if in the opinion of the CEO it is not practicable to advertise the details of the meeting in the newspaper, then a public notice providing the details and purpose of the meeting
must be given by whatever means the CEO considers to be practicable (e.g. display on notice boards, at public library, on council website).
See s5.23 of the Act and regulation 12 (4) of the Local Government (Administration) Regulations 1996.
The Act enables councils (section 5.8 of the Act) to form committees to assist it with its functions. Committee members can include elected members, employees and members of the public in a variety of combinations. Committees can operate with council
delegated decision making powers or solely on an advisory basis. Advisory committees where members are drawn from both council and the community give the community a significant opportunity to provide input into the council’s decision making
Section 5.25(ba) of the Act provides for the holding of council or committee meetings by telephone, video conference or other electronic means. The record of meeting attendance must contain the name and other required details of any member not physically
present who has been approved by council (absolute majority required) to attend a council or committee meeting by telephone, video conference or by other electronic means (Administration regulations 11(a) and 14A).
For the purposes of Administration regulation 14A, a person who is not physically present at a council or committee meeting is to be taken to be present if;
A council cannot grant its approval for non-physical attendance if to do so would mean that at more than half of the meetings of the council or the committee, as the case may be, in that financial year, a person was taken to be present, in accordance
with regulation 14A. It is recommended that such applications to council should be in writing.
A person is taken to be no longer in attendance at a meeting if they cease to be in instantaneous communication with each other person present at the meeting. Any such cessation in attendance of a person not physically in attendance must be recorded in
the minutes in the chronological order it occurs. The effect of such a cessation on the quorum requirements must be carefully monitored and action taken as necessary.
For a person to non-physically attend a council or a committee meeting, the council has to approve (by absolute majority) a suitable place for the person to be physically present at during the course of the specific meeting. A suitable place prescribed
by Administration regulation 14A(4), is one that is located;
The minutes of a meeting, where an approval is granted relating to a member’s attendance at a council or committee meeting by telephone, video conference of other electronic means, must clearly show that the council has approved of the arrangement
and clearly identify the approved suitable place. The minutes must also confirm that such approval was adopted by absolute majority.
Note: It is not possible to use regulation 14A to allow an elected member who is outside the State of Western Australia to participate in a meeting.
This is because a ‘suitable place’ is defined under the Land Administration Act 1997 which only applies to the State of Western Australia. The Department’s view is that the definition, ‘or other residential area’, would have
to be interpreted as being limited to a place the same kind as a ‘townsite’.
This would mean that a place outside of Western Australia cannot be approved as a ‘suitable place’ even if it was (in common language) considered to be in a townsite or other residential area, located either interstate or overseas.
Administration regulation 14B(1) provides for a council member to be recorded in the minutes of a council meeting as being present if they are prevented from physically attending a council meeting by fire, flood, storm, lightning or other natural disaster.
This regulation does not depend on the requirement of there being ‘a suitable place’. The member must be continuously and simultaneously in audio contact with each other person present at the meeting by telephone or other instantaneous
communication means and the member must have the authorisation to be present from the Mayor or President, or from the council (simple majority decision).
Note: that a ‘place’ for the purposes of regulation 14A(4) and the limitations on the granting of approval by council under regulation 14A(2) do not apply to regulation 14B(1).
A person is taken to be no longer in attendance at a meeting if they cease to be in instantaneous communication with each other person present at the meeting. Any such cessation in attendance of a person not physically in attendance must be recorded in
the minutes in the chronological order it occurs and the effect of this on the quorum requirements carefully considered and action taken as necessary.
The place where the member prevented by the natural disaster from attending the council meeting is physically present during the meeting, is not a place that is open to the public to attend. Administration regulation 14B(3).
Local governments should adopt procedures for handling applications from elected members seeking approval for attendance at council or committee meetings by telephone, video conference or other electronic means, that include requirements such as applications
preferably to be in writing, and for the clear identification of the location of the nominated suitable place.
A well-functioning local government is an excellent example of the elected council and its supporting administration working together to produce the best results for the community. The council and the administration come together at meetings, where the
council members use their combined knowledge and experience,coupled with the advice of the administration, to make decisions for the good governance and the betterment of the community they serve.
The agendas that drive council meetings, and the minutes that record the decision-making process and the actual decisions, are arguably the most important records produced by local governments.
With well-structured agendas a council can have meetings that are efficient and effective in that they produce good decisions that are made following analysis of sound advice and constructive debate. At the end of such meetings those involved should be
satisfied that the local government and community have gained maximum benefit from the valuable time that has been contributed.
A well-structured agenda is directed towards decision-making and will not include superfluous information or items. It is generally agreed that short, sharp meetings directed towards decisions are the ones most likely to achieve good results.
One of the requirements of the Act (s5.56 and Administration Regulations, 19BA; 19B; 19CA; 19C; 19DA; 19DB; 19D) is for a local government to plan for the future of the district. This includes a Strategic Community Plan, Corporate Business Plan, Long
Term Financial Plan, Asset Management Plan and Workforce Plan.
At council and committee meetings elected members will generally discuss and debate strategic issues associated with these plans and avoid the detail of operational matters and the day-to-day management of council, which is the responsibility of the CEO.
A strategic meeting focus requires:
If strategic planning links cannot be identified on agenda items, it is reasonable to ask why council is discussing or debating such issues.
Using the power of delegation appropriately assists local government to efficiently deal with a wide range of operational matters that are minor, administrative in nature and time consuming.
The use of delegation can free up the full council meeting to devote more time and energy to key strategic policy issues. For example, the council can delegate to the CEO the authority to pay accounts up to its determined amount.
A wide range of powers may be delegated under sections 5.16, 5.17, 5.42, 5.43 and 5.44 of the Act. Section 5.8 of the Act allows for local government to establish committees of three or more persons to assist the council and to exercise the powers and
discharge the duties of the local government that can be delegated to committees.
The provisions of the Act which provide for delegations by a local government or its CEO are:
The Act has been framed in a way that determines whether powers and duties can be delegated or not. If the term “council” is used then it is the council itself which must carry out that function. If the term “local government”
is used then it may be possible to use delegation. Other legislation, such as the Bush Fires Act 1954, has specific provisions covering delegations available to local governments. See the Department’s Operational Guideline No 17 ‘Delegations’,
for additional information.
Ordinary meetings of council should usually consider high level and strategic matters linked to strategic and operational plans. It is essential to prioritise agenda items in a way that identifies the key strategic issues.
A well-structured agenda assists elected members to get the most out of their meetings, enabling them to make informed decisions that come from analysis of sound advice and constructive debate.
The agenda responsibility rests with the CEO, and the agenda sets out the order of business for council’s ordinary meetings and committee meetings. An elected member may recommend, through the Mayor/President, for the CEO to have a matter included
on a meeting agenda. Councils will normally have a procedure in place for dealing with how such a member request is organised, including timelines and notice and requiring an officer’s report with recommendations.
Recommended order of business for council meeting agendas:
As required under section 5.5 of the Act, each elected member will receive written notice of the meeting at least seventy two (72) hours before the meeting. In the case of special meetings of council less than seventy two (72) hours’ notice of a
meeting may be necessary.
It is important that elected members allow adequate time to read all of the material and:
Setting aside sufficient time to prepare for the meeting, pursuing additional information and consulting with stakeholders within the community is essential. It is recommended that for ordinary council meetings, members allocate specific preparation time
in their diaries once meeting dates have been set.
Good time management practices and habits for elected members, such as the following, will assist their meeting preparation:
Most council and committee meetings to which a local government power or duty has been delegated, will be open to the public. However section 5.23(2) of the Act states that a local government may resolve that a meeting or part of the meeting be closed
to the public, only if its elected members consider it necessary to deal with any of the following reasons:
LGA section 5.23 (2)(3)
If these matters are known in advance, it should be clearly listed on the agenda as a matter that will be considered while the meeting is closed to the public. At the time in the agenda, the council must resolve to close the meeting to the public.
Political embarrassment to council or elected members is not in itself a justifiable reason to close a meeting.
Section5.25(1)(j) of the Act requires that a local government is to ensure that notice papers and agenda relating to any council or committee meeting and reports and documents which are to be either tabled at the meeting, or have been produced by the
local government or a committee for presentation at the meeting, and have been made available to members of the council or committee:
Each council has the capacity to determine the order that the agenda items will be dealt with. It is recommended that council meetings should endeavour to proceed with the order of business as detailed on the agenda of the notice of the meeting. This
is important from the point of view of members of the public who attend council or committee meetings for a specific agenda matter. The council’s Standing Orders usually prescribe the order of business and the process to change that order at
The purpose of debate at meetings is so that elected members can:
It is necessary for elected members to structure any intended debate material in preparation for any agenda matter they wish to speak in support of, or against. Elected members should have a clear idea of their own arguments and which examples they will
be using to support their arguments. There should be a clear division between arguments put forward to support their position and to let the other members know when they are moving from one argument to the next.
This sign posting is an important debating tool for elected members to acquire and develop. It must be remembered that although the elected member knows exactly what he or she is saying, the meeting has never heard it before so the message must be logical
(makes sense), clear and easily understood by the other members.
Rebuttal of argument, or points raised at the meeting by a former speaker, or rebuttal of the arguments that are out in the public arena concerning the matter before the meeting, should be organised in the same way. Each argument or point made that the
elected member is opposed to should be rebutted (challenged) in turn. This can be done by spending a little time on each and then moving on. This will help weaken the opposing view and strengthen the elected member’s case. Rebuttal should never
There is no one size fits all way of taking part in a meeting debate and presenting an argument at a local government meeting. Elected members should strive to develop a manner or style that is natural to them. There are many books, courses and other
aids available on public speaking and debating. However, the following proven practical tips should be of help to elected members:
The chairing (‘presiding’ as the Act refers to it) of council meetings is a formal process. This is because of the importance of local government meetings, and to ensure fairness and accountability.
One of the roles of the Mayor or President is to preside (as the ‘Presiding Member’) at meetings of council (section 2.8(1)(a) of the Act). Under section 2.9 of the Act if the Mayor or President is not available or unable or unwilling, or
if the office is vacant, the deputy Mayor or President may perform the role of the Mayor or President.
In the case of a council committee (section 5.12 of the Act) members of a committee may elect a Presiding Member from amongst themselves and may also elect a deputy presiding member.
Each elected member brings to the meeting their own individual personalities, values, abilities and experiences. An experienced presiding member can, through the skilful application of meeting procedures, create a co-operative and productive forum.
Important attributes of an effective Presiding Member include being:
It is the duty of the Presiding Member to preserve order and ensure proceedings are conducted in a proper manner by:
The Presiding Member is also to ensure the decisions of the meeting are respected and properly handled by:
Promoting constructive and inclusive debate is crucial to influencing the quality of decision making of council. A presiding member must be neutral and avoid letting personal attitudes, either positive of negative, influence their role. A Presiding Member
can assist in promoting diverse and balanced debate by:
It is the duty of the Presiding Member to preserve the right of all elected members to participate in the meeting. Early intervention usually reduces issues and minimises disorder. If the presiding member maintains a calm demeanour and manner
and directs the meeting to the objective of the item and what council needs to achieve, many potential conflict situations can be avoided or contained. A member can alert the meeting’s Presiding Member to an alleged incident that could
be considered a point of order in relation to conduct.
The Mayor or President as the presiding person at council meetings carries out a pivotal role by facilitating and encouraging all points of view to be expressed and respected. This will assist an elected member with a motion or an expressed opinion
that might not be supported by the majority of other members, to be satisfied that they have been given a fair hearing and that the process through the meeting is open and transparent.
Section 5.103 of the Act requires all local governments to prepare and adopt a code of conduct to be observed by its council members, committee members and employees. Respect for and compliance with a council’s adopted code of conduct helps
the presiding person to ensure promotion and maintenance of good order at all meetings of the council.
Instances where an individual member of the public, or a vocal opposition group attends and behaves inappropriately during a council meeting and refuses to comply with the directions of the presiding member, can be very stressful and a distraction
for the elected members, council employees and others in attendance.
Fortunately, experience has shown that disruptive behaviour by members of the public at meetings of local governments tends to be of short duration and while members and employees may have been made uncomfortable, the business of the meeting could
The Department’s Operational Guideline No 06: ‘Disruptive Behaviour by the Public at Council Meetings’ should be consulted for additional information. It provides advice on the options available to councils when members of the
public exhibit ongoing disruptive behaviour in meetings.
The CEO’s responsibility, under section 5.41(b) of the Act, is to ensure the provision of unbiased, relevant, professional advice and information to elected members for their decision making purposes. This is achieved at meetings principally
by written reports that become a very important part of the agenda for council and committee meetings, and also provide the basis for the decisions and the meeting minutes of the local government.
The CEO usually attends council meetings but is not permitted to take part in debate or to vote. Most local governments also have other senior employees attend meetings for the purpose of providing information, technical advice, or guidance on
the agenda matters.
The Presiding Member is responsible for initiating or managing any information, technical advice or guidance input into the meeting from the CEO, or through the CEO, from other council employees present at the meeting. This is seen as an effective
way of assisting the elected members in their decision making at meetings.
The attendance of the CEO and senior employees at a meeting should not be used as an opportunity for elected members to attempt to draw the CEO, or an employee into the process of any meeting debate. Elected members must not ask employees at a
meeting for their personal opinion on a matter before the meeting. Similarly, matters that are not on, or that do not reasonably tie in with the agenda papers, should not be raised by elected members for the CEO or other employees to respond
A useful approach to defusing the situation if disorder occurs at either a council or committee meeting, or a public meeting called by council, is to have a brief meeting adjournment.
Most Standing Orders make provision for the Presiding Member to adjourn the meeting for a defined period of time if disorder occurs. This is achieved by the Presiding Member making the declaration and physically vacating the chair.
The Department’s Operational Guideline No 6: ‘Disruptive Behaviour by the Public at Council Meetings’ provides advice on options available to councils when members of the public exhibit ongoing, disruptive behaviour at meetings.
At times it may be necessary to consider altering the order of business to ensure important and urgent matters can be adequately dealt with. Changing the agenda to alter the order of business requires a motion to be passed at the meeting –
that is, council should move and record a procedural motion to that effect.
*See also the Department’s ‘Preparation of Agendas and Minutes Guide’ items 3.2 and 5.2.3.’
The Act places specific obligations on both elected members and employees who have financial, proximity or impartiality interest in an item before a meeting. These provisions support the principle that elected members and employees must be open and above
A financial interest occurs if the member or employee, or a person closely associated with the member or employee (such as a spouse or child living at home or the person’s employer) has a matter before the local government which, if dealt with in
a particular way, will result in a financial gain or loss to the member, employee or closely associated person.
The 3 key elements of this definition are:
For council or committee members, the main obligation is to disclose the nature of the financial interest and, on some occasions, the extent of the interest when a financial interest is held in an item before a meeting. Employees are required to disclose
any financial interest when providing advice or a report to a meeting.
The Act exempts certain financial interests from the obligation of disclosure (such as interests which arise from the imposition of a rate). This enables elected members to participate fully in the decision making process on these exempt issues. The decision
about whether an interest is a financial interest which should be disclosed falls to the elected member or employee. Nobody can direct anybody else to disclose, or to disclose for someone else.
In particular, elected members should monitor their meeting agendas to determine whether a financial interest applies to a particular item. This will allow them to identify whether the interest is an exempt interest which need not be disclosed and decide,
in cases where an interest exists, whether they have the right under the Act to seek approval from the Minister or the meeting to participate in the item where the interest is held. Otherwise, having disclosed a financial interest in an item, the
elected member is required to leave the meeting when that item is considered. The penalties for not disclosing a financial interest are significant.
A proximity interest exists if the elected member, or a closely associated person, has an interest in a matter that concerns:
The existence of a proximity interest is established purely by the location of the land. A financial effect does not have to be established.
For more detailed information, see the Department’s Operational Guideline No 20 ‘Disclosure of Financial Interests at Meetings’.
In addition to financial interests, elected members are required to disclose interests which would also give rise to a reasonable belief that the impartiality of the member could be adversely affected when making a decision on an item. Impartiality interests
should be disclosed either in writing to the CEO before the meeting or verbally at the meeting immediately before the item which generates the interest is considered.
As with financial interests, the impartiality interest disclosure is made immediately prior to the item’s consideration and is recorded in the minutes. The disclosure by an elected member of an impartiality interest does not stop them discussing,
or voting on an item.
In failing to disclose an impartiality interest, an elected member contravenes a rule of conduct and in doing so commits a minor breach. The Local Government Rules of Conduct Regulations 2007 focus on providing avenues for dealing with allegations specifically
concerning elected member misconduct. Under this legislation, minor breaches may be referred to the Standards Panel.
For more detailed information, see the Department’s Operational Guideline No 1 ‘Disclosure of Interests Affecting Impartiality’. Regulation 11 of the Rules of Conduct regulations describes the requirement to declare an interest that
could, or could reasonably be perceived to adversely affect the impartiality of an Elected Member arising from “kinship, friendship or membership of an association”.
This type of interest is distinct and separate from the aforementioned interests. Once a declaration has been made, the elected member may continue to participate in discussion and vote on the matter before Council. However, penalties apply for the failure
to declare an impartiality interest.
Elected members need to be aware of the importance of observing meeting procedures. Decisions made in council meetings are legally binding. For this reason decisions must be made in accordance with the correct meeting procedure. Failure to follow the
correct procedure could provide an opportunity for the decision to be challenged. The challenge would be on the grounds that the council failed to observe the due process in making the decision and therefore, it is not a legally binding decision.
Most local governments have adopted a local law to provide for rules and guidelines that apply to the conduct of their council, committee and electors’ meetings. All meetings must be conducted to comply with the Act, regulations and the council’s
own adopted meeting local laws (referred to as ‘Standing Orders’).
The quorum for a meeting of a council or a committee is at least 50% of the number of offices (whether vacant or not) of member of the council or the committee. (s 5.7 and 5.19 of the Act; Administration regulation 8). A quorum is the minimum number
of elected members who must be present for a meeting to be considered valid.
If a quorum has not been established within 30 minutes after a council or committee meeting is due to begin then the meeting can be adjourned. The adjournment procedure is prescribed in Administration regulation 8.
When a meeting is not held due to the lack of a quorum, a record of the names of persons who attended and the reason the meeting did not take place must be kept in the minute book. See the Department’s ‘Agenda and Minutes Guide’, items
3.3.1 and 5.2.2 .
Arrangements for telephone or electronic attendance at meetings may be permitted under the Act and if granted, elected members participating in teleconferencing for a given meeting are to be included in the quorum. It is important to note:
A member who has made a disclosure of financial interest in a matter before council and has left the meeting cannot be counted in the quorum. In the situation that the absence of this member means that there is no longer a quorum, the Presiding Member
should adjourn the matter to a later meeting, recall the member who had left the meeting because of financial interest or a conflict of interest, and continue the meeting. The matter subject to the disclosure of interest should be considered at a
later meeting when a quorum is present and maintained.
When the council decides to form a view on a specific issue it does so by formally debating and adopting a ‘motion’ that expresses the majority view of the elected members.
To arrive at a decision (resolution), first a ‘motion’ or proposition is placed before council inviting the members to determine their position with regard to the issue. A member may propose a motion for consideration by council or a committee.
The ‘motion’ must be moved and seconded before council can debate the matter. A ‘motion’, once debated and if adopted by the council, becomes a ‘resolution’ of council. The important distinctions are:
It is possible to advise the council of an intention to put forward a motion (notice of motion) that relates to a motion currently before the council. However, the Presiding person cannot accept the new motion before the first one is decided.
If there is no seconder, then there is no debate on the motion and it does not progress (lapses). The meeting moves to the next item of business. At any time there can only be one proposed motion before the meeting.
There are two types of motions:
A ‘formal motion’ is a proposition that requires or acknowledges action that has to be done or has been done. It can also state a view or a preferred position on a particular issue.
A small number of ‘formal motions’ are routinely presented for consideration by a council meeting – for example the confirmation of minutes.
As a ‘resolution’ is the formal adoption by council of a ‘motion’ accepted and debated by council, it is important to consider the following conventions when preparing a motion. Only motions which are clear, unambiguous and comprehensible
should be accepted by the presiding member. For more detailed information, see the Department’s Operational Guideline No 7: ‘Clarity in Council Motions’.
The following recognised conventions apply when drafting a motion:
The following example of an adopted resolution has many of the necessary features:
‘That council resolves that the CEO writes to the State Treasurer to seek long-term funding in the upcoming State budget for regional transport infrastructure investment.’
All reports to Council or a Committee will include a draft recommendation. In most cases this will become the motion which will be put to Council for debate. However, a councillor may choose to move a motion other than the Officer’s recommendation.
The guiding rule is that no motion should be put or passed unless it is within the scope of the notice of meeting and the agenda (order of business). It is the presiding member’s role to ensure that motions are within the meeting’s jurisdiction.
Therefore the presiding member would be expected to rule a motion as out of order if it:
If the meeting is considering a motion which is difficult to comprehend and of a complex structure, the presiding member has the discretion to seek the agreement of the meeting to separate the constituent parts of the motion. The meeting can also agree
to deal with them in their separate parts as if they were separate motions.
The rules of debate should be included in the council’s Standing Orders or meeting procedures. Ideally the rules of debate:
The mover proposes the motion. The Presiding Member will look to see if there is support for the motion, by seeking a seconder for the motion. The mover has, if the motion is seconded, the right to speak to the motion or reserve the right to speak later.
The mover has, once debate on the motion has concluded, a right of reply. No new arguments or material should be argued during the right of reply. The exercise of the right of reply closes off the debate and the meeting goes to the vote.
The Presiding Member will call on the mover to speak to the motion. After the mover has spoken the seconder has the right to speak to the motion. This right can be reserved to a later part of the debate. Before deferring to a later stage of the debate
the seconder should bear in mind the following:
After the mover and seconder have exercised their rights of address the debate moves on. Those elected members who wish to speak against the motion now have their opportunity to address the meeting.
Members are then asked to speak for or against the motion, usually in the order of one speaker for and one speaker against the motion.
A mover of a motion may be permitted to explain uncertainties in the motion. Any explanation given should be limited to clarifying issues, not on extending debate.
The close of debate is reached when any of the following occurs:
Upon the decision to move to close the debate, the mover now has the ‘right of reply’. This is the final step in the debate.
Once the mover has exercised the ‘right of reply’ all further debate on the substantive (main) motion ceases. The Presiding Member should not call the mover until the time to close off the debate has emerged. In exercising the ‘right
of reply’ the following conventions should be observed:
Once a motion has been formally accepted by the meeting, a member can propose an amendment to the motion. A proposed amendment moved by a member must be seconded by another member. The proposed amendment:
The Presiding Member needs to pay particular attention when amendments are requested to maintain the continuity and integrity of the debate. Important points regarding amendments:
In practice, the formal rules of debate apply to the handling of amendments:
Upon concluding the debate on the motion and the accepted amendments, it may be necessary to review the order and numbering of the parts of the resolution to ensure it fits together in a coherent way. It may be necessary to reorder the sequence to ensure
the motion makes sense. It is vital that the motion as structured and resolved by the council or committee is accurately recorded in the minutes of the meeting.
Note: Where the resolution passed is significantly different from the written recommendation of a Committee or an employee Administration Regulation 11 requires the minutes to include a written reason for the changes.
The mover of a motion may request that the motion be withdrawn any time prior to the vote being taken. If such a request is received the Presiding Member will call the meeting to order (all debate is suspended) and ascertain whether the seconder of the
motion agrees with the withdrawal request. If the seconder agrees the matter is put to a vote, without further debate. In any elected member votes against the withdrawal, the motion must proceed and cannot be withdrawn.
A request to withdraw a motion can be made even if an amendment to the substantive motion is being debated. The Presiding Member will call the meeting to order and deals with the withdrawal request. If any elected member votes against the withdrawal,
the motion remains in effect and debate on the amendment continues. Once the amendment has been dealt with, debate continues on the substantive motion.
A foreshadowed motion is a proposed suggestion to the meeting, usually raised during debate, that there is an alternative proposal should the motion being debated, be lost. Foreshadowed motions are usually noted by the Presiding Member and if the vote
is lost, the member who proposed the foreshadowed motion will be invited to move their foreshadowed motion. Once moved the motion is debated in the normal manner.
Procedural motions are a specific set of motions to control the conduct of the meetings and aid the effective transaction of business.
Procedural motions fall into two categories:
The closure (or gag) is a motion used when it is felt the debate has gone on long enough and should be concluded by taking a vote. The procedural motion can be moved in the form, ‘I move that the question be now put’. The presiding member
may call for a seconder to show there are others present who wish to terminate the debate.
At this stage the presiding member should proceed to take the vote on the procedural motion.
Important notes about this closure motion follow:
Subject to Standing Orders, a closure motion may be moved again later in the debate. However, a later closure motion may:
This procedural motion is usually stated in the form; ‘That the meeting proceed to the next item of business.’
Important points about ‘proceed to the next item of business’ include:
If the motion is carried the item is dropped for the entire meeting unless re-introduced as a Notice of Motion. The matter need not be further considered.
The most frequently used temporary procedural motions are those aimed at closing debate on a matter before the meeting. There are a number of reasons why a member may wish to terminate debate on a matter. For example, the member may be of the view
A temporary procedural motion is a useful device if there is a contentious matter before the meeting that the members want to delay debating or adopting a position on. The procedural motion, if carried, places the matter on hold until specific steps
are taken to place it back on the agenda again.
If the meeting wishes to temporarily set aside the motion so that it may be revived at a later stage a member should move; ‘That the debate be adjourned’.
The details or conditions to be met before resuming the debate on the motion should be expressly stated in the procedural motion – for example, adjourn the debate until a particular council or committee meeting date – or until more information
Important points about ‘That the debate be adjourned’ include:
Moving a procedural motion to adjourn the debate can be very useful when:
A matter before the council can be temporarily put aside by the simple device of the procedural motion; ‘That the matter be referred to a committee.’
There can be a number of reasons why a council may wish to adopt this approach. For example, the council may not have the time to do the issue justice and may be of the view that the issue would be better dealt with in detail by a smaller number of
members in committee. It is a very practical device that can provide an opportunity for members to examine in more detail all aspects of an issue.
Before referring the matter to a committee, it is advisable to give some consideration as to the terms of reference and the composition of the committee. It may be possible to refer the matter to a standing committee of council. The important points
listed in section 9.3.1 above should also be noted as applicable for this referral motion.
The majority of members present at a meeting of a local government may adjourn the meeting to a later hour on the same day or to a later day. An adjournment may occur when:
Administration regulation 8 states that if a quorum is not present within 30 minutes after the scheduled start time for a meeting, the meeting may be adjourned to another day or time by a majority of the members present. The order in which authorised
persons can adjourn a council or committee meeting due to the lack of a quorum is:
The meeting must be adjourned by resolution. The mover of the now adjourn motion may speak to it, however, the seconder does not speak other than to formally second the motion It is desirable that the resolution also specifies the arrangements for
conducting the meeting at a later time – for example; ‘Council resolves that the meeting be adjourned until 2:00pm on day/date, at the Council Chamber.’
The motion cannot be moved by a member who has already spoken in the debate before the meeting, and a member cannot move this motion more than once in any meeting.
If carried, debate ceases and re-starts at the same point as it left off, unless a vote is taken to change this procedure. If the adjournment is for the meeting to continue on another day, a Notice of Meeting to re-convene an adjourned meeting should
be given as soon as practical.
A successful motion that a nominated member be no longer heard prevents the member from speaking further on the current substantive motion. The mover is not permitted to speak to it, and the seconder is only permitted to formally second it. If the
member prevented from speaking was the mover to the substantive motion, their right of reply before the vote is taken is not affected.
If a member considers that there has been an irregularity in the conduct of the meeting – for example, a member introduces irrelevant matters, it can be brought to the attention of the presiding member by calling; ‘point of order.’
The presiding member must permit the member calling the point of order to state what Standing Order, code or procedure they believe has been infringed. A point of order takes precedent over all other business until it is determined. The presiding
member should immediately rule, upholding the point of order, or overruling it.
Points of order may arise where a member believes there may have been a breach of any local law or any written law.
When a member disagrees with a ruling on a point of order it is possible to move a motion of dissent. The purpose of the motion of dissent is to seek to correct what may have been a mistake of fact or interpretation on the part of the presiding member.
Therefore, when voting on the motion, consideration should be given to the procedural matters, not the popularity of the presiding member.
The procedural motion is stated in the following terms, ‘That the ruling of the presiding member be disagreed with.’ No further business should be transacted until the dissent motion is resolved.
It is important to remember the following:
If the meeting supports the motion of dissent:
Any motion that seeks to change the order of business or alter the formal rules of debate falls within the category of a procedural motion. Examples of this, as contained in a council’s Standing Orders, include motions closing a meeting to the
public, and suspending and then resuming Standing Orders.
A decision of council is the result of democratic debate. The final decision – the resolution of council – is the result of open voting by the majority of elected members at the meeting. Once a collective decision is made, all members
must abide by the decision.
Collective responsibility requires members of a council or its committees to support publicly all decisions made by council even if they do not agree privately.
The Act’s principles establish that the primary accountability of a local government is to its community, and that the decisions of the local government must be made with regard to the benefit of the entire local government area. Accordingly,
there are legislative requirements associated with a member’s capacity to participate in decision making (voting) when there is financial interest or conflict arising from an impartiality interest – as explained earlier in this Manual
at 7.1 and 7.2.
At the conclusion of the formal debate, the Presiding Member is required to ascertain the view of the meeting by calling for a vote. Section 5.21 of the Act explains voting and counting requirements, namely:
Section 5.21(2) of the Act states that any member of a council or a committee with a delegated decision making power, who is present at a meeting, must vote on matters which require a decision at that meeting. The only exception is when
the member has declared a financial interest in accordance with section 5.65 of the Act. If the member does not vote when required to do so, he or she is in breach of the Act (s5.21(5)). It is advisable for the local government’s
CEO to record in the minutes the name of the member who failed to vote on the matter. Such non-voting is considered a serious breach of the Act.
Council’s Standing Orders may permit the use of the ‘show of hands’ or ‘on the voices’’ or other methods for taking the vote. It is a matter of discretion for the presiding member to adopt the most suitable
method in the circumstances existing at the meeting.
An important duty of the presiding member is to ensure that the:
The Presiding Member can take any appropriate steps to ensure the result is clear. If any doubt exists, the Presiding Member can immediately seek a recount.
An elected member may request that their individual vote, or the votes of all the members, be recorded in the minutes. A request for a recount must occur immediately after the presiding member declares the result.
The person presiding has a vote and must exercise this right as a member of the council or of a committee. If the votes of members present at a council or committee meeting are equally divided the person presiding must cast a second vote to
break the deadlock and achieve a result.
For example, if there are seven councillors plus the Shire President forming the quorum for the meeting and four councillors vote for the motion and three councillors and the Shire President vote against it, the vote would be tied. The Shire
President, as the person presiding, would use his/her ‘second vote’ to break the deadlock and bring about a decision. The second vote cannot be used to achieve an ‘absolute majority’ vote outcome.
A decision of a local government to revoke or change an earlier decision may have serious legal implications for a variety of reasons, such as where the original decision has been implemented, or has already been communicated to the applicant.
It is not the purpose of this Manual to elaborate on such legal implications but local governments are urged to be sure that the issues are addressed and legal advice sought as necessary before attempting to revoke or change an earlier decision.
A well-researched report, prepared for the council or committee by or at the direction of the CEO addressing the legal, financial and any other consequences of the proposed revocation or change before the revocation process is commenced, is essential
to ensure that all relevant matters are properly considered by the elected members.
Administration Regulation 10 prescribes how and when a decision made at a meeting of council or a committee may be revoked or changed. Such revocation or change can only occur where the result is that the original decision is either revoked
or becomes “substantially different”.
A motion to revoke or change a previous council or committee decision must (first stage) be supported, and be signed by at least one-third of the number of members (whether vacant or not), inclusive of the mover, of the council or committee, or by an absolute majority if an attempt to revoke or change the decision has been made and failed in the previous three months.
The second stage, (after the required support for the motion has been obtained and recorded), is the formal consideration of the motion after it is seconded and the decision whether or not to revoke or change the earlier resolution. This decision
must be made, in the case where the decision to revoke or change was made by an absolute or special majority, by that same type of majority. In any other case, decisions are to be made by an absolute majority.
Administration Regulation 10 governs the number of members that must:
The minutes must clearly show compliance with the voting requirements.
To ensure consistency, local governments should resolve the procedure that is to be adopted for accepting and recording a proposal to revoke or change a decision. It is recommended the names of the members who support the introduction of the motion
should be recorded in the minutes, before the motion to revoke or change a decision is put to the meeting.
Unless the motion to revoke or change includes, as part of the motion, an explanation for the action, it is good practice to record the reason in a separate resolution or as a notation in the minutes.
The term “en bloc” is used to describe the practice of adopting the recommendations of a committee, or a number of officer recommendations, by the use of only one resolution or the adoption of the recommendations in groups, without a separate
resolution for each recommendation.
The practice of adopting recommendations “en bloc” is intended to speed up the resolution of the business of the council meeting where elected members have no reason to disagree with particular recommendations. While the intent in
adopting the procedure is obvious, it is extremely important that the outcome in respect to every item in the agenda is clear.
There is nothing in the Act or the Regulations to prevent recommendations being dealt with in groups. It is suggested however, that the Standing Orders of those local governments that have adopted, or wish to adopt, an "en bloc" method of dealing
with committee or officer recommendations should be written to clearly endorse the practice. This will ensure there is consistency in the manner in which the recommendations of committees and officers are dealt with and recorded.
If a local government wishes to use, or continue to use, the “en bloc” method of dealing with and recording the outcome of decisions relating to recommendations from committees, the recommended procedure is as follows:-
Before commencing the process, the presiding person should give a brief explanation of the en bloc method of decision making for the benefit of the members of the public in the gallery.
The presiding person then introduces the committee or officer recommendations by reading the heading for each item. This practice makes it easier for elected members and members of the public to follow the business of the meeting. Groups of
recommendations are then adopted by the council with the groups interspersed with resolutions relating to particular recommendations that are to be dealt with separately due to:
Minutes are the official record of the business and decisions made at the council and committee meetings and, as a legal record, are arguably the most important records of a local government. Under section 5.41(h) of the Act, it is the responsibility
of the CEO to ensure that the records and documents of the local government are properly kept.
The minutes do not need to be a verbatim transcript of proceedings and there is no legal requirement to have a full transcript or even a summary of member’s statements, unless it is determined at the meeting that this should occur. Administration
regulation 11 sets out what the content of minutes is to include. See also the Department’s ‘Agenda and Minutes Guide’.
The minutes of each meeting need to be:
Administration regulation 11 sets out the content that the minutes of council or committee meetings must contain, including:
Section 5.22(2) and (3) of the Act requires that the minutes of a council or committee meeting are to go to the next meeting of the council or committee for confirmation and signing by the person presiding to certify the confirmation.
Section 5.94(n) (o) and (p) of the Act lists, amongst other items, the agenda and minute related documents, (whether or not current and in the form or medium that they are held by the local government), that must be available free for inspection
by members of the public. This list includes the availability of:
Administration regulation 29 provides a list of information that is to be available for public inspection. This includes unconfirmed minutes of council or committee meetings but excludes the meeting or that part of the meeting that was closed to members
of the public, or in the CEO’s opinion, could have been closed to members of the public but was not closed.
The confirmation of the minutes of council is by way of a motion and the meeting may, until the confirmation motion is carried, move amendments to the minutes.
Once the minutes have been confirmed, they cannot be altered. If at a later date an error is noted in the minutes, any correction must be in the form of a motion and carried by the meeting. The minutes of the meeting are to record details
of any motion for the correction of the minutes of a former meeting.
Courts have held that the minutes are prima facie evidence of council decisions but their accuracy may be challenged. The burden of proof is on the party questioning the accuracy of the minutes. In considering the adoption of the minutes,
the test is to ask - are they a clear, accurate, concise and complete record of the business and decisions of the meeting?
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