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Council Meetings Policy

Version 2.0

Purpose and Intent

The purpose of this policy is to provide guidance to members of the public who wish to engage with Council by:

  • submitting public questions to be heard at council meetings
  • submitting valid petitions
  • contacting Council in relation to items on the Council Meeting Agendas

Scope

This policy applies to council meetings held by the City of Casey.

Definitions

Key term

Definition

CEO

means Chief Executive Officer

Council

means Casey City Council, being a body corporate constituted as a municipal Council under the Local Government Act 2020

Councillors

means the individuals holding the office of a member of Casey City Council

Council officer

means the Chief Executive Officer and staff of Council appointed by the Chief Executive Officer

E-Petitions

means a digital or electronic petition

Local Law No.1 (2016)

means Meeting Procedures and Use of the Common Seal Local Law Local Law No.1 (2016)

Petition

means a request made of Council by five or more signatories using the correct form outlined in this policy

Public Question Time

a section of the Agenda of a meeting of council conducted pursuant to clause 42.1 of Local Law No. 1 (2016)

Policy

Public Question Time

Public Question Time is a section of the Agenda of a council meeting. This section allows members of the public to submit questions to be answered by the Council.

It is not designed to take the place of contacting a Councillor or Councillors directly to discuss an issue, or to replace contacting Council’s Customer Services for assistance. Rather, it is designed to allow for clarification of issues of public interest.

Public question time is not a legislative requirement and is subject to Council policy.

Submissions for inclusion in Public Question Time

Questions to be considered at a Council meeting must be submitted by 10 am on the first business day prior to the Meeting.

Questions for consideration at Council Meetings must be submitted electronically to questiontime@casey.vic.gov.au or via the Council Website’s online form.

If the questioner’s conduct with Council is being managed under Council’s Managing Unreasonable Complainant Conduct Policy, please submit the question via the notified communication channel.

Persons without access to a computer should contact Council’s Governance department in advance if they wish to submit questions in hardcopy format.

Requirements for a valid submission for public question time

No person may submit more than two questions per council meeting.

Questions must:

  1. make sense and include the person’s name and address
  2. not exceed 50 words in length
  3. must focus on an issue

Questions must not:

  1. relate to a matter outside the duties, functions and powers of Council;
  2. include content which, if it were included in a Council report, would be likely to be considered in Closed Council;
  3. contain potentially defamatory material;
  4. relate to trivial matters or make unsubstantiated allegations;
  5. not name, allude to or focus on individuals, be vexatious or aim to embarrass or offend
  6. include content which a reasonable person may find to be indecent, abusive, offensive, irrelevant or objectionable; deal with a subject matter already answered at a previous Public Question Time; If such questions are received, the question will be answered at the Chairperson’s discretion;
  7. appear to be aimed at embarrassing a Councillor or a Council officer, and/ or
  8. comprise in a large part a statement or quote.

Submissions for Public Question Time Not Meeting the Requirements

Where a question does not meet the requirements of this policy, reasonable efforts will be made to contact the submitter prior to the Council meeting to provide the opportunity to amend their question or else advise that the question will not be read out and answered during Public Question Time.

Where a question is resubmitted, the question, if meeting the requirements of this Policy, will be answered at the next Public Question Time.

Petitions

Petitions are requests made by five or more signatories.

The ability for members of the public to collect and submit petitions ensures that the rights of the community to lobby local government are met. Petitions are a fundamental and important part of local democracy. This policy:

  1. outlines the requirements of a valid petition
  2. provides information to the community on how petitions will be handled and acted upon in a consistent and procedurally fair manner
  3. addresses aspects of privacy in the provision of personal details
  4. identifies exclusions to the petition policy

Requirements of a valid petition

The petition must:

  • be legible and in permanent writing (i.e. no pencil)
  • be addressed to the CEO, the Mayor, or a Councillor, containing a request for action to be taken by Council
  • not be indecent, abusive or objectionable in language or content
  • repeat the full wording of the petition as contained on the first page of the petition. Any signature appearing upon a page which does not bear the whole of the petition or request will not be considered by Council
  • include the names and residential addresses of all persons who signed the petition
  • be original signatures, not photocopied or scanned copies and be sent to council in a hardcopy format
  • every page of a petition, including signatories to the petition must be on an original piece of paper and not pasted, stapled, or otherwise affixed to any other piece of paper.

At the discretion of councillors, E-Petitions may be accepted. E-Petitions should include the names and residential addresses of all persons who signed the petition and meet all other requirements listed in this policy.

Where a petition complies with all the above requirements, it will be tabled at a council meeting.

A template petition is found in Attachment A of this policy.

Submitting a Petition to Council

Members of the community can submit a petition to Council via two methods:

Submitting a petition to a Councillor

A valid petition submitted to a Councillor will be tabled at a council meeting for consideration.

If a petition with notice is addressed to a specific Councillor, that Councillor may read the petition out at a council meeting without debate.

 Submitting a petition to the Council

A valid petition submitted to a Councillor will be tabled at a council meeting for consideration.

Petitions can be forwarded by mail to:

City of Casey, PO Box 1000, Narre Warren, Vic, 3805

or

delivered in person to any sitting Councillor

or

delivered in person to any Customer Service Centre

or

emailed to caseycc@casey.vic.gov.au

Submissions for Petitions Not Meeting the Requirements

Where a petition does not meet the requirements of this policy, reasonable efforts will be made to contact the head petitioner or other nominated person as appropriate.

Where a petition is resubmitted, the petition, if meeting the requirements of this Policy, will be considered at the next council meeting.

Petition Resolution

The petition and a summary of the answer provided will be included in the minutes of the council meeting. The minutes will include a copy of the full petition.

The head petitioner will be advised on receipt of the petition and will be provided with the outcome of the request contained in the petition within a reasonable timeframe.

Petitions and Your Privacy

To comply with the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 (Vic), personal information provided as part of the petition will only be used for the primary purpose for which it was provided – that is, to consider the petition.

Any petitions tabled at Council will be included in the minutes of the Council meeting and will show the subject of the petition, the number of signatures and the head petition’s name.

The agenda and minutes are printed and available for the general public and appear on Council’s website.

As part of Council’s operations, any document incorporated into a Council agenda must be made publicly available, including any petitions which are tabled. To view a petition tabled at Council please contact Council’s Governance Department. Council will not provide copies of any petitions to protect the privacy of signatories.

This means that any personal details, including names, addresses and signatories will be publicly available. On request Council will provide the contact details of the head petitioner to the media or members of parliament.

Exclusions to the petition policy

Petitions relating to a Planning Permit are treated as a formal objection. not relate to a Town Planning Application. Formal objections to a planning permit can be submitted via the form on Council’s website. These objections must comply with section 57 of the Planning and Environment Act 1987 (Vic).

Queries about the Council Agenda

Where a member of the public has a query regarding items on the council meeting agenda, queries can be submitted via the Casey Conversations page or by contacting council’s customer services department.

At the discretion of the chairperson, the query may be raised at the council meeting, otherwise queries will be responded to by the relevant council officer.

Responsibilities

Who

What

Chairperson

In accordance with Local Law No. 1 (2016) is responsible for conducting the Council Meeting.

Director Corporate Services

(or appropriate officer in the case of a potential conflict)

Will be responsible for compliance with, and enforcement of this policy and may be asked to clarify the interpretation of this policy if an aspect of the policy is unclear or in dispute. The Director Corporate Services will provide recommendations to the Chairperson.

Governance Department

Will be responsible for maintaining the Public Question and Petition register.

Breaches

NIL

Relevant Forms

Title

Link

Submit a public question

https://www.casey.vic.gov.au/submit-public-question

Document History

Date approved

Change Type

Version

Next Review Date

7 April 2020

Major review: changed to the public question, petition sections and addition of queries about the council agenda section.

2.0

30 April 2024

23 May 2019

Administrative review: removal of reference to Petitions Policy in Attachment

1.2

31 May 2023

22 May 2019

Administration review: addition of endorsed date and ECM ID.

1.1

31 May 2023

21 May 2019

Document Initiation: merged Petitions and Public Question Time Policies.

1.0

31 May 2023