Public Question and Submission Time Council Policy

Public Question and Submission Time Document No: CPL45.9
Approval Date: 27 February 2018
Approved By: Council
Review Date: 20 September 2020
Responsible Officer: Chief Executive Officer Version No: 01
Authorising Officer: Chief Executive Officer

1. Purpose

To guide the process by which the public asks questions or provides information either of a general nature or specific to items for decision at Ordinary and Special Committee Meetings (Meetings) as defined in section 83, 84 and 86 of the Local Government Act 1989 (the Act) to:

  1. provide a more resourceful and accountable platform for the public to submit questions to be considered at Meetings; and
  2. allow Council sufficient time to consider the issues raised by the public.

Council meetings are decision-making forums. To fully consider issues raised by the public prior to making decisions, various ways for the public to ask questions and make submissions before the meeting must be available.

2. Scope

This policy applies to questions and information submitted for consideration at Meetings as defined in section 83, 84 and 86 of the Act. The policy is referred to in, and is to be read in conjunction with, the Council Meeting Procedures Local Law, 2017.

3. References

  • The Local Government Act 1989 (the Act).
  • Greater Geelong City Council Meeting Procedures Local Law 2017.

4. Definitions

Agenda means the notice of a Meeting setting out the business to be transacted at the Meeting;

Chief Executive Officer means the appointed Chief Executive Officer or Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Council;

Chairperson means the chair of a Meeting and includes acting, temporary, or substitute Chairperson, and includes the chair referred to in s10(6) of the COGG Act.

COGG Act means the City of Greater Geelong Act (Vic) 1993 (as amended by the City of Greater Geelong Amendment Act 2017);

Councillor means a person who holds the office of member of Council;

Meeting means an Ordinary Meeting or a Special Committee Meeting of the Council;

Member means a Councillor or member of a Special Committee;

Member of Council Staff has the same meaning given to that term in section 3 of the Act, namely:

  1. a natural person who is employed by the Chief Executive Officer (other than an independent Contractor under a contract of service or a volunteer) to enable:
    1. The functions of the Council under the Act or any other Act to be carried out;
    2. The Chief Executive Officer to carry out his or her functions
  2. The Chief Executive Officer.

Ordinary Meeting means any meeting of Council which is not a Special Meeting.

Public Question and Submission Time means a section of the Agenda of a Meeting during which Council takes questions and information submitted by the public relevant to Council actions and decisions. Question and Submission Time is not a forum for discussion.

Special Committee means a Committee established by the Council pursuant to section 86 of the Act.

Special Meeting means a Special Meeting of the Council called in accordance with section 84 of the Act.

5. Public question and submission time

5.1. Public Question and Submission Time will be provided at the start of a Meeting to enable members of the public to ask questions or make submissions to Council.
5.2. There will be no Public Question and Submission Time at a Special Meeting of Council unless otherwise determined by the Chairperson.
5.3. Forty five (45) minutes will be allocated for Public Question and Submission Time at a Meeting. The duration of Public Question and Submission Time may be extended by:
5.3.1. the Chairperson, giving due consideration to the business to be considered at the Meeting; or
5.3.2. by resolution of the Meeting.
5.4. Questions to be asked or submissions to be made at a Meeting must be:
5.4.1. in writing, and state the name and address of the person submitting the question, and generally be in a form approved by the Chief Executive Officer; and
5.4.2. lodged: in person at the Council offices; electronically, by using the online form provided on Council?s website; or Electronically, by sending the question or submission to the email address prescribed by Council, by 12.00 noon on the day before the Meeting, subject to clause 5.7 herein.
5.5. Questions and submissions lodged in accordance with clause 5.4 herein will be provided to the Councillors by the Chief Executive Officer before the Meeting.
5.6. The Chief Executive Officer will use all reasonable endeavours to have a question or submission made in a language other than English translated into English before the Meeting. A question or submission that cannot be translated prior to the commencement of the Meeting will be translated prior to the next Meeting scheduled after it and the submitter will be notified accordingly.
5.7. The Chief Executive Officer will take reasonable steps to ensure that the processes and procedures provided for in this policy are accessible to all members of the community.
5.8. At the Chairperson?s discretion, a person can ask a question or make a submission at a Meeting without notice.
5.9. No more than two (2) questions may be asked or submissions made by any person at any one (1) Meeting. If a person asks two (2) questions or makes two (2) submissions, the second question or submission may, at the discretion of the Chairperson:
5.9.1. be deferred until all other persons have had their question asked and answered or submissions made; or
5.9.2. may not be asked or submitted if the time allotted for public question and submission time has expired.
5.10. Each person asking a question or making a submission will be allocated three (3) minutes to speak to that question or submission at the Meeting.
5.11. Council will respond to a question asked to a Meeting if the person who asked the question is present at the Meeting. The question asked and the answer given will be recorded in the Minutes of the Meeting.
5.12. For question(s) submitted in accordance with clause 5.4 herein where the person who has asked the question is not present at the Meeting, the question(s) will not be recorded in the Minutes of the Meeting, however, the Chief Executive Officer will cause a written response to be provided to the person asking the question within seven (7) days of the Meeting.
5.13. All questions and answers must be brief, and discussion will be entered into only for the purpose of clarification.
5.14. Submissions made to a Meeting and presented in person will be recorded in the Minutes. Submissions made to a meeting but not presented in person will not be recorded in the Minutes.
5.15. The Chairperson may preclude a question being asked or a submission being made at a Meeting if the Chairperson determines that it:
5.15.1. relates to a matter outside the duties, functions and powers of Council;
5.15.2. is defamatory, indecent, abusive, offensive, vexatious, frivolous, irrelevant, trivial or objectionable in language;
5.15.3. is the subject of negotiation, litigation or is of a commercially sensitive nature;
5.15.4. is aimed to embarrass a Councillor or a Member of Council Staff;
5.15.5. relates to personnel matters;
5.15.6. relates to industrial matters;
5.15.7. deals with subject matter already answered or declined;
5.15.8. relates to contractual matters;
5.15.9. relates to legal advice sought and/or received by Council;
5.15.10. relates to matters affecting the security of a Member of Council Staff or their property;
5.15.11. relates to any other matter which the Chairperson considers would prejudice Council, a Member of Council Staff, or any person; or
5.15.12. relates to a matter for which the meeting would normally be closed to the public in accordance with section 89(2) of the Act.
5.16. A copy of any question which has been precluded by the Chairperson must be made available to any other Member upon request.
5.17. Similar questions may be grouped together and a single answer provided by the Council.
5.18. The Chairperson may request the Chief Executive Officer, or the appropriate Member or Member of Council Staff, to respond to a question. The Chairperson or the Chief Executive Officer may reserve the right to take the question on notice and provide a written response to the person who asked the question.
5.19. A Member or the Chief Executive Officer may advise the Chairperson that, in his or her opinion, any question to be asked or information to be submitted should be given in a Meeting that is closed to the public, stating the reasons for his or her opinion. Unless the Members of the Meeting resolve to the contrary, the question should be asked and answered, or the information submitted, in a meeting closed to the public.
5.20. Public Question and Submission Time is not a substitute for formal appeal and review systems, formal business procedures, formal Council decisions and any other legal processes required for the proper conduct of Council business.

6. Quality Records

Quality Records shall be retained for at least the period shown below.

Record Retention/Disposal Responsibility Retention Period Location

7. Attachments

  • Council Meeting Procedure Local Law 2017

Page last updated: Saturday, 30 May 2020