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UPDATE REGARDING COVID-19 AND PUBLIC FORUM SESSION / COUNCIL MEETING ARRANGEMENTS

EASING OF THE PUBLIC HEALTH ORDER RESTRICTIONS

Due to the easing of the COVID-19 Public Health Order restrictions from December 15, 2021, members of the public are no longer required to register their attendance, wear masks, or show proof of COVID-19 vaccination status to attend Council Meetings in the Council Chambers.

Council does however, still require members of the public to check-in when entering the Council Chambers by using the QR check-in code available, in order to provide information to NSW Health should it be required for contact tracing purposes.

 

A Public Forum Session is held prior to each Council Meeting commencing at 6:15pm and concluding at 6:30pm and as advertised before an Extraordinary Council Meeting.

Members of the public attending Council meetings have an opportunity to address Council during the public forum session. 

Members of the public wishing to participate in the Public Forum Session are required to register to speak by completing the online form below and submitting no later than 4:00pm the day of the Council Meeting.  

Below is an extract from Council's adopted Code of Meeting Practice Policy which outlines the rules of the Public Forum Sessions:

4. PUBLIC FORUMS

4.1     That Council holds a public forum prior to each ordinary meeting of the council (commencing at 6:15pm) for the purpose of hearing oral submissions from members of the public on items of business to be considered at the meeting. Public forums will also be held prior to extraordinary council meetings and meetings of committees of the council.

4.2     Public forums are to be chaired by the mayor or their nominee.

4.3     To speak at a public forum, a person is encouraged to make an application to the council in the approved form. Applications to speak at the public forum should be delivered to Council’s Administrative Centre, Customer Relations Staff, up to 4:00pm on the day of the meeting or handed to a Council staff member 15 minutes prior to the commencement of the Public Forum Session, and must identify the item of business on the agenda of the council meeting the person wishes to speak upon.

The Chairperson will invite members of the public present at the Public Forum to speak.  Members of the public will be asked to state their name and verbally identify the item of business on the agenda of the meeting in which they are speaking, and whether they wish to speak ‘for’ or ‘against’ the item.

Members of the public will be invited to speak in the following order:

1.    Members of the public who have registered to speak either ‘for’ or ‘against’ items listed in the meeting agenda.

2.    Members of the public who have registered to speak on general matters.

3.    Then if time permits, members of the public who have not registered but wish to speak either ‘for’ or ‘against’ items listed in the meeting agenda; or who wish to speak on general matters.

4.4     A person may apply to speak on no more than 2 items of business on the agenda of the council meeting.

4.5     Legal representatives acting on behalf of others are not to be permitted to speak at a public forum unless they identify their status as a legal representative when applying to speak at the public forum.

4.6     The Chairperson may refuse an application to speak at a public forum. The Chairperson must state reasons for a decision to refuse an application.

4.7     No more than 2 speakers are to be permitted to speak ‘for’ or ‘against’ each item of business on the agenda for the council meeting.

4.8     If more than the permitted number of speakers apply to speak ‘for’ or ‘against’ any item of business, the Chairperson may request the speakers to nominate from among themselves the persons who are to address the council on the item of business. If the speakers are not able to agree on whom to nominate to address the council, the Chairperson or their delegate is to determine who will address the council at the public forum.

4.9     If more than the permitted number of speakers apply to speak ‘for’ or ‘against’ any item of business, the Chairperson may increase the number of speakers permitted to speak on an item of business, where they are satisfied that it is necessary to do so to allow the council to hear a fuller range of views on the relevant item of business.

4.10     Speakers at the public forum are to register with the council any written material to be presented in support of their address to the council at the public forum no less than one (1) day before the public forum. The general manager or their delegate may refuse to allow such material to be presented.

a)     Members of the public may submit a petition on a matter of direct relevance to the City of Broken Hill during the Public Forum Session at an Ordinary Council Meeting.

b)     Prior notice to Council is not required.

c)     One person may speak to the petition for no longer than two (2) minutes.

d)     Receipt of the petition will be noted in the record of the Public Forum in the minutes of the Council meeting and the petition will be recorded as inwards correspondence and directed to the appropriate Council officer.

e)     Response to petitions will be by way of normal Council correspondence procedures.

4.11     The Chairperson is to determine the order of speakers at the public forum.

4.12     Each speaker will be allowed 2 minutes to address the council. This time is to be strictly enforced by the chairperson.

4.13     Speakers at public forums must not digress from the item on the agenda of the council meeting they have requested to address the council on. If a speaker digresses to irrelevant matters, the chairperson is to direct the speaker not to do so. If a speaker fails to observe a direction from the chairperson, the speaker will not be further heard.

4.14     A councillor (including the chairperson) may, through the chairperson, ask questions of a speaker following their address at a public forum. Questions put to a speaker must be direct, succinct and without argument.

4.15     Speakers are under no obligation to answer a question put under clause 4.14. Answers by the speaker, to each question are to be limited to 1 minute.

4.16     Speakers at public forums cannot ask questions of the council, councillors or council staff.

4.17     The general manager or their nominee may, with the concurrence of the chairperson, address the council for up to 2 minutes in response to an address to the council at a public forum after the address and any subsequent questions and answers have been finalised.

4.18     Where an address made at a public forum raises matters that require further consideration by council staff, the general manager may recommend that the council defer consideration of the matter pending the preparation of a further report on the matters.

4.19     When addressing the council, speakers at public forums must comply with this code and all other relevant council codes, policies and procedures. Speakers must refrain from engaging in disorderly conduct, publicly alleging breaches of the council’s code of conduct or making other potentially defamatory statements.

4.20     If the chairperson considers that a speaker at a public forum has engaged in conduct of the type referred to in clause 4.19, the chairperson may request the person to refrain from the inappropriate behaviour and to withdraw and unreservedly apologise for any inappropriate comments. Where the speaker fails to comply with the chairperson’s request, the chairperson may immediately require the person to stop speaking.

4.21     Clause 4.20 does not limit the ability of the chairperson to deal with disorderly conduct by speakers at public forums in accordance with the provisions of Part 15 of this code.

4.22     Where a speaker engages in conduct of the type referred to in clause 4.19, the Chairperson may refuse further requests from that person to speak at public forums for such a period as the Chairperson considers appropriate.

4.23     Councillors (including the mayor) must declare and manage any conflicts of interest they may have in relation to any item of business that is the subject of an address at a public forum, in the same way that they are required to do so at a council or committee meeting. The council is to maintain a written record of all conflict of interest declarations made at public forums and how the conflict of interest was managed by the councillor who made the declaration.

 

 For full details please see Council's Code of Meeting Practice.

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