Hawkesbury City Council actively encourages participation of residents in the decision making process and is happy to hear from people regarding matters raised in the Business Paper.
Members of the public may address Council on any items in the business paper.
4.0 PUBLIC SPEAKERS
4.1 The council may hear oral submissions from members of the public on items of business considered at an ordinary or extraordinary meeting, or a meeting of a committee of the council.
4.2 Members of the public may address council on any items in the business paper, with the public only addressing council in regard to the confirmation of minutes concerning the validity of the minutes.
4.3 It is the role of the chairperson to ensure that all speakers present at a meeting adhere to the requirements of this Code, and it is expected that any directions by the chairperson in relation to the conduct of the meeting or persons present at the meeting will be adhered to.
4.4 To speak at a meeting, a person must first make an application Council in the approved form. Applications to speak at the meeting must be received by 3pm on the day of the meeting, and must identify the item of business on the agenda of the council meeting the person wishes to speak on, and whether they wish to speak ‘for’ or ‘against’ the item.
4.5 Ordinarily, there is no limit to the number of items that a person may apply to speak on. At meetings where applications for more than 20 speakers have been received, a person should speak only on one item unless granted permission by the chairperson. The chairperson will have regard to the circumstances of each case, taking into account such factors as the nature of the interest in the matter, and the number of speakers on the item or collectively on the agenda.
4.6 Legal representatives acting on behalf of others are not to be permitted to speak at a meeting unless they identify their status as a legal representative when applying to speak at the meeting.
4.7 The general manager or their delegate may refuse an application to speak at a meeting. The general manager or their delegate must give reasons in writing for a decision to refuse an application.
4.8 No more than three speakers are to be permitted to speak ‘for’, and three speakers ‘against’, each item of business on the agenda for the council meeting.
4.9 If more than the permitted number of speakers apply to speak ‘for’ or ‘against’ any item of business, the general manager or their delegate 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 general manager or their delegate is to determine who will address the council.
4.10 If more than the permitted number of speakers apply to speak ‘for’ or ‘against’ any item of business, the general manager or their delegate may, in consultation with the chairperson, 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.
4.11 Approved speakers at the meeting are to register with Council any written, visual or audio material to be presented in support of their address to the council at the meeting, and to identify any equipment needs no more than three working days before the meeting. The general manager or their delegate may refuse to allow such material to be presented.
4.12 The general manager or their delegate is to determine the order of speakers at the meeting.
4.13 Each speaker will be allowed five minutes to address the council. This time is to be strictly enforced by the chairperson.
4.14 Speakers at meetings must not digress from the item on the agenda of the council meeting they have applied 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.
Note: When directing speakers regarding the relevance of their address, the chairperson may wish to refer to the Macquarie Dictionary definition of “relevant”, which is:
“bearing upon or connected with the matter in hand; to the purpose; pertinent”.
4.15 A councillor (including the chairperson) may, through the chairperson, ask questions of a speaker following their address at a meeting. Questions put to a speaker must be direct, succinct and without argument.
4.16 Speakers are under no obligation to answer a question put under clause 4.15. Answers by the speaker to each question are to be limited to two minutes.
4.17 Speakers at meetings cannot ask questions of the council, councillors or council staff.
4.18 The general manager or their nominee may, with the concurrence of the chairperson, address the council for up to two minutes in response to an address to the council, after the address and any subsequent questions and answers have been finalised.
4.19 Where an address made at a meeting 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 matter.
4.20 When addressing the council, speakers at meetings 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. Speakers must refrain from making any insult, allegation or personal reflection against any person, present or not, at the meeting. This requirement relates to both the address to Council and to any answers given in response to questions from Councillors under Clause 4.15.
4.21 If the chairperson considers that a speaker at a meeting has engaged in conduct of the type referred to in clause 4.20, 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.
4.22 Clause 4.21 does not limit the ability of the chairperson to deal with disorderly conduct by speakers at meetings in accordance with the provisions of Part 15 of this code.
4.23 Where a speaker engages in conduct of the type referred to in clause 4.20, the general manager or their delegate may refuse further applications from that person to speak at meetings for such a period as the general manager or their delegate considers appropriate.