Ordinary Council

Late Reports

Business Paper

 

date of meeting:

 

Wednesday 18 October 2017

location:

 

Laurieton School of Arts Hall

Cnr Bold & Laurie Streets

Laurieton

time:

 

5.30pm

 


Community Vision                                  A sustainable high quality of life for all

 

 

 

 

Community Mission                               Building the future together

                                                                  People Place Health Education Technology

 

 

 

 

Council’s Corporate Values                  é   Sustainability

                                                                  é   Excellence in Service Delivery

                                                                  é   Consultation and Communication

                                                                  é   Openness and Accountability

                                                                  é   Community Advocacy

 

 

 

 

Community Themes                               é  Leadership and Governance

                                                                  é  Your Community Life

                                                                  é  Your Business and Industry

                                                                  é  Your Natural and Built Environment

 


How Members of the Public Can Have Their Say at Council Meetings

Council has a commitment to providing members of the public with an input into Council's decision making.  The Council's Code of Meeting Practice provides two (2) avenues for members of the public to address Council on issues of interest or concern at the Ordinary Council Meeting.   These are:

·           Addressing Council on an Agenda Item (if the matter is listed in the Council Business Paper)

·           Addressing Council in the Public Forum (if the matter is not listed in the Council Business Paper)

 

You can request to address Council by completing the:

·           Request to Speak on an Agenda Item’ form

·           Request to Speak in the Public Forum’ form

 

These can be obtained from Council’s Offices at Laurieton, Port Macquarie and Wauchope or by downloading it from Council’s website.

 

Requests can also be lodged on-line at:

http://www.pmhc.nsw.gov.au/About-Us/How-Council-Works/Council-Committee-Meetings/Request-to-speak-on-an-Agenda-Item

 

http://www.pmhc.nsw.gov.au/About-Us/How-Council-Works/Council-and-Committee-Meetings/Request-to-speak-in-a-Public-Forum

 

Your request to address Council must be received by Council no later than 4:30pm on the day prior to the Council Meeting.

 

·           Council will permit no more than two (2) speakers ‘in support of’ and two (2) speakers ‘in opposition to’ the recommendation on any one (1) Agenda Item.

·           A maximum of five (5) speakers will be heard in the Public Forum.

·           There is no automatic right under legislation for the public to participate in a Meeting of Council or a Committee of Council.

·           For a member of the public to be considered to address Council they must agree to strictly adhere to all relevant adopted Council Codes, Policies and Procedures at all times.

·           Consideration of items for which requests to address the Council Meeting have been received will commence at 5:30pm.

·           When your name is called, please proceed to the Council Table and address Council.

·           Each speaker will be allocated a maximum of five (5) minutes to address Council. This time is strictly enforced.

·           Councillors may ask questions of a speaker following an address.  Each answer, by the speaker to a question, is limited to two (2) minutes.  A speaker cannot ask questions of Council.

·           An Agenda Item will be debated by Council following the address.

·           Council will not determine any matter raised in the Public Forum session, however Council may resolve to call for a future report.

·           If you have any documentation to support your presentation, provide two (2) copies to Council by 12 noon on the day of the Meeting.

·           If a speaker has an audio visual presentation, a copy of the presentation is to be provided to Council by 12 noon on the day of the Meeting.

·           The following will not be considered in the Public Forum (in accordance with the Code of Meeting Practice, clause 2.14.14):

-         Proposed or current development and rezoning applications and related matters.

-         A third (3rd) or subsequent application by a single member of the public to address Council on the same issue in the same calendar year. Council, at its discretion, may elect to exempt representatives or members of community groups from this restriction.

-         Any formal procurement process, contract negotiation or dispute resolution being undertaken.

-         Any matter the General Manager (or their delegate) considers inappropriate for discussion in the Public Forum.

·           Council accepts no responsibility for any defamatory statements made by speakers.

·           Members of the public may quietly enter and leave the Meeting at any time.

 


Ordinary Council Meeting

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

 

Late Reports

 

Items of Business

 

Item       Subject                                                                                                      Page

 

Leadership and Governance........................................................................................... 5

09.13      Question from Previous Meeting - Sections 226(a) and (c) of the Local Government Act 1993     6      

 

 


Late Reports                                                                          Ordinary Council

18/10/2017









 

 

What we are trying to achieve

A community that works together in decision making that is defined as ethically, socially and environmentally responsible.

What the result will be

 

We will have:

              A community that has the opportunity to be involved in decision making

              Open, easy, meaningful, regular and diverse communication between the community and decision makers

              Partnerships and collaborative projects, that meet the community’s expectations, needs and challenges

              Knowledgeable, skilled and connected community leaders

              Strong corporate management that is transparent

 

How we will get there

 

1.1          Inform and engage with the community about what Council does using varied communication channels

1.2          Maintain strong partnerships between all stakeholders - local, state and federal — so that they are affective advocates for the community

1.3          Demonstrate leadership

1.4          Use innovative, efficient and sustainable practices

1.5          Ensure strong corporate and financial management that is transparent and accountable

 


Late Reports                                                                  Ordinary Council

18/10/2017

 

 

Item:          09.13

 

Subject:     Question from Previous Meeting - Sections 226(a) and (c) of the Local Government Act 1993

Presented by:  General Manager, Craig Swift-McNair

 

 

 

 

 

RECOMMENDATION

 

That Council note the information provided regarding Sections 226(a) and (c) of the NSW Local Government Act 1993.

 

Question from Councillor Levido

 

Could the General Manager advise the practical application of Sections 226(a) and (c) of the Local Government Act 1993 in so far as they relate to Port Macquarie-Hastings Council?

 

Comments by Councillor (if provided)

 

Nil.

 

Response

 

Section 226 of the NSW Local Government Act 1993 (the Act) reads as follows:

 

226 ROLE OF MAYOR

 

The role of the mayor is as follows:

(a)     to be the leader of the council and a leader in the local community,

(b)     to advance community cohesion and promote civic awareness,

(c)     to be the principal member and spokesperson of the governing body, including representing the views of the council as to its local priorities,

(d)     to exercise, in cases of necessity, the policy-making functions of the governing body of the council between meetings of the council,

(e)     to preside at meetings of the council,

(f)      to ensure that meetings of the council are conducted efficiently, effectively and in accordance with this Act,

(g)     to ensure the timely development and adoption of the strategic plans, programs and policies of the council,

(h)     to promote the effective and consistent implementation of the strategic plans, programs and policies of the council,

(i)      to promote partnerships between the council and key stakeholders,

(j)      to advise, consult with and provide strategic direction to the general manager in relation to the implementation of the strategic plans and policies of the council,

(k)     in conjunction with the general manager, to ensure adequate opportunities and mechanisms for engagement between the council and the local community,

(l)      to carry out the civic and ceremonial functions of the mayoral office,

(m)    to represent the council on regional organisations and at inter-governmental forums at regional, State and Commonwealth level,

(n) in consultation with the councillors, to lead performance appraisals of the general manager,

(o) to exercise any other functions of the council that the council determines.

 

The question from Councillor Levido specifically relates to Section 226 (a) and Section 226 (c), shown separately below:

 

The role of the mayor is as follows:

(a)     to be the leader of the council and a leader in the local community,

 

(c)     to be the principal member and spokesperson of the governing body, including representing the views of the council as to its local priorities.

 

For context, the Act was amended to include sections 226 (a) and (c) and is silent on what they mean. As the amending Act was assented to on 30 August 2016, there is no common law at this stage to assist in our understanding of it.

 

Any relevant and adopted Council policies may impact how these sections of the Act are applied. To this end, Council’s Media Relations policy (the Policy) impacts upon the interpretation of Sections 226 (a) and (c). A copy of the Policy is attached to this report for information.

 

Discussion

 

Sections 226(a) and (c) of the Act provide that the role of the Mayor is:

 

(a)     to be the leader of the council and a leader in the local community;

 

(c)     to be the principal member and spokesperson of the governing body, including representing the views of the council as to its local priorities.

 

Subsection (a) offers two roles for the Mayor: to be the leader of the council and a leader in the local community. The legislature’s choice of the italicised ‘of’ and ‘in’ in these sections of the Act is notable i.e. ‘of’ is employed when the role is to lead the Council and ‘in’ is chosen when dealing with leading the community.

 

The choice of ‘in’ over the other possible options indicate that the Mayor is part of the local community, not separate from it. Whereas using ‘of’ in regards to leading the Council suggests that while the Mayor is part of the Council, that role is also somewhat disassociated from it. This interpretation is supported by the statutory role of the Mayor regarding the executive power, where the Mayor can act as though she or he was the Council in limited circumstances, for example.

 

In summary, subsection (a) may be interpreted to say that the role of Mayor is to rule as the head of the Council (as Chair of Council Meetings or as official over citizenship ceremonies, for example) and to guide and inspire the general public living within the Port Macquarie-Hasting Council Local Government Area (LGA), as the public face of Council.

 

Subsection (c) provides that the role of Mayor is to be the principal member and

spokesperson of the governing body, including representing the views of the council as to its local priorities. The use of the word ‘including’ indicates that representing the views of the Council is one of a number of roles that comprise being the principal member and spokesperson of the governing body.

 

An interpretation of subsection (c) is that the role of Mayor is to be the person primarily responsible for speaking on behalf of Council, including to act as the agent for Council’s views regarding its local functions.

 

Further to the above, the role of Mayor to speak on behalf of Council is not able to be assigned to another person. This is because this subsection allocates this function to the Mayor as the ‘principal member’.

 

Further again, when acting as spokesperson, the Mayor is not to impose personal views as though they were views of the governing body. This is because the subsection deals with representing the views of the Council, not of an individual. An example of this might be as follows:

 

-     If a policy is presented before Council for adoption and the Mayor has voted against adoption of the policy, yet the majority of Councillors voted for adoption of the policy, then as the spokesperson for Council, the Mayor must support the formal adoption of the policy as they are not able to impose their individual views, but must represent the views of the governing body.

 

Or

 

-     A resolution is passed by the majority of Councillors to not spend funds on a particular project or activity, where the Mayor has voted in support of such expenditure. As per the example provided above, as the spokesperson for Council, the Mayor must support the formal resolution of Council as they are not able to impose their individual views, but must represent the views of the governing body.

 

With regards to constraints that might come from subsection (c) and as stated above, when acting as spokesperson, the Mayor is not to impose personal views as though they were views of the governing body. This is due to the fact that this subsection deals with representing the roles of the Council, not the individual.

 

With regard to the above-mentioned Council adopted Media Relations policy, even though this policy was adopted prior to the commencement of the sections of the Act in question (being Sections 226 (a) & (c)), the fact that the policy has not been rescinded, amended or replaced means it is still in place and it specifically states that it applies to ‘…all Councillors (including the Mayor)’ (see Clause 3 of the policy) for the purpose of ‘…promoting a positive, progressive and professional public image of

Council and staff’ (see Clause 1 of the policy).

 

Part 1 of the policy provides that ‘The Mayor shall at all times be spokesperson for the Council on matters of Council Policy, interpretation of Policy or actions which may commit the Council’s resources to any purpose…Councillors have a right to express their own personal opinion and will ensure that any opinion expressed is acknowledged as being their own personal opinion and not that of Council.

Councillors will provide the full wording and context of any Council decision to the media if the Councillor elects to comment.

 

The General Manager will be the spokesperson on operational matters and may authorise Directors, Group Managers or specialist Council staff to speak to the media.

 

Authorised Council spokespersons will:

-     Have regard for the Council Code of Conduct when making statements to the media, and shall show respect to members of the public and colleagues in their comments and not misrepresent the Council.

-     Avoid providing information ‘off the record’ during media interviews. It is best to assume that anything said to a media representative may be published.

 

When appropriate a member of Council staff may become the sole spokesperson on a specific issue, event or initiative within their operational responsibility, to ensure consistency of message.’

 

Whilst trying not to repeat the entire Policy here, another relevant provision can be found in Clause 3.1 of the Policy and provides that Any deviation by a Councillor to this Policy or associated procedures may constitute a breach of the Code of Conduct and appropriate action will be taken.’

 

In consideration of the Policy, it would be prudent for all Councillors (including the Mayor) to become fully versed with the Media Relations Policy so as not to breach the Code of Conduct.

 

In light of the above, the simple answer to the question posed by Councillor Levido is that application of Section 226 (a) and (c) of the Act is no different for Port Macquarie-Hastings Council as it is for any other Council in New South Wales (NSW), noting that Council does have in place the Media Relations policy which must also be taken into consideration when dealing with these sections of the Act.

 

For clarification, as the Mayor is the ‘principal member’ and therefore the spokesperson for Council, the Mayor is not able to impose personal views as though they were the views of the Council, but must represent the views of the Council as to its local priorities.

 

Attachments

 

1View. Media Relations Policy 2012