Due to the current COVID-19 restrictions and guidelines, Council and DSSC meetings do not support public attendance, due to physical distancing measures. Members of the public who would like to ask questions to the Council, that would normally have been heard during the Public Question Time section of the meeting agenda, are advised to provide their question on notice to the General Manager by 3.00pm on the day of the advertised Council meeting. Any questions received from the public will be read out by the General Manager at the meeting and a response provided following the meeting.
The Council will return to its previous Public Question Time process, once there has been an easing of restrictions around physical distancing.
The Council welcomes questions from the public which may be asked in Public Question Time at each ordinary meeting.
Questions may also be asked in writing. Written questions must be received at least seven days before the meeting to which they are directed; i.e. on the Friday-week prior to a meeting scheduled on a Monday.
Any written answer or summary of that answer to a question is recorded in the minutes of the meeting at which it is asked.
The following regulations and procedures apply to Public Question Time:
Regulation 31 of the Local Government (Meeting Procedures) Regulations 2015 provides as follows:
“(1) A member of the public may give written notice to the general manager at least 7 days before an ordinary council of a
question to be asked at that meeting.
(2) The chairperson of an ordinary council meeting may –
(a) address questions on notice submitted by members of the public; and
(b) invite any member of the public present at the meeting to ask questions relating to the activities of the council.
(3) The chairperson of an ordinary council meeting must ensure that, if required, at least 15 minutes of that meeting is made available for questions by members of the public.
(4) A question by any member of the public under this regulation and an answer to that question are not to be debated at the ordinary council meeting.
(5) The chairperson of an ordinary council meeting may –
(a) refuse to accept a question from a member of the public; or
(b) require a question from a member of the public asked without notice to be put on notice and in writing to be answered at a later ordinary council meeting.
(6) If the chairperson of an ordinary council meeting refuses to accept a question from a member of the public, the chairperson is to give reasons for doing so.
(7) A council is to determine any other procedures to be followed in respect of public question time at an ordinary council meeting.
(8) The period referred to in subregulation (1) includes Saturdays, Sundays and statutory holidays, but does not include –
(a) the day on which notice is given under that subregulation; and
(b) the day of the ordinary council meeting.”
Regulation 32(1) provides (in part) as follows:
“(1) the general manager is to ensure that the minutes of a meeting accurately record the following matters:
(g) any question asked and put in writing during the period referred to in regulation 31(3) and any written answer
or summary of that answer to that question;
(h) any questions asked, without notice, by a member of the public and a summary of any answer given in response;”
As provided by Regulation 31(7), the Council has determined other procedures to be followed. These are:
1. A period of not more than 30 minutes is to be set aside for public question time.
2. Public question time is to commence at 6.40pm or as soon as practicable thereafter.
3. If there are no questions from the public or if all questions have been answered before the allocated 30 minutes has expired, the chairperson is to resume the meeting at the item of business being dealt with when public question time commenced.
4. Upon resumption, the chairperson is to inform the public present, and any new member of the public who attends from then until 30 minutes after public question time commenced, that questions may still be asked until the conclusion of that 30-minute period.
5. Each member of the public may not ask not more than two questions at each meeting, including any questions for which written notice has been previously given.
6. All questions are to be directed to the chairperson who may invite another Councillor or employee of the Council to respond.
7. Councillors, other than the chairperson, and employees of the Council are not to engage in dialogue with a member of the public at public question time unless invited to do so by the chairperson.
8. A member of the public, before asking a question, is to identify himself or herself and, if it is not possible for an answer to be provided to a question at the meeting, a written answer to the person asking the question is to be provided subsequent to the meeting.
9. If an item on the meeting agenda has not been dealt with prior to public question time, questions about that item are not to be taken for the reason that a response at that time could compromise the Council’s subsequent consideration of that item.
10. Public statements (as opposed to questions) are not to be accepted for the reason that statements could be considered to be a form of participation in debate.”