Guidelines for addressing a public forum

Council actively encourages participation of residents in the decision-making process and is happy to hear from people regarding matters listed in the business paper. Speakers addressing the Council via the public forum must conduct themselves in an appropriate manner in accordance with Council’s Code of Meeting Practice. The Code is available to view on the Council’s website (Procedure 5.1.4 - Code of Meeting Practice), at the Kempsey Library, and upon request from the Customer Service Centre.

Note: Section 4 Public Forum

Council may hold a public forum prior to each ordinary meeting for the purpose of hearing addresses from members of the public about items on the business agenda. Public forums may also be held prior to extraordinary Council meetings and meetings of committees of Council.

To request to speak at a public forum, a person must apply to Council via the online form. Applications to speak at the public forum must be received by midday on the Friday prior to the forum. The speaker must identify the item of business on the Council meeting agenda they wish to address and whether they are ‘for’ or ‘against’ the item. Applications to speak on matters not on the Council meeting agenda will not be accepted.

The General Manager, or their delegate, may refuse an application to speak at a public forum. If they do so, then they must provide reasons in writing to the applicant.

A person may apply to speak on no more than two (2) items of business on the agenda of the Council meeting.

Only one (1) speaker will be permitted to speak ‘for’ or ‘against’ each item of business on the agenda.

Priority will be given to:

  • People who have not addressed the public forum in relation to the same item previously
  • Applications that are complete, including providing a summary of the intended submission
  • Applications that allow Council to hear a broad range of views on the relevant item of business

Each speaker will be allowed five (5) minutes to address the Council. This time will be strictly enforced by the chairperson.

A Councillor may ask questions of a speaker following their address at a public forum. Questions put to a speaker must be direct, succinct and without argument. Speakers are under no obligation to answer any question. Answers by the speaker to each question are to be limited to one (1) minute.

Speakers at public forums cannot ask questions of the Councillors or Council staff.

When addressing the Council, speakers at public forums must comply with Council’s Code of Meeting Practice 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.

The General Manager, or their nominee, may, with the concurrence of the chairperson, address the Council for up to five (5) minutes in response to an address to the Council at a public forum. This must occur after the address and once any subsequent questions and answers of the speaker have been finalised.

Members of the public granted permission to speak at the public forum will be expected to arrive at the Council Civic Centre, corner Elbow and Tozer Streets, West Kempsey no later than 4:15pm. Alternatively, if you decide that you no longer wish to make an address, please notify Council by phone or e-mail as soon as possible.

Council will allow members of the public to address Council meetings on issues which are not on the agenda. This will be subject to priority being given to speakers on agenda items, a summary being provided to the General Manager two working days before the meeting and speakers being refused if they have already spoken on a matter to a previous Council meeting.

Respondents and objectors, or other interested parties are given the opportunity to address Council on any issue contained within the Business Paper to a maximum of one speaker “For” and/or one speaker “Against”. Public Forum speakers are given up to a maximum of five minutes speaking time each. Councillors will have the opportunity to ask you questions if they wish, you do not have the opportunity to ask Councillors questions.

All proponents and respondents wishing to speak at the meeting must make application, by completing, signing and lodging the form Application to address a Council Meeting, prior to addressing the meeting, either electronically, by hand or mail no later than close of business (4:30pm) the day before the meeting. The Mayor may grant permission to address Council and the applicant will be notified prior to the meeting.

If you have been granted permission to address Council in the Public Forum you will be expected to arrive at the Council Civic Centre, corner Elbow and Tozer Streets, West Kempsey on the morning of the meeting no later than 8:45am. Alternatively if you decide that you no longer wish to address Council please notify by phone as soon as possible. As a rule Council meetings are held on the third Tuesday of each month and start at 9:00am sharp. If meetings are changed alternative dates are widely advertised.

Presentation of written material

If you have material such as written statements, drawings or photographs that you believe substantiate your view and wish to have them distributed to Councillors, please provide fourteen (14) copies to Council’s Governance section by midday the Friday prior to the public forum. This material is to be viewed and subsequently approved by the General Manager prior to distribution on the day.

Electronic information

Any person who wishes to make an electronic presentation must attach such materials to their application. This material is to be viewed and approved by the General Manager prior to display at the public forum.

Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act

The details provided in this application form may contain personal information that identifies you under the provisions of the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998.

The purpose of collecting this information is to enable the Council to maintain a record of those people who wish to address a public forum and to highlight the relevant provisions relating to the conduct of a meeting as contained in Council’s Code of Meeting Practice. The information may also be made available to other parties in accordance with the relevant regulations and requirements under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009.

The submission of personal information with your application is required under Council’s Code of Meeting Practice if you wish to address the public forum.

The information will be stored in Council’s records systems and published on Council’s website.