From the Newsroom

New CVC meeting procedure explained

Geoff Helisma

New Clarence Valley Council (CVC) mayor, Ian Tiley, has initiated and gained unanimous support to make significant changes to how the organisation conducts its monthly ordinary council meetings (OCM).

As a result, a long list of local policy modifications of CVC’s code of meeting practice was outlined in the minutes of the January 20 extraordinary CVC meeting, which recommended the changes – subsequently, the code of meeting practice was exhibited for 28 days(expired on March 7, however, submissions can still be made until tomorrow March 17).

For example, some local meeting policy clauses put in place by previous councils have been removed from the draft code of meeting practice and new clauses have been added.

The February meeting was completed in two hours, with 21 of 33 agenda items adopted by consent; several of 12 remaining items were the subject of questions, but no debate, and others were called due councillors declaring an interest in an item and leaving the meeting.

The Independent spoke with the mayor about the changes.

GH: You’ve made significant changes to CVC’s monthly meeting process, and some people perceive that they are being shortchanged as a result of fewer than expected items being debated and/or less being said during debate and questions. Can you explain the new method to residents and how it is a better system than the one it replaced?

IT: Well, it’s a method that the council adopted at an extraordinary meeting in January, and it’s designed to enable us to focus debate on those matters where there are differences of opinion. It just happened with the February ordinary council meeting that, probably, on 20 items, we all agreed on.

There was no need to debate. So, what’s the point in filibustering and extending the meeting on matters where we all agree? We focused on and debated the other items, and I believe that makes for better decision making.

GH: During the meeting, did I hear you say that preprepared motions, amendments and questions were no longer appropriate?

IT: You did. There’s been a practice here in the past of getting in early; a councillor who has a matter to raise should put a notice of motion and introduce that notice of motion in the meeting. If they wish to change the motion, that’s fine in the meeting.

But they used to queue up here to try and get in first, and that’s not a good way to run a council meeting. So, yes, that’s changing.