Northern Star Weekly
10 April 2018
Whittlesea council is set to “tighten” its laws in a bid to ensure meetings run more smoothly.
The council is proposing a number of amendments to its Procedural Matter Local Laws number one, which governs conduct at council meetings.
Among the changes, chief executive Simon Overland will have the power to reject petitions that are “not well-founded”, and will be able to reject notices of motions raised by councillors which he considers to be invalid.
Councillors will be required to submit their notices of motions 14 days before council meetings, up from seven days, and will need to submit any rescission motions within three business days of a council meeting.
Currently, councillors have until the next council meeting to submit a rescission motion.
Residents will have until 3pm on the day of a council meeting to submit questions to councillors.
Currently, questions can submitted up until the start of a council meeting.
Councillor Tom Joseph said he believed the local laws needed to be tightened.
He said he felt that in the five months since he was elected, certain councillors had been making a mockery of the council’s meeting procedures.
Councillor Lawrie Cox said the changes would help avoid delays to meetings, which often resulted in finishing after midnight.
However, councillor Ricky Kirkham felt the changes had not gone far enough, urging his colleagues to employ a facilitator to review the laws.
He said meeting procedures had been used as “weapons” in recent times.
“If we look back at how the council has been administered in recent months, there has been good and bad,” he said.
“There will be more division, more dysfunction and more chaos.”
Councillor Mary Lalios said she had concerns about the amount of power being given to Mr Overland, believing he should not have the ability to reject petitions.
“Petitions are the will of the people. To even consider something like this is quite offending,” she said.
Residents can have their say on the changes until May 8.