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Electronic submissions so community can participate in council meetings start in Baw Baw Shire
Community members will now have the option to make virtual submissions to council under new Governance Rules adopted by Baw Baw Shire Council.
Council's Governance Rules provide guidance on the participation of the mayor, councillors, council staff, and members of the community in council meetings. Over the course of COVID-19 pandemic, temporary measures were introduced to the Local Government Act 2020 to allow councillors to participate in council meetings virtually.
Baw Baw Council introduces electronic or virtual submissions for members of the community to participate in the council meetings
As a result of subsequent legislative changes and the conclusion of these temporary COVID-19 measures, all Victorian councils were required to amend their Governance Rules to incorporate procedures for councillors to attend meetings electronically.
To improve accessibility, Baw Baw Shire Council has also introduced provisions for members of the community to participate via electronic means. To ensure the updated Rules align with community values and transparency, feedback was sought on the Rules between 29 July and 19 August this year.
Governance rules changes
With guidance from the community, the following changes have been incorporated into Baw Baw Shire's governance rules:
- Councillors will be able to attend meetings in-person or virtually
- Community members addressing the council will be able to attend in-person or virtually
- Time frames added for responses to Notice of Motion and General Business Motions.
- An Alternate Motion should be circulated more than 24 hours prior to a council meeting
- The chair may require a councillor to withdraw any remark which is considered defamatory, indecent, abusive, offensive, disorderly, or objectionable
- Binary language has been removed throughout the document
- Removal of references to the 2020 election in the Election Period Policy
A number of clarifying changes recommended by Maddocks Lawyers to:
- Make it clear that the Mayor can only be elected with an absolute majority of votes
- Reflect the repeal of certain provisions in the Local Government Act 1989
- Record whether disclosed Conflicts of Interest are material or general in nature
To view council's governance rules, go to A-Z Policies and Documents page.
Participating in council meetings
Mayor Cr Michael Leaney said, "Thank you to our community for their feedback on this important policy. With community feedback in mind, we've updated our Governance Rules to ensure council is moving with the times and maintaining the best interests of the community throughout all council procedures."
Deputy Mayor Cr Annemarie McCabe said, "Council's Governance Rules will now enable community members to participate in council meetings remotely on application, removing barriers to participation that some people may have faced in terms of caring responsibilities or limited access to transport."
"Community submissions are an important part of the democratic process and I encourage everyone to participate in council meetings and have their say on items on the agenda - whether by attending in person, writing a submission, or now participating online." Ms McCabe said.
Updating governance rules
Cr Joe Gauci said, "In line with the changes to the Local Government Act 2020 as well as Covid-19 factors, there's been many changes to local government structures, and as a council we need to keep up to speed with this. We've updated our Governance Rules to reflect these changes and the document is made public on council's website for our community to view."
Pictures from Baw Baw Shire Council website.
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