Speak at a Public Forum guidelines

Any member of the public can request to address the Council on any matter on the agenda of the Ordinary Council Meeting at the Public Forum held on the day of the Ordinary Council Meeting.

Important Update Relating to Public Forums

Due to the COVID 19 situation and social distancing/self-isolation requirements, the ability to physically address Council at a Council Meeting will be unavailable until further notice.

In the interim, if you would like to make a written submission to Council in relation to an item in the Council Business Paper, please email your submission to DL.Corporatesupport@midcoast.nsw.gov.au, with the title ‘Submission for Council Meeting’. Please note that submissions must be received no later than 12.00 noon on the day prior to the Council Meeting.

Your submission will be circulated to Councillors and Senior Staff for their consideration prior to the commencement of the Council Meeting. 

How does the Public Forum operate?

Council will hold a Public Forum on the day of the Ordinary Meeting of Council immediately following the Open forum or at 10am (whichever is the latter). 

The forum will be chaired by the Mayor or his or her delegate.

Councillors may ask questions of the speaker following their address.

How can the public address the Forum?

Members of the public can apply to address Council on any item that is on the agenda of the Ordinary Meeting. A person may apply to speak on no more than 2 items of business at a public forum.

Speakers must be approved by the Mayor. All requests for consideration need to be submitted by 12 noon on the day prior to the public forum using the Request to Speak at a Public Forum form.

Tips for making a presentation to Council

The following guidelines will help in preparing a presentation:

  • Complete the Speak at a Public Forum request form and confirm you have read these Speaking at a Public Forum guidelines and will abide by the Guidelines. Approved speakers will need to advise the Executive Assistant on arrival of their presence and then proceed to the gallery in the Council Chambers.

  • Consider whether you have a matter that needs to be declared (if you are speaking about a development application, the law requires you to declare any political donations that have been made to Councillors within the past two years. Forms are available from Council).

  • Keep your address brief and to the point. Speakers are allowed a maximum of three (3) minutes. If you are not used to public speaking, you may want to practice beforehand to see how you go for time.

  • Follow the directions of the Mayor. The Mayor (Chairperson) has the ultimate say on who can address and will let you know when it is your turn to speak.

  • Show courtesy to other speakers. Do not disrupt or interject when other people are making their addresses.

Provision of PowerPoint presentations and written material

PowerPoint presentations and written material are permitted at public forums.

Should you wish to utilise these materials in your presentation/address you must provide the material to the Executive Assistant 2 days prior to the meeting

  • This is to ensure that PowerPoint presentations, spreadsheets, etc. are compatible with Councils system to ensure they function correctly on the day.

  • If you are supplying written information you will need to supply at least 15 copies of the material so it can be distributed to Councillors and staff.

Protocols

There are certain protocols that apply to a public forum. The correct procedures are:

  • You may only speak when the Mayor (Chairperson) invites you to do so.

  • When invited to speak, please come forward and using the microphone provided state your name and the matter you wish to speak to. You may stand or sit, whichever is more comfortable for you.

  • Speakers are not permitted to ask questions of Council, Councillors or staff.

  • Whilst the forum is not recorded or minuted it is a public meeting and as such speakers should avoid divulging personal or private information.

  • Council will not make decisions regarding your address at the public forum. Matters raised that require the decision of Council will be considered at the Ordinary Council Meeting.

  • Additional rules/guidelines regarding public forums can be found in Part Four of Council’s adopted Code of Meeting Practice(PDF, 2MB) PDF.

Speaking in public

It is important to remember that if you say anything offensive or defamatory at the meeting about another person you may leave yourself open to legal action.

Making a Request to Address Council

 Approval to speak will be granted or denied based on a range of factors including but not limited to:

  • The nature of the item
  • Legislative provisions that may inhibit your request being fulfilled
  • The number of requests to speak