I’m on a quest to visit every local government council meeting in the Perth metropolitan area. There are 29. On each expedition I will write about what I find.
The fourth expedition on my quest was the City of Armadale
The latest – City of Armadale – 560 sq kms Population: 98K Revenue: $136m Staff: 438
14 councillors. Mayor elected by the council. 14 people in the public gallery. Meeting lasted 1 hour and 21 minutes.
A very formal opening to the meeting with the Mayor being announced and everyone standing as she entered the council chamber – it set the scene well.
A new councillor was sworn in and the way it was done added a very professional element to the meeting. Congratulations Cr John Keogh.
The Mayor was very friendly, welcoming, concise and efficient. She moved through the agenda swiftly and in a very business like manner.
There was an interesting question raised about when a person is a councillor – upon election (councillor elect) or upon taking the oath. The staff, rightly in my opinion, advised that a person is not a councillor until they have taken the oath. The term “councillor elect” does not appear in the Local Government Act and so the Mayor correctly ruled on that issue.
No comment was made about the meeting being recorded and whether it would become a public record. The meeting was not live streamed for people unable to attend which surprised me.
The meeting ran well until a councillor wished to amend (change) an aspect of the officer’s recommendation. Here the meeting lost its way a little because of procedural issues.
The motion to change the recommendation was referred to as an amendment. That’s where the confusion started – he was not moving an amendment – he was moving a substantive motion to alter a recommendation.
The mover spoke at length before a seconder was called. In my experience it is wise to call for a seconder to measure support, then allow the mover and seconder to speak in favour of their motion.
An amendment was then moved and that’s when the meeting lost a bit of clarity because it was not clear that there was a substantive motion to (amend) the recommendation, and now there was an amendment to the substantive motion. It was just terminology.
In most councils, if a councillor wishes to change a recommendation, he or she moves an “alternate motion”. The use of the word “amendment” is what confused everyone last night – except the Executive Director of Corporate Services who gave concise and accurate advice to the meeting on more than one occasion.
Overall, did the meeting achieve its purpose? Yes it did. But the confusion among councillors on procedure around the amendment had people in the public gallery bemused.
Tightening up procedures and voting would be my strongest recommendation to Armadale. But having said all that, the mayor and all councillors were polite and respectful and made a good body of people.