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Alan of New South Wales has asked this question and mentioned that a member of his group has pointed out that Robert’s Rules may not be legal in Australia.

The legality is not the issue so much as the appropriateness of Robert’s Rules for Australia and New Zealand.

Robert’s Rules are in a book whose full title is “Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised – 10th Edition”. It is often referred to as “RONR”. It is a 700 page book and covers aspects of meetings in minute detail. The level of detail covered is such that in 30 years of consulting in Australia and New Zealand and Singapore, I have very rarely come across meetings that require the level of procedural detail which Robert’s uses.

I am conversant with the content of Robert’s Rules as a member of the American Institute of Parliamentarians (AIP) which teaches Robert’s Rules together with other American authorities. I attend workshops in the United States every couple of years to update my knowledge.

Robert’s is a great book for North American meetings. The terminology used is in many cases specifically North American and is never used in Australia, or more problematic, has a different meaning in Australia.

So while it is not illegal to use Robert’s Rules for meetings in Australia, it is inappropriate. There are much more appropriate books for Australia available such as the following:

General books on meeting procedure

Meeting Procedure Made Easy

By David Julian Price

Published by Cascade Publishing

Available at www.meetingsinstitute.com

Guide for Meetings and Organisations

By N.E. Renton

Published by the Law Book Company

Available at bookshops

Take the Chair

By David Price, Harold Luxton and Bill Smith

Published by Australian Rostrum

Available from Rostrum Western Australia

Books for Company Meetings

Company Meetings, What you need to know

By Greg Bateman

Published by Butterworths

Available at bookshops

Books for more legal and technical information

Joske’s Law and Procedure at Meetings in Australia

By Eilis S Magner

Published by The Law Book Company

Available in bookshops

Horsley’s Meetings. Procedure, Law and Practice

By A.D. Lang

Published by Butterworths

Available in bookshops

Please Note: The author accepts no responsibility for anything which occurs directly or indirectly as a result of using any of the suggestions or procedures detailed in this blog. All suggestions and procedures are provided in good faith as general guidelines only and should be used in conjunction with relevant legislation, constitutions, rules, laws, by-laws, and with reasonable judgement.

4 Responses

  1. > The terminology used is in many cases specifically North American and is never used in Australia,…

    Proper terminology exists in very few places on Earth. As soon as Australians, and everyone else for that matter, adopts proper terminology the problem disappears.

    Regards, Randyl Plampin

    1. Hello Randy
      It’s not about proper terminology, it’s about different terminology.
      What is proper in one country may be very different in another country, or even another culture in the same country.

    1. The appropriateness is around the terminology. Robert’s is a fine book but uses vocabulary and terminology that is not used in Australia. I suggest therefore that to use the terminology in Australia would be confusing.
      For instance:
      In Australia we say move a motion. In RONR they say make a motion
      In Australia we close a meeting. In RONR they adjourn a meeting. In Australia has a different meaning.
      In Australia we say a Point of Order is accepted or rejected. In RONR they say a point of order is well taken or not well taken.
      In Australia we do not use the terms privileged or subsidiary motions.
      The method of using certain motions is different in the two countries. For example – The Previous Question.

      These are just some examples.
      So I am not for a minute suggesting RONR is not a good authority. I am simply saying that it’s terminology is different and so it is better to use authorities where the terminology is consistent with the culture and customs of the country in which th meeting is being held.

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