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A question has been received from John of Ballajura in WA.

We had a person who is unfinancial but used to be a member attend one of our meetings. The president let him speak but would not count his vote. What should the president have done? He has not been a member for a year and he acknowledged that he was no longer a member.

Since the person acknowledged that he was no longer a member, that clears up one issue – whether he was financial or not.

Technically, the president could have asked him to leave the meeting but in reality. most people would not do that, especially if it is the custom for the meetings to be “open” to visitors, members of the public, prospective members etc.

So having him there was probably not a problem.

The question is really twofold – should he have been allowed to speak, and should he be allowed to vote.

The second question is easy – he does not get a vote.

Whether he can speak is really up to the president, and ultimately the meeting. If he was constructive and courteous and reasonable when he spoke, most presidents would let him speak. If he was not, then the president can certainly deny him the right to speak.

If it is a controversial issue, then that potentially open the proverbial “can of worms”. It may be wise to let him speak, thereby dismissing the criticism that he was “silenced”. But, he may have views which are not held by the mainstream membership and letting him speak may inflame the situation.

It’s a judgement call and that’s why presidents and people who chair meetings need knowledge but much more important, wisdom.


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. This is not, and should be taken as legal advice. 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. If you are in any doubt, seek appropriate advice.

4 thoughts on “What can an unfinancial member do at a meeting?

  1. I work for a not for profit organization as a paid employee. I asked to see the copies of the minutes of a committee meeting. Am I able to view the minutes of the committee meeting. the company has refused to allow me to see the minuites which I feel have been predjudiced,

    • Tricky.
      If you are a “member” then you have the right to see them.
      If you are an employee then that is different.
      If you believe that you have a grievance issue, then you should probably seek legal advice and/or follow your organisations grievance procedures.
      I hope that helps

  2. Can an non-member (outsider, family member of secretary) take minutes on behalf of the secretary at an AGM?

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