The video below is a recording of the Webinar that ran on Thursday, 19 April 2018. It focused on the following key areas:

  • Knowing how to apply the rules of the meeting - Meeting Procedures Local Law (aka Standing Orders);
  • Keeping order and setting the tone of the meeting;
  • How to be a  leader to the meeting and  servant of the meeting;
  • Being impartial;
  • Processing the business through the meeting;
  • Dealing with motions and amendments; and
  • Managing points of order and procedural motions

Video Recording

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Video Download

To download the webinar video for offline playback click here.

Presentation Download

To download the PowerPoint presentation from this webinar please click here.

Question and Answer Session

The following are a range of questions asked during and after the Presiding over Meetings webinar held by WALGA on Thursday, 19 April 2018:

Question 1

Please clarify what interruption is allowable during debate?

A Council Member may only interrupt a debate to propose an amendment motion, raise a point of order or a procedural motion.
Interrupting debate for any other reason would therefore result in a Point of Order of ‘No Interruption’ being raised.


Question 2

In Public Question Time, can a member of the public ask further questions after the reply is given? If so, how many ongoing questions can the member of the public ask?

Many Meeting Procedures Local Laws (including the WALGA template) include a process for Public Question Time that limits, in the first instance, a person to asking up to 2 questions. Regulations 5, 6 and 7 of the Local Government (Administration) Regulations 1996, prescribe the minimum procedures for Public Question Time.

Under Regulation 7(1), the Presiding Member may also implement procedures for the asking and responding to public questions. For example, some Local Government have implemented rules that provide an opportunity for the greatest number of members of the public to take advantage of question time, each person can be initially provided a maximum two minutes time limit in the first instance, in which to ask a maximum of two questions. Then, should there be time remaining in the initial Public Question Time period, after all members of the public have posed their initial two questions, the Presiding Member may allow members of the public to ask a further two questions (with a two minute time limit) until the period for Public Question Time has expired.

Whilst Regulation 6(1), requires a minimum of 15 minutes to be provided for Public Question Time, Council to decide (by resolution) to extend the time allocated for Public Question Time beyond the statutory minimum.

Question 3

Does a Mover of an amendment have the right of reply in debate?

This will depend upon your Local Government’s Meeting Procedures (Standing Orders) Local Law.

Question 4

Whose role is it to declare a conflict of interest?

It is always the role of the individual Elected Member to declare a financial, indirect financial, proximity or impartiality interest. A person cannot be compelled by others to make such a declaration, and is individually responsible for any consequence arising from a failure to declare a relevant interest.

Did you know? WALGA Training have developed a Conflicts of Interest eLearning course that looks at this area in depth.

Question 5

Can several motions which require an absolute majority be move ‘en bloc’?


The Local Government Act specifies requirements for an ‘Absolute Majority’ decision for matters which constitute the most important decisions undertaken by a Council. These decisions perhaps also carry the highest level of risk for a Local Government too. For example; adopting the budget or budget review, adopting a business plan for a major trading undertaking or a major land transaction, adopting a delegated authority or adopting a Local Law.

As such, these important, high risk decisions demand Council’s careful and specific consideration, which is demonstrated by the Council undertaking a separate decision making process for each specific ‘absolute majority’ decision resulting in the minutes recording that each matter has been passed by the required ‘absolute majority’.

Did you know? En Bloc voting can be used to provide efficiency in the meeting, where all members attending the meeting believe that a number of items, motions or recommendations can be determined without debate. A mover and seconder will propose a motion for example: “That the recommendations contained in Items (reports) A, B, F and G be adopted en bloc”. If this motion is passed by the meeting, then the recommendations contained within each of the Items (reports), are carried / adopted in full, without the need to deal with each item separately.

Question 6

Please explain what an 'Adverse Reflection Point of Order' is.

An ‘Adverse Reflection’ Point of Order would be made where a Council Member has made a statement which in reference to a Local Government Council Member, Employee, contractor:

  • Uses offensive or objectionable expressions; or
  • Implies:
    • an adverse opinion, i.e.: that the person is incompetent or dishonest; or
    • that the person was / is motivated by a particular thing, occurrence or objective, i.e.: the person only did this because…

Did you know? Adverse reflection statements have been the subject of minor breach allegations under the Local Government (Rules of Conduct) Regulations.

Question 7

Does chairman (Presiding Member) of meeting have both a vote and a casting vote and if so is there any obligations on him/her when doing this?

Yes. Section 5.21(3) of the Local Government Act 1995 prescribes that: (3) If the votes of members present at a council or a committee meeting are equally divided, the person presiding is to cast a second vote. The Presiding Member has complete discretion as to how they exercise this casting vote.

Question 8

Please explain the difference between Alternative Motion, Amendment motion and Foreshadow Motion.

Alternative Motion means a motion which is substantially different than the Officer Recommendation contained in the Agenda. A Council Member, who wishes to move an alternative motion, would ideally advise the Presiding Member of their intention before the meeting commences, and distribute this motion to fellow Council Members. Local Governments have the autonomy to determine how it deals with an alternative motion.

Amendment Motion means a motion moved in the course of debate of a substantive (primary) motion, which, if passed, has the effect of amending the substantive motion. The effect of any amendment must not negate the effect of the substantive (primary) motion, it should only enhance or amend the outcome.

Foreshadowed Motion is a proposal for an alternative course of action which is ‘floated’ during the course of debate of a substantive motion. It advises the meeting of an alternative idea that will only become a motion if the substantive motion under debate is lost. It is an effective tool that can influence how the substantive motion is ultimately determined by the meeting i.e. if the foreshadowed motion is considered a ‘better option’ by the majority of Council Members, it may result in the substantive motion being lost.

A Foreshadowed Motion is most often used where the idea has only become apparent during the course of debate OR where a Council Member was unable to move an Alternative Motion before the Officer Recommendation was ‘moved’ and ‘seconded’.

Question 9

If a presiding member needs to leave the meeting following declaration of interest (and the deputy presiding Member is also not present at the meeting), can the CEO take control of the meeting for that item?

In circumstances where the Presiding Member and Deputy Presiding Member are both absent from the meeting (including where they both may be required to leave the meeting due to a disclosed conflict of interest), then the Council [s.5.6(3)] or the Committee [s.5.14] is to choose from amongst its members one of the members present to preside over the meeting. The person so appointed may only preside for the meeting or the part of the meeting at which the Presiding Member or Deputy Presiding Member is unable to attend.

In accordance with the Local Government Act (Schedule 2.3), the only circumstance in which the CEO is able to preside at a Council or Committee Meeting is at the first meeting following a Local Government Election, for the purposes of conducting the election of the Mayor / President or the Committee Presiding Member. As soon as the election result has been declared by the CEO, the newly elected Mayor / President or Committee Presiding Member will assume the chair and preside over the balance of the meeting, including the election of the Deputy Mayor / President or Deputy Committee Presiding Member.

Question 10

If an Elected Member indicates first that they wish to move an Alternative Motion instead of the Officers Recommendation and then another Elected Member indicates, after the first person, they wish to move the Officer Recommendation - who should the presiding member choose to move their motion?

Bearing in mind our response to Question 8, it is good practice for Alternative Motions to be brought to the attention of the meeting in advance. When that does happen, the Presiding Member may use discretion to choose.

With this in mind, it is usual for the Presiding Member to ask the first person to move their Alternative Motion. If the motion is seconded, it is debated and either ‘lost’ or ‘carried’. The members are aware of and can consider the benefits, or otherwise, of the Officer Recommendation, when debating the Alternative Motion. If the motion is ‘lost’, then the Officer Recommendation can ‘moved’ by an Elected Member and if seconded, it is debated and either ‘lost’ or ‘carried’.

Question 11

Does WALGA have a guide on how to implement the Meeting Procedures Local Law and good meeting practices?

WALGA does not have a specific guide however, WALGA does provide a number of Training Courses, which will assist Elected Members and Officers in implementing good meeting practices:

Elected Member Training

  • Serving on Council
  • Meeting Procedures and Debating Officer Training
  • Preparing Agenda and Minutes

The Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries also provides A Guide to Council and Committee Meetings available on their website.

Question 12

When foreshadowing a motion is it necessary to outline the details of the proposed Foreshadowed motion prior to it possibly being required if the substantive motion is defeated?

Yes, but care is to be taken. When foreshadowing a motion, it is important that the context of the proposed alternative is made clear to the meeting, as without this understanding Council Members will not be in a position to appreciate how the alternative proposed influences their consideration of the Substantive Motion under debate. However, care is to be exercised by the Presiding Member to ensure the proposer of the foreshadowed motion does not debate this item; that opportunity will arise if and when the foreshadowed motion becomes a substantive motion.