Public Forum terms and conditions
Below are the conditions for speaking at a Public Forum, in line with Ku-ring-gai Council's Code of Meeting Practice. View the full Code of Meeting Practice here(PDF, 1MB)
The council may hold a public forum prior to each ordinary meeting of the council for the purpose of hearing oral submissions from members of the public on items of business to be considered at the meeting as well as on general matters not related to items to be considered at the meeting. Public forums may also be held prior to extraordinary council meetings and meetings of committees of the council.
Time and venue
Council shall, by resolution, set the date of public forums. At the discretion of the Mayor, public forums will generally commence at 6pm.
Forums may be held physically in the Council Chamber, by audio-visual link, or as a hybrid meeting held physically in the Council Chamber and by audio-visual link.
Public forums are to be chaired by the Mayor or their nominee.
When a public forum is held as a hybrid meeting Councillors may attend and participate in person at the Council Chamber or by audio-visual link, at their discretion.
Members of the public may make written submissions, oral submissions in person at the Council Chamber or oral submissions by audio-visual link.
The General Manager and other council staff may attend in person at the Council Chamber or by audio-visual link. Attendance by council staff by audio-visual link shall be with the approval of the General Manager.
If for any reason a public forum is unable to be held physically in the Council Chamber or by audio-visual link, alternative arrangements will be made to receive submissions from members of the public.
To speak at a public forum (or lodge a written submission), a person must first make an application to the council in the approved form.
This application (or written submission) must be received by 5pm on the business day before the public forum, must identify the item of business on the agenda of the council meeting the person wishes to speak on, and whether they wish to speak ‘for’ or ‘against’ the item.
If a person wishes to make a general address to the Council, they must apply in the same manner and identify the subject matter proposed to be addressed.
A person may apply to speak on no more than two items of business on the agenda of the council meeting. A person may also speak once as a general address not related to items of business on the agenda of the council meeting.
An email confirmation will be sent to all people submitting a registration on the morning of the public forum.
Legal representatives acting on behalf of others are not to be permitted to speak at a public forum unless they identify their status as a legal representative when applying to speak at the public forum.
Refusal of applications
The General Manager or their delegate may refuse an application to speak at a public forum. The General Manager or their delegate must give reasons in writing for a decision to refuse an application.
Limit on number of speakers
In the event that more than 5 speakers lodge a valid application to speak “for” or “against” an item, the chairperson may call for a vote from Councillors to limit the number of speakers in a manner defined by the chairperson.
If the vote to limit the number of speakers is carried, those permitted to speak will be determined by the order in which the applications were received. Any person who is permitted to speak under this clause may, at their discretion, nominate another registered speaker to take their place.
Order of business
The General Manager or their delegate is to determine the order of speakers at the public forum.
Each speaker will be allowed three minutes to address the council. This time is to be strictly enforced by the chairperson.
Speakers at public forums must not digress from the item on the agenda of the council meeting they have applied to address the council on. If a speaker digresses to irrelevant matters, the chairperson is to direct the speaker not to do so. If a speaker fails to observe a direction from the chairperson, the speaker will not be further heard.
Speakers are not permitted to use or present any props, audio, or visual material. Any written material to be presented to the council must be lodged as a written submission upon registration. The General Manager or their delegate may refuse to allow such written material to be presented.
A Councillor (including the chairperson) may, through the chairperson, ask a maximum of two (2) questions of a speaker following their address at a public forum. Questions put to a speaker must be direct, succinct and without argument.
Speakers are under no obligation to answer a question put by a Councillor. Answers by the speaker to each question are to be limited to one (1) minute.
Speakers at public forums cannot ask questions of the council, Councillors or council staff.
The email confirmation sent to eligible online speakers will include Zoom log-in details and passwords. Personal meeting IDs and Zoom log-in details must not be shared. People who have not registered via Council’s website will not be accepted into the online public forum.
It is the responsibility of the speaker to ensure that they can access the meeting remotely on their device.
Attendees should log into Zoom 15 minutes before the start of the public forum. Speakers should log into Zoom with their names as listed in their registration form.
Online participants are not permitted to share their screens to display messages, images or videos. Participants should not take a recording or screenshots of the public forum for posting on social media.
Online participants should only have their Zoom video on when speaking and answering questions from Councillors. All participants should be aware of what appears in the background of their video. All participants should remain on “mute” until invited to speak.
The names of speakers and people lodging written submissions will be published in the agenda and minutes on Council’s website. No other personal or contact details will be published.
Written submissions may be shared with councillors and Council staff but will not be published (although they may be sought via an information access request under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009).
When a public forum is held by audio-visual link, it will not be webcast or otherwise broadcast or published. However, Council may record video or audio for recordkeeping and security purposes.
Conduct at meetings
When addressing the council, speakers at public forums must comply with the Code of Meeting Practice and all other relevant council codes, policies and procedures. Speakers must refrain from engaging in disorderly conduct, publicly alleging breaches of the council’s Code of Conduct or making other potentially defamatory statements.
If the chairperson considers that a speaker at a public forum has engaged in disorderly conduct, the chairperson may request the person to refrain from the inappropriate behaviour and to withdraw and unreservedly apologise for any inappropriate comments. Where the speaker fails to comply with the chairperson’s request, the chairperson may immediately require the person to stop speaking.
If an online speaker fails to observe a direction from the chairperson, the speaker may be muted, have their video disabled or be expelled from the Zoom call.
The chairperson may also adjourn the public forum.
Where a speaker engages in misconduct, the General Manager or their delegate may refuse further applications from that person to speak at public forums for such a period as the General Manager or their delegate considers appropriate.
Conflicts of interest
Councillors (including the Mayor) must declare and manage any conflicts of interest they may have in relation to any item of business that is the subject of an address at a public forum, in the same way that they are required to do so at a council or committee meeting.
The council is to maintain a written record of all conflict of interest declarations made at public forums and how the conflict of interest was managed by the Councillor who made the declaration.