Northern Midlands

Frequently Asked Questions

When are council meetings held?

The Local Government Act 1993 provides for four types of council meeting, including when these meetings are held:

  • Ordinary meetings of council
  • Special meetings of council
  • Meetings of council committees
  • Annual general meetings.

Ordinary Meetings

The Mayor calls ordinary meetings of the elected members to transact council business as set out in a formal agenda. Council meetings must be held at least once every month and are not to start before 5pm, unless otherwise authorised.

Notice of ordinary meetings must be given to councillors at least four days but not more than 14 days before the meeting. A notice of the meeting is also published in a daily newspaper circulating in the municipal area at least four days but not more than 14 days before the meeting.

Note: Weekends and public holidays are included in the number of days in the notice provisions.

Ordinary meetings of the Northern Midlands Council commence at 5.00pm. Click here to access the schedule of Ordinary Council meeting dates available on this website.

Special Meetings

The Mayor may convene a special meeting to discuss specific agenda items only. A special meeting may also be convened at the direction of the council or at the request of three or more councillors.

Notice of special meetings must be given to councillors at least two days but not more than 14 days before the meeting. A notice of the meeting is also published in a daily newspaper circulating in the municipal area at least two days but not more than 14 days before the meeting.

Note: Weekends and public holidays are included in the number of days in the notice provisions.

Council Committee Meetings

A council committee meeting may be convened at any time by the chairperson of the committee. A meeting must be held if the council or council committee so directs.

Annual General Meetings

Council must hold an Annual General Meeting:

  • no later than 15 December in each year, and
  • not before 14 days after the date of first publication of the notice.

A notice must be published on at least two separate occasions in a daily newspaper circulating in the municipal area that specifies the date of the Annual General Meeting.

How do I know what the Council will be discussing?

The General Manager prepares an agenda listing any matter to be discussed at the council meeting. The agenda will be made publicly available. Any documents relating to a closed meeting may be excluded from the public agenda at the General Manager's discretion. See Q5. "What is a closed council meeting?" for details.

Any excluded documents are exempt from Right to Information Act 2009 provisions.

The Local Government (Meeting Procedures) Regulations 2005 prescribes that the business of an ordinary meeting of the Council or Council Committee is to be the confirmation of the minutes of any previous meeting of that Council or Council Committee, whether ordinary or special. Discussion on any matter referred to in the minutes submitted for confirmation is not to be allowed, except as the discussion relates to the accuracy of those minutes as a record of the meeting.

The order of business for an ordinary meeting is to be in accordance with the agenda but the Council or Council Committee may, by simple majority, resolve to alter that order.

Can I get access to the agenda before the meeting?

Agendas are available for perusal at

  • Council Offices in Longford;
  • Longford Library;
  • Evandale Community Centre;
  • Campbell Town Post Office;
  • Ross Post Office;
  • Avoca Post Office; and
  • On Council’s website - Council Meeting Agendas and Attachments

during normal business hours from the Thursday preceding the meeting date.

Copies of an extract of the agenda or minutes of a previous meeting, other than an extract relating to a closed meeting, are available for a prescribed fee.

Any documents relating to a closed meeting are exempt from Right to Information Act 2009 provisions. See Q5. "What is a closed council meeting?" for details.

Can I attend the meetings?

All meetings of a Council or Council committee are open to the public except in the situation where the Council or Council committee decides to close a meeting if certain restricted types of matters are to be discussed.

A decision to close a meeting to the public can only be made with the voted support of more than half of all elected councillors, whether or not they are present at the meeting. In the case of a council committee the vote to close the meeting can be made by simple majority of the councillors present.

See Q5. "What is a closed council meeting?" for details. The chairperson of a meeting may remove the public or exclude any person from a closed meeting to ensure the orderly conduct of council business.

What is a closed council meeting?

A decision to close a meeting is made with the support of more than half the total number of councillors, whether or not they are present at the meeting. In the case of a council committee this decision can be made by a simple majority of the councillors present when any of the following matters is to be discussed:

  • personnel matters including complaints against staff of the Council
  • industrial matters relating to a person
  • contracts for the supply and purchase of goods and services
  • the security of property of the Council
  • proposals for the council to acquire land or an interest in the land or for the disposal of land
  • information provided to the Council on the condition it is kept confidential
  • trade secrets of private bodies
  • matters relating to actual or possible litigation involving the Council or staff of the Council
  • applications by councillors for leave of absence
  • the personal affairs of any person.

The chairperson of a meeting may remove the public or exclude any person from a closed meeting to ensure the orderly conduct of council business.

Documents relating to agenda items dealt with in a closed meeting may be excluded from the public agenda. Minutes of closed meetings will only include the fact that the matter was discussed but no details of the nature of the discussions will be recorded in the minutes, unless the Council or the Council committee determines otherwise.

Any documents or minutes relating to a closed meeting are exempt from Right to Information Act 2009 provisions.

Can I speak at a Council meeting?

The Local Government (Meeting Procedures) Regulations 2005 provides for members of the public to speak at a council or council committee meeting.

If you wish an issue to be raised at a council meeting, you should first contact one or more of your local councillors and discuss your issue with them. One function of councillors is to facilitate communication between the council and the community. To view Councillors contact details, click here.

The chairperson of a meeting, usually the Mayor, may respond to questions for which prior notice in writing has been given. If a councillor raises a question without giving prior notice, the chairperson may choose to address the answer if it is readily available or known. If this is not the case, the chairperson may request that the question be put in writing and dealt with separately from the meeting.

The chairperson, acting on behalf of the Council, may also invite any member of the public present at a meeting to ask questions. The same considerations apply as for a question without notice raised by a councillor.

A council or council committee may agree to a request from a delegation of persons to speak at a meeting; or it may invite a delegation of persons to attend and address a meeting. A period of time to address the meeting will normally be fixed by agreement.

See topics numbered 7 through 9 below for related information.

Council’s Policy 32, Meeting Procedures, adopted by Council sets out the procedures to enable a person to ask a question during "Public Question Time". Time allocated for public question time is 20 minutes and is the first item after the meal break commencing at approximately 6.45pm.

A process also exists that allows members of the public to speak on a matter in which they have a direct interest in an item which is before the Council for decision. During “Public Question Time” a representation may be made by an individual or group or a business wishing to make a submission on a matter that has been listed in the Council agenda.

How do I get councillors to bring a topic up?

The functions of councillors are:

  • to represent and promote the interests of the community
  • to facilitate communication between the council and the community
  • to review the performance of the council.

Councillors are to act in the best interests of the community when carrying out their functions.

A Councillor may, at least 6 working days before the meeting, give written notice to the General Manager of a question to be asked at the next meeting of the Council or a Council Committee. A reply to the question on notice need not be given if the Councillor who gave the notice is not present at the meeting.

Should you wish to contact your local councillors, click here to access their contact details or telephone Council's Executive and Liaison Officer on phone number 6397 7303 to obtain councillor contact details or email council@nmc.tas.gov.au.

How do I get a petition presented?

In accordance with the Vision, Mission and Values of Council as identified in the Council’s Strategic Plan 2007-2017 and the Local Government Act 1993, Part 6, Petitions, Polls and Public Meetings, S57 – S60, provision is made for Council to receive petitions tabled at the Council Meeting, for further information refer to the Act or go to Petitions on this website.

Petitions may be presented to the Council in relation to three subject matters:

  • Issues of significant interest
  • Separate rates
  • General matters

Issues of significant interest

Issues of significant interest are:

  • matters a council declares to be such an issue
  • matters the electors, by a petition made and accepted by the council, seek to be treated as such an issue.

Electors may petition the council to have a matter treated as an issue of significant interest to the community. Petitions for an issue to be treated as one of significant interest may instigate a public meeting or elector poll.

A petition must comply with the following requirements:

  • be prepared in accordance with the prescribed form in Schedule 1 of the Local Government Regulations 1994
  • contain a clear and concise statement identifying the matter
  • be submitted to the Council's General Manager
  • be signed by whichever is the lesser - 5% of the electors in the municipal area or 1,000 of the electors in the municipal area.

A petition is not to be made in relation to rates and charges if the Council has already determined the rates and charges applicable for the financial year. Petitions checked for compliance by the General Manager are then tabled as soon as practicable at an ordinary meeting of the council and are then taken to be accepted by the council.

The council must hold a public meeting to discuss the issue once council has accepted a petition relating to an issue of significant interest to the community. Alternatively, the council may decide to hold a public meeting to discuss any issue as determined by the council. Notice of the public meeting must be publicly displayed and published on at least three occasions in a daily newspaper circulating in the municipal area.

The council must invite the public to make written submissions on the issue of significant interest to the community. These submissions are to be lodged with the council within 21 days of the first publication of the notice. Any submission received is to be summarised and copies of that summary made available to those attending the public meeting.

The council may be required, in certain circumstances if a petition has been lodged, to hold an elector poll. The matter that is the subject of an elector poll is decided by a simple majority of the votes cast. It should be noted, however, that the result of an elector poll is not binding on the council.

A council may decide to hold an elector poll on any issue and conduct the poll in any manner as determined by council.

The General Manager determines whether or not the petition complies with the formal requirements. If it does not, the General Manager must inform one of the named proposers of the petition and the council, at its next meeting, of the reasons for the petition's non-compliance.

Separate rates

The Council may, by the vote of more than half of the total number of councillors, whether or not present at the meeting, make a separate rate in respect of land, or a class of land, within the municipal area.

The separate rate may be made:

  • in addition to any other rates
  • in respect of a financial year or part of a financial year
  • for the purpose of planning, carrying out, making available, maintaining or improving anything that in the Council's opinion is, or is intended to be, of particular benefit to the affected land or the owners or occupiers of that land.

Ratepayers affected by the intention of the Council to make a separate rate may present a petition to the Council within 30 days of the notice published in the local newspaper.

If at least 100 affected ratepayers or at least 10% of affected ratepayers, whichever is the lesser, present a petition the council must arrange a public meeting to discuss the issues.

General matters

Petitions for general matters may relate to any matter including requests for local infrastructure for which the Council is responsible, such as works on local roads.

A councillor may present a general matters petition to a meeting of the council. The person named as a proposer of a petition must ensure that the petition contains:

  • a clear and concise statement identifying the subject matter
  • a heading on each page indicating the subject matter
  • a brief statement on each page of the subject matter and the action requested
  • a declaration at the end of the petition that the proposer attests to the accuracy of each statement.

The policy of the Northern Midlands Council in relation to the dealing with petitions is as follows:

Formal Petitions

If a petition is presented to Council pursuant to Section 58 of the Local Government Act 1993, that petition shall not be subject to any motion at the time but shall be taken to be adopted by the Council as prescribed by Section 58(2) of the Local Government Act. If that petition does not comply with the requirements of the Act, it is to be treated as correspondence by the General Manager.

Other Petitions

A petition is to be presented to an ordinary meeting of the Council of the Council and is to be presented in the following form and manner:

  • the petition is to be clearly written and printed;
  • a petitioner is to include their name, address and usual signature;
  • the subject matter of the petition is to be contained at the head of every separate sheet;
  • the petition is to be received by the General Manager at least two working days before the meeting to which it is to be presented;
  • the General manager is to strike out any comments which, in his opinion are of offensive imputation upon the character or conduct of an employee, member of the Council or any person;
  • the General Manager is to read the petition to the meeting : and
  • as soon as the petition has been read the Chairperson is to invite a motion "that the petition be received".

Your local councillor may be able to assist you in preparing and presenting a petition. Should you wish to contact your local councillors, click here to access contact details.

How do I get input into the decision making process?

The councillors are your representatives at ordinary and special meetings of the council. Each councillor has one vote at a meeting. A question arising at a meeting is determined by a simple majority of votes.

A ratepayer may write to the Mayor or any councillor expressing their views and asking that a question be put to the next council meeting. They may also put their views verbally to a Councillor. Council will advertise the details of public meetings on any issue of special interest to which the general public is invited.

A council can also invite the public to attend community consultations on various submissions or surveys. In these ways every member of the community can actively participate through a consultative process in the workings of their local council.

A notice must be published on at least two separate occasions in a daily newspaper circulating in the municipal area that specifies the date of the Annual General Meeting.

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