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Department of Premier and Cabinet

Council meetings and decisions

Councils make decisions on many important issues such as community services, infrastructure and planning.

Councils make decisions at formal council meetings and must follow a uniform set of rules when conducting meetings. Council committees can make decisions delegated by the council. Similarly, the council’s general manager makes delegated operational decisions.

Meeting rules cover things such as public access to meetings and meeting papers, how decisions are made and what sort of records must be kept. These rules are explained in detail the Council meeting procedures – information sheet (Local Government Division, 2015).

Council meeting types

There are different types of council meetings:

  • Ordinary meetings – regular meetings of the council held at least once per month.
  • Special meetings – convened for a particular purpose by the mayor or majority of councillors, or by resolution at a council meeting.
  • Council committee meetings – council committees convene meetings as needed to oversee specific functions, such as the council’s finance, strategic planning or service areas.

The mayor is the chairperson of ordinary and special council meetings. In the mayor’s absence, the deputy mayor is the chairperson. If both are absent, the councillors that are present elect one of their number to be the chairperson of the meeting.

Open and closed council meetings

Council decision-making must be as open and transparent as possible.

Council meetings are open to the public unless the topic for discussion is about a matter that may need to be kept confidential. Examples of confidential matters include personnel (staff), commercial, security or legal matters. Councils are allowed to discuss these matters in a meeting, or part of a meeting, that is closed to the public.

During a closed meeting, the council decides whether discussions, reports or documents and outcomes relating to the closed meeting need to be kept confidential or can be made public.

Members of the public can attend open council meetings.

Contact your council via the Tasmanian council directory for more information about council meeting dates and times.

Meeting agendas and minutes

The general manager prepares meeting agendas and papers for councillors. Adequate time must be provided for councillors to read council papers before the meeting.

After a council meeting, the general manager prepares meeting minutes which form the official record of the decisions made by the council.

Meeting agendas, papers and minutes are publicly available, and are usually published on council websites, except on matters that need to remain confidential.

Voting and council decisions

Each councillor, including the mayor and deputy mayor, has one vote on decisions made at a council meeting or committee meeting.

Council decisions are decided by simple majority (that is, more than half of those present), unless an absolute majority is required by law. Tied votes are treated as a negative vote.

The mayor is the spokesperson for the council and must represent accurately the decisions of the council.

Resources and related information

  • Council meeting procedures – information sheet (Local Government Division, 2015)
  • Local government legislation

More resources can be found at the Local Government Division’s publications and resources page.

Contact your council

For information about your council’s meeting dates, agendas or minutes, please contact your council directly via the Tasmanian council directory.

More information

For more information about council meeting regulations or council decision-making, contact the Local Government Division:

  • phone 03 6232 7022
  • email lgd@dpac.tas.gov.au