|Election Period Policy
||2 August 2017
||01 June 2020
|Responsible Officer: Chief Executive Officer
||Chief Executive Officer
This Election Period Policy has been developed in accordance with the legislative requirements of sections 55D and 93B of the Local Government Act 1989.
The purpose of the policy is to ensure that, during the election period:
Procedures are in place to prevent the Council and the City of Greater Geelong (the City) from making inappropriate decisions or using resources improperly that may influence the election;
Public consultation and the scheduling of Council and City events is limited and controlled;
Information held by the City is made equally available to all candidates;
The community is informed about how the City will conduct business during the election period;
The community’s trust is upheld by the transparency of the council election process.
This policy applies to Councillors, candidates, Special Committee members and City staff throughout the election period.
Act means the Local Government Act (Vic) 1989.
Certified means attesting in writing that:
no electoral matter is contained in; and/or
material for publication by the Chief Executive Officer during the Election Period.
City means the Greater Geelong City Council.
Consultation means any process that involves an invitation to individuals, groups, organisations or the community in general to comment on an issue, proposed action or proposed policy.
Electioneering means any action, statement and or publication that contains material directly related to, or likely to influence, a Councillor’s re-election or a candidate’s election.
Election Period means the 32 day statutory time period prior commencing on the last day that nominations for the election can be received and concluding at 6pm on election day.
Exceptional Circumstances means where a decision:
cannot reasonably be deferred without major consequence to the City of Greater Geelong; and/or
relates to the completion of projects or initiatives that have already been endorsed by the Council, including but not limited to projects or initiatives made pursuant to the Budget, City Plan or Business Plan.
Inappropriate Decision means a decision that:
would affect voting in an election; and/or
could reasonably be made after the election as defined in section 93B(5) of the Act.
Major Policy Decision means any decision:
relating to the employment or remuneration of a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) under section 94 of the Act, other than a decision to appoint an acting CEO;
to terminate the appointment of a CEO under section 94 of the Act;
to enter into a contract the total value of which exceeds whichever is the greater of:
$100,000 or such higher amount as may be fixed by the Order In Council under section 186(1) of the Act; or
1% of the council’s revenue from rates and charges levied under section 158 of the Act in the preceding financial year;
to exercise any power under section 193 of the Act if the sum assessed under section 193(5A) of the Act in respect of the proposal exceeds whichever is the greater of $100,000 or 1% of the City’s revenue from rates and charges levied under section 158 of the Act in the preceding financial year, as defined in section 93A(6) of the Act.
Publish means publish by any means, whether in hard copy or electronically, including publication on the internet.
Special Committee means a committee of Council established under section 86 of the Act.
4. Election Period for 2017
The Election Period for 2017 commences on Tuesday 26 September 2017 and concludes at 6pm on Saturday 28 October 2017.
5. Councillor to fulfil duties during election period
During the Election Period, Councillors:
will continue to fulfil their duties (unless they are granted leave of absence);
will continue to engage, and communicate with, the community in their Councillor role;
must comply with the Act and the Councillor Code of Conduct; and
must not use their position to influence Council officers, or access Council resources or information, in support of any election campaign or candidacy.
6. Council decisions and meetings
Council will not consider or make any decisions during the Election Period that would, or could be perceived to, affect voting in an election, or unfairly commit the incoming Council to a major course of action, or could reasonably be made after the election.
The following specifically applies:
6.1 Major Policy Decisions
During the Election Period, the Council will not make any Major Policy Decisions.
Where a Major Policy Decision is required to be considered and decided upon by Council during the Election Period, Council will determine whether there are Exceptional Circumstances for a Major Policy decision to be made. Where there are Exceptional Circumstances requiring a Council to make a Major Policy Decision during the Election Period, Council may make an application to the Minister in accordance with section 93A(2) of the Act seeking an exemption from the application of section 93A of the Act. Only if the Minister grants an exemption under section 93A(3) of the Act can the Council make the Major Policy Decision.
The CEO will ensure that Major Policy Decisions are agreed and scheduled for Council consideration prior to the start of the Election Period, or alternatively, scheduled for consideration by the new incoming Council, unless the Minister grants an exemption under section 93(A) of the Act.
6.2 Inappropriate Decisions
During the Election Period, Council will take all reasonable steps to prevent Inappropriate Decisions being made.
6.3 Business at Council and Special Committee meetings
During the Election Period, matters which may be considered at Council or Special Committee meetings include:
Procedural items to complete the Council’s term of office, such as assemblies of Council.
6.4 Public Question Time
Public question time at Council and Special Committee meeting will be suspended during the Election Period.
7. Election period statement in Council Reports
The CEO will ensure that an “Election Period Statement” is incorporated in any report submitted to Council or to a Special Committee during the Election Period. The “Election Period Statement” will appear at the start of the report in the form of one of the following statements (as applicable):
“The recommended decision is a major policy decision, as defined in section 93A of the Local Government Act, 1989 and an extraordinary circumstances exemption was granted by the Minister for Local Government on (insert date).”
8. Use of City resources
Council resources are not to be used in connection with Electioneering.
In particular, during the Election Period:
Councillors will have access to the resources necessary to fulfil their roles, in accordance with existing Council policy and the Code of Conduct.
City resources, including offices, administrative staff, meeting facilities, hospitality, electronic equipment, Council email addresses an social media handles, photocopying and stationery will be used exclusively for normal City operational business during the Election Period and are not to be utilised for or connected to any election activities.
Expenses that could be perceived as supporting, or being connected with, a Councillor’s election campaign will not be considered for reimbursement.
City logos, letterheads, photographs and images or associated City insignias/designs are not to be used, or linked in any way to a candidate's election campaign.
City staff, including the CEO, will not perform any tasks connected directly or indirectly with Electioneering.
9. Consultation and events
Council will not undertake any Consultations or events during the Election Period.
Where Consultation has already commenced, that Consultation will be suspended during the Election Period unless there is a legal obligation to continue the Consultation or the Chief Executive Officer determines that Extraordinary Circumstances exist which warrant the Consultation continuing.
9.2 Public Events
Council will not conduct or promote events during the Election Period. This includes promotion of upcoming events held after the Election Period.
Councillors may attend public events during the Election Period, but they are not to use their appearance at a public event during the Election Period for Electioneering.
Councillors are not authorised to speak at a public event unless authorised to do so by the Chief Executive Officer. Any speeches prepared for Councillors attending a public event during the Election Period must be written by City staff and approved by the Chief Executive Officer.
9.3 Existing City Programs
During the Election Period, existing City programs and operational services for the community will continue as business as usual, but new promotional activity is not permitted during the Election Period.
10. Communications and Marketing
City communications and marketing promote the City’s activities and services through media releases, publications and social media channels.
10.1 City Website and Social Media
At the start of the Election Period a message will be posted on the City’s social media channels and website stating that these channels will have no new content added until after the Election Period unless it relates to existing City services.
No electoral material may be placed on the City’s website or social media during the Election Period.
10.2 Publications generally
During the Election Period:
The City must not print, Publish or distribute or cause, permit or authorise to be printed, Published or distributed, any advertisement, handbill, pamphlet or notice unless the advertisement, handbill, pamphlet or notice has been Certified in writing on or affixed to the copy of the publication and retained in a register maintained by the Chief Executive Officer.
The Chief Executive Officer must not intentionally or recklessly Certify an electoral advertisement, handbill, pamphlet or notice unless it only contains information about the election process.
Councillors or City staff not make or Publish any public statement that could be interpreted as influencing the election.
Communication and marketing campaigns, other than for the sole purpose of conducting the election process, will be prevented wherever possible. Where a communications and marketing campaign is considered essential for a City service or function, it must be Certified before publication. Where a City communications or marketing campaign is Certified, that campaign must be limited to promoting normal City operational activities.
No media advice or assistance will be provided by the City in relation to Electioneering or election campaigns matters.
Any City media releases will be Certified and issued in the name of the Chief Executive Officer.
Council meeting agendas and minutes will continue to be ublished on Council’s website.
10.3 Council Spokesperson
The Chief Executive Officer will be the primary spokesperson for the Council during the Election Period.
11. Information and assistance to candidates
All requests for information to the City by candidates during the Election Period are to be directed to the Chief Executive Officer in writing. The City will ensure all candidates have equal access to information.
During the Election Period, an Information Request Register will be maintained by the Chief Executive Officer which will record:
The Information Request Register will be a public document, and will be published on the City’s website for the duration of the Election Period. The Information Request Register will record a summary of the requests for information and the responses and/or link to any requested public document.
Information and briefing material supplied at the request of any candidate during the Election Period will relate only to factual matters or to current City services which is accessible by the public. The information supplied will not relate to policy development, new projects or matters that are the subject of public or election debate or that might be perceived to be connected to a candidate’s election campaign.
Requests for information by candidates that require significant City resources to be devoted to a response may be refused at the sole discretion of the Chief Executive Officer. If a request for information is refused, the Chief Executive Officer must record the reason for such refusal in the Information Request Register.
All enquiries from candidates about the election process are to be made directly to the Returning Officer or, where the matter is outside the responsibilities of the Returning Officer, to the Chief Executive Officer.
The Governance Unit is responsible for the administration of this policy. Any issues or items requiring clarification will be referred to the Chief Executive Officer, who will make a determination with respect to matters of policy interpretation or implementation.
13. Quality Records
Quality Records shall be retained for at least the period shown below.
|Certified copies of records
||As per PROV