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									             City of Port Phillip Election Guidelines – 2012


INTRODUCTION

Council staff and councillors must observe specific legislative and governance requirements
during the period leading up to an election.

The purpose of these Guidelines is to ensure that the City of Port Phillip:
 demonstrates compliance with the caretaker provisions of the Local Government Act
   1989 (the Act);
 demonstrates that public resources are not used for election campaigning;
 is aware of what can and cannot be done during the election (caretaker) period; and
 continues to provide high standards of service to the community.


Caretaker period

The legislative provisions of the Act and governance requirements apply during the “election
period” or “caretaker period”. In 2012 the caretaker period runs from Tuesday 25 September
2012 until 6.00pm on election day, Saturday 27 October 2012.

It is important to note that some governance requirements also apply well prior to the
commencement of the caretaker period.


What do these guidelines cover?
      1. Major policy decisions (legislative requirement)
      2. Publishing and communications (legislative requirement)
      3. Meetings, functions and events
      4. Community consultation
      5. Council resources
      6. Council information, advice and assistance

What are the requirements of the legislation?
The Local Government Act 1989 (the Act) sets out what a council cannot do during the
caretaker period in regard to publishing and communications and major policy decisions:

Publishing & communications
During the caretaker period a council must not print, publish or distribute or cause, permit or
authorise to be printed, published or distributed, an electoral advertisement, handbill,
pamphlet or notice unless it only contains information about the election process (s55D of the
Act)

Under the definitions of the Act, this prohibition applies to all public communications which
refer to issues which may be before the voters in the election (including election campaign
topics), election candidates, or the election.




           These guidelines approved by CoPP Executive Management Team on 24/11/2011
Port Phillip Council                                           Election Guidelines 2012



Major policy decisions
A council, a special committee or a person acting under a delegation given by the council
must not make a major policy decision during the caretaker period (s93A(1) of the Act).

A “major policy decision” means any decision:
 relating to employment, remuneration or termination of a CEO;
 to enter into a contract the total value of which exceeds whichever is the greater of
   $100,000 or 1% of the Council's revenue from rates in the preceding financial year
   (approx $880,000 at CoPP); and
 to enter into an entrepreneurial arrangement the total value of which exceeds whichever
   is the greater of $100,000 or 1% of the Council's revenue from rates in the preceding
   financial year (approx $880,000 at CoPP).

For further information about these guidelines contact Norm McClelland, Murray Chick or
Rowena McLean of Governance & Engagement.

1. MAJOR POLICY DECISIONS

   The execution of contracts for which the value exceeds $880,000 should not be
    scheduled during the caretaker period.

   If extraordinary circumstances have prevented council from making a major policy
    decision prior to the caretaker period and the decision cannot be deferred until after the
    caretaker period, an application can be made to the Minister to grant an exemption, with
    the CEO’s approval.

   This table explains the circumstances regarding the making of major policy decisions:

        Proposed Policy Decision            Is it           Authority
                                            allowed?
        Entering into a contract the
        value of which is approx
        $880,000 or greater                 No              s93A LGA

        Exercising any entrepreneurial
        power under section 193 of the
        Act the value of which is
        $880,000 or greater                 No              s93A LGA

        A recommendation to council         Only with       This is an internal council
        which if approved would             approval        requirement which goes beyond
        significantly affect the            from the        the statutory requirements.
        municipality.                       CEO

        Any other significant decisions     Only with       This is an internal council
        not included above that will bind   approval        requirement which goes beyond
        the incoming council                from the        the statutory requirements.
                                            CEO
        Application for exemption from      Yes, but        s93A(3) LGA & internal
        the requirements of the Act         only with the   guidelines
        regarding major policy decisions    approval of
                                            the CEO




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Port Phillip Council                                           Election Guidelines 2012


   Even though council may have approved major projects in the annual budget process,
    the council (including a special committee or a staff member acting within a delegation
    from council) cannot execute a contract or exercise an entrepreneurial power during the
    caretaker period that falls within the definition of a major policy decision.

Criteria for CEO approval
Where the CEO is required to determine if a matter that is not a major policy decision under
section 93A of the Act should be addressed during the caretaker period, the CEO should
consider:

   whether the matter is likely to be controversial
   whether the matter is significant
   whether a decision could wait until after the election
   the financial implications if a decision was made during the election period or deferred
    until after the election
   the best interests of the Council.


2. PUBLISHING AND COMMUNICATIONS DURING THE CARETAKER PERIOD

   A council must not print, publish or distribute or cause, permit or authorise to be printed,
    published or distributed, an electoral advertisement, handbill, pamphlet or notice unless it
    only contains information about the election process.

   The CEO must have final sign-off on all publications produced and distributed by the
    council during the caretaker period (s55D(1)-(3) LGA – see Appendix 1).

   Councillors are able to publish their own election campaign material, but this should be
    done with their own resources and the material should not contain a City of Port Phillip
    logo or any endorsement by Council.

Criteria for CEO approval
 The CEO will not grant approval for a publication that refers to:

         a) the election;
         b) election candidates, including current councillors; or to
         c) issues which may be before the voters in an election.

   The CEO may grant approval to a publication that contains information:

         a) about the election process; or
         b) about council’s services, but does not refer to a current councillor.

Divercity newsletter
 Divercity newsletter will not be published or distributed during the caretaker period.

City of Port Phillip websites
 During the caretaker period, City of Port Phillip websites will continue to provide
    information to the community about accessing council services.

   Councillor profile pages will be limited to names, contact details, date elected and
    membership of committees. There will be no photographs, biographies or policy
    statements.




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Port Phillip Council                                           Election Guidelines 2012


   Any reference to the election on the website will be restricted to process only.

   New pages or new content can only be added to the website, or content updated, if the
    content does not refer to election candidates, including current councillors, or issues
    before the voters in an election.

   Old pages predating the caretaker period will not necessarily be deleted but will not be
    featured through links to the home page during the election period.

Annual Report & Annual Snapshot
 It is likely that the annual report will be distributed during October and therefore the
   information about councillors in the annual report will be restricted to what is required by
   the legislation.

   The annual snapshot must not be distributed during the caretaker period.

Media
 The CEO has final sign-off on all media releases or media campaigns.

   Media releases will not refer to specific councillors during the caretaker period. Where it
    is necessary to identify a spokesperson in relation to an issue the CEO will determine the
    appropriate person.

   Media enquiries will be channelled through the CEO (or in her/his absence the relevant
    General Manager), and she/he will determine who the appropriate spokesperson will be.
    In particular, the CEO will take on the role as spokesperson of the council where the
    issue relates to electoral matters including issues before the voters.

   During the caretaker period, public comment on behalf of the organisation will be
    provided by the CEO or a council officer nominated by her/him. Councillors providing
    comment to the media during the caretaker period will do so in a private capacity.
    Journalists will be advised that councillors can be contacted for comment in their private
    capacity.

   Media releases may be issued to inform council’s services and activities, but not if the
    service is likely to be an election issues. Media releases must not refer to councillors or
    any candidate. It is expected that fewer media releases than usual will be published
    during the caretaker period.

Other publications and bulk mailouts
 The content of bulk mailouts to the community or to ratepayers should be signed off by
   the CEO.


3. MEETINGS, FUNCTIONS & EVENTS

Council functions & events
 Where possible, public council functions should be scheduled for outside the caretaker
  period.

   An event can only go ahead during the caretaker period if this is necessary in order to
    ensure the effective and smooth running of the organisation, in which case CEO approval
    must be gained.




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Port Phillip Council                                           Election Guidelines 2012


   Councillors must not give speeches at council events.

   Invitations will be issued by the City of Port Phillip and not under the name of the Mayor
    or councillors.

Public meetings
 Council is able to advertise meetings during the caretaker period, however, the content of
   the meetings must be discussed with your General Manager to ensure there is no breach
   of the legislation or this policy.

Speeches
 Council officers will not prepare speech notes for councillors during the election period.

Criteria for CEO approval

Where the CEO is required to determine if a function or event is to be conducted during the
caretaker period, the CEO should consider:

   whether the content of the event is likely to be controversial
   whether the event could have significant consequences
   whether the event could wait until after the election
   the financial implications if the event was held during the caretaker period or deferred
    until after the election
   the best interests of the council.


4. COMMUNITY CONSULTATION

   Community consultation means inviting stakeholders (individuals, groups, organisations
    or the public generally) to a public consultation process to receive feedback on a project,
    issue or policy.

   Public consultations required by section 223 of the Act or by the Planning and
    Environment Act 1987 will probably need to occur during the caretaker period.

   No other community consultation processes should take place during the caretaker
    period except with CEO approval.

Criteria for CEO approval

The CEO may approve community consultation occurring during the caretaker period, but will
first consider:

   whether the consultation process is likely to be controversial
   whether the consultation process is significant
   whether the consultation process could wait until after the election
   the financial implications if the consultation was made during the caretaker period or
    deferred until after the election
   the best interests of the council.




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Port Phillip Council                                           Election Guidelines 2012



5. COUNCIL RESOURCES

Council resources, including offices, support staff, hospitality services, equipment and
stationery should be used exclusively for normal council business at all times, as well as,
during the caretaker period and should not be used in connection with an election.

a) Photocopying for election campaigning purposes by councillors or staff on office
   machines is not permitted. Time limits for the continual use of public photocopy
   machines will be enforced to ensure that this facility is available to the whole community
   on an equal basis.

b) Data-bases and mailing lists held by the organisation remain the property of the council
   and are subject to the requirements of the Information Privacy Act 2000, and are
   therefore not available to members of the public, candidates or to councillors.

c) The organisation will not prepare or produce any materials associated with councillors’
   individual election campaigns.

d) No council logos, letterheads, or other council branding should be used for, or linked
   in any way to, a candidate's election campaign.

e) Councillors will not use council issued mobile phones and email addresses for
   election campaigning purposes.

f)   The use of council’s internet or intranet sites for any activity to do with election
     campaigning is prohibited. This includes linking council websites to private candidate
     websites.

g) Access to the voters’ roll is subject to the requirements of the Act and Information
   Privacy legislation. (Refer to Council’s protocol “Access to the Council Voters’ Roll” on
   the website). A copy of the voters’ roll will be provided to candidates by the Returning
   Officer. The voters’ roll will be available for inspection during the election period at
   advertised times.

h) The organisation will continue to provide support to councillors with respect to their
   normal day to day council business. Matters that are controversial or relate to election
   issues should be referred to the CEO.

i)   Out-of-pocket expenses paid by councillors during the election period for necessary
     costs incurred in the performance of their duties, which do not relate to any election
     campaign, will be reimbursed with the authority of the CEO.

j)   No election campaigning material is to be distributed from or displayed in or on council
     facilities, libraries or community noticeboards. Staff in Meetings & Events, Libraries,
     ASSIST and City & Infrastructure Services will be informed of the requirements and
     asked to remove offending material. Advice can be sought from the Governance team.

k) Council facilities booked for electoral campaigning purposes by councillors, candidates
   or supporters or other persons during the election period will be let at the same rate to all
   hirers.




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Port Phillip Council                                            Election Guidelines 2012



6. COUNCIL INFORMATION, ADVICE & ASSISTANCE TO CANDIDATES

      Council staff are not to provide information to councillors or candidates that could be
       perceived to support election campaigns. Any requests for such information should
       be referred to the CEO.

      Enquiries from councillors, candidates and the public about the election process will
       be referred to the Returning Officer for the election so that a consistent response is
       maintained.

      ASSIST staff and other council officers, when carrying out their duties, should not
       offer comment to members of the public about any councillors or candidates, except
       to provide contact details for current councillors. Any request to provide details of
       achievements of the current council should be refused or referred to the CEO.

      All candidates for the council election will be treated equally.


7. A STAFF MEMBER STANDING AS A CANDIDATE

      A member of Port Phillip Council staff is incapable of becoming a Port Phillip
       councillor unless the member of staff takes leave to contest the election, and if
       elected, resigns as a member of staff immediately after being declared elected.

      The leave to contest the election would commence, at the latest, at the time the staff
       member nominated as a candidate.




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Port Phillip Council                                                  Election Guidelines 2012


APPENDIX 1

Excerpts from the Local Government Act 1989 relating to the “caretaker period”:

55D Prohibition on Council
(1) A Council must not print, publish or distribute or cause, permit or authorise to be printed, published
or distributed, any advertisement, handbill, pamphlet or notice during the election period unless the
advertisement, handbill, pamphlet or notice has been certified, in writing, by the Chief Executive
Officer.

(2) The Chief Executive Officer must not intentionally or recklessly certify an electoral advertisement,
handbill, pamphlet or notice during the election period unless it only contains information about the
election process.
Penalty: 60 penalty units.

(3) Despite section 98(2), the Chief Executive Officer must not delegate the power to certify any
advertisement, handbill, pamphlet or notice under this section to a member of Council staff.

(4) A Councillor or member of Council staff must not intentionally or recklessly print, publish or
distribute or cause, permit or authorise to be printed, published or distributed an electoral
advertisement, handbill, pamphlet or notice during the election period on behalf of, or in the name of,
the Council or on behalf of, or in the name of, a Councillor using Council resources if the electoral
advertisement, handbill, pamphlet or notice has not been certified by the Chief Executive Officer under
this section.
Penalty: 60 penalty units.


93A. Conduct of Council during election period
(1) Subject to this section, a Council, a special Committee or a person acting under a delegation given
by the Council must not make a major policy decision during the election period for a general election.

(2) If a Council considers that there are extraordinary circumstances which require the making of a
major policy decision during the election period, the Council may apply in writing to the Minister for an
exemption from the application of this section to the major policy decision specified in the application.

(3) If the Minister is satisfied that there are extraordinary circumstances, the Minister may grant an
exemption from the application of this section to the major policy decision specified in the application
subject to any conditions or limitations that the Minister considers appropriate.

(4) A major policy decision made in contravention of this section is invalid.

(5) Any person who suffers any loss or damage as a result of acting in good faith on a major policy
decision made in contravention of this section is entitled to compensation from the Council for that loss
or damage.

(6) In this section, a major policy decision means any decision—
(a) relating to the employment or remuneration of a Chief Executive Officer under section 94, other
than a decision to appoint an acting Chief Executive Officer;
(b) to terminate the appointment of a Chief Executive Officer under section 94;
(c) to enter into a contract the total value of which exceeds whichever is the greater of—
(i) $100 000 or such higher amount as may be fixed by Order in Council under section 186(1); or
(ii) 1% of the Council's revenue from rates and charges levied under section 158 in the preceding
financial year;
(d) to exercise any power under section 193 if the sum assessed under section 193(5A) in respect of
the proposal exceeds whichever is the greater of $100 000 or 1% of the Council's revenue from rates
and charges levied under section 158 in the preceding financial year.




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