Presentation on theme: "Some Hints for ALSA Councillors 1.Never arrive on time; otherwise you will be stamped a raw beginner. 2.Never say anything; otherwise you will be co-opted."— Presentation transcript:
Some Hints for ALSA Councillors 1.Never arrive on time; otherwise you will be stamped a raw beginner. 2.Never say anything; otherwise you will be co-opted onto a subcommittee or working party. 3.If you do say something, then do not do so until the meeting is almost over; this will mark you as being very wise. 4.Do not read the Council Materials; they could colour your views. 5.When speaking try hard to be as vague as possible; that way you will not irritate any of the others. 6.Do not ever let facts spoil a good argument. 7.Always be the first to move an adjournment; this will make you very popular. 8.Try to be original – for example, if somebody else proposes “That we now adjourn to the nearest pub”, then move an amendment to delete “pub” and insert “beach”. 9.When in doubt, suggest that a special subcommittee be appointed.
ADVANCED MEETING PROCEDURE Matt Floro | September Council 2012
Quotable Quotes A committee is a collection of the unfit, chosen from amongst the unwilling by the incompetent in order to do the impossible. - Anon.
Meeting Procedure “A way of conducting meetings efficiently” Applies equally to incorporated and unincorporated bodies
Meeting Procedure Statute law (e.g. Associations Incorporation Act 1981 (Qld)) Organisation’s ConstitutionOrganisation’s Standing OrdersResolutions passed by the organisation Common law (e.g. Chair has no casting vote)
Why “Advanced Meeting Procedure”? National Union of Students Annual Conference, 2007 National Annual General Meeting, Amnesty International Australia, 2009 UQLS AGMs, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 ALSA AGMs, 2010, 2011
Renton’s Guide for Meetings and Organisations The authoritative text for unincorporated and incorporated associations and their meetings Written by Nick Renton AM, Fellow of the Faculty of Actuaries Plain, accessible style Published in 2 volumes by Thomson Lawbook Co: Volume 1 - Guide for Voluntary Associations Volume 2 - Guide for Meetings First appeared in 1961 Most recent edition: (8th ed, 2005) Available in all good libraries Retails for ~$100 for each volume
Joske’s Law & Procedures at Meetings in Australia Explores various sources of law that govern meetings in Australia Common law Corporations Act 2001 (Qld) Statutes governing unit title and strata title companies More legalistic Forthcoming release – 26 October 2012! Will retail for $116.95
Robert’s Rules of Order United States text Rules of order intended to be adopted as a parliamentary authority for use by a deliberative assembly Most recent edition: (11 th ed, 2011) Most widely used parliamentary (congressional) authority in US
Robert’s Rules of Order
What Makes a Successful Meeting? ?
Objectives/outcomes set Know your chairing style (or your participation style) Respect for others’ points of view Appreciation for the attendees Everyone (has a chance) to have a say Commitment to follow up on agreed actions Objectives/outcomes achieved
Chairing Style Facilitation Direction Be honest about the style you are using!
Chairing Style ImpartialityFirmnessTact Common sense CourtesyPatienceFairnessSelf-controlTolerance Orderly mind Humour
Chairing Style Encourage new, shy, or inexperienced members to express their views Preferable if asked early on Discourage any particularly garrulous members from monopolising or unduly dominating any discussion Time limits!!! The closure: That the question now be put That the speaker be heard for a further X minutes only That the speaker no longer be heard In appropriate circumstances, invite a motion or an amendment Assist members who offer ideas to express these in proper motion form Watch out for ambiguities in motions and have such ambiguities rectified at early a stage as practicable Invite (or personally put) questions designed to elicit relevant facts Act as a resource person Confine discussions to ideas rather than personalities Stop any sotto voce discussions by “sub-groups” in corners of the meeting while a speaker officially has the floor Ensure all decisions are properly recorded in a form facilitating their subsequent implementation A good Chair will not only know the formal procedural rules but will also be able to determine when they should be rigidly enforced and when they can be relaxed
Chairing Style Before the meeting: Study the subjects to be discussed and all the background papers, so as to be in a position to lead the meeting to a conclusion on each item Ensure that someone able to take the minutes will be available Plan the meeting so that it will run smoothly and expeditiously Where appropriate, brief particular persons as to the role they are expected to play during the meeting Ensure suitable physical facilities for the meeting will be suitable
Decision-Making Process Intention is to replace the separate individual views of those present by a single, corporate view – view of the meeting as a whole – and to do so by a democratic process 2 stages Debate or discussion Vote
Perfect Venue? Advanced Concept Teaching Space, University of Queensland
Agenda Can serve as both notice of meeting and agenda paper Annotated agenda paper Convenient for Secretary to sit alongside the Chair
Notice convening the meeting Desirable in the case of important meetings for the Chair, immediately after declaring the meeting open, to call on the Secretary to read out the notice convening the meeting Identifies the meeting with the notice Reminds members of purpose of the meeting Any challenge to the validity of the meeting, for example, on the grounds that the notice was inadequate, must be made at this stage. Procedural motions to alter the order of business and/or ration debating time can also be moved at this stage
Apologies Secretary should read out any apologies and Chair should ask whether any other members have sent apologies It should then be moved That the apologies be accepted If the meeting does not wish to grant this leave of absence, then the appropriate motion is That the apologies be received The fact that a member may have been granted leave does not prevent subsequent attendance or voting at the meeting
Minutes Minutes of resolution cf minutes of narration That the minutes be confirmed That the minutes be taken as a true and accurate record That the minutes as circulated be taken as read and confirmed That the minutes as circulated, and as amended, be taken as read and confirmed That the minutes be taken as read and confirmed when the minutes have not been circulated, while in order, suggests that the committee has something to hide If the contents of the minutes are likely to prove controversial, or if minutes need to contain technical details, it may be desirable to circulate draft minutes to those who attended and invite comments as to accuracy and adequacy to the Secretary by a deadline. They can then be circulated as usual.
Business President’s report Secretary’s report Treasurer’s report At each meeting a brief financial statement should be given That the accounts as presented be passed for payment That payment of the following accounts: … be ratified and the Treasurer’s Report adopted That the budget for the year ending 30 June 20xx be adopted Such a motion authorises the incurring of expenditure up to the limit shown under each heading; further amounts would require further authorisation Motions on notice General business Notices of motions Date of next meeting Close of meeting
Adoption vs Reception of Reports Detailed reports are often given by the President, Secretary, and Treasurer The President should move: That the report be adopted When this motion has been seconded, a general discussion on the year’s activities is in order If the meeting disagrees with the report, then an amendment to alter the motion to That the report be received would be in order This permits the same general discussion without committing the meeting to the contents of the report But remember: the mover has a right of reply (if he/she chooses to exercise it)! If there is a requirement for audit in the Constitution then it is not appropriate for the accounts to be adopted on a “subject to audit” basis
President President should normally chair all meetings Rotation of chairing undesirable as continuity is lost and the President’s authority is diminished. Important for President to build up experience in running a meeting Rules or standing orders normally define who is to be Chair of any meeting, usually the President, or in his/her absence a Vice-President or past President If after the advertised starting time a quorum is present and none of the persons provided for by the rules or standing orders has turned up, then the meeting may choose one of its own members for this position
President (cont’d) President entitled to participate in debates In many cases will even be proper to take a leading part in discussions On the other hand, important to ensure that all committee members get opportunity to express their view In large committees, undesirable that Chair should become to actively involved in controversial debate Should draw attention to different capacities in which he/she speaking from time to time (as Chair, when introducing subject, giving facts, controlling relevance, summarising discussion, arguing a case)
President (cont’d) For best results, Chair should not enter debate at too early a stage May unduly sway uncommitted members May discourage members who are really opposed to Chair’s view from openly contradicting Chair Useful device for Chair is to ask open-ended questions President sometimes made ex officio member of all subcommittees Does not mean expected to attend all meetings Can assist subcommittee members and act as liaison Can also discourage fresh thoughts and approaches
Confidentiality and Confirmation Committee proceedings should always be treated as confidential unless the rules or resolution setting up the committee provide otherwise. Of course, the committee itself may by specific resolution decide to vary this privilege, either generally or on a specific occasion Minutes of a committee meeting should be confirmed at the next committee meeting However, it may be desirable to confirm the minutes of a committee’s meeting before the committee’s term expires
Quorum, Binding, Ex Officio Quorum for committee should be set out in the constitution Quorum for any sub-committee should be fixed by the parent body appointing it Or else, common law requirement that all members of the subcommittee be present in order to constitute valid subcommittee meeting Decisions of a committee meeting cannot be made binding on committee’s successors But decisions made by a committee meeting remain in force and govern future meetings of that committee (unless rescinded) Unless the rules provide otherwise, ex officio members have full voting rights
Irregular Conduct E.g. passing a motion without observing constitutional requirements in regard to notice or majority Any such conduct discovered only after the conclusion of the meeting concerned cannot be rectified other than by dealing with the matter again at a subsequent meeting Irregular conduct discovered during the course of a meeting should be dealt with immediately by point of order
Pitfalls President who habitually seeks to override a committee or to ignore its decisions is likely to cause morale problems Waste of resources and bad for morale if committee meeting is called when not really needed Falling attendances Reluctance to make decisions because few attendees Further fall in attendance, because meetings seen as ineffective Factions and “caucuses” Sometimes useful for committee to hold meeting with light informal agenda so it can “brainstorm” and review its mission
Efficiencies Sometimes useful for committee to hold meeting with light informal agenda so it can “brainstorm” and review its mission Minor matters capable of resolution by office bearers raised privately with them before or after the meeting, rather than being brought up formally during the meeting itself If organisers of a particular meeting have reason to believe that discussion will get heated, may be desirable to distribute copies of the standing orders before the start of the meeting and, at the commencement of proceedings, draw attention to the relevant provisions and the intention to ensure strict compliance
Modifications Examples of Modifications Need not be motions for discussion of issues Members may speak more than once Motions need not be seconded Alternative affirmative and negative speakers (formal debate) not essential Proceedings normally confidential Reasons Formality impractical when committees are smaller
Motions A procedural motion is one dealing with the conduct of the meeting itself A substantive motion is one ordering something to be done, authorising some past or proposed action, expressing the meeting’s opinion in regard to some subject, or otherwise dealing with the organisation’s general activities
Form of Motions Verb must be in subjunctive mood E.g. That the minutes be confirmed, not That the minutes are confirmed Not a mere statement E.g. That the proposed increases in fees are unjustified should be expressed as That this meeting record its opinion that the proposed increases in fees are unjustified However action is to be preferred: That this meeting request the government not increase fees Should not use first person E.g. We call on the government to increase education funding should be That this meeting calls on the government to increase education funding Can consist of several parts E.g. (a), (b), (c)
Form of Motions Sometimes a preamble can be used: That, as the ALSA Imprimatur magazine is of low standard and low readership, its production be discontinued and the ALSA Monthly be established as ALSA’s new magazine. A motion should be quite specific (especially for alteration of rules): E.g. That in Clause 15 of the UQLS Constitution, “$5” be deleted and “$10” inserted in its place, not That the UQLS Constitution be altered to provide for a $10 subscription E.g. That the ALSA Constitution be amended in accordance with those amendments made in Appendix A, with numbering to be adopted as set out in that Appendix. A motion which is ambiguously worded or misleading should not be accepted by the Chair E.g. A substantive motion submitted as a procedural motion A motion may be phrased in the negative: E.g. That the vacancy in the UQLS management committee be not filled
Amendments Alteration or proposed alteration to terms of a motion, designed to improve a motion without contradicting it Can remove words, remove words and insert others in their place, or add new words
Form of Amendments Like a motion, must start with That, and must be specific and unambiguous: E.g. That the words “but only with the management committee’s permission” be omitted If the desired alteration is a main one, it is best to reword the whole motion (cf ALSA Standing Orders): E.g. That, all words after “That” be omitted and “…” be inserted in their place Must be relevant to the motion Must not alter the substantial nature of the motion so that it results in a motion on an entirely different subject Must not amount to a direct contradiction of the motion E.g. Not, never If the validity of any proposed amendment in accordance with the above criteria appears doubtful, the Chair should decide in favour of accepting it, leaving the question of rejecting the amendment to the meeting
Procedural Motions Disposing of the business before the Chair permanently Disposing of the business before the Chair temporarily Dealing with time limits
Disposing of business permanently “The closure”: That the question be now put To record a decision and to conclude the debate Not put: That the question be not now put To avoid a decision and to continue the debate Next business: That the meeting proceed to the next business or That the motion be withdrawn or That the amendment be withdrawn To avoid a decision and to conclude the debate
Disposing of business temporarily Reference: That this matter be referred to a committee Debate adjournment: That the debate be adjourned Can also stipulate a time for resumption of debate Meeting adjournment: That the meeting stand adjourned Can also stipulate a time for resumption of the meeting or for next meeting Chair can adjourn meeting without requiring motion when All business has been concluded Time for adjournment in rules reached If quorum lapses Tabling: That the question lie on the table
Standing Orders Permanent rules for the regulation of the business and proceedings at an organisation’s meetings Meeting procedure should be clearly defined Actual choice of mechanical details is of less importance than that it should be well documented and readily ascertainable Rules should be carefully worded so that disputes as to interpretation can be minimised Should be a prescribed reference work to be the authority for situations not dealt with in the standing orders E.g. Any matters not dealt with in the above standing orders shall be governed by the principles set out in the latest edition of Guide for Meetings by N E Renton Useful for Chair to have copy on hand during meeting
General Meetings General meetings can validly pass resolutions giving directions to a committee, except in respect of matters which have been specifically reserved for the committee Decisions remain in force and govern future meetings, but only until varied Non-constitutional motions passed by a meeting purporting to give instructions to a future meeting can be ignored by that subsequent meeting But a parent body can legitimately give instructions to subsidiary bodies (e.g. subcommittees) E.g. A general meeting wanting to influence the conduct of a subsequent general meeting could direct the committee to take appropriate steps to bring a certain matter forward at that meeting and could instruct the secretary to list it on the agenda Start an Annotated Constitution!
Conferences Processing Motions (like ALSA Council!) Conferences responsible for dealing with a series of motions are meetings within the usual meaning of that term: Normal meeting procedure accordingly applies: Challenges: Relatively long time spans (e.g. one or more whole days) Length agenda but insufficient time Large number of participants (many of whom may not know each other) ALSA COUNCIL!!!
Ideas/Possible Solutions Council Business Committee Arranging motions on the agenda in a logical and convenient sequence Inserting appropriate explanatory memoranda Ensuring all business complies with Standing Orders and Constitution Agenda Paper Setting out each motion (cf AMSA Draft Motions List) Supporting statement and opposing statement Written amendments can be received up to 2 to 3 weeks before Council and circulated Should not be made compulsory (so as not to stifle ideas during Council) Contact details of movers circulated prior to Council
Ideas/Possible Solutions Plenary and Concurrent Sessions Concurrent sessions with own Chair and agenda Delegated decision-making power Subject to right of plenary sessions to decide: At start of conference, that any particular motion/issue be reserved for the Plenary session After a concurrent session has passed/defeated a motion, that it be reconsidered by the Plenary session Discussion Papers Distributed to all members three weeks before Council Written submissions invited and circulated “Taken as read” at Council and brief oral presentation Workshopped in concurrent sessions Released to media on a staggered basis – more publicity
Further Reading Thomson Reuters’ web site for Renton’s Guide edition-volume-1/productdetail/ edition-volume-1/productdetail/69910 Nick Renton’s web site Review of Renton’s Guide in Hearsay, Journal of Queensland Bar Association 2&Itemid=45 2&Itemid=45 Joske’s Law and Procedure at Meetings in Australia (9th ed, 2001) australia-11e/productdetail/ australia-11e/productdetail/ Associations and clubs law in Australia and New Zealand (3 rd ed, 2010)