Public question time set to be renamed in Bathurst

BATHURST Regional Council’s monthly public question time session is set to be renamed. 

Councillors have voted for the name to be changed to ‘public forum’, to prevent any confusion to people in the public gallery.

Councillor Monica Morse said referring to the session as “public question time” gave the impression that people could use the time to get a response from individual councillors, instead of just making a statement about issues in the community. 

“We call it public question time at the moment and I would like to amend that to public forum,” she said.

“Lots of people get very confused. They think that they can come in and ask questions of the councillors – they certainly can ask the mayor – and it has come up quite a few times.”

There was some discussion among the councillors of reducing the time allocated for people to speak from five minutes to three minutes each, but it was elected that the time say the same. 

Although not moved, Cr Ian North also wanted to see further changes made to public question time. 

He would like public question time at Ordinary meetings to be restricted to items included in the business papers. 

To allow members of the public to raise other issues, he suggested public question time be introduced to Policy Committee meetings. 

“A lot of people turn up to meetings to talk about issues before council that night and they can go for a while, and they’ve got a right to talk about their issue,” he said.

“But I’ve always struggled with the fact that we don’t give them a chance at the Policy Committee to have a chat.” 

Rules regarding public question time are part of council’s code of meeting practice documents. 

Council will place the code of meeting practice on public exhibition with the changes for 28 days. 

A report will come back to council after the exhibition period for councillors to make a final decision on regarding the name of public question time.