Author Archives: Mike Smith

Lobbying in the US – The Basics

Lobbying in the US is very different from lobbying in Australia, and US grassroots lobbying is different again, but these three articles make some good points about the basics of lobbying everywhere:

If you want to know more about lobbying in the US you could do worse than check out the blog on these pages: http://www.lobbyists.info/, and if you want to know how bad and dark corporate lobbying can get in the US, get hold of this documentary and watch it several times – you’ll have trouble believing what you are seeing: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casino_Jack_and_the_United_States_of_Money … Mike Smith has a copy he might loan.

But, if you actually want to know how to lobby in the US, you can’t go past this book as a sound, thorough and well-rounded primer  http://www.amazon.com/Influence-Game-Insider-Washington-Lobbying/dp/1118271599/.

One major similarity between Australia and the US: each State and National jurisdiction has a different set of rules relating to lobbying registration, gift-giving and interaction with Government.

 

 

 

Queensland Government: New Labor Ministry

The New Economic Team

The re-elected Queensland Labor Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced her full Ministry on Monday, 11 December 2017, after announcing key economic portfolios a day earlier (see here).  Cabinet will be sworn in on Tuesday 12 December.

You can download short biographies of Cabinet members here http://bit.ly/2jsOJMk.

Cabinet has been expanded to 18, and there are three new Ministers, to replace the retiring Bill Byrne and Curtis Pitt who is to become Speaker: the new faces are Di Farmer, Member for Bulimba, Craig Crawford, Member for Barron River, while Stirling Hinchliffe, Member for Sandgate, returns to Cabinet.

Of the Cabinet of 18, 9 are women.  9 are from the Left Faction, 6 are from the Labor Forum (often called “Right” or “AWU”) faction, and 3 are from the Labor Unity (“Old Guard”) faction.

Ministers are:

  • Annastacia Palaszczuk, Premier, Minister for Trade*;
  • Jackie Trad, Deputy Premier, Treasurer, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships
  • Cameron Dick, Minister for State Development, Infrastructure and Planning, Minister for Manufacturing
  • Kate Jones, Minister for Innovation, Minister for Tourism Industry Development, Minister for the Commonwealth Games
  • Yvette D’Ath, Attorney General and Minister for Justice
  • Steven Miles, Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services
  • Grace Grace, Minister for Education and Minister for Industrial Relations
  • Mark Bailey, Minister for Transport and Main Roads
  • Anthony Lynham, Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy
  • Mick de Brenni, Minister for Housing and Public Works, Minister for Digital Technology, Minister for Sport
  • Shannon Fentiman, Minister for Employment and Small Buiness, Minister for Training and Skills Development
  • Leeanne Enoch, Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, Minister for Science, Minister for the Arts
  • Mark Ryan, Minister for Police and Minister for Corrective  Services
  • Coralee O’Rourke, Minister for Communities and Minister for Disability Services and Seniors
  • Mark Furner, Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries
  • Stirling Hinchliffe, Minister for Local Government, Minister for Racing, Minister for Multicultural Affairs
  • Di Farmer, Minister for Child Safety, Youth and Women, Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence
  • Craig Crawford, Minister for Fire and Emergency Services

The Premier also announced he appointment of five Assistant Ministers, each with both a policy portfolio and a regional focus:

  • Jennifer Howard, Assistant Minister for Veterans Affairs and Assistant Minister of State  (Ipswich)
  • Glenn Butcher, Assistant Minister for Treasury  (Gladstone)
  • Julieanne Gilbert, Assistant Minister for State Development  (Mackay)
  • Brittany Lauga, Assistant Minister for Education  (Keppel)
  • Meaghan Scanlon, Assistant Minister for Tourism Industry Development  (Gold Coast)

 

* Corrected from original post

 

 

 

 

Queensland Government: Key Economic Portfolios

Re-elected Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk

Re-elected Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has on Sunday 10 December 2017 announced part of her new Cabinet ahead of confirmation of the full team.

She has established a four-member economic team of senior Ministers.

The Premier will add Trade to her own responsibilities and she will chair the Cabinet Budget Review Committee, with senior Ministers to hold key economic roles.

  • Deputy Premier Jackie Trad will be appointed Treasurer and Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships
  • Cameron Dick will be appointed Minister for State Development, Infrastructure and Planning and Minister for Manufacturing, with responsibility for Economic Development Queensland and Queensland Reconstruction Authority.
  • Kate Jones will be appointed Minister for Innovation, Minister for Tourism Industry Development and Minister for the Commonwealth Games. Minister Jones will also have responsibility for International Education.

In her surprise media release she made extensive mention of Labor’s job-creation credentials and plans, including infrastructure.

The Premier has also announced she has expanded Cabinet to 18, and invited to join it:

  • Member for Sandgate Stirling Hinchliffe
  • Member for Barron River Craig Crawford and
  • Member for Bulimba Di Farmer.

The Premier’s allocation of all portfolios will be publicly announced ahead of the swearing-in ceremony at Government House on Tuesday 12 December 2017, and Labor’s new Caucus of 48 will meet in Brisbane on Monday 11 December.

You can access the full release here: http://statements.qld.gov.au/Statement/2017/12/10/premier-announces-cabinet-economic-team-to-drive-job-growth-across-qld

 

 

Making Minutes a Thing of Beauty

Are your meeting minutes boring, bad, deficient, mysterious? … Our free guide will help ensure your minutes are focussed, effective, useful, and sufficient unto their purpose!

 

You can download it from here: http://bit.ly/2jXqOVv

 

 

 

Queensland Election 2017 – What Happens Now?

We need a State Government, we need a Premier, and we need Ministers – but no-one can be absolutely certain yet about who is to be a member of the Queensland Legislative Assembly: there are at five or six seats still in doubt, and while Labor says they are confident of achieving a majority in their own right, they (and everyone else) are waiting for final results.

Of the seats where results are clear, no Party yet has a majority of the Parliament.

Postal votes – and possibly recounts – will determine the final outcome of in-doubt seats, and receipt of outstanding postal vote closes at 6.00 pm on Tuesday 5 December.  It’s also possible postal votes may overturn current expectations of seat-by-seat results, and throw more seats into the too-close-to-call pile – postal votes are being counted day-by-day, and new tallies in undecided seats are being announced daily.

Once postal votes are all in and all counted, the Electoral Commission of Queensland (ECQ – see http://www.ecq.qld.gov.au) will determine whether they need further recounting in any seat – they’ve been doing check counting all along, so a full recount will be reserved for the very closest seats.  That might take a day or two, or ECQ may determine there is no need.

If there’s no recount needed, it’s only after Tuesday the various Parties with members in the Assembly (Australian Labor Party, Liberal National Party, Katter’s Australian Party, One Nation Party, and perhaps the Greens) will hold meetings to determine who controls the Parliament and the Government, and who takes on which roles.

If Labor has a majority, we can expect a meeting of the Labor caucus in the days immediately after 5 December – and immediately after the caucus meeting we could expect a returned Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to announce her new Cabinet.

If Labor doesn’t have a majority, depending on how far short they fall it may take several days for a majority coalition to be stitched together – or possibly a minority Government – so we may not know who is our Government, and who is Premier, and a Minister, until the week of 11 December.

The Brisbane Times website has a pretty good summary of where things are http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland-election-2017-results and they keep it reasonably up to date.

 

 

 

How to Lobby – Updated

A great resource if you want something from Government – our updated* directory of How To Lobby articles**, published since 2013, indexed by topics, and entirely free!

Click one of these links to take you to that topic/heading:

      1. Why
      2. Who Does It?
      3. Reality Bites
      4. Strategy
      5. The Basics
      6. Targeting
      7. Policy Processes – What You MUST Know
      8. Getting Ready
      9. The Meeting
      10. What To Ask For
      11. How To Ask For It
      12. When To Ask
      13. Specialties

Why

Why Lobby? http://wp.me/p4xOhB-r

“Why Lobby?” Encore http://wp.me/p4xOhB-A

Take me back to the top of this article!

Who Does It

Who’s a Lobbyist? http://wp.me/p4xOhB-N

Who’s Your Best Lobbyist? http://wp.me/p4xOhB-23

Take me back to the top of this article!

Reality Bites

Lobbying: The Dirty Truth https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2014/08/12/lobbying-the-dirty-truth/

Myths & Legends of Lobbying https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2014/10/16/myths-lobbying/

Dogbert Does Lobbying
Regulating Lobbyists: Hardly https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2014/10/22/regulating-lobbyists-hardly/

Australian Lobbying: Credibility Fail https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2015/03/10/australian-lobbying-credibility-fail/

Take me back to the top of this article!

Strategy

Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There! https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2014/09/17/dont-just-do-something/

Strategy & Delusion https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2014/08/12/strategy-delusion/

DON’T Increase Awareness https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2014/08/26/dont-increase-awareness/

When to “go political” or be partisan https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2017/07/31/lobbying-when-political/

Take me back to the top of this article!

burke-grillThe Basics

Lobbying: 6 Things to Know https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2014/09/24/6-lobbying-things/

Lobbyists Do WHAT? https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2015/03/03/lobbyists-do-what/

Lobbying is Marketing https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2015/04/01/lobbying-is-marketing/

Take me back to the top of this article!

Targeting

“Get Me The Premier!” https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2014/11/12/get-me-the-premier/

Who’s the Decision-Maker? https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2014/10/02/who-decision-maker/

Take me back to the top of this article!

Policy Processes – What You MUST Know

Mysterious & Mysteriouser: How Did THAT Happen?  https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2014/12/18/mysterious-mysteriouser/

“So When WILL They Decide???” https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2014/12/10/when-will-they-decide/

From Althaus, Bridgman and Davis

From Althaus, Bridgman and Davis

How’s Your Rat King? https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2014/11/27/rat-king/

The Uber-Rat-King https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2014/12/04/the-uber-rat-king/

What IS A “Policy Instrument,” Anyway? https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2015/01/22/what-is-policy-instrument/

Sax vs. Cymbals https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2015/01/28/sax-vs-cymbals/

Take me back to the top of this article!

Getting Ready To Lobby

Lobbying Labor’s Queensland Government: How? https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2015/02/17/lobbying-labors-queensland-government-how/

Take me back to the top of this article!

The Meeting

How to Get That Meeting https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2015/05/06/how-to-get-that-meeting/

What if You Can’t Connect with the Decision-Maker? https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2015/07/28/cant-reach-decision-makers/

When you meet the Minister … https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2015/03/18/when-you-meet-the-minister/

Take me back to the top of this article!

What To Ask For

Persuading Government: What You Say  https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2015/05/13/persuading-government-what-you-say/

What Makes A Policy Good? https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2015/05/28/policy-good/

Make Your “Ask” Feasible https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2015/07/01/make-your-ask-feasible/

Take me back to the top of this article!

agressive-manHow To Ask For It

Connecting with Decision-Makers https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2014/11/11/connect-decision-makers/

Tell Government a Story!  https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2015/07/22/story-to-government/

Motivating & Persuading https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2014/10/09/motivating-persuading/

Persuading Government: How To Say It  https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2015/05/20/persuading-government-how-to-say-it/

The Talking Dead: Say This & Your Project Dies  https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2015/06/18/the-talking-dead/

Take me back to the top of this article!

When To Ask

Election Time: Early Birds Get Worms!  https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2015/08/04/elections-lobbying-early-birds/

What it means when Government is in “caretaker mode” https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2017/11/02/qld-govt-caretaker-2017/

Take me back to the top of this article!

Specialties

Crisis Management 101 https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2015/01/13/crisis-management-101/

And now, over to you:

What other topics would you like to see covered?  What have you struggled with in the past, when looking for decisions from Government?

 

* With more content than previous versions!
** There will be more!
Take me back to the top of this article!

 

Queensland Election 2017 – Sunday’s Status

Labor seems likely to secure 48 seats (out of 93) in Queensland’s Legislative Assembly, plus or minus one – which is a small but clear majority.

But, be cautious – there’s only 72.2% of the votes counted so far, and the notional two-candidate count in some seats has counted the wrong two candidates!

Ben Rau from the Tallyroom has an excellent summary of the current status of counting as at Sunday 26 November 2017, including seats likely won and lost for each of One Nation, the LNP, Katter Party and Greens.  You can access his summary here http://www.tallyroom.com.au/32465.

 

“Can you Chair the Meeting, Please?” III

Points of order, machinery issues/motions, and rulings: this third article helps inexperienced Chairs of formal or semi-formal meetings understand them, and concludes our series.

In our first article we briefly covered the formal or semi-formal nature of meetings, and what that means, and what it means that the Chair is in charge.  You can have a look at it here https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2017/10/26/chair-meeting-1/

In our second article we covered the five basics of an efficient meeting: an agenda, reports, proposals, discussion, decisions. It’s available here https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2017/10/31/chair-meeting-2/

In this article we’re covering Topics Four and Five: points of order and machinery issues/motions, and rulings.

Fourth, understand points of order and machinery issues/motions.

There are plenty of decisions made in meetings which are called “machinery” or procedural, because they are (allegedly, sometimes …) about making the meeting run smoothly.  These include motions like:

  • “That the speaker be allowed an extension of time of 5 minutes”
  • “That debate be ended, and the motion be now put”
  • “That owing to the meeting running late, item 6 on the agenda be dealt with last and item 10 on the agenda be dealt with now”
  • “That the meeting dissent from the Chair’s ruling that Kevin Rudd is eligible to vote”.

The standing orders of many organisations require machinery motions to go to a vote with very restricted debate, or with no debate.

If a dissent motion is moved, the Chair probably needs to vacate the Chair and hand it over to someone else until the dissent motion is dealt with, at which time you resume Chairing.  If a motion to dissent is carried, the Chair must make an alternative ruling (sometimes making no ruling is an alternative).

Sometimes, the Chair can propose a machinery or process actions to the meeting, and members may be comfortable to accept it without a vote – in most cases you would call this a ruling.  You might express it something like this: “As we are running out of time, I propose we deal with item 11 on the agenda now, and adjourn the other items to the next meeting.  If no-one has a better suggestion, I’ll rule this way.”  You would only do this sort of thing if you were confident it was necessary and would be approved.  If you are not sure it would be approved, you could say this instead: “As we are running out of time, I propose we deal with item 11 on the agenda now, and adjourn the other items to the next meeting.  Would someone like to move that?”

Points of order are process/machinery suggestions from attendees other than the Chair.  People will say things like:

  • “This speaker is off topic and you should rule her out of order”
  • “Bob has spoken already in this debate – if he wants to speak twice then I want to speak twice”
  • “Julie isn’t debating the issue, she’s just being nasty about people”
  • “We’ve already decided this – we shouldn’t discuss it again and again and again”.

Points or Order are sometimes very helpful, pointing out things the Chair hasn’t noticed.  The Chair must make a ruling on every point of order, and debate stops until you make your ruling, but a Chair needs to be alert to sneaky debaters who sometimes try to make a debating point rather than a procedural point; for example:

  • “Point of order!  The speaker is talking rubbish” or
  • “Point of information … the facts are …”

are not points of order at all – they are debating arguments which should be made during debate.

You don’t have to agree with the point of order when you rule on it – you are allowed to say, and should say when appropriate “There’s no such thing as a ‘point of information’ – please sit down” or “That isn’t a point of order” or “I reject your point of order because Bob hasn’t spoken previously – that was a point of order he made earlier, which doesn’t count as speaking in the debate.”

(From Amazon website)

Fifth, understand the rulings you can make.

Rulings are decisions the Chair makes, about how the meeting should run.  You mightn’t realise it, but you are making implied rulings from the Chair all the time: who is eligible to speak, who speaks next, whether there have been enough speakers on a motion, calling an uncontroversial motion carried, and so on – the meeting just flows around this kind of ruling.  Sometimes, though, when the meeting is going astray, you need to make a formal ruling, to get it back on track.  Some examples:

  • “I rule you are going off topic and need to refocus or finish speaking”
  • “No, you can’t speak again – you’ve already spoken in this debate”
  • “Your language is offensive to others present and I’m ruling you out of order.  Sit down.”
  • “We dealt with the issue you’re talking about last meeting.  If you want to overturn a past decision, you need to move a rescission motion, and now isn’t the right time.”

Make rulings sparingly, and only when necessary or very desirable – if you make them too often, people will start to worry you’re suppressing democracy!

 


 

These are very basic rules about Chairing – there are whole books on the topic – so if you are going to Chair more often, you might want to think about more formal training.

A few final tips:

 

You can download the whole of these three articles in one file, here http://bit.ly/2yeRE1y.

 

 

 

Queensland Government is in “Caretaker Mode”

Now the State election has been called – see https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2017/10/29/queensland-state-election-basics/ – the Government moves into what is called “Caretaker Mode”.

Caretaker Mode is all about both maintaining public sector impartiality, and ensuring no decisions or commitments are made which will bind a new, possibly unwilling Government, post-election.

Many public servants interpret this incredibly widely – far more so than is intended or appropriate, and this can be a real nuisance for anyone trying to do business with the State Government.

Official guidelines for the conventions which apply during the caretaker period are set out in the Cabinet Handbook, section 9, here https://www.premiers.qld.gov.au/publications/categories/policies-and-codes/handbooks/cabinet-handbook/caretaker-conventions.aspx.

In summary:

  • Caretaker conventions are merely conventions and not binding at law – but are nearly always adhered to;
  • Caretaker period starts the moment the election is called and lasts until either te result is clear or a new Government appointed;
  • Things to avoid during the caretaker period: appointments of significance, implementing new policies, entering into major contracts or undertakings;
  • Normal Departmental operations are to continue, but with care to ensure there’s no presumption about who will win the election;
  • Departments should not at Ministerial request develop new policy initiatives;
  • Opposition access to public servants is through requests to the Minister and any such discussions are confidential, but public servants may not discuss the merits of policy options with the Opposition and should keep no official notes;
  • Departments prepare two sets of briefing documents for the incoming Government: one for a returned Government, and the other for a new Government;
  • All Cabinet documents are readied for destruction;
  • All Bills in Parliament lapse and must start again from scratch after the election, and any Acts not yet proclaimed by the Governor must await the intentions of the incoming Government.  In some circumstances subordinate legislation may be approved;
  • The Premier will determine whether Government advertising campaigns continue – anything highlighting the role of Ministers or covering matters of political controversy are usually stopped;
  • Ministers generally don’t go to Council of Australian Governments meetings which occur during the caretaker period.

In detail:

Here’s a downloadable PDF file for your reading pleasure, courtesy of Ethical Consulting Services! http://bit.ly/2hnbr4p

 

 

 

“Can you Chair the Meeting, Please?” II

Are you new to chairing very formal or semi-formal meetings?   This article will give you the basics on agendas, reports, motions, debates and decisions – it is the second of a three-part series.

In our previous first-time-chairing article, we laid out the formal or semi-formal nature of meetings, and what that means (Topic One), as well as setting out what it means that the Chair is in charge (Topic Two) – check it out here https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2017/10/26/chair-meeting-1/.

We also identified Topic Three – the five basics of an efficient meeting:

  • an agenda,
  • reports,
  • proposals,
  • discussion, and
  • decisions.

Those 5 cover pretty much everything, and they’re the subject of this article.

We’re going to cover Topic Four (points of order and machinery issues/motions) and Topic Five (rulings) in the third and final article in the series, next week.

The Agenda

… is the list of things to be discussed – it should reflect what’s important.

If there’s no agenda, make it the first meaty bit of business you deal with: ask the meeting “what does this meeting need to deal with?” and once you’ve got a few suggestions you can ask “which are the ones we should deal with first?”  If there is an agenda, and you don’t like it, you can ask the meeting if there are any additions or changes proposed to the agenda.  If there’s no agenda at meeting after meeting, that’s a big flashing billboard saying, “These meetings are inefficient – the Chair and Secretary must together provide agendas for future meetings”.

If anyone tries to raise issues not covered by the agenda, you need to be alert to the interests of those who couldn’t get there: if the issue is contentious or impacts on those missing, you might want to say, “We shouldn’t be making a decision about this since missing members didn’t get notice of it and it is important they have their say – can we refer this item to the next meeting for decision, so everyone knows it is coming up?”

There is nearly always a decision (or several decisions) made at each and every every agenda item – for example, to note a report.  A good Chair will encourage a decision at each item, if no-one in the meeting initiates a proposal

Reports

… provide information to guide the meeting on decisions they might need to make.

They are usually flagged in the agenda e.g. “Item 6(a) … Report from the Finance Committee” and there should normally be someone there to talk about it.  One big meeting destroyer is over-long reports, usually under-prepared.  When you call on someone to deliver a report (By saying “We’re up to the Finance Committee report on the agenda – who will deliver this report?”) you can also say something like “We’ve got a lot of business to get through – can you speak for 5 minutes and we will have time for questions afterwards?”

Good reports include proposals to the meeting, arising from the report.  Poor reports don’t have any concrete outcomes and sometimes do no more than provide information.

Proposals

… usually called motions, proposals are about action – a motion without an action component should be immediately suspect – if there is no action why bother?

Almost every agenda item should result in a proposal and if something happens in the meeting and no-one moves a motion in consequence, the Chair should initiate a proposal by asking a question: “Would anyone like to move that we adopt the recommendation?” or “What should we do about this report?  Does anyone want to propose anything?” or similar.

As Chair, you can ask for motions to be redrafted for clarity or to add missing bits, but you would normally only do so if the meeting seemed to need it – you should always ask for motions to be written down if they are more than a single, short sentence, to make it easier for a proper record of decisions to be kept, and to make sure there is no ambiguity in what is being proposed.  Every motion requires someone to propose it – the “mover” and someone additional to support it – the “seconder”.

Once someone moves a motion and exercises their right to speak, the Chair then always asks for a seconder and names them.  Motions without a seconder present at the meeting don’t get discussed any further – if the mover’s speech hasn’t won over a seconder, it means they motion has little support, so the meeting shouldn’t spend time on it.

Once motions have been moved, seconded and debated, they must be put to the vote – see “decisions” below.

Controversial or important motions normally appear on the meeting notice and agenda, so people with an interest in the issue can make sure to attend.

The Discussion

… is supposed to help the meeting understand enough about an issue to make an informed decision.  Discussion is often the biggest destroyer of effective meetings, because so many participants don’t understand discussion should happen in only three circumstances:

  • a question and answer after a report;
  • debating whether to accept, reject or amend the motion; and
  • the meeting decides to suspend the rule (suspend standing orders) to have a free-for-all discussion.

For informal meetings you or the meeting may choose to relax some of those rules, but if you do then let people know you’ll go back to more formal rules if things bog down or go in circles or degenerate.

Many participants don’t understand they only get to speak once, never get to speak over others (except when making a point of order or procedural motion – see below) go way off-topic, or would talk forever.  When people are doing any of these things, you must pull them up.  If the meeting might run over time, you can suggest, or ask the meeting to impose time limits on speakers, thus: “We’re in danger of going over time, so I suggest we limit speakers to five minutes only – is everyone OK with that or should I put the time limit to a vote?” or similar.

Most times, discussion involves debating a motion.  All standing orders have important things to say about the rules of debating, and these are very common requirements:

  • Mover and seconder get to speak first, then you must invite speakers against the motion;
  • If there is no opposition, go straight to a decision;
  • If anyone wants to speak against, up to two speakers against go next;
  • After the first two speakers against, it’s one speaker for, followed by one against, and repeat;
  • As soon as one “side” or the other runs out of speakers, the mover always gets a right of reply to what’s been said in debate; and
  • After the “right of reply” speech, no-one else gets to speak, and you must get the meeting to make a decision.

Decisions

… are the whole point of a meeting; they are supposed to be well-informed, and about things which are clear – it’s the Chair’s job to make sure of that, and it’s why most motions should be written down, and why we have discussion.  Meetings often decide these sort of things:

  • to admit new members,
  • to accept the minutes of a previous meeting as being true and accurate,
  • to accept inward correspondence and endorse outward correspondence,
  • to reject a recommendation to increase Board sitting fees, and
  • to set the date and time for the Annual General Meeting.

All decisions happen through the Chair asking the meeting to vote.  The Chair says, “all those in favour say ‘aye’”, calls out how many have voted yes, then says “all those against say ‘nay’” and calls out how many have voted no.  Sometimes the Chair might need to ask, “are there any abstentions” and calls out the number of abstentions, when issues have been controversial.  The Chair always announces the result this way: “I declare the motion lost [or carried]”.  So many inexperienced Chairs forget to call for those against and declare it carried or lost!

If you are lucky, your standing orders set out a way to resolve tied votes.  Usually, a tied vote is declared lost.  Sometimes, the Chair has what’s called a casting vote, to be exercised only when a motion is tied, as a way to break the deadlock.  In this case, depending on your standing orders, the Chair gets a second vote.  Some rules say that the Chair can’t vote on anything at all except to use a casting vote.  You need to know which way your standing orders go!

All decisions must be recorded in the minutes of the meeting, similarly to this example below, although you usually don’t need to record numbers for and against:

Moved: Mike Smith/Seconded: Stephen Robertson

That the Treasurer’s report be received, and that the proposed budget for next financial year be approved.

Lost with 3 for, 4 against, and 3 abstentions.

 

 

In the next and final first-time chairing article, we’ll cover Topics Four and Five: points of order and machinery issues/motions, and rulings.  That’ll be out next week.

Please offer any thoughts you’ve got, about what needs to be added or changed!