Members of the public may attend ordinary meetings of Brisbane City Council, which are held every Tuesday afternoon from 2pm, except when Council is in recess. The first meeting for 2017 will be on Tuesday 7 February.
Seating is provided in the public gallery, which is accessed from Level 2 of City Hall after signing in and passing through a security screening. It is easiest to enter via the entrance at 64 Adelaide St, and take the lift (ahead on your right) to the 2nd floor where you must sign in and proceed through security. Visitors are required to agree to the conditions of entry, obtain a visitor’s pass, and then proceed to the security screening. We suggest you allow 10 minutes for this, although unlike committee meetings, you are permitted to enter and leave the gallery while the meeting is in progress.
Visitors are bound by the Meetings Local Law 2001 and conditions of entry to the Council Chambers Public Gallery area. Visitors must not interrupt the conduct of business, and strict silence must be kept. Tape recordings or photographing from the gallery is prohibited, unless first approved by the Chairman of Council.
The usual order of business for these meetings are:
- Confirmation of minutes of previous meeting
- Public address (if any)
- Question time: Councillors may ask questions of the Lord Mayor or the Chairman of any of the Standing Committees. Questions are taken alternately from members of the LNP administration, and other Councillors (ALP, The Greens, or the Independent Member for Tennyson).
- Reports from the previous meeting of each of the Standing Committees are recommended by the relevant chairman, debated in the chamber, and put to the vote.
- Establishment and Coordination Committee
- Public and Active Transport Committee
- Infrastructure Committee
- City Planning Committee
- Environment, Parks and Sustainability Committee
- Field Services Committee
- Lifestyle and Community Services Committee
- Finance and Economic Development Committee
The exception is the first meeting after a recess period, in which case only the Establishment and Coordination Committee will have met since the previous ordinary council meeting.
Sometimes opposition Councillors will ask that the various items in a committee report be voted on separately. Voting is carried on the voices unless a Division is called, in which case Councillors must move to either side of the room to indicated whether they vote for or against a motion (or with to abstain from voting by moving to the back of the room), and in this situation the votes of individual councillors are recorded in the minutes.
- Presentation of petitions (if any)
- General Business.
Timing of meetings can be quite variable, depending on the issues being discussed. The meeting usually adjourns for 15 minutes at (or shortly after) 4pm for afternoon tea. If it seems likely to proceed significantly beyond 6pm, they will usually adjourn for a dinner break of 60 minutes.
Potential visitors should be aware that the seating in the public gallery is quite hard and uncomfortable. Since you are required to remain seated (and security will otherwise ask you to leave), you might consider bringing something with a small amount of padding to sit on. There are toilets available on level 2, although these are sometimes locked after 6pm. There is no water fountain, and food and drink is not permitted, so if you want to get a drink you will need to sign out through security and go to the ground floor or leave the building. To return you need to fill in your complete details (full name, address, phone number, signature, etc) again, even if you have done so earlier that day.
Public wifi is (usually) available in the visitors gallery subject to terms and conditions, but you are not permitted to transmit audio or video of the proceedings. Hard copies of the agenda and committee reports are usually available in the visitors gallery at the start of the meeting, but there are not always sufficient copies for the number of visitors, so it can be worthwhile arriving in time for the beginning of the session.
More on meeting dates and locations are available at Council’s website.