Kalgoorlie Miner request for comment and response

Published on Friday, 10 March 2023 at 3:59:03 PM

The Kalgoorlie Miner has requested comment from the Shire of Coolgardie and the below is the response on behalf of the CEO, James Trail. It has been requested that the Kalgoorlie Miner print this response in full.


At the Special Meeting of Council held on Tuesday 07 March 2023 at the Kambalda Recreation Facility at 3.00pm, a member of the public was asked to leave the meeting in accordance with Local government operational guidelines - Disruptive behaviour by the public at council meetings May 2022 – produced by the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries. The guideline states.

From time to time, a local government may experience disruptive behaviour in council and committee meetings by one or more members of the public. In most cases, such behavior is of short duration and while members of council and staff may feel uncomfortable, business can still continue. However, in a few instances, this behavior can become so bad that normal business cannot proceed until the offending parties leave or are removed from the chamber. This guideline provides advice on the options available to councils when members of the public exhibit ongoing disruptive behaviour in meetings.

The following are examples of inappropriate behaviour:

  • constant interjection, particularly when the presiding member of elected members present at the meeting are speaking
  • members of the public calling for points of order
  • booing individual members or the council
  • contemptuous laughter or derisive comments at decisions or during debate
  • refusal to give up the floor to allow other members of the public to ask questions or demanding to ask questions before others in contradiction of an order by the presiding person
  • refusal to accede to a presiding member’s instructions, particularly when asked to desist from disruptive behaviour
  • use of abusive and/or inflammatory language when addressing council with a question or making a statement; unnecessarily repetitive questioning; and aggressive/threatening behaviour towards either elected members, council staff or members of the public

If the disruptive behaviour does not cease, then a very useful tool is for an adjournment to be called. In such cases the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) should discuss the situation with the offending parties during the adjournment and ask them to behave appropriately.

The Mayor or President and other elected members should retain the dignity of their office by not interacting in any way with the interjectors during the adjournment. It would be appropriate when resuming for the presiding member to issue a warning that further continuation of the disruptive behaviour will lead to stronger action.

If, after resuming the meeting, the disruptive behaviour continues it would be appropriate for the presiding member to again adjourn the meeting and instruct the CEO to ask the offending person or persons to leave the premises.

The CEO must take this action as while the presiding member is in charge of the meeting, it is the CEO who, through section 5.41(d) of the Act, has control or management of the local government’s buildings, including the council chamber and meeting rooms and is the ‘person in authority’ in relation to Section 70A of the Criminal Code.

Once the meeting has been adjourned, the CEO should advise the person or persons that they are requested to leave the premises and that if they remain, they will be committing the offence of trespass under Section 70A of the Criminal Code and could be prosecuted. The request to leave should be in the nature of a firm demand indicating that the request is not open for debate. Should the person or persons refuse to leave the CEO should advise them that the Police will be called to apprehend them, and the local government will instigate legal proceedings.

Depending on the nature and intensity of the disruptive behaviour the presiding person may decide that more warnings will be issued before asking the CEO to request the person or persons to leave or the Police being called.

It is advisable that on all occasions the assistance of the Police be the preferred action.

Prosecution for a breach of section 70A of the Criminal Code may be commenced by an employee of a local government who is acting in the course of their duties, a person authorised in writing by the local government or a Police Officer. A prosecution is initiated by a prosecution notice under section 24 of the Criminal Procedure Act 2004.


The Presiding member and CEO acted in accordance with guideline Disruptive behaviour by the public at council meetings May 2022. This incident was a clear example where a member of the public failed to show respect or consideration for the presiding member, elected members, council staff and other members of the public. Such disruptive behaviour makes the conduct of council business more difficult and stressful, reducing the efficiency and effectiveness of council meetings. Disruptive behaviour also denies other members of the public the opportunity to participate in and observe council proceedings.

The same member of the public failed to show respect or consideration to the presiding member, elected members, council staff and other members of the public at the Council Meeting Tuesday 28th February. Consequently the meeting had to be adjourned and a Special Meeting Scheduled.

Furthermore the Special Meeting held on Tuesday 07th March 2023 had to be adjourned for the third time due to disruptive behaviour from a member of the public who proceeded with offensive and derogative language and insults to councillor and staff.