Standing Orders

The Rules of Order are the rules that keep Council meetings orderly and focused on the issues at hand. They can seem quite intimidating, and quite bureaucratic. But they ensure that Council only discusses issues that matter to postgraduates. Below are a few key points to keep in mind:

Formal Roles

The Chair: The Chair is the facilitator of the meeting, and ensures the rules of order are kept to. The Chair also ensures everyone has a chance to be heard, and facilitates discussion so it stays on focus.

The Chair only has a casting vote at meetings of Council, and is eligible to vote in elections that take place at Council. The Chair cannot carry proxies, and does not vote in any other circumstance.

The Chair of Council is the President, although Council can appoint another Chair through a procedural motion.

The Minute-taker: This person records the proceedings of the meeting, including motions put and voted on, and major items of discussion. The minutes are not a verbatim record of Council, but an attempt to capture the main contours of the meeting.

Minutes are written up and circulated for the next Council, to be accepted (with any changes put by Council) as a true record of the Association.

The Secretary is the normal minute-taker at meetings of Council.

Speaking at Meetings

Speaking List: The Chair will normally take a speaking list to allow members to have an opportunity to speak without interruption. The Chair will tend to prioritise those who have not spoken to the matter yet. Members who wish to speak signal to the Chair, and will be added to the list.

Formal Debate: On occasion, the Chair will move to a formal debate, usually to discuss a particularly contentious motion. The Chair will ask for speakers for and against, and will alternate between them. The Chair will also ensure that an equal number of speakers on each side are on the list.

Point of Order: Where a member wishes to clarify a point, or note a rule of order, they can announce a point of order, at which point the Chair will generally recognise them and allow them to speak very briefly on the point of order.


Council votes on all motions, whether procedural or substantive. Each Councillor has one vote. Members have one vote at Standing Working Committees.

Most motions are carried by a simple majority. A simply majority is 50% of votes plus one (1). If a majority vote in favour of a motion, it is declared carried. If a majority vote against the motion, it is declared failed.

Proxies: Councillors may proxy their votes at Council to another Member of the Association. This is normally done when they will be absent, or must leave the meeting.

No Member of the Association or Councillor may carry more than three (3) votes, including their own.

All proxies must be submitted in writing to the Secretary or the President. They should generally indicate a first, second and third preference.


Motions may be moved by attendees at the meeting, provided that they have voting rights. It is preferable that longer motions be submitted in writing to the Secretary prior to the meeting.

Substantive Motions: Substantive motions become formal positions and policies of the Association. They are usually directive of a course of action; endorsements of actions; or ratifications of formal policy.

Substantive motions require a mover and a seconder.

Procedural Motions: Procedural motions change the order of the meeting, who is the Chair, or what order items are discussed.

Procedural motions do not require a seconder, and voting members must vote either for or against, with no abstentions.

Amendments: Members can propose amendments to motions, to make slight or significant changes to the wording or substance of the motion. If the amendments are acceptable to the mover, they will become part of the motion. If not, the amendment is put to a vote of Council, and passes with a simple majority.

Once it has been amended, the motion will be voted upon by the meeting.

Counterposed Motions: Where a member of the meeting wishes to move a motion on the same issue as another motion, but from a different perspective, they may move a counterposed motion. The motion that has a majority of votes for, including abstentions, is declared carried.