What happens at a Council meeting?

Council meetings are held on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of each month.  The meetings are conducted in the Council Chambers in the Ballarat Town Hall and are open to the general public.  A copy of the agenda appears on-line and limited copies of a Summary Agenda will be made available on the night of the meeting.  If a member of the general public would like a copy of the Public Agenda or a specific report please contact the Governance Unit on 03 5320 5875 by 4.30pm on the afternoon of the Council meeting.

Opening the meeting

Meetings commence at 7.00pm with the Chair (the Mayor if he is present), leading the Councillors in a declaration and acknowledgement to the Wathaurong People, the traditional custodians of the land.


The Chair will ask if there are any apologies of Councillors. If there are, it will be moved and seconded to accept any apologies.

Conflict of Interest

The Mayor requests Councillors to nominate if they have any conflict of interest with any of the agenda items.  The Councillor concerned must describe the type of conflict of interest.  This then means when the item is discussed by Council that the Councillor with a conflict of interest must leave the chamber for the period of debate and during the vote.  The Councillor will be advised when the resolution has been voted upon so that they can re-enter the chamber.  Their period of absence will be noted in the minutes.

Adoption of minutes

The minutes of the previous Council meeting are then moved and seconded by Councillors if they are true and correct.  If any changes need to be made to the minutes, they are noted at this time and must be agreed to by a majority of Councillors.

Public Question Time

Members of the public can ask Council two questions.  The Chair will ask who would like to ask a question of Council.  The Chair will then indicate who is to come forward to the space allocated for the public to speak.  The member of the public must state their name and their address (locality) before asking their question through the Chair.  The Chair will then either answer the question or ask the appropriate officer to answer the question.  A clarification question can be asked by the member of the public if they require further details on the matter.  A second question can then be asked.  Where the answer cannot be given in Council, the question will be “taken on notice” and the member of the public will receive a written response.  The response to the question will be reported back through Council via the outstanding questions report and a future Council meeting.

The question time will either cease at the end of all questions or at the end of 30 minutes.  The Chair may elect to extend the question time.

Motions on Notice

A Motion on Notice is a Motion that has been put forward by a Councillor to be considered as part of the agenda.  They require a decision to be made about a particular matter at the meeting rather than calling for a report to come back to Council.  Motions on Notice are not common.

General Business without Notice

The Chair will ask if any Councillor has any General Business without Notice.  This is where a Councillor may ask a question of an officer through the Chair or can request a Council report or briefing at a later date on a particular issue.


Members of the community can lodge a petition with Council.  The petition must follow the set format as per the Local Law No 18 – Meeting procedure (have link to Local Law) and must be received by the Governance Unit of Council prior to 4.00pm on the day of the Council meeting.  The first named person on the petition is considered to be the person that Council will respond to.  When the petition is discussed in Council, a Councillor will introduce the petition.  The lead petitioner should speak with a Councillor before lodging the petition so that they can speak to the petition in Council.

Portfolio Reports

As Council moves through each of the Council reports the following order occurs:

The report is introduced by a Council officer.  Once introduced, the Councillors may ask the officer questions to seek clarification.

Any persons who have registered to speak (make a submission) about the report will be called forward by the Chair.  Any person who would like to make a submission must register with the Governance Unit on 03 5320 5875 by 4.30pm on the afternoon of the Council meeting.   You must provide your name, contact phone number, agenda item on which you would like to speak and state whether you are in-favour, against or are open-minded regarding the recommendation of the report.

When you have been called forward by the Chair you will have five minutes to speak.  The Chair will advise you when four minutes have passed.  The submitter may distribute material to Council and Senior Officers and if they have such material, submitters are asked to speak with a governance officer in advance as the officer will distribute the material on their behalf.

Please note – a submitter may not ask Councillors or Senior Officer questions at this time. Public question time is the opportunity to seek answers to your questions.  At the end of each submission Councillors may seek clarification from the submitter on any points raised.

At the conclusion of the final submission, Council will then debate the item.

The Chair will call for a show of hands as each resolution is put the Council.  When voting on an item is not unanimous a Councillor can call for a ‘division’.  This means that the minutes will show who has voted for and against the motion.

Section 89 or In camera

Most Council meetings will contain some material that will be discussed ‘in camera’.  This means that the information is confidential and all members of the gallery and media must leave the chamber.  Information that is confidential is defined under section 89 of the Local Government Act 1989.

The ‘in camera’ part of the meeting is generally at the end of the meeting so that the gallery does not have to wait for the meeting to re-adjourn.  This does not preclude the Council from moving ‘in camera’ at any stage during the meeting.

If you require any further information with regards to what happens in a Council meeting contact the Governance Unit on 03 5320 5875.