Under the Local Government 1989, a Council meeting may be closed to members of the public if any of the following is discussed:
- Personnel matters
- The personal hardship of any resident or ratepayer
- Industrial matters
- Contractual matters
- Proposed developments
- Legal advice
- Matters affecting the security of Council property
- Any other matter which the Council considers would prejudice the Council or any person
When a meeting is closed to members of the public, the reason for doing so must be one of those listed above and the reason must be recorded in the public records.
At the end of every part of a Council meeting that is moved into Section 89, the meeting is reopened to the public and Ballarat City Council CEO Justine Linley outlines the reason why the decision was held in camera and its outcome in the interests of public transparency.
From July 2018- June 2019, Ballarat City Council made a total of 68 in camera decisions.
The number was affected in part as Ballarat City Council did not have a Contracts Committee during a large portion of this period. The Contracts Committee now meets on a regular basis.
Of these 28 were contracts, which are commercial-in-confidence, and 17 were procedural motions, which relate to how council meetings are conducted.
The rest of the in camera decisions related to:
- Appointments to committees (personnel)
- Australia Day Award recipients (personnel)
- Discussions related to tourism services (contractual)
- Waste to energy/recycling updates (contractual)
- Artwork (contractual)
- Land/Property management (contractual)