It was an uncontroversial agenda to mark the public debut for incoming City of Ballarat chief executive Evan King - but one in which he was able to give a brief snapshot of a few of his future plans at the helm.
After spending the first three days in the role in a strict snap lockdown last week, he would no doubt have welcomed a return to semi normality as councillors gathered within the traditional council chamber for an ordinary meeting for the first time since May 27 last year.
The public and media were still not allowed in, however, and masks remained the order of the day, only being removed when their wearers were speaking.
The mayor Cr Daniel Moloney observed that it was the first council meeting in the location for Crs Peter Eddy and Tracey Hargreaves, the two new councillors voted in last October. Cr Moloney added that he hoped the meeting would return to its normal format in March, pandemic permitting.
There will be a detailed action plan developed that addresses a lot of the concerns that were raised in the Halliday reportCity of Ballarat CEO Evan King
Mr King's first words referred to the major upheaval at the organisation over the past year preceding his appointment.
He responded to a public question put by Dr Elisa Zentveld, who highlighted the timing of the release of a report by Susan Halliday. At the same time as that document was made public, potential redundancies were being discussed at the Ballarat Aquatic and Lifestyle Centre (BALC). "This strikes me as rather thoughtless timing, ironic in the face of a report signalling cultural problems," she wrote.
Mr King said he wished to clarify that the BALC situation was that employees were asked to undergo a consultation process only. "It was more opening up a conversation with employees around a proposed structure," he told the chamber.
However, he acknowledged the timing of that with the Halliday report, which included anonymised details of bullying, harassment and poor management, was "not the greatest optics".
Addressing how he is likely to approach the response to the Halliday report - set to be one of the key initial strands to his role - he said. "We want to create an organisation that is based on high levels of integrity, respect for our staff and trust for our staff."
He said he was working on a significant body of work called 'The Way Forward'.
"There will be a detailed action plan developed that addresses a lot of the concerns that were raised in the Halliday report," he said. "Obviously utmost to that is the respect and the health and safety of our staff."
Later he introduced his first CEO's report, and described his pride to be in the job. "As an incredibly proud, passionate Ballarat person, and to be honest, someone who'd been looking at this role for some time, it [is] a great honour."
He said he spent two days last weekend planning with his new executive team - all of whom have started in the past few months - as well as councillors on strategic plans which will help shape the priorities of the organisation over the next few years.
"We're not mucking round at the moment...
"I was bringing together an executive team I don't know, with a council I don't know and hoping that it would work out in the end.
"I think it was the most successful two-day workshop that we could have possibly hoped for," he said. "[It was an] incredibly optimistic, incredibly open, honest conversation on a whole range of things."
Much of the remainder of the evening's business for Mr King's first meeting was routine, with every decision made unanimously and no discernible disagreements among the councillor group.
Stand-out items included the decision to award a major tender of works to local construction company H Troon. The work, worth $3.984 million, will see three 3x3 basketball courts constructed, along with a learning centre and a strength and conditioning centre at the Ballarat Sports and Events Centre.
It will add to the significant, multi-million dollar development at the site, which was in large part driven by the previous CEO of Basketball Ballarat Peter Eddy, now of course a north ward councillor. Cr Eddy sat quietly as the tender was approved.
A new community engagement policy, and councillor code of conduct were also signed off.
Councillors had earlier agreed to give the CEO authority to negotiate the purchase of unused state government land to complete the so-called Bunny Rail Trail, a cycling and walking path linking Ballarat East to Woowookarung Regional Park.
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