Ballarat residents will have the opportunity to provide feedback on a set of draft governance rules that will guide how future council meetings will run.
Councillors decided to send the draft rules out for public consultation after a motion to abandon the changes completely was defeated.
Central ward councillor Samantha McIntosh moved the alternate motion to scrap the changes, seconded by fellow central ward councillor Mark Harris, after she raised some concerns regarding changes to processes around public question time.
Under the draft rules, questions would need to submitted before 4pm the day prior to an ordinary council meeting, rather than 4.30pm the day of, and questions would be read and answered by the chief executive officer or a delegate.
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The concerns were also relayed by former mayor John Barnes, who was the lone submitter to the item.
Mr Barnes said the time for the public to make submissions could be reduced by up to 44 per cent and the public would not have the opportunity to clarify their questions.
"Such arrangements may suit the officers, who are given an extra day's notice of questions, and face no further questions even if their responses are inadequate. However, it drastically reduces the opportunities for members of the public to engage with council," he said.
Cr McIntosh said the draft rules could actually make it more complicated for the community to make submissions and ask questions.
"There are a number of issues with this particular proposal that's before us that could actually make it quite difficult for anyone in our community to continue with that degree of communication and consultation," she said.
"I understand that we must review our rules, that's important, but I'd like to put something out there that our community will embrace with us and they will work with us to fine-tune, but this is actually taking away a platform they feel they need."
Speaking against the alternate motion, south ward councillor Des Hudson said he supported making meetings accessible to the public, but there was no harm in putting the draft rules out for consultation.
"By putting out a set of recommendations and a set of thoughts on the way meeting procedure can be improved and made more accessible, there's no harm in doing that for a month and then having us go through line-by-line. We don't have to accept them all, we don't have to accept any of them," he said.
After the alternate motion was defeated, the original motion to put the draft rules out for consultation was carried.
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