City of Perth set to end media gag on councillors after crucial committee vote

Perth Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi.
Perth Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi.

CITY of Perth looks set to end its 10-year ban on councillors speaking to the media after a crucial vote at the City’s finance and administration committee this evening.

The committee today voted for a second time to urge council to drop its ban on councillors speaking to the media.

Significantly, this time the move was backed by supporters of Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi who had previously voted against the change.

Councillors Reece Harley and Jemma Green voted for the reform on the committee at its last meeting, with Cr Green filling in for Cr Lily Chen at the time.

At the full council meeting, Crs Harley, Green and James Limnios voted to introduce the change, but Jim Adamos moved the referral, noting the need for the policy to address social media.

The City’s chief executive Martin Mileham and other senior staff were in favour of the change.

This afternoon the finance and administration committee voted 3-0 to approve the reforms, which now include a reference to social media use.

Cr Janet Davidson, who had previously voted against the changes on committee and on council, joined Cr Chen – who had previously opposed the change on council – and Cr Harley in supporting the move.

For 10 years, only the Lord Mayor and chief executive have been able to speak to the media about City matters.

Perth’s policy goes beyond requirements of the Local Government Act, which states elected members can speak to the media as long as they do not claim to speak on behalf of the council.

Cr Harley recently told council the gag was “against Local Government Act and common law”.

“Speaking on behalf of the City is the job of the Lord Mayor… but councillors should be able to speak as individual councillors,” Cr Harley said.

“In a democracy, councillors elected as representatives of constituents should be able to speak to the media.”

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