Perth gag could remain
The City of Perth’s media gag on councillors is expected to stay in place.
A motion to amend the City’s longstanding media policy was supported at a meeting of the finance and administration committee this week, but Cr Reece Harley – a major advocate of the changes – expects the bid to fail when it faces the full council next week.
His view is based on past voting patterns, as only three councillors voted in favour of a similar motion in last year.
Under the current policy, only Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi can make public media statements.
If the Lord Mayor is absent, the Deputy Lord Mayor or the chief executive are allowed to speak.
Councillors are forced flout the policy by opposing it publicly.
They want changes to allow councillors to speak about issues pertaining to council business, but only if they declare that their statements are personal opinions.
The proposed reforms include measures for councillors to avoid “adverse reflection” on other elected members, or the council or its committee decisions.
The Lord Mayor would still be the official spokesperson.
Local Government Minister David Templeman says the current policy is a restriction of freedom of speech, and does nothing to help transparency.
“I think the electors of the City expect that we shouldn’t be withheld from expressing our views,” Cr Harley said.
“Where there are genuine points of difference we need to be able to have that contest of ideas.”