Perth 'gag order' scrapped, denied
The City of Perth's has updated its media policy, but the Lord Mayor denies there was ever a ‘gag order’.
The changes include a new provision allowing individual councillors to speak to the media and a number of social media considerations.
The previous policy had banned councillors from speaking to journalists based on a literal translation from the Local Government Act 1995.
The Act says the mayor or president are the only ones allowed to speak to reporters, so Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi and council CEO Martin Mileham have been the only ones to address the media on the council’s behalf.
A motion for the changes passed unanimously at a meeting addressed by several councillors this week.
“Let's be clear, as of tonight I would say it is an evolution of a policy,” Ms Scaffidi said.
“There was never a gag.”
Councillor Janet Davidson and Councillor Judy McEvoy agreed, and expressed hope that the media would stop talking about ‘gags’.
Councillor Reece Harley disagreed with Ms Scaffidi's claims.
“I've always spoken about the old … media policy as being a gag because that's how it felt to me,” he told the ABC.
“You know when you speak to the media and then you receive a letter of warning from the CEO to say you've breached the policy and they'll take it further if you keep doing it.
“To every layman that's what you'd call a 'gag'.
“Under our code of conduct we're not allowed to cast aspersions on colleagues, you can't speak negatively about the organisation or bag decisions of the council and that has never really been my intention.
“What has now changed is that councillors can give their own personal view about particular policy topics and they can talk about ideas that they may have or conversations that they want to have with the community or explain the way that they voted on a particular matter when a journalist asks them.”