Gag ‘democratic’

NEW local government minister Paul Miles has backed lord mayor Lisa Scaffidi’s stance on forbidding councillors speaking to the media

Opposition leader Mark McGowan has reiterated calls for the council to be sacked.

Three councillors — Jemma Green, Reece Harley and James Limnios — want the policy scrapped so they can communicate their views to the public, with Cr Limnios stating outright he’ll openly defy the gag.  The ABC quoted Mr Miles as saying the gag “isn’t a stupid rule… it is democratic”, and that Cr Limnios was just rocking the boat because he wants to be lord mayor.

Mr McGowan says the council’s now “dysfunctional” and “embarrassing”.

Across the border at Vincent where councillors can speak freely, mayor John Carey says it hasn’t led to anarchy; residents need to know where their elected members stand so they can be informed when voting, he reckons.

“The City of Vincent has a policy that yes, as mayor I give the official position, but there’s nothing to stop the Voice calling any councillor and asking their personal opinion on a matter. That is healthy, that it good,” he says.

”It seems incredible in the 21st century: it’s extraordinary that the majority of the City of Perth believe it is healthy or acceptable or accountable that councillors can not express their personal opinions.

“There really is a toxic culture developing at the City of Perth … it is a concern if there is a pack mentality developing in council, where a council becomes so heavily factionalised that those councillors who are not in the majority feel ostracised or unable to make a contribution, and I think that’s what some councillors in the City of Perth are feeling.”

In May Cr Jemma Green claimed at a council meeting that Ms Scaffidi had handed down an edict to her allies ordering them to “freeze” her out, with Cr Limnios confirming he’d received the missive. Cr Green told the meeting Ms Scaffidi continually refused to meet with her, saying she tried for two months but the lord mayor wouldn’t budge.

by DAVID BELL

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