This is the personal blog of Ian Ker, who was Councillor for the South Ward of the Town of Vincent from 1995 to 2009. I have been a resident of this area since 1985. This blog was originally conceived as a way of letting residents of Vincent know what I have been doing and sharing thoughts on important issues. I can now use it to sound off about things that concern me.

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Monday, October 10, 2016

Democracy Must Be Seen But Not Heard - Let's think outside the box

According to the ABC (, new Local Government Minister Paul Miles has backed the City of Perth's controversial ban on councillors speaking to the media, describing the policy as "democratic".

I guess we shouldn't be surprised coming from the same party (and presumably with the same Departmental advice) as his predecessor's description of the right of local communities to have a binding poll on local government amalgamations as "UNdemocratic" (

Miles also reportedly said that councillors "had nothing to complain about because they knew, or should have known, the council's position when they sought election". 

The only possible interpretation of this baffling statement is that councillors cannot lobby for change from within and residents or ratepayers can only do so from without - and somehow have to get a majority of Council to see the light (definitely problematic with most of current City of Perth Council) and change policy without councillors themselves being able to say anything to gain awareness or support through the media.

How can it be democratic, Mr Miles, to place such a Catch-22 in the way of reform?

Thinking outside the box, though, the City of Perth policy doesn't prevent councillors from discussing matters with private individuals - and we all know how adept the media are at eavesdropping on and reporting private conversations. I suggest it would be very difficult (and politically counter-productive) to prove that a councillor knew the media were going to eavesdrop on a particular 'private' conversation.

And, yet again, WALGA appears to be conspicuous by its absence - despite the very real implicit threat that a similar ban could be imposed on all local governments in the name of democracy.