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The purpose of this policy is to establish protocols for managing communication between the Council and media, to ensure coordinated, coherent, professional, accurate, and reliable presentation. The key objective is to maximise a positive public image of the Hindmarsh Shire Council.
1. Based on the principles of democracy, the Hindmarsh Shire Council encourages open, prompt, and accurate communication with the media, with an emphasis on promoting a positive, progressive and professional image of Council.
2. It is vital that all media inquiries are treated by the Official Spokespersons, efficiently and courteously with due regard to the fact that all media work to stringent deadlines, which require prompt responses.
3. The Mayor and/or Chief Executive Officer are the Official Spokespersons on all matters of Council policy, interpretation of policy, or reaction to external matters. Where appropriate or expedient for a specific issue, the Mayor may authorise another Councillor to make a statement (on behalf of Council).
4. Media comment by the Official Spokespersons must accurately reflect the Council’s position on the topic as determined by the Council in adopted documents, including the Council Plan, Strategies, Policies, and Minutes.
5. Spokesperson responsibilities can also be divided as follows – Mayor (political matters), Chief Executive Officer (organisational matters, and where authorised by the Council) and Director Assets and Director Corporate Services (operational, procedural and statutory matters). Other staff may be delegated by Chief Executive Officer to discuss a specific issue.
6. In the case of matters with possible legal consequences, any statements made to the media must be authorised by the Chief Executive Officer.
7. A Councillor who wishes to make a ‘personal’ statement on a topic, must clearly inform the media:
• their comment is being made as an individual, and
• their comments are not necessarily the view of the Council, and
• that the matter has (or has not) been determined by the Council, and
• that the majority of Council may hold a different opinion.
8. Councillors should consider the short and long term impact of such ‘personal’ comments, and the possible detrimental impact on Council teamwork and unity. Comments which are critical of majority Council decisions or fellow Councillors, will damage teamwork, credibility and unity.
9. All ‘open’ decisions adopted by Council are public property and can readily be quoted, or made available, to the media. Matters of staff, personal privacy, contract and legal proceedings may be restricted, as their discussion may contravene Council’s duty of care, contractual obligations, or could infringe laws. Councillors and Staff are required to comply with the statutory requirements contained in the Privacy Act and Local Government Act, which prohibit the disclosure of personal and confidential information. Matters raised in closed sessions are confidential and can not be discussed with the media.
10. Council staff will NOT engage in media activity which may be to the personal advantage of a Councillor (i.e. during an election campaign). During local government election campaigns, Councillors must ensure that their media comments as a Candidate, are clearly distinguished from their role as a Councillor .
11. All items of advertising must be approved by the Chief Executive Officer prior to submitting to the media.
Confidentiality of Reports & Discussions Policy
Councillor Code of Conduct
Meetings & Common Seal Local Law