City of Gold Coast denies gag order claims

CITY of Gold Coast has responded to a newspaper article, which claims that the Mayor is the only representative who can speak on behalf of Council.

The Bulletin on Tuesday claimed to have seen a memo, sent to councillors from acting chief executive Joe McCabe, telling them that under the policy, adopted in June, only Mayor Tom Tate can speak on the council’s behalf.

The paper continued that all other councillors would have to restrict their public comments to their own stance on city issues.


City of Gold Coast denies claims councillors effectively face a “gag order” and has released an extract from its External Communication Policy.

The section relating to Divisional Councillors is as follows:

Only the official spokesperson is authorised to make statements on Council’s behalf.

The Mayor is the official spokesperson for Council on all issues.  Given the Mayor is elected by the whole of the City, the Mayor is often requested to comment in addition to, or instead of, the relevant spokesperson.

In the absence of the Mayor or at the request of the Mayor, the Deputy Mayor may be the official spokesperson. This also applies to any Councillor who may be appointed Acting Mayor in the absence of both the Mayor and Deputy Mayor. In the event the Mayor is absent from the City, the Mayor may still elect to be the official spokesperson on a particular matter. The Acting Mayor would be advised at the time.

The Mayor (or Acting Mayor) may designate a Committee Chair as the official spokesperson for issues relating to and generated from their specific committee.

During the Chair’s absence, the Deputy Chairperson may act as spokesperson on the relevant area of Committee responsibility. Given media is unlikely to attend committee, Corporate Communication will focus on preparing Key Messages/media statement to be issued (if required) post Full Council.

The Divisional Councillor is also the spokesperson on local divisional issues.  Divisional Councillors will be provided any information given to the media in relation to issues, or events, within their respective divisions.

Where a significant project is occurring within a division, Corporate Communication will provide any Key Messages or proposed media statement to the Councillor, as well as the Mayor. Examples may be major road upgrades, new community infrastructure or key events.

Divisional Councillors may make personal statements on any issue. Councillors must clearly articulate that personal comments incongruent with Council’s position are theirs alone.