Your preferred office location:
  1. Home
  2. /
  3. HHG Articles
  4. /
  5. Elected Member of a Local Government — think twice before pressing send on social media
22 May 2018

In today’s age of pervasive communications technology, there are a plethora of social media platforms available at our fingertips, enabling us to communicate our message, views, and opinions to hundreds, if not thousands of people with relative ease. However, if you are an Elected Member of a Local Government, think twice before you press send as what you say on social media may have unintended consequences.

It is generally well understood that Elected Members should act impartially and objectively in carrying out their elected duties. What is often not so well understood or remembered, is that during a term of office, an Elected Member is always an Elected Member and must present him or herself accordingly at all times.
Given the instant and unfettered access to social media, it is often all too easy for an Elected Member to be drawn into commenting on decisions and proposals of Council in that public forum which, in doing so, may cast adverse reflections on fellow Elected Members. This may in turn result in a breach of the Local Government Act 1995 and more specifically, the Local Government (Rules of Conduct) Regulations 2007 (Rules of Conduct Regulations).

Conduct complaints also stem from a failure to appreciate the significant difference between speaking for ones-self and speaking on behalf of the Council. In Local Government, it is the role and responsibility of the Mayor or President to speak on behalf of the Local Government. Care must be taken to avoid any implication of a personal view or comment being mistaken for that of Council.

Despite the above prohibitions, it is also often queried whether there is a general right of free political speech and therefore any protections that may be available to Elected Members.

First, it should be noted that the concept of absolute privilege – that is, Parliamentary Privilege as available in State and Federal Parliament – does not apply to Local Government. Elected Members do not have at their disposal the option of pleading absolute privilege or immunity from defamation proceedings. At best, their privilege is qualified under s.9.56 of the Local Government Act 1995 (the Act).

Whilst s.9.56 of the Act may protect an Elected Member against the consequences of anything the Elected Member has done in good faith and in performance of a function under law, if an Elected Member chooses to use social media as a platform for communication, it is recommended that they should plan ahead and carefully consider what they say and what information they disclose. Without careful thought, planning and preparation, an Elected Member may be running the risk of inadvertently disclosing confidential information (breach of regulation 6 of the Rules of Conduct Regulations) or may, by communicating information improperly, be seen to be using their position to gain directly or indirectly an advantage for him or herself or any person, or even causing detriment to any person or the Local Government (resulting in a breach of regulation 7 of Rules of Conduct Regulations). A majority of conduct issues can likely be distilled to either a failure to maintain proper confidentiality, or improper use of office, as set out in the Regulations.

Second, although the Courts recognise implied freedom of political communication, freedom is not a personal right. The right is intended to regulate the making of laws that would otherwise impair free political speech, and laws with other legitimate purposes are not considered incompatible with such rights. The implied right also does not protect all political. statements and cannot be used as a defence of a breach of the law – including the Rules of Conduct Regulations.

Further, an Elected Member should consider when posting or commenting on the Local Government’s Social Media platform, whether their actions may potentially breach regulation 8 of the Rules of Conduct by misusing Local Government resources – as the Local Government’s social media platforms are the property of the Local Government.

In order to avoid potential damage to their reputation and to the reputation of the Local Government, it is recommended that Elected Members thoroughly familiarise themselves with all relevant sources of their obligations and to seek advice early, in the event of any uncertainty.

MARCUS HODGE | NIA LUMLEY | As published in the Western Councillor Magazine 

This is general information only and does not constitute specific legal advice. If you are concerned for yourself or a member of the community, please contact HHG Legal Group on we.help.people@hhg.com.au to book a 15-minute appointment at our free legal assistance clinics.

HHG Legal Group offers high service levels, without cost concerns. How? By pioneering a genuine, simple ‘client satisfaction guarantee’. If you aren’t happy, fees will be reduced.

*This is general information only, and does not constitute specific legal advice. Please consult one of our experienced Legal Team for specific advice relevant to your situation.

Supporting Western Australians for more than 100 years

"Always fast and thorough service. Thank you"

Sitka Pil

"My circumstances at the time I made contact with HHG were dire following my argument being rejected by two no win no fee firms. Following my initial meeting with HHG's employment law team I was left feeling extremely positive by the response and concern shown by HHG in regards to their support of my argument along with their preparedness to pursue an outcome on my behalf.

I accept the fact that nobody really wins in these cases (mental health/ workplace) however the end result was what would be considered most favourable and far in excess of what would have been achieved had I not sought the advice from HHG.

I have no hesitation in recommending HHG to anyone caught up in the messy circumstances I found myself in at the time.

Great advice and five-star commitment to their client!!"

Nathan Lynch

"Thank you for such great assistance with the transaction of Flying Domestics on behalf of Lorna Good. It has been such a pleasure to work with the HHG Legal Group and I look forward to working with you in the future."

Jim Goodwin

"Simon Creek and his team were at all times empathic, professional and confident.  My matter needed to be addressed within a pressing time frame, and their availability at short notice and contact after hours was much appreciated.  It caused me considerable stress, but having such a thoroughly reliable and competent team to call on helped me to feel in control. Although I hope not to need their services again in future, I would be confident in doing so!"

Dr Lana Bell

"A good outcome is what we can expect.  A great outcome is a sign of a company which does the very best for their clients. A very big thank you to Daniel Morris for showing empathy towards my small and much needed legal action.

To HHG Legal Group, thank you for a great outcome.  I would recommend your company to anyone seeking legal services."

Jan Atkinson

"Your support this morning was amazingly kind, not to mention your totally reassuring competence, knowledge and wisdom that you used on my behalf.  It was extremely reassuring to have your knowledgeable support, and I particularly appreciated your real and obvious kindness to me. It means so much at a very difficult time. I'm so grateful to you."

Family Law Client

"Janene was very professional and we established a good rapport quickly. The subject of death and wills can be quite confronting to deal with, however, Janene's approach was soft and accommodating."

Lynette Livesey

"A big thank you to HHG for their professional service, continued support, and wide range of legal knowledge. Our clients have given us nothing but kind words regarding HHG Legal Group and so we have no hesitation in referring and recommending Simon Creek and HHG Legal Group for their outstanding services and legal expertise."

Nigel Plowman, Director at Mckinley Plowman & Associates

"Simon is a friendly and practical legal advisor. I have received great feedback from the clients I have referred to him and his team at HHG Legal Group."

Richard Beal, Director at BDO

"Over the last few years, I have been impressed by Simon’s legal ability, management skills, entrepreneurial spirit, personal integrity and people skills. He appears to be that rare breed of lawyer – both knowledgeable and commercial."

Michael Malone, Founder of iiNet

"Our family has been a client of HHG Legal Group over many years.  Business has included drawing up of wills for three generations and preparing of probate for my father in law. I would have no hesitation in recommending HHG Legal Group to anyone requiring such services."

Bernice Climie

"You should be congratulated for the manner in which your staff address clients and we found our dealings with your company, once again a very pleasant experience and we would like to truly thank you for your efforts."

Steve Harvey and Jane Powell

"HHG Legal were absolutely fantastic. Extremely responsive and brought calm to our chaotic family situation through their knowledge and caring attitude. Extremely professional from our very first contact with them and they expertly guided our family though the required legal process over almost a 12 month period."

Amanda Williamson

"Fantastic team! They really care about their client. Tim Colcutt is a 'go that extra mile' guy who gives his client his all. I can't recommend HHG and Tim enough."

Kerry Samson

"I had a fantastic lawyer in Matthew Lilly. He helped me out a great deal with good, sound advice in a friendly, professional manner. First class, thanks Matthew"

Graeme Hammond

"Marine Plant Systems has been working with HHG Legal Group for a few years now and they continually provide first-class service. Their professional advice has been invaluable to our company."

Carolin Grimm - Marine Plant Systems

"We were kept up to date at all times. Pricing was always updated over the time period so we remained "in budget". Personal access to someone whenever I had questions. All in all a great experience without too much fuss."

Rosslyn Tasker - COO Altusq Pty Ltd

"Good service you can count on."

Miles Lee

"HHG Legal Group has provided outstanding support as I have taken the journey of buying a business, their professionalism is beyond reproach. Their assistance throughout the Due Diligence process has been invaluable, I would fully recommend them."

Mark Armitage

"Very friendly and efficient service - what a pleasure working with Matthew."

Jacques Taylor

"I highly recommend Daniel from HHG Lawyer in Mandurah. When dealing with a complicated legal property matter recently I was extremely impressed by Daniel's honesty and integrity and the legal advice I received. I am very happy with the service from HHG Legal."

Tony Walker

"Lisa, thank you so much for representing me in court, honestly, I would not have had the outcome I got without you. Once again, Thank you so much."


"Matthew Lilly was excellent in processing our project. He achieved the excellent result that we required on our project.

We would give Matthew a 5 star rating.

We will definitely commission Matthew for any further projects if we have the need."


"I have had the pleasure of being represented by Ms Lisa Riley. Lisa helped me in December 2020 when I was charged. Lisa was extremely supportive, reassuring, and preserved with her investigation of the laws and was able to save me from a terrible outcome. Another incident occurred in August 2021 in which I sought Lisa’s help. Lisa preserved and was very patient with me. This only got resolved this year. When she advised me that she was leaving her old firm, I insisted that she remain my lawyer, as I had the utmost faith in her. Hence I moved over to HHG. Lisa took no shortcuts in my defence and continued to preserve for the toxicology report that ultimately saved me. She kept me up-to-date with the progress and provided support. Having someone as understanding as Lisa was a huge gift, to me and my family. You have gained a huge asset in Lisa joining your firm.

Thank you, Lisa, forever grateful for your work, and if ever needed, I will be sure to refer to you"


"We can highly recommend HHG Legal Group and particularly Mr Blair Campbell (Special Counsel / Dispute Resolution)

Blair worked with us as we navigated a very difficult third party dispute.

Blair’s expertise, wisdom, and the way he guided us in a very measured and calm manner gave us great encouragement and comfort. Blair helped us to focus on what we needed to and to trust the process.

Blair was always responsive to us, he always got back to us very promptly to answer our questions and to help us to step through some really hard days.

We are very grateful for Blair’s expertise and wisdom along with his empathy and care, this truly made the difference for us."

Wayne and Janice Belcher

Preferred office location:

Please select your nearest office location so we can show you the most relevant information.