Government must step in to protect freedom of speech

The CPSU is disappointed by today’s High Court decision in Comcare v Banerji, which has serious implications for freedom of speech.

This case potentially affects almost two million Australians working in state, local and federal government, and is one of the most important cases on the implied freedom of political communication of recent years.

CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood said “The CPSU has always defended the rights of public servants to participate in our democracy like everyone else can. People working in Commonwealth agencies should be allowed normal rights as citizens rather than facing Orwellian censorship because of where they work.”

In the years that this case has been underway, the Liberal Government’s approach to social media and the public service has become even more draconian, with a social media policy released in 2017 that meant that public servants could be disciplined or sacked for ‘liking’ someone else’s post or posting emojis.

Nadine Flood said, “This is a disappointing decision, but at the end of the day the Government has a responsibility to protect freedom of speech. The Morrison Government needs to demonstrate that it prioritises democratic rights, with a social media policy that reflects the real world.”

“The notion that the mum of a gay son who happens to work in Centrelink can’t like a Facebook post on marriage equality without endangering her job is patently absurd. The Government’s overreach on social media has been bad for the public sector and bad for our democracy.”

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