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Aussie Public Servant Criticises Gov't On Twitter, Gets Sacked

timothy posted about 8 months ago | from the new-destination-moscow dept.

Censorship 151

An anonymous reader writes "An Australian public servant who criticised the government on Twitter has been sacked even though she did not reveal her name or her job to her readers. Federal Judge Warwick Neville told her Australians had no 'unfettered implied right (or freedom) of political expression.' Unlike Americans, Australians have only limited rights to Free Speech. The new ruling makes means public servants cannot criticize the government on social media, even privately and in their own time."

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151 comments

Free speech and beard (5, Insightful)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about 8 months ago | (#44551751)

Free speech and beard
Both must be feared
The will of the few
Owns what you do
Burma Shave

Re:Free speech and beard (3, Interesting)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 8 months ago | (#44552199)

Free speech and beard

Both must be feared

The will of the few

Owns what you do

Burma Shave

That.... that is actually damn insightful.

Re:Free speech and beard (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44552323)

One has one's moments.

Re: Free speech and beard (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44552275)

Once again the flame is snuffed from liberty candle, Jack. Freedom of speech and expre

Re: Free speech and beard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44552753)

The preceding message has been edited for content by the Australian Board of Public Information Services. Thank you for your cooperation, citizen.

Australia! Come for our beaches, stay for our glorious and infallible government leadership!

Re:Free speech and beard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44553169)

journalists have no similar protection and must sit on stories of corruption, sometimes for years

Kind of like our prison system. No wonder it never gets any better.

Crikey! (5, Funny)

Kagato (116051) | about 8 months ago | (#44551775)

A Dingo ate my freedom!

Nobody will believe you... (2)

Dareth (47614) | about 8 months ago | (#44552475)

Nobody will believe you... until the find the bones of freedom in a dingo's lair years later.

Re:Crikey! (1, Informative)

ixuzus (2418046) | about 8 months ago | (#44553069)

Purely out of curiosity, are you familiar with the case you're referencing?

Because a mother losing her baby daughter to a dingo attack and then being falsely convicted of her murder (with the outlandish suggestion it was a cult sacrifice from certain media outlets) hardly seems the subject for humor. In terms of justice the initial trial was comparable to the Salem witch trials complete with racism, bad forensics, mishandled evidence, dubious expert witness testimony, religious hatred, and a large dose of media sensationalism. The mother did several years of a life with hard labor sentence before she was finally exonerated. It's the Lindy/Azaria Chamberlain case for the record.

Re:Crikey! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44553183)

Lighten up, Francis...

Re:Crikey! (2)

nedlohs (1335013) | about 8 months ago | (#44553569)

Seems like exactly the type of thing that people would make jokes about.

Why did Hitler kill himself?
He saw his gas bill

there goes that (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44551799)

Well, good luck finding any new employees to work for the government ever then. After hearing this, nobody will bother to apply.

Re:there goes that (4, Insightful)

captainpanic (1173915) | about 8 months ago | (#44552053)

Well, good luck finding any new employees to work for the government ever then. After hearing this, nobody will bother to apply.

One can only hope this is the case. Unfortunately, I think that also in Australia, there are thousands of people who will either argue that "they have to somehow pay their bills", or that "they have nothing to hide", or any other stupid argument. And otherwise, the govt. can always promise to pay 5000 $ more per year than in similar jobs elsewhere, which is no doubt enough to shut up a whole lot of people.

Re:there goes that (1)

shentino (1139071) | about 8 months ago | (#44552317)

They should just get it over with and do a labor lottery.

On the upside you won't get dedicated shills. This is presumably the logic behind jury pools.

Glory to Arstotska!

Re:there goes that (1)

jareth-0205 (525594) | about 8 months ago | (#44553559)

"they have to somehow pay their bills"

I don't quite see how you judge that to be a stupid argument. Or do you think absolutely anyone can find a job if they wish hard enough? People do have to eat.

Re:there goes that (4, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 8 months ago | (#44552205)

Well, good luck finding any new employees to work for the government ever then. After hearing this, nobody will bother to apply.

You might be surprised at how many people would be willing to have their mouths sewn shut, in exchange for money and power.

Re:there goes that (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 8 months ago | (#44553013)

You might be surprised at how many people would be willing to have their mouths sewn shut, in exchange for money and power.

you mean for money and for being a tool of power.

since, because of this intepretation of rights, by definition once you apply for public servant job you no longer have any power. it's the power of someone else and you're no longer allowed to influence that.

which sort of makes sense too, actually, which is kinda weird.

Nay, they're golden. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44552593)

What? Didn't you know that employers outside the government will sack your ass for criticising them on a tweet anonymous (but not anonymous enough to fail to be tracked down) on your own time and on your own dime.

They're just aping the commercial world.

Even though she did not reveal her name or her job (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44551827)

You got Prism'd!

Americans have limited Free Speech (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44551831)

You might want to learn about "obscenity".

Indeed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44551929)

Free speech that can be arbitrarily oppressed by coercive authority is not free speech -- that's what you call a scam.

Re:Americans have limited Free Speech (5, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about 8 months ago | (#44552119)

Also, gag orders. Just last week someone shut down their encrypted email service and was not able to talk about what happened for legal reasons. That's a blatant violation of his first amendment rights.

Re:Americans have limited Free Speech (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | about 8 months ago | (#44552869)

That bugged me.

If he decided to close shop rather than bend to the will of the rulers, why didn't he also shout the reasons from the roof tops?

Re:Americans have limited Free Speech (1)

DustPuppySnr (899790) | about 8 months ago | (#44553521)

Because that will land him in jail. He would rather do the right thing and keep his mouth shut, because he still values his limited freedom of not being locked up.

Re:Americans have limited Free Speech (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | about 8 months ago | (#44553549)

I got that.

But if he already lost his job, why not go to jail - free rent, food, clothes. The neighbors suck, but they will when he has to move from lack of income too.

Re:Americans have limited Free Speech (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | about 8 months ago | (#44553591)

Because he didn't want to go to prison? Because he didn't want to end up paying a fine?

Re:Americans have limited Free Speech (2)

dryeo (100693) | about 8 months ago | (#44553003)

Not to mention a certain person who has been forced to seek asylum in Russia for practicing free speech. I'm not aware of any exceptions in the American Bill of Rights for national secrets.
Of course there can be conflicts in rights, eg the Canadian Supreme Court has ruled that in some cases an individuals right to fundamental justice can, for a while such as the length of a court case, override the groups right to speech as having an impartial jury is important to having a fair trial.

Re:Americans have limited Free Speech (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about 8 months ago | (#44553489)

Of course there can be conflicts in rights, eg the Canadian Supreme Court has ruled that in some cases an individuals right to fundamental justice can, for a while such as the length of a court case, override the groups right to speech as having an impartial jury is important to having a fair trial.

Courts mistake an informed jury for a partial jury. By allowing courts to manage the information a jury hears, they in fact create partial juries. The correct solution to a jury that is swayed by speech is more speech that counters the first speech. Whoever runs out of valid arguments first is the loser.

Can you imagine if we held scientists, who are also supposed to be impartial judges of evidence, to the standards of a jury? Instead of submitting papers for peer review by experts, we'd be submitting them to people who are prohibited from knowing anything about the field.

Sacking... (3, Informative)

mitcheli (894743) | about 8 months ago | (#44551847)

Well, in the US, if an officer in the military criticizes the administration, they can be fired [wikipedia.org] or even charged under the UCMJ. So we're not that far off from the Aussies...

Re: Sacking... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44551917)

No one like criticism. The politicians all over the world are same. Some are bad and the rest are very very bad.

Re:Sacking... (5, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | about 8 months ago | (#44552001)

That particular example is specific to the military, though; soldiers have never been considered to have the same freedoms as civilians, even in the early years of the US.

Civilian government employees do have some degree of free-speech protection [umkc.edu]. The main caveat is that any employer (including a private-sector employer) can fire employees for speech criticizing the employer, in some cases, and that is also true when the government is acting in its role as an employer. However the government is somewhat more limited than a private-sector employer in how it uses this power.

Re:Sacking... (3, Insightful)

jaseuk (217780) | about 8 months ago | (#44552091)

How can you have a working relationship with your employer, when in your free time you are actively working against them. You can't. Sacking is the right thing to do. As she works in the communications department and seems to be from a legal background she should have known what she was getting in for, there are no excuses.

She has freedom of speech, they have freedom to sack incompatible employees. Case closed.

Jason.

Re:Sacking... (4, Insightful)

gnasher719 (869701) | about 8 months ago | (#44552161)

How can you have a working relationship with your employer, when in your free time you are actively working against them. You can't. Sacking is the right thing to do. As she works in the communications department and seems to be from a legal background she should have known what she was getting in for, there are no excuses.

Criticising your employer doesn't mean you are working against them. If your company does something that is wrong, then stopping them from doing what's wrong is actually good for them. Obviously your boss might not see it that way.

Re:Sacking... (4, Insightful)

jaseuk (217780) | about 8 months ago | (#44552233)

Well in Government that's what whistleblowing procedures are for. You do not blog about it and expect to keep your job.

The best analogy is insider trading. When you are supposed to be supporting elected politicians, you need to keep some neutrality. If you have different political views you could undermine the government / elected officials through what you pick up behind closed doors and then expose. This isn't fair to the elected official and trust is breached.

Jason.

Re:Sacking... (4, Insightful)

ToadProphet (1148333) | about 8 months ago | (#44552547)

If you have different political views you could undermine the government / elected officials through what you pick up behind closed doors and then expose.

You can't possibly expect a civil servants political views to always align with those of the government unless you assume they change them every time a different political party comes into power. Would you overturn the civil service every time an election is held?
And unless you civil service is composed entirely of apolitical workers, you can't expect them all to be 'neutral' outside of the office.

Re:Sacking... (0)

ArsonSmith (13997) | about 8 months ago | (#44552893)

Actually that'd be a good idea. Make sure that all civilian service members are fired and new ones hired for ever administration change. Have a requirement that the elected political officer in office has to publicly re-interview every position after election. Should help keep small transparent government.

Re:Sacking... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44553083)

That's a terrible idea. Every mundane employee in the government, all new, all requiring retraining, all at once.

Even with the smallest of governments, that'd be a nightmare. I'd hole up after every election and not use any government services for a while.

Re:Sacking... (4, Insightful)

jaseuk (217780) | about 8 months ago | (#44552953)

You've actually just described much better than I could the reasons why you have to be politically neutral. Civil Servants remain when the individual elected members change, therefore you must effectively close your trap and not get involved in politics, except where you are permitted such as the polling booth.

You are kind of also overlooking the point that civil servants have a unique opportunity to advise and guide the politicians. Sure it might not be appropriate for you to speak out on twitter, but you would certainly be able to use your position to influence.

Just think of the power a civil servant would have if you could influence in the office, vote in the polling booth, as well as undermine in public using information that is not in the public domain. That's far too much power.

Jason.

Re:Sacking... (2)

shentino (1139071) | about 8 months ago | (#44552651)

If what you're exposing is illegal then it shouldn't matter. Once an elected official decides to break the law, he is no longer entitled to be acting on behalf of the government. There's a doctrine called "ultra vires" which covers this sort of thing, and it can also apply to corporations who act outside the boundaries of their charter.

There's also something called the "stripping doctrine" which effectively rips the veil of government off of an official who goes outside the bounds of the law.

Wikipedia has more information but that's the gist of it.

Re:Sacking... (2)

jaseuk (217780) | about 8 months ago | (#44553005)

This isn't about illegal matters. There will be many near misses and hidden details, things that only your support staff and civil servants will know. Details that are on a need to know basis. An insider can know enough to discredit a politician with carefully worded questions that force them to expose some of these near misses or hidden details. An insider working for or against you, can make or break you politically.

Jason

Re:Sacking... (2)

Type44Q (1233630) | about 8 months ago | (#44552589)

How can you have a working relationship with your employer, when in your free time you are actively working against them.

Companies represent private interests; governments [are supposed to] represent public interests. You, sir, are an idiot.

Re:Sacking... (0)

jaseuk (217780) | about 8 months ago | (#44553053)

You are CEO of Big Business Inc... Your wife is working for your competitor under her maiden name, she is feeding you insider information.

She is caught, what would happen ?

Jason.

Re:Sacking... (1)

shentino (1139071) | about 8 months ago | (#44552591)

Private sector employers can fire for any reason at all, including reasons that are blatantly retaliatory (unless the feds say otherwise, such as for a civil rights issue).

Example:

1. You scoop your landlord and beat him to the punch snagging a front row seat to the superbowl.
2. Your landlord decides to go postal and tries to evict you over it.
3. You manage to squash the eviction by showing you haven't broken your lease and exposing that your landlord is a total bullshitter.
4. Your landlord is enraged, but just so happens to be chummy with your boss and knows where you work, so he rats you out to your boss as a bad tenant.
5. Your boss, eager to stick up for his friend, takes it personally and decides to fire you. Conveniently he also tacitly blacklists you whenever anyone else calls him for a reference, which leaves such a crater in your work history that your career is ruined.

All this over a superbowl ticket.

Slippery slope fallacy? Perhaps, but it cannot be denied that this unlikely series of events is at least possible. When emotions are high, you never know just how transitively a grudge can snowball on you, and I have experienced enough bad politics of my own to know that this sort of backscratching and backstabbing actually happens in the real world.

In contrast, at least for the federal government, you have the legal right to appeal any terminations, demotions, or suspensions in excess of 2 weeks. Read up on the merit system thingy, but basically there's a process that puts the burdon of proof on the agency to establish that you deserved the adverse action.

Re:Sacking... (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 8 months ago | (#44552615)

However the government is somewhat more limited than a private-sector employer in how it uses this power.

In that the government as employer is still bound the by constitution while other private employers are not. Public criticism of the government by a government employee falls squarely in the domain of the 1st amendment meaning there is no way in hell they would get fired for that.

Re:Sacking... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44552013)

Well, in the US, if an officer in the military criticizes the administration, they can be fired [wikipedia.org] or even charged under the UCMJ. So we're not that far off from the Aussies...

Umm.. yes. We are. Officer in the military is quite a different situation than civilian government office worker

Re:Sacking... (2)

theripper (123078) | about 8 months ago | (#44552075)

In the military the POTUS is your ultimate commanding officer, criticising your superior officer in public is insubordination. Things in the military are not the same as things in civilian life. This is very much different than the incindent in the linked article.

Re:Sacking... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44552079)

Freedom of speech is very limited in the U.S.
When the encrypted e-mail service that Snowden used, had to shut down,
and they were not allowed to speak why they did it or what the NSA demanded.

Congress had put an end to free speech and this should be kown by now.

You are not allow to say "the NSA had dropped by my house yesterday and ordered me to install
a device in my hosting company" or "the NSA demanded that I install a backdoor in
my e-mail system, therefore I am shutting down.

All this free speach in the U.S. is complete bullshit. The U.S. is to a large extend worse than Russia and China.

Constiutional Ass Rapists & Order (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44552367)

The difference is in America if you wait long enough and appeal far enough eventually it reaches the SCOTUS who eventually (if they put aside their own partisan appointments) declare that the constitution has been ass raped, and the government must stop ass raping the constitution.

It is not really a solution, because there is no punishment to deter them. Now if those officials were themselves jailed that would be a deterrent. That is what is needed.

In Australia though the top court has been eroding free speech for many years. Australia is a country of prisoners ruled by lawyers and the most corrupt country in the english speaking world.

Re:Constiutional Ass Rapists & Order (1)

Entropius (188861) | about 8 months ago | (#44552711)

America is a country of religious crazies ruled by lawyers. At least when I visited Australia (admittedly only for two weeks), your prisoners seemed to be nicer than our religious nuts.

Re:Sacking... (1)

swb (14022) | about 8 months ago | (#44552085)

There's always someone who says "we're not that different" and then sets up a completely bogus comparison. Soldiers and civilians aren't in the same league in terms of rights.

The reality is that the UK and its byproducts don't really have freedoms like we have, and various examples of government misconduct related to whatever paranoia is getting votes these days don't make us "like them."

Re:Sacking... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44552171)

> Soldiers and civilians aren't in the same league in terms of rights.

That's utter bullshit.

Both are *citizens* of the country, and human beings. The government or the constitution does not give them rights. They are born with those rights. There is no second class, and no way that you can sign those rights away.

The constitution is merely a contract with the government that enumerates this.

Re:Sacking... (1)

hammyhew (2729501) | about 8 months ago | (#44552961)

They are born with those rights.

I am highly skeptical of this claim. What evidence do you have to support it?

Re:Sacking... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44552299)

The reality is that the UK and its byproducts don't really have freedoms like we have, and various examples of government misconduct related to whatever paranoia is getting votes these days don't make us "like them."

I have never been able to understand why the Brits embrace the idea of the defamation defence (or if they would prefer "defense").

There is a difference (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44552095)

He was legally able to criticize the administration, but doing so was bad form and he technically resigned his position and retired Just look at some of the statements Colin Powell made. Compare American laws with Australia's:
 
"Private use relates to the use of social media by ATO employees for private, non-work or job-related purposes in their own time using their own resources as private citizens, or using ATO IT facilities during work hours. This may include accessing and using your private Twitter account.
Must uphold the APS Values and Code of Conduct even when posting material anonymously, or using an ‘alias’ or pseudonym, and are to keep in mind that even if they do not identify themselves online as an ATO employee, they could still be recognised."

Re:Sacking... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44552097)

It's unusual for that to happen, however, unless they use the access granted by their position as a podium for criticism. Private Smith on his personal twitter account can pretty much say whatever he wants.

Re:Sacking... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44552101)

Anyone who has taken the oath to serve in the military realizes that they no longer recieve the same protections they did as civilians. It is a necessary evil to provide a structured environment in the hell of warzones. Bear in mind that while soldiers have been fired from the military in the U.S. before, they weren't put in some anonymous prison, or shot in the street along with their family. Those two things happen everyday in this world. Is our country perfect? No way. Could we use more freedom, not less? Hell yes. That being said, we are still leaps and bounds ahead of most countries in the world in regards to personal freedom. Let's keep up the good fight, but let's also not sound like spoiled children whining about email privacy, while others are still fighting for the basic right to speak up without being shot dead in the street for it. Balance your "internet privacy" advocasy with "human rights" advocasy.

Re:Sacking... (1)

Entropius (188861) | about 8 months ago | (#44552741)

Bear in mind that while soldiers have been fired from the military in the U.S. before, they weren't put in some anonymous prison.

Tell that to Bradley Manning...

Re:Sacking... (1)

stenvar (2789879) | about 8 months ago | (#44552117)

The US military has always been an exception constitutionally guarantee rights. You give up your rights when you join.

Furthermore, if you badmouth the company you work for, they can certainly fire you. Freedom to choose who to associate with at your business is just as much an essential freedom as free speech.

The real problem is that government employment creates a special category of employees, where rights, interests, and obligations conflict much more than in private sector employment. The solution to that problem is to minimize government employment as much as possible. Civil servants are a necessary evil that we should have as little of as possible.

Re:Sacking... (1)

wiredog (43288) | about 8 months ago | (#44552183)

Because military law applies to civilians. Ummm. No.

In the military you're required to have proper respect for the chain of command, which means not being disrespectful to the CinC (and Congress, which writes the laws). And the more senior you are, the more you're required to be respectful. Privates can get away with things that generals can't.

Re:Sacking... (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 8 months ago | (#44552237)

Because military law applies to civilians. Ummm. No.

In the military you're required to have proper respect for the chain of command,

You're also supposed to defend the Constitution from domestic enemies, but I guess that one (which is actually part of the oath) isn't taken as seriously?

Re:Sacking... (4, Interesting)

Entropius (188861) | about 8 months ago | (#44552809)

OT: There is an advertisement up in the subway station under the Pentagon by some group called the Oath Keepers that says: "Snowden honored his oath. Honor yours; expose unconstitutional actions."

Military and politics don't mix. (4, Insightful)

SuperBanana (662181) | about 8 months ago | (#44552241)

Are you seriously comparing a civil employee to a military officer?

If you're an officer, you're not criticizing "the administration", you're criticizing your commanders. Most people in the military understand why they shouldn't even consider getting involved in politics...if you need to understand why military shouldn't be involved in politics, I cannot help you. A history book can, however.

Yes. Are they different? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44552847)

What, precisely is the difference?

And the internet abounds with people insisting that scientists should not get involved with politics because they're climatologists.

All you're doing is pointing out they are different. Not why that difference makes a sodding bit of difference.

PS to shentino: the employee of the government is VOLUNTARILY working for the government. They don't have constription in the civil service. Not even in Australia.

Re:Military and politics don't mix. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44553291)

Most people in the military understand why they shouldn't even consider getting involved in politics...if you need to understand why military shouldn't be involved in politics, I cannot help you. A history book can, however.

I'd love to believe you...but then I see yet another Press Event or announcement or something where there are military commanders standing alongside whatever political slime is trying to remove my Rights. That implies support for that slime's attempts to usurp my Rights, and therefore is political.

Re:Military and politics don't mix. (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 8 months ago | (#44553633)

Most people in the military understand why they shouldn't even consider getting involved in politics...if you need to understand why military shouldn't be involved in politics, I cannot help you. A history book can, however.

The founding fathers understood that a standing army should not even exist. And history books will back them up. This is one of the reasons. If we didn't have a standing army, the question of whether it should be involved in politics would never come up. We wouldn't have to deny thousands of our citizens basic rights.

In time of actual war, great discretionary powers are constantly given to the Executive Magistrate. Constant apprehension of War, has the same tendency to render the head too large for the body. A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defence against foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people.
James Madison

Re:Sacking... (1)

shentino (1139071) | about 8 months ago | (#44552337)

In the US, joining the military is a voluntary operation where you give up your rights in exchange for a cut of the DoD payroll budget.

Your argument would hold more water if people were conscripted though.

Free Speech... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44551885)

"Unlike Americans, Australians have only limited rights to Free Speech."
s/Un//

As recent events have pointed it out.

I'm glad I'm not an Australian (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44551931)

Nothing to do with the story, I'm just glad I'm not an Australian.

Re:I'm glad I'm not an Australian (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44552125)

Well, then just shut the fuck up about it and your off-topic comment.

Where was this ruling made? (4, Funny)

korbulon (2792438) | about 8 months ago | (#44552019)

In some kangaroo court?

Re:Where was this ruling made? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44552329)

Sorry, modded overrated by accident. Obviously, by /. convention, this comment is to be modded 5, Funny, regardless of whether anyone actually laughs.

A boy named Sue (2)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about 8 months ago | (#44552035)

The case is linked to one of the government's most prolific official tweeters, Immigration Department spokesman Sandi Logan, who heads the communications team in which Ms Banerji worked.

There is a danger when you work for a boss who's angry at the world because his parents gave him a girl's name.

Re:A boy named Sue (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44552319)

Why do you have to stereo type names? There are guys wearing women's panties for crying out loud, not because they are prevs, but because (LOL) they feel comfortable...

Australian Cop Shows (0, Offtopic)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | about 8 months ago | (#44552083)

I have watched Australian Cop Shows and they just search cars, dig through pockets, and seize people's cars without the slightest regard to concepts such as probable cause, privacy rights, etc. Australia looks like an amazing country but legally it is a tin pot dictatorship. I think the only thing keeping it from being much worse is that the politicians weren't monsters. But if they were to elect some real monsters there is little protecting the people from them.

Have all the Anglo countries gone insane? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44552089)

Seriously, it seems like every Anglo country is going down the path to authoritarianism.

Re:Have all the Anglo countries gone insane? (4, Insightful)

invid (163714) | about 8 months ago | (#44552211)

I'd rather live in a country where you actually hear about the abuses instead of those countries where the abuses are hidden. The fact that we actually know about the abuses in Anglo countries gives me hope.

the problem with freedom of speech ... (1)

mbaGeek (1219224) | about 8 months ago | (#44552109)

... is that people might actually use it

just for the "by the way file" there are slander and libel laws in most "free" countries - so no, you aren't free to say whatever pops into your head, but you are supposed to be "free within the law" to express yourself

Re:the problem with freedom of speech ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44552435)

Slander is considered an attack (i.e. a form of coercion) -- a deliberate action intended to cause harm to the victim. That is, of course, why there are laws against it. The fact that it comes out of somebody's mouth is irrelevant. The spirit of the law here is not "freedom of speech, except for a, b, c, d, and e" (which would obviously void the very concept of freedom of speech), but rather "freedom of speech, provided you do not violate the equal civil rights of others".

The age-old "yelling fire in a theater" example is no different. Freedom of speech isn't the problem here, and therefore, making exceptions to freedom of speech isn't the solution. Deliberately endangering others is the problem. The correct solution is not to enumerate thousands of exeptions to freedom of speech (which, again, voids the entire concept), but rather to prosecute actions which cause real harm to others.

Your freedom ends where mine begins. That is all you need to know.

Slashdot counts too (3, Interesting)

schneidafunk (795759) | about 8 months ago | (#44552131)

I would just like to point out that an Aussie public servant critical of this ruling would not be able to post on slashdot without risk of being fired.

she should have done it (1)

FudRucker (866063) | about 8 months ago | (#44552157)

more anonymously, like from a public wifi spot on a twitter account that is not tied to her real identity, there has to be a way of achieving true anonymity online for certain things like criticizing the govt and whistle blowing

Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44552165)

In soviet Australia government protects you from your freedom.

We should be doing this (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44552193)

in the USA. It's not right for citizens to criticize elected politicians. Nothing brings greater shame to your family name than saying unkind things about your leaders.

Why are politicians in America criticized for what they do? I'll tell you why! The people that are elected are inherently more intelligent than the common folk that they lord over, and the little people are simply incapable of understanding the complexities and nuances of proper politics. The stupid plebs need us to make rules and laws for them because without our guidance, they would destroy themselves. They are simple beasts that lack the intellectual capacity to function the way we do, so we herd them around and tell them what to eat, drink, think, and do. Also, we like to maintain the status quo. It wouldn't be right to treat them as though they were human.

The great myth of the last couple centuries that we liked to spread was that blacks and other minorities were inferior. The truth is that we think ALL of you are inferior, and you guys are just easier to control when you are fighting amongst each other. And have you noticed our nearly nonexistent attempts to prevent you from engaging in your vices? We like it when you do things that are blackmail-worthy.

Hail Stanley, full of grace.
Our Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb,
Barack.
Holy Stanley, Mother of Obama,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.
Amen.

At least they are safe (1)

jbrown.za (2935583) | about 8 months ago | (#44552195)

Who needs freedom of speech when you are kept "safe" from perverts and terrorists. These aren't the droids you're looking for. Move along.

We'll see (4, Insightful)

KeensMustard (655606) | about 8 months ago | (#44552221)

I think what you meant to say is that like Americans, Australians have only limited rights to Free Speech. The problem here is not to do with "free speech" but with the fact that public servants must be apolitical in the exercise of their duties. The troubling (very troubling) element of this is that she has been sacked for something that she said outside of the exercise of her duties, and outside the context in which she could have been seen as representing the Department of Immigration. The duty of a public servant to be apolitical does not extend to personal politics and private conversations outside of work and never has.

We'll see if this actually stands up in the High Court.

In practice, this is unworkable - how can someone be sacked for holding a political view that does not impact the exercise of their duties? that screams discrimination, it screams an unworkable scenario for the exercise of government. It stinks - and the governments policy on refugees stinks as well, it's cruel and inhumane and repugnant to right minded people, it's unaustralian, it brings shame to this country, and it's architects ought to be ashamed..

Now fire me if you dare.

Re:We'll see (2)

jezwel (2451108) | about 8 months ago | (#44552607)

In practice, this is unworkable - how can someone be sacked for holding a political view that does not impact the exercise of their duties? that screams discrimination, it screams an unworkable scenario for the exercise of government. It stinks .

It's very disappointing, and if I wasn't an Australian public servant I might have an opinion about this story and your comment.
Carry on.

Re:We'll see (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44553567)

I'm not going to fire you. I'm just going to continue to call you an idiot.

Re:We'll see (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 8 months ago | (#44553573)

Australians, like Americans have a natural right to unfettered free speech. The only question is whether or not they will constitute governments to protect that right.

This isn't funny (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44552289)

'Judge Neville found Australians had no ''unfettered implied right (or freedom) of political expression''.'

Well they certainly don't now that he's made his 'judgment'.

Who decided that 'Australians had no "unfettered implied right (or freedom) of political expression'? Certainly not the Australian people.

"The denial of free speech is the first act of tyranny."

Free speech (0)

mythix (2589549) | about 8 months ago | (#44552501)

Unlike Americans, Australians have only limited rights to Free Speech

LOL, are you seriously implying that americans have free speech? In what world do you live in? Politically, the US is one of the worst countries out there, they are just very good in making it look democratic. You search for a pressure cooker online and get arrested....

Take off the blindfold mister.

Re:Free speech (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44552881)

The whole "pressure cooker" incident was triggered by a panicy phone call by the person's former employer, and didn't actually result in an arrest. People have a right of free speech, that doesn't mean other people won't freak out about your freedom and attempt to sic the cops on you.

Without a 1st amendment right, saying the wrong thing about goverment gets you disappeared/fired. Show me where this happens in the USA.

Re:Free speech (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44552945)

In the United States, we are also very skilled in the art of suppressing speech in very creative ways, rather then outright restricting it. Words can and are distorted in the media, making your "free" speech very different from what you intended it to be. The government and the media will marginialize speech with great skill. And if these and other tactics don't work, it's possible to stretch laws in ways to limit speech further, when you choose to stretch them of course. The nice thing about leaving your laws flexible for enforcement is that you only need make the stretch when you want to. Just look at how often you get a report of someone "getting away with something" and the government trying to use other laws to catch the individual.

And lets not even get started on the use of the civil courts, trademark and copyright law, and all the other tools in the belt for suppressing speech.

Finally, don't forget that you don't always have to be able to win a court case to succeed. The sheer cost of defense is usually enough to allow speech to be suppressed.

Unlike Americans (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44552883)

"Unlike Americans, Australians have only limited rights to Free Speech."

Pfffftttt.

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