No free speech on Australian anti-refugee persecution


This 13 August 2013 video says about itself:

Steve Davies … being interviewed by Mark Parton of Radio 2CC concerning Michaela Banerji aka @LaLegale. Michaela, an Australian public servant, was sacked last year from her job after she criticised her department via an anonymous Twitter account.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Australian civil servant fired after critical immigration tweets

An immigration official in Australia was legally dismissed for criticizing the stringent migration policy on Twiter. The highest Australian court has ruled that. Michaela Banerji placed the tweets under a pseudonym years ago, but when she had been doxed in 2013, she was sacked.

Banerji had placed the messages with her own device, and most of them in her own time. She challenged her dismissal. In the first instance, she lost, but on appeal, she won. The appeal court ruled that the dismissal had violated her right to free speech.

Australia has a strict asylum policy. The country does not allow migrants on the mainland while they are still in the asylum procedure. In recent years there has been much to do about the conditions in migrant camps on islands. For example, last year the UN called for mass evacuation due to poor healthcare.

Through the @LaLegale account, Banerji was extremely critical of her government’s policies. Eg, she wrote that usThrough the @LaLegale account, Banerji was extremely critical of her government’s policies. Eg, she wrote that Australians are “sick and tired of the government throwing the UN treaty on refugees into the trashcan.” According to her, there is enough apace in Australia to receive eight million asylum seekers.

tralians are “sick and tired of the government throwing the UN treaty on refugees into the trashcan.” According to her, there is enough apace in Australia to receive eight million asylum seekers.

The government brought the matter before the Australian Supreme Court, and senior judges have now ruled that Banerji’s tweets were in violation of the code of conduct she had to adhere to as a civil servant.

Banerji left the courtroom visibly emotional. “This is not just a defeat for myself. It is a defeat for all of us, and I am very, very, very sorry.”

Effects

“This obviously has major consequences for the two million Australian public servants, who must therefore be very careful in their public statements of criticism”, says correspondent Eva Gabeler. “The Supreme Court recognizes the far-reaching consequences and calls them ‘broad and deep’, but finds it crucial that the civil service remains non-political.”

That the statements were made anonymously does not matter, because everyone who speaks out online, anonymously or not, must assume that his identity will ultimately be known, according to the Supreme Court.

So, bye bye free speech, and privacy. A victory for spying on all people on the internet by the United States NSA and their Australian spying colleagues.

Orwell

The trade union for the public sector is disappointed in the Supreme Court. A spokeswoman says that civil servants should have the same rights as other citizens “instead of Orwellian censorship because of their work.” She calls the consequences absurd and draconian. The Australian government should have shown that it considers a human right like freedom of expression important, spokesperson Flood believes.

Because Banerji eventually lost the case, she must also pay the costs of the trial.

See also here.

1 thought on “No free speech on Australian anti-refugee persecution

  1. Pingback: Australians stop right-wing goverment’s refugee family deportation | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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