Monday, 7 April 2014
Prime Minister Tony Abbott seeks to extinguish universal right to free speech and political communication - makes it an offence for Commonwealth public servants to be publicly critical of him in their private capacity
Apparently in the bible according to Tony Abbott, free speech and a right to political communication are things that will be available to journalists and shockjocks such as Andrew Bolt, Alan Jones and Ray Hadley - as well as to an assorted collection of wingnuts and racists across the nation.
However, a public service employee loses those rights even outside of working hours in their private capacity.
The first rule in Abbott's new world order is: Do not criticize Tony Abbott.
The Sunday Telegraph 6 April 2014:
PUBLIC servants will be urged to dob in colleagues posting political criticism of the Abbott government on social media, even if the comments are anonymous, under new Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet guidelines.
The sweeping new rules will even cover public servants posting political comments anonymously, including mummy bloggers on parenting websites, if a colleague knew their online identity.
The new policy clearly states it covers the use of social media in an official and unofficial capacity, whether for professional or personal use. If public servants are found to have breached the Australian Public Service Code of Conduct they could be sacked. Colleagues will also be encouraged to dob in each other.
"If an employee becomes aware of another employee who is engaging in conduct that may breach this policy, there is an expectation that the employee will report the conduct to the department,'' the policy states.
"This means that if you receive or become aware of a social media communication by another PM & C employee that is not consistent with this policy, you should advise that person accordingly and inform your supervisor."
Blogger and former public servant Greg Jericho, whose online identity as Grog's Gamut was unmasked by The Australian four years ago, said he was stunned by the policy.
At the time, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet PM and C ruled his own posts did not breach public service guidelines.
"This is so intrusive," Mr Jericho said.
"It is further evidence that the public service is scared of social media rather than seeing it as an opportunity to broaden the understanding of public policy, including correcting misinformation.'' he said…..
The new rules include a specific case study illustrating why public servants are not to criticise Prime Minister Tony Abbott stating being "critical or highly critical of the Department, the Minister or the Prime Minister'' on social media could prompt sanctions.
Breaches include "harsh or extreme in their criticism of the Government, Government policies, a member of parliament from another political party, or their respective policies, that they could raise questions about the employee's capacity to work professionally, efficiently or impartially."
There are also sanctions for "gratuitous personal attack that might reasonably be perceived to be connected with their employment."
The crackdown on social media posts covers posts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Flickr, blogs, forums and Wikipedia.
This is the legislated code of conduct Tony Abbott wants to expand via regulations:
13 The APS Code of Conduct
(1) An APS employee must behave honestly and with integrity in connection with APS employment.
(2) An APS employee must act with care and diligence in connection with APS employment.
(3) An APS employee, when acting in connection with APS employment, must treat everyone with respect and courtesy, and without harassment.
(4) An APS employee, when acting in connection with APS employment, must comply with all applicable Australian laws. For this purpose, Australian law means:
(a) any Act (including this Act), or any instrument made under an Act; or
(b) any law of a State or Territory, including any instrument made under such a law.
(5) An APS employee must comply with any lawful and reasonable direction given by someone in the employee's Agency who has authority to give the direction.
(6) An APS employee must maintain appropriate confidentiality about dealings that the employee has with any Minister or Minister's member of staff.
(7) An APS employee must disclose, and take reasonable steps to avoid, any conflict of interest (real or apparent) in connection with APS employment.
(8) An APS employee must use Commonwealth resources in a proper manner.
(9) An APS employee must not provide false or misleading information in response to a request for information that is made for official purposes in connection with the employee's APS employment.
(10) An APS employee must not make improper use of:
(a) inside information; or
(b) the employee's duties, status, power or authority;
in order to gain, or seek to gain, a benefit or advantage for the employee or for any other person.
(11) An APS employee must at all times behave in a way that upholds:
(a) the APS Values and APS Employment Principles; and
(b) the integrity and good reputation of the employee's Agency and the APS.
(12) An APS employee on duty overseas must at all times behave in a way that upholds the good reputation of Australia.
(13) An APS employee must comply with any other conduct requirement that is prescribed by the regulations.