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High Court Rules Public Servants Can Be Sacked For Criticising Aussie Government On Social Media

High Court Rules Public Servants Can Be Sacked For Criticising Aussie Government On Social Media

Free speech has been a bit of a hot topic over the last few years, with some people losing their jobs or their friends over expressing what they truly believe.

Anytime someone is told they're not allowed to say something, they'll usually clap back with something about free speech and their right to it.

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But the Australian High Court has just made an incredibly interesting ruling that impacts millions of citizens.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

Public servant Michaela Banerji was sacked because she posted messages on her Twitter criticising the Aussie government's immigration policy. The tweets were on her private, anonymous account, however she was still fired.

Michaela challenged the decision and launched an unfair dismissal case. She lost that suit however won a workers' compensation case, according to the Guardian, which ruled the dismissal infringed on her right to free speech.

However, the matter was brought to the High Court, where the judges have ruled that it in fact doesn't impact her rights because, as a public servant, she's to be apolitical 'at all times', as per the social media guidelines.

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Because she works in the public sector, the guidelines state that all employees are to assume that their social media activity is public and accessible by anyone - even though Ms Banerji was anonymous on Twitter.

The Community and Public Sector Union says it's disappointed at the High Court ruling.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

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.

"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."

It is a very interesting step for Aussie law, especially considering there are around two million people employed in the public sector.

No doubt some will be watching the outcome and furiously deleting their posts.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: News, Australia

Stewart Perrie

Stewart Perrie is a Trending Journalist at LADbible. His first job was as a newsreader and journalist at the award winning Sydney radio station, Macquarie Radio. He was solely responsible for the content broadcast on multiple stations across Australia when the MH17, Germanwings and AirAsia disasters unfolded. Stewart has covered the conflict in Syria for LADbible, interviewing a doctor on the front line, and has contributed to the hugely successful UOKM8 campaign.