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Sandi Logan ends free expression in the Public Service

By johnboy 13 August 2013 46

The Age has the intriguing story of how Michaela Banerji was run out of the public service for differing with the mighty warlord of Immigration Public Affairs Sandi Logan.

The Federal Court has just ruled this is totally OK.

The upshot is if you’re in the public service and want to have a social media profile of your own you better keep it very quiet.


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Sandi Logan ends free expression in the Public Service
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LaLegale 8:15 am 21 Aug 13

Thank you to all contributors to this very important topic that has us on a slippery slope. Just to clarify some errors: While in the beginning, my response was that unless and until there was confirmation that the account was mine, I would have no comment, eventually worn down by the daily absurdity of it all, admitted that the account was mine during a ‘pleasant’ discussion with HR. I did not ever actually criticise the department but referred to its obligations under the refugee convention as a conscientious objector to detention and offshore processing. The Court documents show that I did not seek an ‘unfettered’ right, but submitted that the burden created by the PS Act, as interpreted by the decision-maker, was neither reasonable, adapted nor to a legitimate end. This aspect is not evident on a reading of the judgment because that evidence was neither referred to nor considered. This is a point of appeal. The real question is whether, in this country, we want to create a class of persons, public servants, who have no right to express a political opinion at all times. There is no such other class, is there?

ChrisinTurner 5:12 pm 16 Aug 13

I may be out of date, but back in 1960 I had to sign that I would not disclose anything I learnt at work to anyone. Did Michaela breach this requirement?

Gismondo 3:50 pm 14 Aug 13

Masquara said :

Grog Gamut’s blog got an entirely different response, remember?

Grog, from memory, never crititised his department nor the Commonwealth? Grog was outed by the media, of which he had been extremely critical of their 2010 election coverage.

switch 2:46 pm 14 Aug 13

If only weighty legal matters like these could be decided by discussions on Riotact, instead of paying silks thousands of dollars per hour…

thatsnotme 2:16 pm 14 Aug 13

dtc said :

thatsnotme said :

johnboy said :

well no.

the high court had ruled there was an implied right of free speech.

justice neville appears to have narrowed that in this ruling.

*Judge Neville.

Justice Neville is correct.

In court – ‘your honour’
When the judge is not in court and you are referring to him/her – ‘justice’
When addressing the judge personally out of court (at a meeting or in a letter): ‘judge’

Nothing to do with the topic. But if you are seeking to correct someone, then, you know, correct them proper.

No, I’m sorry you’re incorrect. The Federal Magistrates Court recently changed its name to the Federal Circuit Court. Previously, his title was Federal Magistrate Neville. As part of the change in name of the Court, the judicial members were given the title ‘Judge’. At the same time, judicial officers of the Family Court of Australia were given the title ‘Justice’. In this case, there is a very clear distinction between the terms Judge and Justice.

Believe me, my correction was not made without having full knowledge of the protocols in this instance.

caf 1:15 pm 14 Aug 13

bundah said :

johnboy said :

There had been an interpretation of the early high court ruling, used by learned counsel, that you could tell your employer to but out of your private writings.

That interpretation’s taken a bruising here.

If Neville’s decision is not in line with the previous High Court ruling and is therefore erroneous one would expect that the decision would be overturned in an appeal.

I don’t think it’s that black and white. The new decision appears to make some new law, and may either be consistent or inconsistent with the High Court’s previous findings depending on your point of view – it is arguable. I don’t believe it will be appealed though, because in this case it appears to be mooted by the other findings.

c_c™ 1:05 pm 14 Aug 13

johnboy said :

well no.

the high court had ruled there was an implied right of free speech.

justice neville appears to have narrowed that in this ruling.

Nope, implied right of political communication, inferred from the franchise granted by the constitution. Much narrower than free speech and much more purposive in nature.

dtc 12:55 pm 14 Aug 13

thatsnotme said :

johnboy said :

well no.

the high court had ruled there was an implied right of free speech.

justice neville appears to have narrowed that in this ruling.

*Judge Neville.

Justice Neville is correct.

In court – ‘your honour’
When the judge is not in court and you are referring to him/her – ‘justice’
When addressing the judge personally out of court (at a meeting or in a letter): ‘judge’

Nothing to do with the topic. But if you are seeking to correct someone, then, you know, correct them proper.

Savanna100 11:47 am 14 Aug 13

Masquara said :

Savanna100 said :

There’s no real point me going over the circumstances of my APS departure, suffice it to say that, Given this awesome opportunity, I did my sums, adjusted my lifestyle and now can retire and do things I really enjoy. I’ll think of you slaving away at your desk Pitchka while I’m having a Gin and Tonic in my country garden, having to obey no one or endlessly re-write everything as it goes up the line, as we all had to. I’m out, you’re still in (and probably for a while yet) enjoy 🙂

Hmmm, well, your capitalising “gin and tonic” would indicate to me that your written work might have been part of the reason your bosses got you out … .

Well, a day later, check the headings in todays RiotACT offerings, there is a whole new thread with the words “Gin and Tonic” in capitals….seems like when you use a noun(s) its ok to use capitals. If you think that “writing for the public service” is the pinnacle of your life, go for it.

    johnboy 11:48 am 14 Aug 13

    errr. more to the point we often (but not always) leave headlines as they were submitted by the reader.

bundah 10:30 am 14 Aug 13

johnboy said :

There had been an interpretation of the early high court ruling, used by learned counsel, that you could tell your employer to but out of your private writings.

That interpretation’s taken a bruising here.

If Neville’s decision is not in line with the previous High Court ruling and is therefore erroneous one would expect that the decision would be overturned in an appeal.

thatsnotme 9:24 am 14 Aug 13

johnboy said :

well no.

the high court had ruled there was an implied right of free speech.

justice neville appears to have narrowed that in this ruling.

*Judge Neville.

And has he actually narrowed the definition? He does not have the power to change past rulings the High Court has made. According to the story, he has relied on previous rulings from the High Court in making his Judgment. If his interpretation of those rulings was wrong, I’d expect an appeal would be made, and the Federal Court would become involved.

    johnboy 9:40 am 14 Aug 13

    There had been an interpretation of the early high court ruling, used by learned counsel, that you could tell your employer to but out of your private writings.

    That interpretation’s taken a bruising here.

Jim Jones 9:05 am 14 Aug 13

staringclown said :

I don’t remember where I signed up to forego all of my rights to free expression outside of work hours by joining the APS.

You don’t have a right to free expression. This is not enshrined in Australian law. It’s assumed … because America has it, and we’re kinda like America-lite.

    johnboy 9:07 am 14 Aug 13

    well no.

    the high court had ruled there was an implied right of free speech.

    justice neville appears to have narrowed that in this ruling.

staringclown 10:09 pm 13 Aug 13

I don’t remember where I signed up to forego all of my rights to free expression outside of work hours by joining the APS. As far as I understood it I am obliged to implement government policy during work hours apolitically. This I happily accept and perform. If tacit endorsement of the current clowns or the clowns to be is a requirement then I’m done with this job. I would wear a sacking by either for criticism as a badge of honour. I have no intention of stopping.

c_c™ 10:08 pm 13 Aug 13

Masquara said :

Grog Gamut’s blog got an entirely different response, remember?

I thought he did get into trouble. But his work was more thoughtful to be frank. What Banerki did was send among other things, abusive personal messages to the department head. If you sent abusive emails to your boss with your real name, you wouldn’t be surprised about getting that sack would you?

Masquara 9:33 pm 13 Aug 13

Grog Gamut’s blog got an entirely different response, remember?

troll-sniffer 8:22 pm 13 Aug 13

In a just and fair situation, where the offending department was self-confident and not worried about its rather tenuous hold on reputation, the anonymous tweeter would be given the benefit of just that, anonymity. As long as he or she did not divulge his or her identity through exposure or obvious knowledge, the anonymous nature of the tweeting would and should be dealt with by rebuttal or just plain old ignoring. But the department in question and its splendid mouthpiece Sandi ‘gravel rash’ Logan have always been the most brutally ignorant cloakers of procedure in hush hush blanketing the Australian nation has ever seen in peace time, so it’s not surprising they would see any crticism, even anonymously, as being untenable.

bundah 7:38 pm 13 Aug 13

Anyone stepping out of line and expressing disdain with the hierarchy will be shown no mercy

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pLFIxt2cK_0

bundah 7:00 pm 13 Aug 13

The upshot is if you’re in the public service and want to have a social media profile of your own you better keep it very quiet.

Exactly or BB will bring out the ‘rat cage’ and really show you who’s boss..

caf 6:42 pm 13 Aug 13

I don’t know anything about the merits of this specific case, but Justice Neville’s narrowing of the implied right to political expression that the High Court found exists in the constitution is of far more wide interest and applicability.

It is a pity that the case is otherwise weak (and so unlikely to be appealed), because this is really a ruling that needs to be tested in higher courts.

Blen_Carmichael 6:16 pm 13 Aug 13

c_c™ said :

I have a suspicion she could have avoided a lot of trouble had she not lied to her employer, point blank denying the Tweets were hers. There are few employers who will keep you around if you lie, while there are many who would rather work through an issue with someone who is honest.

On an aside, I’m kind of surprised that an admitted lawyer would stuff up a court action like this. There was nothing to injunct.

The article I read stated she had a law degree but it’s not clear whether she’s an admitted lawyer. But in any event, there’s an old saying about the lawyer who represents him/herself having a fool for a client.

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