Silencing the ones who serve you: a public servant speaks out

  As a public servant of some 20 years’ standing I don’t expect much support from the general population these days, but it has been heartening this week to see some impassioned responses from a range of respected commentators on social media to the new ‘dob in a colleague’ policy formulated for its staff by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPM&C). The Community and Public Sector Union and the Human Rights Commissioner Gillian Triggs, have also roundly condemned the policy. There is no need to repeat here the arguments put so well by Greg Jericho (@grogsgromit) on ABCs The Drum; or by Paula Matthewson (@dragonista) in The Hoopla; by Michael […]

You cannot burn a mummy blog: @burgewords comments

Over the weekend a ripple of panic went through the social media in Australia. I was alerted to it by one of my Twitter friends. Word was that Vanessa Powell, described on her Twitter profile as a “refugee supporter”, had been sent two anonymous tweets by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. They could have been generated by anyone, from lowly staffer to the top man, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison. In vague legal terms, the tweets asked for Powell to remove a post from her Facebook which the department found “offensive”. @VanessaPowell25 it’s come to our attention that a Facebook post on your wall contains an offensive remark directed […]

Finally! @YaThinkN’s inner #bigot has a chance to fly free with the repeal of 18C

By Noely Neate  @YaThinkN Alrighty, I am all for free speech; hell, even ripe speech. You should hear me when a neighbour uses his chainsaw or dreaded leaf-blower on an early Sunday morning; my speech flows very freely. As an aside, the neighbour has red hair too, just saying. However, I was raised to be a polite member of society and whilst my rage and colourful language may be directed at my neighbour as I fume over an early morning coffee on the back deck, no way in hell would he ever actually hear my words. That would be rude, impolite and damn near cause World War III in the […]

Cory’s book: Part 2 of a blow-by-blow fact check series by @adropex

[clear] [clear] By Lesley Howard @adropex 19 January 2014 In Chapter 2 “The First Pillar: Faith” Bernardi presents a strong and considered study of the historical contribution Christianity has made to Australia’s national development and how this heritage is represented in the laws and moral codes of Australian society today. Bernardi proposes that faith is fundamental to a healthy and hopeful society and provides the “common thread through which our laws, our instinct and our social fabric are entwined.” Faith provides us with a set of values, moral guidelines in which we can trust and a framework for decision-making. Bernardi goes on to discuss how he believes individuals develop faith. Some people […]

Shaking pressies in Griffith: a by-election Christmas wrap from @GriffithElects

By Jan Bowman  @GriffithElects 15 December 2013 Following candidates around my electorate has proven a hit and miss affair at the same time as everyone’s getting ready for Christmas. Aware that she would be rallying the troops last weekend, I kept missing Terri Butler, but it was not hard to spot her supporters in their red t-shirts, emblazoned with ‘Labor and Local’. The slogan might be an indicator of how Butler is pitching her campaign, although I suspect it was more an opportunity to familiarise the electorate with her image rather than with her policy positions. Some supporters were happy to pose, others were not so keen, but, as you would expect, […]

The Skull Beneath the Skin

By Margo Kingston 10 May 2013 In his Cry, Freedom speech this week, Shadow Attorney General George Brandis said this: ‘But at least the debates about freedom of speech and freedom of the press, which we have seen in the past couple of years, have been a sharp reminder to the Liberal Party of its historic mission. For in the freedom wars, there has been only one party which has stood steadfastly on the side of freedom.’ @NoFibs has disproved this claim – indefensible given the Howard Government’s record – in several pieces which detail just some of the relentless assaults on free speech and political freedom by the Howard Government. At […]

The Forgotten People

By Margo Kingston May 9, 2013 The day after Howard, Abbott and Brandis, among other Liberals, pulverised our freedoms for George Bush, they did it again for Chinese President Hu. This chapter of my book is Part 5 in our series of memory joggers for shadow Attorney General George Brandis, in the hope that he revises his recent speech this week proclaiming his Party a champion of free speech. Senator Brandis has rather oddly chosen not to publish the speech online so it can be freely read by voters, so for now check out the transcript of the @alberichi interview after he delivered it. In our time, we must decide our own belief. Either […]

Can the cross bench deliver citizens accountability from newspapers?

By Margo Kingston, March 27,  2013 What a predicament. All seven cross benchers and the Government are dissatisfied with the standards of newspapers and want citizens to be protected against their abuse of their power. Julian Disney, who heads the Press Council which administers self-regulation, believes there are ‘substantial problems with media standards in Australia’. Yet nothing will be done. Let’s quickly address the blame game. The area is highly dangerous for any government, which is why newspapers have escaped any regulation for so long (see the Finkelstein report on the tortured history of journalists‘ fight to get even limited self regulation). The government has dithered due to splits in cabinet, […]

Absolute freedoms destroy freedom: Disney

Extract of evidence from Professor Julian Disney on freedom of expression and Australian newspapers  to the Senate hearing on media reform, March 19 There are substantial problems with media standards in Australia. A number of them we have in common with other countries… We also gather (information) from journalists as well. Journalists tend to speak more freely, of course, one to one than they do in broader discussions about what they see as problems within the media. The problems include distortion and suppression of key facts and opinions; confusion of fact and opinion; errors of fact, especially online due to excessive haste in posting material and inadequate corrections of those […]