The Mebourne Sun-Herald and Sydney Daily Telegraph for example claim that
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"Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson has reportedly "backed the reforms", on the basis that "public servants knew what they were signed up for".
"There is nothing inconsistent with free speech and having codes of conduct or policies as a condition of employment that require professional, respectful behaviour in their role and the public domain", he said.
"It is not unreasonable for such policies to apply to conduct directly related to the primary and specific area of work of a public servant, but are unjustified when they are very broad and limit democratic participation".
"Anonymity should not justify exemptions because it can be connected back to the individual and their work".The reported rationale for restrictions on being "harsh or extreme" in "criticism of the Government, Government policies, a member of parliament from another political party, or their respective policies" is that such expression "could raise questions about the employee’s capacity to work professionally, efficiently or impartially" and that a "gratuitous personal attack ... might reasonably be perceived to be connected with their employment".
We might wonder, however, about encouragement of delation ... albeit 'dobbing' is as Australian as football, beer and meat pies, with for example hotlines run by -
- Department of Immigration and Border Protection
- Australian Taxation Office
- Department of Human Services
- Australian Federal Police
- Victoria Police
- Consumer Affairs Victoria
- Victoria Taxi Directorate
- Cycling Australia
- Business Software Association
Recent case law regarding employees in trouble for use of social media includes Stutsel v Linfox Australia Pty Ltd  FWA 8444; Banerji v Bowles  FCCA 1052; Little v Credit Corp Group Limited  FWC 9642; Pearson v Linfox Australia Pty Ltd  FWC 446; and Wilkinson-Reed v Launtoy Pty Ltd  FWC 644