Union alarm at new social media policy

Tom Lynch
Tom Lynch

Tasmanian public servants could be sacked for making comments critical of the government on social media under new draft employment guidelines, a union says.

Community and Public Sector Union secretary Tom Lynch said under the government’s draft social media guidelines any public sector worker who criticised their employer, the government or a minister on social media could be sacked.

“These policies are designed to silence state service employees and to deny them the right every citizen has to participate in community debates on public policies,” Mr Lynch said.

“The Hodgman government thinks state service employees are employed to serve the political interests of the government of the day when it’s actually the Tasmanian people they serve.”

Mr Lynch said the changes would guarantee the Premier could act against a state service employee who found themselves in the same situation as Angela Williamson did with Cricket Australia.

The employment guidelines, released by the State Service Management Office, says that “association with some online groups or individuals could be seen as endorsement of their views”.

Draft guidelines

Draft guidelines

“I believe this policy is an extreme overreach and a further example of the Hodgman government’s desire to silence any critics of their of their policy or their performance as a government,” Mr Lynch said.

Treasurer Peter Gutwein defended the draft guidelines.

“Obviously there are policies that every employer has,” he said.

“What I would encourage the unions to do is to ensure that their campaign operates within the laws.”

Department of Premier and Cabinet secretary Jenny Gale said the guidelines were a draft.

“There has been no instruction by government on this matter nor any involvement in the development of the consultation draft as the work arose out of discussions between the unions and State Service Management Office in 2016,” Ms Gale said.

“It is a matter for the head of the state service and director of State Service Management Office to approve and release guidelines.”