It is unspeakably distressing for me to read the Moss Report for a number of reasons. In 2011 I was employed in the National Communications Branch of the then named Department of Immigration and Citizenship. As part of my job, I learned to use media monitoring programs and learned about social media – including Twitter. I set up a twitter account. Every day at work I would read news reports in relation to ministerial directions on asylum seeker policy. I became very concerned, particularly at the mention of the “Malaysia Solution” that was being proposed by the Prime Minister Julia Gillard. My only recourse was to use my newly set up Twitter account to post comment that the Malaysia Solution was not consistent with Australia’s obligations under the Refugee Convention, to which we are a signatory. I continued to post Tweets in my own time, using my own equipment, posting comment about the Refugee Convention, and critical of government asylum seeker policy. I was posting these comments as a private citizen, In about May 2012, the National Communications manager Sandi Logan, posted a tweet from his departmental Twitter account, to spruik the success of a Sudanese refugee who had qualified to be a doctor. For many reasons, I saw this tweet (as against the reality of the government’s asylum seeker policy) as an example of breathtaking hypocrisy. It was early in the morning and I was at home, I responded to this tweet saying words to the effect that perhaps now this young doctor might heal all those in illegal and immoral detention centres. Nothing was ever said to me at work, although I sensed ‘vibes’ around me, but in May 2012, without consulting me, my manager Sandi Logan wrote a complaint to the department’s workplace relations section to have me investigated for breach of Code of Conduct. After twelve months of court action seeking an injuction to prevent my sacking (for I knew it was inevitable, as it was personal) my employment ended on 29 September 2013, the Federal Circuit Court having failed me. The judgment from Neville J stated that I had sought immunity by way of a constitutionally implied freedom of political communication, in spite of the fact that I had made submissions to the court that while there may be a fetter on the implied freedom, any legislative fetter would need to be appropriate and adapted to serve a legitimate end, in a manner compatible with the maintenance of the constitutionally prescribed system of representative and responsible government. Neville J ignored these submissions, wrongly representing my application and circumstances and leading to a flawed judgment, and subsequently, my dismissal. To add insult to injury he added another ground for denying the application – I had not yet been sacked, Since that time I continue to post tweets about government asylum seeker policy. I am writing these words to let readers know that many were aware of the dangerous territory that was being charted with asylum seeker policy, (including, no doubt many of the 8000 employees of the department), and as private citizens we opposed those developments, trying to raise consciousness in the community about our legal obligations – and the hurt that was being done to asylum seekers in our name. I, for one, was (wrongly) found to be in breach of the code of conduct with its defamatory imputations, and was deprived of my livelihood for having done so. Now, as I read the Moss Report in its full horror, and see government ‘tap-dancing’ in its attempts to discredit the report while denying responsibility for those crimes, I am truly heartbroken to see that the consequences of serial governments’ asylum seeker policies have exceeded all my worst expectations – worse than I ever had the imagination to see.
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