Australian Parliament Sends Ethics Committee After A Citizen For Mocking Gov't Official On Twitter

from the please-do-not-mock-us,-say-eminently-mockable-gov't-figures dept

It’s 2018 and governments we assume to be enlightened guardians of civil liberties are still doing authoritarian things like turning journalists over to “ethics” committees for illegal tweets. Unbelievably, the Queensland (AU) Parliament restricts use of footage of its assemblies, forbidding anyone from using recordings for “satire, ridicule, or commercial sponsorship.” Certainly we can see some reasons to potentially restrict promotional use of government footage for commercial sponsorship, but is anything more worthy of satire and ridicule than politicians? I submit to you that there is not. And this move by the Parliament is only going to encourage further satire and ridicule.

Last month, advertising consultant Dee Madigan commented with a retweet of a video snippet of parliamentary footage showing Mr Bleijie tearing up sheets of paper.

Her retweet included the comment: “Your taxes at work. A toddler tantrum for @JarrodBleijieMP.”

Ms Madigan refused to delete the retweet, despite repeated requests from the Opposition, the Clerk of Parliament and the Speaker’s office.

As a result, Ms Madigan has been referred to Parliament’s ethics committee.

Here’s the tweet that’s resulted in a Parliamentary ethics committee inquiry.

MP Jarrod Bleijie swiftly dispelled any notions he behaves like a toddler by writing the Speaker and demanding something be done about this public mockery. The end result could be reprimand or fine for Madigan because she did something people do all the time (mock government officials). Non-toddler MP Bleijie and the ethics committee that didn’t laugh his request right out of its office are going to ensure Queensland residents know just how serious Parliament’s stupid broadcast rules really are.

Everything about this — from the Parliament’s restrictions on footage use to MP Bleijie’s reaction — is ridiculous. But so is ABC News’ reporting, which inexplicably claims it can’t republish Madigan’s tweet.

[S]tate Parliament’s terms and conditions stipulate that broadcast material “must only be used for the purposes of fair and accurate reports of proceedings” and must not be used for political advertising, satire or ridicule and commercial sponsorship.

To avoid breaching those same rules, the ABC cannot republish the tweet — sorry about that.

You idiots. Embedding the mocking tweet wouldn’t make ABC complicit in the forbidden act of mocking Parliament with its own recordings. The republication of the tweet would clearly fall under the “fair and accurate report” protection. ABC’s assertion isn’t just inaccurate, it’s cowardly. If anything was to come of ABC’s republication, it would only increase the amount of scorn aimed at MP Bleijie, Parliament’s ethics committee, and the asinine restrictions Parliament places on the publication of footage. It would not harm ABC in the least and yet here we are watching a journalistic agency become an unofficial partner in the government’s outreach overreach program.

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Comments on “Australian Parliament Sends Ethics Committee After A Citizen For Mocking Gov't Official On Twitter”

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Anonymous Coward says:

But the UK serfs don't have Rights, just enough to pacify.

They’re told that they have Rights, but in fact, only what the monarch allows. — It’s a literally medieval monarachy with continuous in-bred tyrants in the 21st century. Many UK serfs come to Techdirt and attack America because they’re not allowed to advocate any real change in the monarch’s lands. — As this story proves, so don’t argue, serfs.

Spyder says:

Re: Did you say something, ABC?

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation is the Australian Government’s media arm, taxpayer funded.

With the current conservative Government in power having an extreme dislike for the ABC due to its perceived biased reporting (i.e. refusing to act as its total propaganda wing) and therefore slowly defunding them and working towards selling it off to private interests, the ABC is desperate to avoid upsetting its master any further.

The Central Scrutinizer (profile) says:

Re: Re: Did you say something, ABC?

The ABC is not the government’s media arm. It is a publically funded media organisation that is often critical of the government of the day, of whatever political stripe. In recent years the current government has stripped something like $300 million from its funding. Yes, this government is a bunch of batards.

Agammamon says:

Embedding the mocking tweet wouldn’t make ABC complicit in the forbidden act of mocking Parliament with its own recordings. The republication of the tweet would clearly fall under the "fair and accurate report" protection.

Oh, oh! This is some 4d chess going on here.

See, ABC is subtly saying that Parliament’s actions are mockworthy, that they’re being laughed at behind closed doors at ABC, and that the ‘mens rea’ behind reposting that tweet would, unavoidably, be to mock Parliament.

Which is why they can’t repost it – because they would be posting it specifically to mock Parliament and not (just) as reporting.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Say it with me (once again)

Power causes a form of brain damage.

They have managed to elevate themselves to better than you peons, forgetting those peons send them there.
I think they should be VERY concerned that taxpayer money is being wasted because one of their officials threw a temper tantrum, engaged an arm of the government that seems to exist to police citizens for having anything but a glowing opinion of the 2 yr olds in charge of the country.

These idiots chased Amazon out of your country, perhaps it is time to remind them they are supposed to work for you not lord over you & use the ‘rule of law’ to punish you for thinking that tearing up papers is a temper tantrum.

Whats the phrase…
oh yes…


Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Would you get over the Amazon thing? Australia has a GST that all businesses are supposed to collect at point of sale. My 2 person business does. As with any rule, they have the choice to follow it or fuck off. They chose to fuck off. Ongoing tears in Australia? Zero. From about one day after the decision, I have heard no commentary, no complaints, no one giving a shit about it.

As to this, the ABC missed a potentially much better response than showing the footage: “Parliamentary rules prevent us showing the tantrum, so here’s a reenactment” (MP played by a toddler)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Australia has a GST that all businesses are supposed to collect at point of sale.

Amazon are doing that for the things that they sell, what they are refusing to do is act as tax accountants and collectors for businesses where they are the market hall and payment processor. Just think of all the customer complaints they would have where where what they take from the account is more than what the seller puts on their receipt.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Nope won’t get over it. Can’t make me.

A nation used to being treated as an unimportant backwater accepting their leadership limiting their access to the world once again makes me sad.

You can have what they allow you to have, and no more.

The rest of the world has refrigerators but the ice company lobbyist arm makes sure you can’t get one because ice is best (or thats the story the lobbyists paid them to parrot).

Lets kill the Great Barrier Reef the rest of the way b/c coal companies want to enjoy the last few years of destroying the world.

I know change is hard, but you can always look forward to the final season of ‘Friends’ airing on the telly since they finally decided to risk the sea monsters & allow it to go down under only a few decades after it went off the air & the rest of the world already spoiled it online for all of you.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

A small point, Amazon spun off an Australian component for use there. Aussies can’t make purchases directly from the main, they can use which is a much more limited version. And there are work arounds but the work arounds bump up costs (of course).

No matter how you cut it, it is a poorer choice for the people thanks to the government taking their lead from large corporate brick and mortar businesses.

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