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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  • identicon
    Jordan, 26 Jun 2018 @ 9:51am

    Freedom of speech

    I can see Australia doesn't like freedom of speech either

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Agammamon, 26 Jun 2018 @ 11:14am

      Re: Freedom of speech

      They've, uh, they've never liked it.

      For a land that was built by a bunch of criminal exiles, they're pretty conformist.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2018 @ 9:52am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2018 @ 7:12pm

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

      out_of_the_blue just hates it when due process is enforced.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2018 @ 10:30pm

      This story is about Australia

      You might want to recalibrate your medication dosage.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 27 Jun 2018 @ 2:35am

        Re: This story is about Australia

        Doesn't matter to him, he thinks the entire Commonwealth is still a direct monarchy for some reason. This is always a good sign that he has no way of addressing anything in the article, though.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jason, 26 Jun 2018 @ 9:57am

    John Oliver just touched on the same topic with video of the UK Parliament. (An episode or three ago, I think.) Evidently in the UK the episode was edited before broadcast to comply, so the following week he provided an alternative bit for UK viewers while everyone else got to watch even more of Parliament getting made fun of.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2018 @ 10:10am

    Did you say something, ABC?

    Sorry, we couldn't understand you with Parliament's cock in your mouth.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Spyder, 26 Jun 2018 @ 12:27pm

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        The Central Scrutinizer (profile), 27 Jun 2018 @ 6:05am

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 26 Jun 2018 @ 10:21am

    That Aussie parliament has got the Erdogan Seal of Approval!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Agammamon, 26 Jun 2018 @ 11:13am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2018 @ 12:37pm

      Re:

      There is no way they are thinking on those levels. The lowest common mental denominator is generally the one calling the shots.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Altaree, 26 Jun 2018 @ 11:21am

    Aussie law is weird.

    How can the Parliament's Ethics Committee punish a private citizen without going through the courts? Or is Ms Madigan working in some way for the government?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 26 Jun 2018 @ 11:29am

    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...

    BLOODY WANKERS

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2018 @ 1:42pm

      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)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2018 @ 5:27pm

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That Anonymous Coward (profile), 27 Jun 2018 @ 6:45am

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2018 @ 1:47pm

      Re:

      A small point, Amazon spun off an Australian component for use there. Aussies can't make purchases directly from the main Amazon.com, they can use amazon.au 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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2018 @ 11:58am

    How Simpsonian

    As we know from the case of Bart vs Australia, "disparaging the boot is a bootable offense."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 26 Jun 2018 @ 5:01pm

    That'll show 'em

    Politician accused of acting like a toddler and throwing a tantrum, wasting taxpayer money in the process.

    Responds by throwing even bigger tantrum and wasting even more taxpayer money in the process, making the citizen's point better than they could have ever done on their own.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2018 @ 7:43pm

      Re: That'll show 'em

      In fairness, the more time spent on this, the less time he has to make bad laws. They waste taxpayer money just by existing

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DOlz (profile), 26 Jun 2018 @ 9:02pm

    The Australian government has been at war with satire for some time now.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GNIYL5x1oy0

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kLzPuNL0BKU

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    John Smith, 27 Jun 2018 @ 1:27am

    1997 Cop: "It's just an internet threat. Ignore it."
    1997 Legislature: "It's just the internet. Ignore it."

    2018 Cop: "Someone insulted us. Get the SWAT team!"
    2018 Legislature: "National security risk!"

    oh the irony.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    The Central Scrutinizer (profile), 27 Jun 2018 @ 5:56am

    Australia is a constitutional monarchy, dumb arse. We have our own constitution and make our own laws. The reigning monarch is the head of state and that is all. Don't let facts get in the way of your ranting though.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Australian Government, 28 Jun 2018 @ 7:27pm

    Sending Ouverselves To Jail

    The Australian Government would like to announce that is sending itself to jail using it's own internationally embarrassing legislation.

    Yours sincerely,

    The Australian Government

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Power, 28 Jun 2018 @ 7:30pm

    It does indeed

    Power causes a form of brain damage.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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