A gathering of Public Servants in Canberra has been warned of “severe consequences” for workers who use social media to criticise their employers.
Government Chief Technical Officer, John Sheridan said Public Servants who engaged in this practice should not expect their employment to continue unconditionally.
PS rules clear
He said that rules for Federal Public Servants were clear and reasonable, and Departments were entitled to act when they were broken.
“Public Servants on Twitter and Facebook are no different to other workers using a noticeboard to disparage their employers,” Mr Sheridan said.
"If you spend time bagging your organisation online or offline, you should not be surprised by the consequences."
He said that social media criticisms would be treated in the same way as if the employee had posted defamatory material on a pin board in the office.
His comments followed news that the sacking of Department of Immigration official Michaela Banerji appeared all but certain over harshly critical comments she made on Twitter against her employer, albeit anonymously.
The Federal Court has refused to grant a stay of dismissal to Ms Banerji, who was in the audience to hear Mr Sheridan's comments.
Another bureaucrat, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade officer Darryl Morris, also looks certain to be sacked over the activities of a Facebook group of which he was allegedly a member.
Mr Sheridan told the forum, hosted by the Institute of Public Administration Australia's ACT Division, that Public Servants were bound to remain impartial in political matters.
"The Public Service centres upon principles of impartiality, so that we can provide services to whatever side of politics holds Government at a given point," he said.
Fairfax Media said that the Department of Immigration spokesman, Sandi Logan, himself a target of Ms Banerji's tweets, has had his online voice silenced by the Government.