Tom Lynch says the State Government is stifling free speech. PHOTO: DAVID KILLICK
Tom Lynch says the State Government is stifling free speech. PHOTO: DAVID KILLICK

Unions back speech as Gov tries to "silence online critics"

PROPOSED social media rules for public servants would stifle free speech and remove their ability to participate in public debates, their union says.

Social media guidelines drafted by the State Service Management Office ban the state's public servants from any criticism of the Government, its members or its policies, Community and Public Sector Union General Secretary Tom Lynch said today.

The proposed code bars commenting, liking, sharing, or even associating with online groups relating to politics - with the threat of dismissal for breaches, even if they do not identify themselves a state sector employees.

"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.

"This is an overarching policy now designed to clamp down on all public sector workers and to really make them concerned about being terminated if they participate in the social debate that our community has around issues.

"This policy seeks to not only silence public servants from talking about issues that they're concerned about in their own agency but any public sector public sector at all."

The code warns that criticism of government will result in disciplinary action.

"Failure to abide by these guidelines may result in disciplinary action under to Code of Conduct, up to and including termination of employment," Mr Lynch said.

"Criticising the work or the administration of an agency is always going to be seen as a breach of the code.

"Criticising a minister or the Premier is just as risky as criticising an agency."

The code does not say what action might be taken if a public servant praises the Government.