Transfield’s restrictions on what its staff can and can’t do in relation to the company’s work enforcing the government’s asylum seeker detention policies go beyond the draconian, into a level of Kafkaesque stupidity rarely seen in Australia.

According to The Guardian‘s Ben Doherty, Transfield has banned its Nauru and Manus Island staff from joining any political party, church or group that does not support Transfield’s actions, and from revealing anything that might “embarrass” Transfield. The company has also made it a sackable offence to be followed on Twitter by an asylum seeker, even unknowingly.

A government that has so publicly and so often professed to support free speech would of course demand that Transfield abandon such utterly absurd and outrageous restrictions. But not this government.

For all its rhetoric about freedom, free speech and a free press, this government’s record is one of unremitting censorship and suppression: silencing public servants on social media, including Stasi-like demands that bureaucrats inform on each other, the suppression of traditional parliamentary scrutiny of its treatment of asylum seekers under the fig leaf of national security, the demonisation of those who revealed the sexual assault and abuse of children under Australia’s care, Australia’s biggest ever mass surveillance scheme, laws that would jail journalists for revealing intelligence operations or that they were under investigation, and the most recent addition, a new bill to enable the copyright cartel to order the online blocking by ISPs of websites they object to.

Compared to this government’s actions, Transfield’s ludicrous policies are an amateur effort.

Peter Fray

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