Friday will be a very important day.
The High Court will hear arguments for an appeal application that will hopefully clarify this nation’s laws on freedom of political communication.
Essentially, a decision will be made as to whether this challenge goes ahead, or whether the current judgement of the Full Court of the Federal Court stands.
And I will be there in the middle of it, making my case with my legal team.
So, obviously, I am somewhat biased. As a result, I will let others speak to the importance of this matter below. One way or the other, this case affects the freedoms of all Australians.
But by way of background for those new to this website, this dispute between myself and the Chief of Defence Force goes back to 2013.
In a nutshell, after Defence decided to march in the Mardi Gras it changed its position on the expression of political views outside the workplace, while simultaneously allowing uniformed attendance at political events.
Consequently, those with conservative views like me were no longer free to speak their minds in their private capacity. And others, with different views, were able to march in uniform for their cause publicly.
I didn’t take this lying down. Hence I was sacked after almost 15 years of service and three deployments. Then the legal warfare began.
You can read more about the background here.
I am not the only person hoping that it does.
This is from the Canberra Times earlier this year:
Gaynor’s views were expressed in his own time, in his capacity as a private citizen and not while he was on duty or in uniform. While his comments did draw a connection with the ADF, he was not purporting to speak on its behalf. There is something deeply unsettling about the government seeking to regulate an individual’s views, whether public servant, army reservist or ordinary citizen…
…The High Court has a preference for sidestepping such big-picture questions and focusing solely on the narrow point of law in dispute. For the sake of public servants wanting to express their political views without fear of reprisal, we can only hope the High Court is more ambitious when it delivers the final word in the Gaynor saga.
And this is from The Conversation earlier this week:
The Australian Public Service Commission’s (APSC) recent guidance for public servants shone a spotlight on the issue. It advises employees they could be in breach of their code of conduct for liking or sharing posts on Facebook that are critical of the government.
So are Facebook or Twitter posts protected political speech? It depends. There are tensions in the law, including the extent to which employers can control the expressions of their employees.
Former Australian Defence Force reservist and conservative Catholic Bernard Gaynor is testing these limits. He is challenging his dismissal from the Army Reserves, which came after he breached its online commentary rules by posting anti-LGBTQ statements.
The High Court will decide whether to take up his case later this week. If it does, the scope of Australia’s freedom of political communication could be clarified…
…Freedom to discuss political matters is one of the few constitutional guarantees we have. Given growing questions over political speech on social media platforms, we will be looking to the High Court to clear up the scope of this protection.
Of course, there are many who disagree with my views and believe that I should have been sacked. However, they should consider the consequences of the Full Court of the Federal Court’s decision against me, as outlined by Barry Nilsson Law:
Employers may, in certain circumstances, terminate an employee for the making of social media comments in a private capacity where those comments are extreme and unacceptable in accordance with the position the employee holds. However, the circumstances of each individual case will first need to be considered taking into account the nature of the employee’s employment and applicable policies.
Assessing what is ‘extreme’ is the domain of the boss. And currently, the boss is free to assess ‘extreme’ when it comes to differences of political opinion expressed outside the workplace.
I do not believe this bodes well for any Australian.
And that is the primary reason I am fighting this case.
Unfortunately for my grey hair and sanity, it is not the only case I am in before the High Court.
There is another fight that will touch on free speech that has also been accepted by the High Court: the Garry Burns saga appealing against my win in the New South Wales Court of Appeal earlier this year.
It now involves Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and Western Australia, as well as the Commonwealth, myself, a grandmother from Victoria (Tess Corbett) and homosexual activist, Garry Burns.
When this one does go ahead, there’s a fair chance most lawyers in Australia will be saddled up for it.
It will decide whether one state’s tribunal can hear matters against a resident of another state. That might sound all very legalistic but it does have implications for all Australians: if I lose this matter I’ll face the possibility of fines up to $1.6 million for my views on marriage and morality. And activists will be able to lodge complaints against anyone in Australia under state anti-discrimination law, even if the person does not live and did not act in that state.
In other words, you will not just be obliged to abide by the laws of the state you live in. You will also be required to oblige by the laws of the most PC state in Australia as well.
And that will be bad news for all conservatives if marriage is redefined later this year. It will open the door for the legal terrorism of any Australian who dares to speak out against such things as ‘Safe Schools’.
Fighting these battles has been important. But it has also been expensive. Since 2013 my bills have risen to over $250,000.
I could not have managed this without your support. There has been an army behind me the whole way which has filled me confidence, hope and courage. And that army was a key component in obtaining the first victory in the Federal Court against the Chief of Defence Force and the more recent victory in the New South Wales Court of Appeal against Garry Burns.
However, I must once again ask for assistance to fight in the High Court. I apologise for doing so and find it enormously humbling.
If you wish to donate to this fight for freedom, options are listed below:
Paypal: click here
Family Values Action A/c (Donations fund legal actions to support family values)
BSB: 084 134
A/c: 39 446 4501
Gaynor Family Support A/c (Donations fund this website and the Gaynor family)
BSB: 084 134
A/c: 84 082 9276
PO Box 766, Park Ridge, Qld, 4125
And I believe that the success achieved to date is also due to the helping hand of Divine Assistance.
Your prayers are appreciated. I have been praying the one below:
O God, who has appointed Mary, Help of Christians; St Francis Xavier, and St Teresa of the Infant Jesus, Patrons of Australia; grant that, through their intercession, our brethren outside the Church may receive the light of faith, so that Australia may become one in faith under one shepherd, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
– Mary, Help of Christians, pray for us.
– St Francis Xavier, pray for us.
– St Teresa of the Infant Jesus, pray for us.
Thank you once again for your ongoing support.