Defence restricts political association of public servants

Defence Department civilians are now restricted from associating with certain offensive political groups — a tougher line than for colleagues in other federal departments.

Should Department of Defence public servants have greater restrictions on their private associations or political views than other public servants?

Defence secretary Dennis Richardson evidently thinks so, signing a joint directive with the chief of the defence force Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin forbidding civilian employees from privately associating with political groups that hold a broad scale of offensive views, ranging from extremist and violent to bigoted and discriminatory on any basis.

Not since the Communist Party of Australia was briefly banned by the Menzies government in 1951 has there been such a restriction on private activities of a major line department’s employees.

The joint-directive — “Association with unlawful or inappropriate groups by Defence personnel” — was signed September 10, 2014, just two days before the public warning of a potential terrorist attack by then Australian Security Intelligence Organisation chief David Irvine.

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  • CM58

    Presume some environmental groups that have protested a little too hard might be on the list.