High Court of Australia

Comcare v Banerji [2019] HCA 23

7 Aug 2019

Case Number: C12/2018

Before

Kiefel CJ, Bell, Gageler, Keane, Nettle, Gordon, Edelman JJ

Catchwords

Constitutional law (Cth) – Implied freedom of communication on governmental and political matters – Where Australian Public Service ("APS") Code of Conduct ("Code") included requirement in s 13(11) of Public Service Act 1999 (Cth) that employees behave in way that upholds APS Values and integrity and good reputation of APS – Where APS Values in s 10(1) of that Act included that APS is apolitical, performing functions in impartial and professional manner – Where Agency Head empowered by s 15(1) of that Act to impose sanctions on employee found to have breached Code, including termination of employment – Where employee of government Department published tweets critical of Department, its employees, policies and administration, Government and Opposition immigration policies, and members of Parliament – Where employment with Commonwealth terminated for breach of Code – Where employee claimed compensation under Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (Cth) for "injury", defined to exclude injury suffered as result of reasonable administrative action taken in reasonable manner in respect of employee's employment – Whether ss 10(1), 13(11) and 15(1) of Public Service Act impose effective burden on implied freedom – Whether burden on implied freedom justified – Whether impugned provisions for legitimate purpose – Whether provisions suitable, necessary and adequate in balance.

Words and phrases – "adequate in its balance", "anonymous", "apolitical", "APS Code of Conduct", "effective burden", "impartial", "implied freedom of political communication", "integrity", "legitimate purpose", "necessary", "public servants", "public service", "reasonably appropriate and adapted", "suitable", "system of representative and responsible government", "tweets", "unjustified burden".

Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) – Pt 3. 2.

Public Service Act 1999 (Cth) – ss 10(1), 13(11), 15(1), 33(1).

Safety – Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (Cth), ss 5A(1), 14.
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