Topic: independent media
We are gradually growing as a www.sydneyalternativemedia.com/blog
The figures for 2007 are now
For this we are pleased.
And if the axiom of good reporting is that it's a story that someone somewhere doesn't want published then this received today should fit the bill:
2 April 2007
Re: Public Comments about the Addison Road Centre
The Board has directed me to write to you about your comments on your blogsite. I am asked to officially warn you about making public comments which undermine the reputation of the Addison Road Centre.
The Board instructs you to desist from making public derogatory comments about the Centre and its members.
The Board further understands that you have concerns you wish to express. The Centre has adopted a Grievance Procedure, which is available to you, or any other staff member, or member of the Centre, which you should follow to air your concerns. The Grievance Procedure has been circulated to you. The appropriate step in that process is a formal complaint which can then be investigated.
This is an official warning. If you engage in further public comment in this vein, then the Board may consider disciplinary action.
Ian Laird, General Manager
We have responded to refute the assertions in this letter with various legal argument and feel pretty good about our position in this situation.
The two stories complained of are here:
Saturday, 31 March 2007
Building Addison Rd Community Centre healthy democracy* beyond influence peddling, self interest
under topic local news and
Sunday, 18 March 2007
Our work ban on errant community centre tenant
again under topic local news
We stand by both these stories for being soundly in the public interest as well as our personal interest, and well sourced based on our lawyerly instincts for evidence based assertions. We are happy to apply a corrections policy where it can be shown we have strayed from any fact or reasonable comment.
We reject outright in the strongest possible terms that this damages the reputation of the ARC - which has a certain reputation all of its own and it would be dishonest to suggest otherwise. Also we include many positive aspects about the ARC which is we are not only happy to report but also have helped actively to achieve.
Further we note the precedent of the Local Government Act (NSW) which positively encourages outreach, information and education of the public about the situation regarding public bodies (in that case local councils) which we think the Addison Road Centre is quite comparable in terms of community service function.
Lastly we were always employed as an independent contractor until recently at the ARC when the centre urged this writer recently to become an employed staff member, with a pay rise. But that can't be at the cost of my democratic right to free speech.
Postscript #1 3rd April 2007: We don't compare ourselves with the gag order on David Hicks, or Mr Peek of Tristar allegedly sacked for speaking to the meeja, but we think the community is heartily sick of authoritarian bully boy censorship tactics.
Lawyer Greg Barnes wrote this in ezine crikey.com.au today of the implied constitutional right to political communication as here in the context of the abused Hicks:
"Since 1992, in a case involving the former Labor MP Andrew Theophanous, the High Court has determined that there are implied rights to free speech and communication when it comes to discussion of issues about government and politics, particularly in the context of elections. This is known as the implied freedom of political communication.
Surely the circumstance of the detention of Mr Hicks is a matter concerning politics or government. His arrest and detention has been the subject of heated political discourse. If the media publishes an interview with Mr Hicks about these matters are they simply not utilising that implied freedom? "
Amen to that as regards this humble blog reporting background to an ARC general meetings under their constitution. The attempted gag letter from the ARC board should be treated with the contempt it deserves.