Mark Rogers, a 66-year-old retiree and grandfather, has been threatened with legal action by the Department of Human Services (DHS) over a “misleading or deceptive” logo using the Medicare colours for his website, savemedicare.org.
Rogers has been campaigning to defend Medicare from the attacks of the Tony Abbott-Malcolm Turnbull Coalition government since 2014.
The government solicitor wrote to Rogers on November 16 demanding he remove the Medicare-style logo and cancel the domain name of the website. The logo includes slogans such as “more Medicare, not less”, “keep Medicare universal” and “keep Medicare public”.
Rogers told Guardian Australia he created the website for the Save Medicare Sydney campaign group in December 2014, well before the so-called “Mediscare” federal election, because he believed the government was “going in the wrong direction” by proposing a co-payment for GP visits.
“I don’t have the actual true Medicare logo [on the website], just the same colours with the words Save Medicare. I don’t see how any thinking person could think I am pretending to be Medicare or that I am marketing something for personal profit.”
Rogers labelled the letter an “attack on the ideas that I’m putting forward. This has nothing to do with intellectual property and everything to do with the government trying to shut down people who don't agree with them,” he said.
Neither Liberal Party MPs, who cynically used the Medicare logo in their election campaign material, nor Labor, which also promoted a “save Medicare” campaign website, have been similarly threatened with legal action by the government.
Rogers has refused to close down his SaveMedicare website for now, while he seeks legal advice on the matter.
Meanwhile, GetUp! has launched an on-line petition, under the headline: “Breaking: Turnbull is coming for Grandad. Will you back ‘Mark’ against Goliath?”
“To Prime Minister Turnbull: Stop using the enormous legal resources at your disposal to intimidate everyday Australians like Mark Rogers. Your attempts to silence community voices on Medicare will only make them louder”, the petition stated.