The Australian Nurses Federation (ANF) Victorian branch released the statement below on March 1.
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Private conciliation resolved disputes in 1997, 2001, 2004 and 2007 and can resolve 2012.
The Baillieu government has spent more taxpayer money on lawyers — this time to prevent nurses and midwives from freely using social media to discuss the dispute.
Baillieu government-paid lawyers wrote to ANF solicitors last night demanding the ANF delete nurses’ and midwives’ posts from the Facebook campaign page at www.facebook.com/respectourwork
The letter seeks that the ANF immediately delete from the Facebook site any and all comments which organise, advise or assist the taking of industrial action on by ANF members or which aid, threaten or propose to engage in such conduct.
The letter says: “We also require that you confirm in writing that, once deletions have been effected, the ANF continue to maintain its social media websites to ensure that comments of a similar nature are immediately deleted.”
Australian Nursing Federation Victorian branch secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick said: “It’s outrageous that Minister Davis can take advantage of his position and use the mainstream media to misrepresent nurses and midwives, but wants to stop Victorian nurses and midwives and the community talking about nursing issues on their own Facebook site.
“Why are Baillieu and Minister Davis prepared to waste more taxpayer money on lawyers to censor the internet and control and punish nurses and midwives when they should be working on finding a solution to end this dispute and get improvements happening in our hospitals?”
The Baillieu government already tightly censors Victorians’ freedom of expression by blocking voters and deleting their comments from its own Facebook pages.
“Nurses and midwives have also been blocked from ‘liking’ Premier Baillieu’s and Minister Davis’ and other Liberal politicians’ Facebook pages which means nurses and midwives can’t leave comments,” Fitzpatrick said. "Now the Baillieu government wants nurses and midwives blocked from commenting on their own Facebook page.
“Nurses have long been suspicious that the Baillieu government actually employs people whose only job is to sit in front of a computer and delete critical comments on government social media sites.
“Gagging nurses and midwives will not resolve this dispute.
“I again call on Baillieu to be the man he was in Opposition four years ago when he called on the previous premier to stop being confrontational and take the conciliation path to resolve this dispute.”