Press Release 11 Jul 2014

Today I seek to address a very specific issue that has risen by fraudulent activity by some parties. 

On July 5th an erroneous article was written by reporter named Robert Smyth, the article was then published on “The Age National” we will be attempting to contact Mr Smyth to seek corrections to his article. 

Due to the aforementioned article some members of the Australian Defence Force have expressed concern over publically association with the ADL. As such we have elected to review the “Social media policy” provided by the ADF. We firmly believe that the act of “liking” the ADL page is not a violation of that policy. 

Specifically, I would draw your attention to Section 19:

In line with section 60 of the DFDA and the Public Service provisions referred to in paragraphs 5., 6. and 7. above, Defence personnel must not post material that is offensive towards any group or person based on any personal traits, attributes, beliefs or practices that exploit, objectify or are derogatory of gender, ethnicity or religion.

The Core Component to the section is the word “towards any group or person”, this is important because as has been reiterated on multiple occasions, we do not enforce or encourage “cyber vigilantism”. We have and will continue to discourage direct acts against a person or group of people. However, we do, and will continue to, exercise our rights under Article 19(2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which clearly reads: 

Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.

The other matter relevant to this is Defence Force Discipline Act 1982 Sect 60.1 which reads: 

A defence member is guilty of an offence if the member does an act that is likely to prejudice the discipline of, or bring discredit on, the Defence Force.”

I would like to remind any concerned party that this is considered to be an offence of strict liability. To the best of our knowledge This means that a defense of “mistake of fact” is available.This is defined as:

A person is not criminally responsible for an offence that has a physical element for which there is no fault element if: 
(a) at or before the time of the conduct constituting the physical element, the person considered whether or not facts existed, and is under a mistaken but reasonable belief about those facts; and 
(b) had those facts existed, the conduct would not have constituted an offence.

At this time we are unaware of any way that “liking” or “commenting” on the ADL Page would bring discredit on the defence force. However, this does not extend to user generated content. 

In closing, I would like to let you all know that we have obtained a list of people in the “screenshots” provided by Fairfax media. If you wish to know if your name is on it, please send us a PM and we will let you know. At your discretion we will also happily assist you in bringing charges against the parties responsible for this harassment of you via social media. We do however wish to advise that the ADL is not an assertion that provides legal advice and our content should not be considered as such.