Cricket Australia allegedly dismisses worker for abortion rights tweets

by John Hilton31 Jul 2018

Cricket Australia has been accused of dismissing an employee for posting a series of abortion tweets supporting abortion reform in Tasmania.

At the beginning of the year, Tasmania’s only abortion clinic had closed meaning Tasmanian women seeking a termination were forced to travel to the mainland to have the procedure.

Cricket Australia’s former manager of public policy and government relations Angela Williamson was among the first forced to travel to Melbourne for a termination in February.

In a tweet in June, she described the government’s rejection of a motion to re-establish abortion services in the state through public hospitals as “most irresponsible … gutless and reckless’’.

The 39-year-old was allegedly stood down by Cricket Australia, after the organisation claimed her social media posts had “insulted” the Tasmanian government and made her position “untenable”.

In a statement, a Cricket Australia spokesperson said they can confirm that Cricket Australia ended its employment arrangement with Williamson in late June.

“The circumstances surrounding that decision are now the subject of legal proceedings and it would be inappropriate for Cricket Australia to publicly comment on Ms Williamson's specific circumstances any further,” said the spokesperson.

“We will continue to follow and respect the current process.

“Cricket Australia respects an individual's right to their opinion. However, it expects that employees will refrain from making offensive comments that contravene the organisation’s social media policy.”

Williamson told Fairfax Media that “for speaking up” she lost her job with Cricket Australia.

“I was told the tweet had damaged my relationship with government,” said Williamson.

“I was in shock trying to understand the situation I’d found myself in, and how publicly expressing my political opinion in a tweet had led to this situation at work.

“I should not have had to lose my job to deliver the change. Abortion is legal in Tasmania. But that system is broken and it made me feel ashamed.”

Williamson has engaged employment law firm Maurice Blackburn and an initial hearing is listed at the Fair Work Commission for 17 August.

The firm said that political opinion is a protected attribute under the Fair Work Act, but in this instance an employer is seeking to constrain that opinion, with a person losing their job as a result.

“It seems extraordinary that someone would be sacked from their job in those circumstances,” said her lawyer Kamal Farouque.

“Her job at Cricket Australia had nothing to do with the public debate around access to reproductive health services in Tasmania.”

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