Back in April of this year SBS reporter Scott McIntyre posted a series of tweets referring to Anzac Day and its commemorators as ‘poorly-read, largely white, nationalist drinkers and gamblers’ and claimed that the ‘largest single-day terrorist attacks in history’ were committed by Australians and their allies in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The tweets were considered highly controversial and McIntyre was consequently sacked by SBS. However, lawyers for McIntyre are arguing that his dismissal from SBS was both unlawful and only occurred after the intervention of Malcolm Turnbull, then Minister for Communications. According to the lawyers, McIntyre has suffered loss of income, damage to his reputation, humiliation, distress and anxiety as a result of the dismissal that was high profile and largely reported on.
Documents filed in the Federal Court claim that SBS merely encouraged McIntyre to ‘consider’ apologising for the tweets, but then sacked him abruptly within a day after a ‘late night phone call’ from Malcolm Turnbull. On April 26 SBS managing director Michael Ebeif in a statement said that McIntyre’s actions had in fact breached the SBS code of conduct and social media policy. However, documents filed by McIntyre allege that at no time before the dismissal did SBS ask McIntyre to delete or apologise for the tweets or inform him that he had breached corporate values or social media policy.
Having posted them on his personal twitter account, McIntyre’s lawyers are arguing that the tweets were an expression of his personal political opinion and that dismissing him for having those opinions or publishing them should be constituted unfair dismissal.