The Daily Telegraph: SHARRI MARKSON,
As the No Campaign prepares to send a mail-out to every Australian household, gay marriage advocates are also stepping up pressure on Australia Post to block letters if they offend the gay and lesbian community.
The Daily Telegraph can reveal the Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union has sent a letter to Australia Post warning of its obligation under its own Act to refuse to post any mail that “does not meet current community standards of reasonableness, honesty and decency” or can be considered “offensive”.
In the letter, CEPU Communications Division divisional secretary Greg Rayner expressed concerns about the “heightened risk” to the “welfare” of posties forced to deliver the postal plebiscite if it is against their beliefs.
“(We) have sought clarification from Australia Post on how the legislation governing the dissemination of offensive material will be interpreted during the postal survey,” he said. “We are seeking clarification of Australia Post’s plans, if any, to mitigate against a heightened risk to employee welfare while undertaking duties associated with this extraordinary process.”
Coalition for Marriage spokeswoman Monica Doumit confirmed preparations were underway for a direct mail campaign to tell families about the consequences of changing the Marriage Act — but insisted the material would not be offensive.
“We’ve seen advertising agencies say they won’t assist our campaign, we saw Facebook posts get taken down and users banned, so we are going to have to go directly to people in their homes because we’re not getting the same publicity as the Yes campaign,” she said. “All we want to do is talk about the consequences of redefining marriage for education, employment and freedom.”
The CEPU drew Australia Post’s attention to point 3.7 of the Unaddressed Mail Service Terms and Conditions Schedule under the Australia Post Act which states: “Any Article which contains text or images which (in Australia Post’s reasonable opinion) does not meet current community standards or expectations, or which may cause offence to a reasonable person, or which contains, or may contain, material which is defamatory or offensive, may be … refused.”
Long-time marriage equality advocate and Deputy Lord Mayor of Sydney, Professor Kerryn Phelps, said Australia Post had a responsibility not to expose the community to offensive material from the No Campaign.
“Item 3.7 is very clear that all texts and images have to meet acceptable community standards of reasonableness, honesty and decency,” she said.
“Given we’ve had this so-called debate imposed upon us, all of the fears expressed by members of the LGBTI community about the sort of rhetoric we and our families were going to be exposed to has materialis
“And given Australia Post has clear guidelines about offensive material, I would expect that they would be screening any such material from the No Campaign very carefully to ensure that they follow the rules.”
A spokeswoman for Australia Post said “in keeping with Australia Post’s obligation to provide postal services, we will be delivering the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey to registered voters throughout Australia and overseas.”
But the spokeswoman said “Australia Post will also deliver campaign material in line with our Terms & Conditions”.