Tony Abbott Bans Staff from Using Facebook, Twitter; No 'False Hopes, Miracle Cures' for Toyota Workers

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By Reissa Su | February 11, 2014 7:50 PM EST

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and the Coalition government have banned staff from using Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites for political commentary. Although the new rule was quietly implemented, it was nevertheless strict in controlling even Coalition staff involved in writing articles for newspapers and books.

REUTERS
Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott addresses during the Commonwealth Government Meeting (CHOGM) opening ceremony in Colombo November 15, 2013.

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Coalition staff seeking "further guidance" on the new rule were reportedly referred to Mr Abbott's personal chief of staff Peta Credlin.

The Statement of Standards for Ministerial Staff was updated in 2013 based on the code of conduct for staff introduced in 2007 by the first Rudd government. The Coalition's code is the same except for an additional clause stating that all personnel must not post personal commentary online or in books and articles which express personal opinion on the Australian government in general.

Though staff have not been directly told to stop using Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites, the Coalition's code of conduct for staff suggests that the Abbott government may be deflecting embarrassing commentary.

No false hopes, miracle cures

Meanwhile, following Toyota's announcement of closing its operations in Australia by 2017, Tony Abbott remarked that he can't "offer false hope" to thousands of Australian workers who will lose their jobs soon.

Mr Abbott told ABC radio that Toyota workers might find little comfort in his words but he received assurance from the Japanese company that it will take care of its employees. The prime minister tried to be positive by saying there was some consolation in the fact that the auto maker had announced its plans ahead of time.

About 2500 out of 4000 employees working for Toyota Australia will lose their jobs while hundreds will be diverted to the company's components sector and other related industries.

Mr Abbott declared it is the job of government to not offer false hopes and miracle cures to appease citizens. He said the government's response will be to sit down and sort out what needs to be done in difficult situations.

The Prime Minister will meet Victoria's Premier Denis Napthine to discuss how the federal government can support the state in light of Toyota's announcement and Australia's doomed car industry. 

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(Photo: REUTERS / )
Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott addresses during the Commonwealth Government Meeting (CHOGM) opening ceremony in Colombo November 15, 2013.
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