The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) has sacked several navy soldiers after allegedly posting racist remarks on Facebook. The decision was a follow-up from media reports back in January, leading to an internal probe.
In January, the ABC and Fairfax Media revealed that some members of the RAN posted inappropriate comments on border protection operations on social media and that several Navy personnel are involved in the anti-Islamic group Australian Defence League (ADL).
The reports led to an internal probe into the allegations. And while there were navy sailors that were proven to have posted racist remarks on social media, a formal investigation found that there were no sailors involved with the ADL.
Due to the Privacy Act Navy, the RAN said that it “cannot provide specific information on the outcome of the individual cases that have been investigated, particularly where individuals have been named or ‘outed’ in the public domain by others outside of Navy.”
Fairfax Media reported that a Navy member working on border protection duties posted comments on a friend’s Facebook page. The friend, who was said to be a member of the ADL, wrote that asylum-seekers whose boat had sunk were coming to the country “to jump on Centrelink and get free government housing.”
The navy replied in a comment, “I’m about to head out today to deal with these f***ers.”
The RAN did not disclose specific numbers, but it is understood that three to six sailors have been sacked or ordered to justify their employment in connection with the scandal.
“Several sailors have had their employment terminated or have been issued with notices of cause for termination. Others have received a range of disciplinary punishments or other administrative sanctions including formal warnings and either formal or informal counselling depending on the circumstances of the case,” Chief of Navy Ray Griggs said in a statement.
“Inappropriate behaviour on social media is unacceptable in Navy because of the damage it causes to others and the impact it can have on us successfully achieving our mission.”