Friday, 2 December 2016
Snapshot 23 November 2016 7:48pm
The Sydney Morning Herald, 23 November 2016:
The Turnbull government has threatened to sue a retiree who established a little-visited website that campaigns against cuts to Medicare, accusing him of unauthorised use of the healthcare system's green and yellow logo.
The use of Medicare against the government has become a point of extreme sensitivity for the Coalition since its near-death experience in July and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's angry election night claim that unions "peddled lies" to voters in text messages purportedly sent by Medicare.
But Mark Rogers, a Sydney grandfather of two, said it was "beyond over the top" and "Monty Pythonesque" for the government to threaten him with court and damages for his part-time personal crusade to protect Medicare.
On Wednesday last week he received a legal letter from the Australian Government Solicitor giving him less than 48 hours to shut down his "Save Medicare" website and agree to never use Medicare branding again……
Mr Rogers's website and domain name is similar to Labor's "save Medicare" campaign website but the ALP has not been threatened with legal action, Fairfax Media has confirmed.
Wellington Times, 24 November 2016:
Mr Turnbull was asked for a second time on Thursday why his government was targeting a retiree with a little-visited website that campaigns against cuts to Medicare.
"I will speak to the minister, I will have a look at the legal advice and I will review it," Mr Turnbull told Parliament.
Earlier, Human Services Minister Alan Tudge indicated he backed the department's pursuit of Mr Rogers, insisting it was not a matter of seeking to shut down free speech as the retiree and some legal academics have insisted.
"The Department is concerned about the misuse and misrepresentation of the Medicare brand, not legitimate use in public debate."
On Melbourne radio on Thursday, Mr Tudge could not say if any member of the public had complained about being misled by Mr Rogers' website.
Mr Rogers said he had been flooded with offers of legal assistance and financial backing to fight the government.
In less than 24 hours, more than 26,000 people had signed a GetUp! petition in his support.
"The feedback is that the government does not have a valid case on the basis of copyright and they are just trying to crush me," Mr Rogers said.
Matthew Rimmer, Professor of Intellectual Property at Queensland University of Technology said he was "puzzled" that the government would push so hard against an individual who was clearly not trying to misrepresent Medicare in any commercial sense.
"I'm not sure they have picked the right target here. I'm concerned it's overreach in terms of copyright law and trademark law," Professor Rimmer said.
"Medicare has been politically contested and used in all sorts of advertising, particularly in during the last election.
"This whole thing would have a much different complexion if it was a commercial player like a bank or insurer using the name Medicare but if you look at Mr Roger's website, it is clearly not pretending to be Medicare, who is it going to mislead?"