Cricket Australia’s got some explaining to do. And probably a hefty damages bill to pay out when Angela Williamson’s lawyers have finished paddling them with a Gray Nicolls Viper. Williamson worked for CA as "a manager of public policy and government relations" until she was sacked at the end of June for tweeting about abortion policy in Tasmania.
Cricket Australia, which had earlier crowed about being an "Endorsed Employer for Women", wrote to Williamson on June 29, officially freaking out because she had complained on Twitter, as a private citizen, about the Tasmanian Parliament’s "irresponsible, gutless and reckless" rejection of a motion to provide terminations at public hospitals. The vote effectively forces Tasmanian women to fly or ferry to Melbourne for an abortion, compounding the difficulty of what can already be a very traumatic episode. Williamson was directly affected in February when the island state’s only abortion provider closed and she had to travel alone to the mainland for the procedure.
She’d already been trolled by a government employee after tweeting in favour of abortion rights in January. The staffer, who has since resigned, emailed a screenshot of Williamson’s tweet to Cricket Australia, tagged "FYI".
CA did nothing then, but after Williamson tweeted again in June, Tasmanian cricket administrators contacted the government to apologise. Things appear to have escalated quickly. Someone in government discussed Williamson’s personal medical information to CA, informing them that she had taken time off work to terminate a pregnancy earlier in the year. She was herself terminated shortly afterwards.
What a disgrace.
Cricket Australia released a statement claiming that it “respects an individual's right to their opinion”. However, it also “expects that employees will refrain from making offensive comments that contravene the organisation’s policies.”
I added the emphasis, because CA demonstrably does not respect anybody’s right to voice any opinion that might make things a little awkward in the members pavilion the next time some freeloading politician is there hoovering up the triangle sandwiches and complimentary fairy cakes.
And it can expect whatever it wants, but it has no legal authority to decide what makes a comment offensive, and it has never even tried to explain how Williamson contravened any written policy of her employer. Mouthing the words after the fact doesn’t make it so.
The Tasmanian government, having revealed her personal data, which almost certainly was illegal, has now thrown its collective hands up in a fit of the vapours and refused to accept any responsibility for this amateur shit show.
Cricket Australia is refusing to comment because the matter is now before the courts.
And I’m finding it very, very hard to imagine that this "Endorsed Employer for Women" would have made such a monumental cock-up of the whole thing if Angela Williamson had been some bloke tweeting his disgruntlement about a vote on, say, duck hunting or restrictions on four-wheel-drives in national parks.
Cricket Australia, you can get in the bin, you complete and utter arsehats.
John Birmingham is a columnist and blogger for the Brisbane Times. He is also an award winning magazine writer and the author of Leviathan, the Unauthorised Biography of Sydney, which won the National Award for Non-Fiction. He amuses himself in his down time by writing novels which improve with altitude.