Australia

Cricket Australia accused of sacking woman over abortion tweets

Angela Williamson with an unidentified friend Image copyright ANGELA WILLIAMSON
Image caption Angela Williamson has criticised Tasmania over its lack of access to abortions

A former Cricket Australia (CA) employee says she was sacked for publicly criticising lawmakers over the state of abortion services in Tasmania.

Angela Williamson, 39, had been a government relations manager at affiliate Cricket Tasmania until June.

Ms Williamson said she was sacked after writing tweets critical of the state government. CA said only that it would not tolerate "offensive comments".

The recent closure of Tasmania's only abortion clinic has been controversial.

Its closure, due to lack of demand, has forced Ms Williamson and other women to travel to mainland Australia to seek an abortion.

Ms Williamson has launched legal action against CA over her dismissal.

'Right to political opinion'

In June, Ms Williamson used her Twitter account to express frustration about healthcare in Tasmania and local lawmakers.

One tweet criticised a lawmaker's speech on abortion as the "most irresponsible, gutless and reckless delivery in parliament ever".

CA referred to the tweets in its termination letter to Ms Williamson on 29 June.

"Your role requires you to represent Cricket Tasmania and Cricket Australia in the best possible manner to government," read the letter published by Fairfax Media.

"The tweets you have sent are fundamentally inconsistent with this requirement."

Ms Williamson's lawyers argue that her sacking breaches national employment laws.

"Political opinion is protected under the law. She was obviously shocked to lose her job over an issue like this," lawyer Kamal Farouque told the BBC.

"Her job at Cricket Australia involved interaction with government on matters concerning cricket - what's that got to do with access to reproductive health services in Tasmania?"

In a brief statement, Cricket Australia said it respected employees' opinions but expected them to "refrain from making offensive comments that contravene this organisation's policies".

What is the abortion controversy in Tasmania?

Terminating a pregnancy is legal in Tasmania, but the closure in January of the only dedicated clinic for surgical abortions - a private service - has caused months of backlash.

In February, Ms Williamson was among the first to fly to Melbourne to have a surgical abortion, a procedure unavailable to most women through Tasmania's public healthcare system.

Several private specialists in Tasmania offer surgical terminations, but they are expensive.

Ms Williamson has previously told the BBC that she could not afford such a procedure in Tasmania.

The issue was a particular focus of Tasmania's March state election, when health groups pressured the government to find a solution.

Earlier this month, the government said it had partnered with a private provider to offer low-cost terminations.

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