GetUp! Has come out in support this week of a 66-year old Sydney grandfather who has been threatened with legal action by the Turnbull Government over his ‘Save Medicare’ website.
The Federal Government has threatened to sue Mark Rogers, also known as ‘Grandpa Mark’, who has built a small, relatively unknown website campaigning against cuts to Medicare.
The government’s beef is with Mr Roger’s unauthorised use of the Medicare green and yellow logo. But GetUp! and Mr Rogers believe it’s much more than a case of alleged copyright infringement, accusing the government of using bullying tactics to try to silence a senior citizen who is expressing legitimate concerns and trying to harness support to save Medicare for future generations.
Earlier this month, Mr Rogers 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. The letter states: “
The DHS has not authorised you to use its Medicare name and branding. Your unauthorised registration and use of a domain name, Facebook subdomain and Twitter handle incorporating the Medicare name … is misleading or deceptive and infringes our client’s copyright in the Medicare logo.”
“If you do not agree to do each of these things by the above deadline, our client reserves the right, without further notice, to institute proceedings against you, seeking injunctive relief, damages and costs.”
Mr Rogers has defied the directive, saying he needs more time to consider his legal position.
Rogers, a retired IT professional, owns his own home and lives off his own superannuation, spending part of his week caring for his two granddaughters.
He launched the ‘Save Medicare’ website in 2014 after attending a Save Medicare rally. The site is Rogers’ personal attempt to help save a healthcare system under constant threat, with the government’s controversial decisions to freeze to the Medicare rebate, make substantial cuts to pathology and radiology rebates, and set up a taskforce to privatise Medicare’s billing system.
Mr Rogers believes the government’s pursuit of him is an attack on his freedom of speech.
“It seems to me the Government wants to make freedom of speech available for people who agree with their opinions but if you don’t you get the Australian Government Solicitor thrown on to you.” he said.
Rogers’ website and domain name is similar to Labor’s “save Medicare” campaign website, but the ALP has not been threatened with legal action.
“I’ve committed a terrible crime, I don’t agree with a government policy,” he added.
GetUp! has now launched a petition calling for the Government to back off from it’s legal threats to Mr Rogers.
“This is a true David vs Goliath story – a vindictive government using the enormous legal resources at their disposal to intimidate people into silence,” says the petition.
Mark Rogers says he needs the support from GetUp! because he cannot afford to fight the Government on his own.