Mark Dreyfus MP

Member for Isaacs
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Media Freedom Response A Good Announcement - But It Is Only An Announcement

16 December 2020

The Government’s acceptance of the bipartisan recommendations of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security report is a welcome announcement, but it is only an announcement.

MARK DREYFUS
SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL
SHADOW MINISTER FOR CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM
MEMBER FOR ISAACS

MICHELLE ROWLAND MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS
MEMBER FOR GREENWAY


MEDIA FREEDOM RESPONSE A GOOD ANNOUNCEMENT - BUT IT IS ONLY AN ANNOUNCEMENT

The Government’s acceptance of the bipartisan recommendations of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security report is a welcome announcement, but it is only an announcement.

If the Morrison Government wants to demonstrate that it is actually serious about strengthening protections for journalists and whistleblowers, it must introduce legislation when the Parliament returns in February 2021.

When the headquarters of the ABC and the home of a News Limited journalist were raided by police 18 months ago, Scott Morrison said it “never troubles me that our laws are being upheld”.

The Morrison Government insisted repeatedly that protections for journalists were adequate and no legislative changes were needed.

Today’s announcement by the Attorney-General shows that when it comes to press freedom and the public’s right to know, not even the Morrison Government believes its own spin anymore.

Labor also welcomes the fact that after more than four years the Government has finally responded to the review of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 by Philip Moss AM.

Labor will now carefully consider the Government’s response to the Intelligence and Security Committee’s report and the Moss Review before commenting further.

But, as Labor members of the Intelligence and Security Committee made clear in their Additional Comment to the Committee’s report, the Committee’s unanimous and bipartisan recommendations were only a starting point. On their own, they did not go far enough to protect freedom of the press and the public’s right to know.

No journalist should ever face the prospect of being charged or even jailed just for doing their job.

Law enforcement agencies should never raid journalists just because they are embarrassing a government.

A strong and independent media is vital to holding governments and oppositions to account and to inform the Australian public.

Labor will continue to fight to defend and strengthen press freedom and the public’s right to know.

WEDNESDAY, 16 DECEMBER 2020