Mark Dreyfus MP

Member for Isaacs
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Media Freedom Still At Risk As Hopeless Government Again Fails To Act

19 May 2021

For the second time in nine months a Parliamentary Inquiry has found media freedom is under threat in Australia, and still the Morrison Government fails to act.

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 STILL AT RISK AS HOPELESS GOVERNMENT AGAIN FAILS TO ACT
 

For the second time in nine months a Parliamentary Inquiry has found media freedom is under threat in Australia, and still the Morrison Government fails to act.
 
The Senate Inquiry into Press Freedom has unanimously concluded that existing Australian law does not adequately protect freedom of the press.
 
This is the same conclusion as the bipartisan recommendations of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security report released in August 2020.
 
In December 2020, the Morrison Government endorsed all 16 of the PJCIS’s recommendations to protect press freedom and the public’s right to know.
 
Five months later, nothing has changed.
 
Five months after promising to act, the Morrison Government has failed to take a single step to enact the recommendations of that PJCIS Report, and media freedom remains as under threat today as it was when police were sent to raids the homes and offices of journalists for writing stories that embarrassed the Government.
 
Yet again, all announcement and no delivery.
 
As we said 5 months ago:

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 ABC offices and the home of a News Limited journalist were raided two years ago, Scott Morrison said he was untroubled. To this day, the Prime Minister continues to behave as if there is nothing remarkable about police raiding the homes and offices of journalists.
 
The Morrison Government insisted repeatedly that protections for journalists were adequate and no legislative changes were needed.
 
This second major bipartisan report again puts the lie to that claim.
 
The bipartisan recommendations of the PJCIS and Senate reports would, if implemented, result in significant improvements to the law, including improved legal protections for journalists.
 
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, 19 MAY 2021