This document provides details to support the position put forward at the National Press Club’s Press Freedom: On the Line event on 26 June 2019.
1.THE RIGHT TO CONTEST THE APPLICATION FOR WARRANTS FOR JOURNALISTS AND MEDIA ORGANISATIONS
2. PUBLIC SECTOR WHISTLE-BLOWERS MUST BE ADEQUATELY PROTECTED – THE CURRENT LAW NEEDS TO CHANGE
3. A NEW REGIME THAT LIMITS WHICH DOCUMENTS CAN BE STAMPED SECRET
Legal experts such as Bret Walker SC, who previously held the Commonwealth role of Independent National Security Legislation Monitor (INSLM), have recommended ‘new overarching legislation that defines in a restrictive fashion what information must be kept secret’. We support this. It must include a transparency requirement via auditing and reporting requirements
4. A PROPERLY FUNCTIONING FOI REGIME
The Government can also shut down reporting through the FOI process. FOI laws require meaningful attention and improvement in all aspects. A review of FOI laws must include a panel of FOI ‘user’ experts and this must include specialist journalist representatives.
5. JOURNALISTS MUST BE EXEMPTED FROM NATIONAL SECURITY LAWS ENACTED OVER THE LAST SEVEN YEARS – THAT WOULD PUT THEM IN JAIL FOR DOING THEIR JOBS
We have provided detailed analysis regarding the following, including that exemptions for public interest reporting are essential:
6. DEFAMATION LAW REFORM
We are actively involved in the current Council of Attorney’s General review of the unified defamation law.
We have asked for the following: