Suppression and secrecy: how Australia’s government put a boot on journalism’s throat

Suppression and secrecy: how Australia’s government put a boot on journalism’s throat

This article is more than 1 year old
Richard Ackland

News publishers find it less risky, and maybe more profitable, if stories about abuse of power are shunted in favour of trivia

Police outside the ABC building‘There was an eerie sense of a police state when images emerged of the AFP entering the ABC in Sydney and demanding access to the corporation’s files on sensitive news reports.’ Photograph: David Gray/AAP

 

News organisations have been slow to respond to the tide of legislation that progressively and surely threatens their ability to report the affairs of state.

Indeed, some media outlets have a history of cheering on the rampant growth of national security laws, as though the mantra of government was more important than their ability to unearth the truth.

There was an eerie sense of a police state when images emerged of the Australian federal police entering the ABC in Sydney and demanding access to the corporation’s files on sensitive news reports. Only days earlier the police had been rifling through the Canberra home of News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst. It prompted a heightened concern about the cankered state in which the “free press” finds itself.

Calls for a special independent inquiry into how security laws impinge on a free press were headed off by the government to the parliamentary joint committee on intelligence and security. The reporting date is 17 October. The inquiry could well overlap with work under way by the Senate environment and communications references committee looking into “the adequacy of commonwealth laws and frameworks covering the disclosure and reporting of sensitive and classified information”.

 

 

 

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