Australia’s Right To Know coalition of media organisations (of which MEAA is a member) joint submission to the Senate Environment and Communications Committee inquiry into press freedom – 190903
“As the Committee is aware, ARTK has also made a submission to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) inquiry into the impact of the exercise of law enforcement and intelligence powers on freedom of the press…
We believe a key issue to explore is the importance of a free media to ensure that the public’s right to be informed of the actions taken by Government in their name is sufficiently protected. It is important to recognise the breadth of this issue, that it is not limited to ‘national security’ matters. In recent years many legal provisions that undermine and threaten the Australian public’s right to know have been passed by the Federal Parliament under the guise of various national security concerns and national security legislation.
The culture of secrecy arising from these legal provisions that unnecessarily restrict Australia’s right to know has permeated attitudes and processes more broadly. We have tackled some of these issues on a legislative amendment by legislative amendment basis and provided submissions and evidence to Parliamentary inquiries, particularly the PJCIS. But with each of these laws the tide of secrecy rises. This is deeply disturbing in a modern and robust democracy.
The tool that is used – laws that are designed to put journalists in jail for doing their jobs – has a chilling effect on reporting. It is not far-fetched to conclude the impact of the AFP raids, and the approach the Government has taken to the fate of the journalists that are the subject of those search warrants, is intimidatory.”