Australian news dailies protest against 'curbs on press freedom'

Front pages of news dailies were blacked out to convey an impression of censorship on information disseminated

by exchange4media Staff
Published - Oct 21, 2019 7:55 PM Updated: Oct 22, 2019 5:51 PM
Australian newspapers

Media industry in Australia unified forces to protest against Parliament legislation that prevented public right to information on government’s actions under the guise of national security, according to media reports. 

Retorting against government’s rules that limit journalists access to sensitive information and penalise whistleblowers, protests were staged in the form of words being blacked out on the front pages of newspapers to exert pressure on the government. 

MEAA, the union for Australia’s journalists, has joined with publishers, broadcasters and other media organisations in an unprecedented united campaign for reforms to protect media freedom, whistleblowers and the public’s right to know. The campaign was launched on the night of October 20 with advertisements on commercial television, and continues today on the front pages of most daily newspapers and websites.

In the past 18 years, the Parliament has passed 75 security laws under the guise of national security. “The culture of secrecy that has descended through these legal provisions restricts every Australian’s right to know and goes well beyond the original intent of national security,” said MEAA chief executive Paul Murphy.

“Journalism is a fundamental pillar of our democracy. It exists to scrutinise the powerful, shine a light on wrongdoing and hold governments to account to the people, but the Australian public is being kept in the dark about matters that affect them.The time has come to wind back these excessive laws and decriminalise public interest journalism and whistleblowing.The protection of sources must be enhanced, and the congested Freedom of Information system needs to be unblocked,” Murphy added.

In many cases, whistleblowers have been punished and bureaucracies have attempted to suppress information from being made public. MEAA is a member of Australia’s Right to Know coalition, you can find more details here: yourrighttoknow.com.au.

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