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Press Freedom is Under Attack

Journalists' homes and offices are being raided. Police are illegally accessing private data. Whistleblowers face unprecedented prison sentences.

We are witnessing an unprecedented crackdown on dissent by a fragile government that cannot handle criticism. It's an attack on the public's right to know.

Will you stand with journos and whistleblowers and protect press freedom? Sign the petition calling for a Media Freedom Act now.

A mock-censored image that reads "Politicians make bad editors"
4 September, 2019: The AFP raids the Canberra home of an intelligence officer. News Corp exec Campbell Reid drecries the raids – "Today we are seeing that process of intimidation continue."1

29 August, 2019: Dutton's right hand man and Home Affairs boss Mike Pezzullo congratulates the AFP for doing a "good job" for raiding Annika Smethurst and the ABC in June.2

5 June, 2019: Federal Police raid ABC offices to seize documents relating to its 2017 investigation into allegations of Australian soldiers unlawfully killing Afghan civilians.3

4 June 2019: Federal Police raid News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst's home about a story she wrote over a year ago exposing a government plans to spy on its own citizens using military technology.4

December, 2018: Anti-encryption laws are passed with bipartisan support, undermining journalists' ability to protect the identity of sources and whistleblowers.5

July, 2018: Australian Government greenlights prosecution of Witness K and their lawyer Bernard Collaery for exposing a secret government operation to spy on Timor Leste during negotiations for a lucrative oil and gas deal.6

June, 2018: New espionage laws are passed with bipartisan support, threatening journalists with heavy prison sentences for reporting against 'Australian interests'.7

January, 2018: The ABC hands back hundreds of leaked Cabinet documents amid accusations of intense government pressure.8

References:
[1] 'AFP officers raid home of former government adviser in Canberra', News.com, 4 September 2019 [2] ''Well done': home affairs chief Mike Pezzullo praised police for raiding journalist's home', The Guardian, 29 August 2019 [3] 'ABC's Sydney headquarters raided by Australian Federal Police over Afghan Files stories', ABC, 5 June 2019
[4] 'Australian Federal Police raid News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst's home over alleged national security leak', ABC, 4 June 2019
[5] 'Obviously dangerous': Labor doubles down on encryption bill with press freedom warning', SMH, 1 December 2018
[6] 'Australia urged to drop Witness K prosecution due to 'chilling effect' on democracy', The Guardian, 24 July 2018
[7] 'Sweeping changes to espionage, treason and secrecy laws as foreign interference bills pass', SBS News, 28 June 2018
[8] 'ABC admits it ignored 'thousands of pages' from the Cabinet Files', Crikey, 11 April 2018
Journalists shouldn't have to choose between reporting the truth and going to jail. A Media Freedom Act would protect public interest journalism from prosecution and malicious investigations. It would:

  1. Safeguard journalists and their sources: Journalists should not be forced to reveal confidential data and sources to politicians or government agencies.

  2. Protect whistleblowers: all disclosures made in the public interest by whistleblowers to journalists must be protected under the public's right to know.

  3. Restore the public's right to know: The public's right to know what is being done in our name must be restored by establishing greater transparency in the issuing of media suppression orders.

  4. Reduce the threat of lawsuits by introducing a public interest defence to stop politicians and government agencies threatening journalists with legal action to silence critical reporting.

  5. Protect against criminal liability by amending national security legislation to protect journalists engaged in legitimate public interest journalism.
COALITION:
Since coming to office in 2013, the Coalition has proposed multiple bills that infringe on freedom of the press. Just last year, they passed new espionage laws that threaten journalists with heavy prison sentences for possessing classified information or reporting against 'Australian interests'.
And their new anti-encryption legislation also undermines journalist's ability to protect their sources and whistleblowers.
They have also greenlit the prosecution of multiple government whistleblowers, the most recent example being Witness K.

LABOR:
Labor are committed to laws to protect journalists and their sources, and stronger whistleblower protection laws.
However, in the last 18 months they have provided bipartisan support for the Coalition to pass its draconian espionage and anti-encryption laws, albeit having negotiated some positive amendments.

GREENS:
The Greens strongly opposed the government's espionage and anti-encryption legislation, and are committed to strong protections for whistleblowers, journalists and their sources.
Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young is also calling for an urgent parliamentary inquiry into press freedom in Australia.

SIGN FOR A MEDIA FREEDOM ACT

To the Honorable members of the House and Senate:

We demand a Media Freedom Act to protect legitimate public interest journalism from government prosecution and malicious investigations. Our national media must be free to deliver fearless reporting to the public, without risking jail time for revealing the truth.




103,987 signatures

We need 6,013 more


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