Daily BulletinDaily Bulletin

News

  • Written by Misha Ketchell, Editor & Executive Director, The Conversation
The Conversation

Because we are so saturated in American culture, very few Australians realise that free speech in this country isn’t really a thing. It is not merely not protected – it’s far worse than that. If you read any of the vast array of laws that protect government secrets, disclosure in the public interest is discouraged, criminalised, punished, and deplored.

The closest we have ever come to having any positive protection of free speech is a series of High Court decisions which say that our Constitution creates an “implied freedom” to communicate so we can be informed citizens. But it is weak. It can be cancelled out by any law that is reasonable and proportionate to achieve another government objective. Former High Court judge Michael Kirby put it bluntly on the ABC yesterday: Australia has less protection of free speech than most Western countries.

Journalists have cared about this sorry state of affairs for a long time, but their pleas have been dismissed as mere self-interest. Yes, journalists are often victims of laws that protect secrecy and target whistleblowers. But what we want, and what everyone should want, is a healthy system of government that can serve the public interest by bringing important matters to light.

The journalist and academic Denis Muller expresses the anger felt by many when he writes that Australian Federal Police, in conducting raids on the ABC and the home of News Limited journalist Annika Smethurst, have allowed themselves to become a tool of “secretive, ruthless and vindictive executive government”. Michelle Grattan writes that Prime Minister Scott Morrison, a keen defender of freedom when it comes to religion, is now faced with the perception that Australia is hostile to a free press.

Meanwhile, Peter Greste, now a Professor of Journalism at the University of Queensland, has long been advocating for greater media freedom as part of a group called the Alliance for Journalists’ Freedom. In May they put out a paper suggesting we should create a law that enshrines media freedom as a positive aspect of our democratic system. Such a law would improve the balance between press freedom and national security, as well as provide a measure of protection from future legislative incursion. (Disclosure: I was part of a round table discussion during which this idea was developed.)

It’s an idea that warrants serious consideration. It’s not a First Amendment, but it could take what many of us already imagine to be the case and turn it into reality.

Authors: Misha Ketchell, Editor & Executive Director, The Conversation

Read more http://theconversation.com/australia-doesnt-protect-free-speech-but-it-could-118448

Today, Australia's Kyoto climate targets end and our Paris cop-out begins. That's nothing to be proud of, Mr Taylor

arrow_forward

The kids are alright: young adult post-disaster novels can teach us about trauma and survival

arrow_forward

6 Tips to Reduce Hot Water Costs

arrow_forward

The Conversation
INTERWEBS DIGITAL AGENCY

Politics

Prime Minister Interview with Ben Fordham, 2GB

FORDHAM: Thank you very much for talking to us. I know it's a difficult day for all of those Qantas workers. Look, they want to know in the short term, are you going to extend JobKeeper?   PRI...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Prime Minister Scott Morrison interview with Neil Mitchell

NEIL MITCHELL: Prime minister, good morning.    PRIME MINISTER: Good morning, how are you?   MICHELL: I’m okay, a bit to get to I apologise, we haven't spoken for a while and I want to get t...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Prime Minister Interview with Ben Fordham

PRIME MINISTER: I've always found that this issue on funerals has been the hardest decision that was taken and the most heartbreaking and of all the letters and, you know, there's been over 100...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Business News

SEO In A Time of COVID-19: A Life-Saver

The coronavirus pandemic has brought about a lot of uncertainty for everyone across the world. It has had one of the most devastating impacts on the day-to-day lives of many including business o...

a Guest Writer - avatar a Guest Writer

5 Ways Risk Management Software Can Help Your Business

No business is averse to risks. Nobody can predict the future or even plan what direction a business is going to take with 100% accuracy. For this reason, to avoid issues or minimise risks, some for...

News Company - avatar News Company

5 Ways To Deal With Unemployment and Get Back Into the Workforce

Being unemployed has a number of challenges and they’re not all financial. It can affect you psychologically and sometimes it can be difficult to dig your way out of a rut when you don’t have a job ...

News Company - avatar News Company



News Company Media Core

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion