Journalists entitled to ‘get on with their job’
NORTHERN Australia Minister Matt Canavan says he is "listening carefully" to his community's views on the protection of media freedom in the wake of Australia's Right to Know coalition campaign.
He said journalists were entitled to "get on with their job" in investigating issues that mattered.
"I've always believed that," Mr Canavan said.
"But, as a government, we have an equally important responsibility to keep Australian's safe from harm."
Shadow Northern Australia Minister Murray Watt, however, said he was "disturbed" by the Federal Government's "increasing attempts to keep information from the people of Australia".
He said just this week he had witnessed first-hand ministers refuse to answer information from Senate Estimates committees.
"The Prime Minister won't answer questions from journalists. He won't answer questions in the parliament," Mr Watt said.
"Labor congratulates the Right to Know coalition on their campaign and stands side-by-side with the Australian media in fighting to protect the freedom of the press.
"Labor believes in freedom of the press and the public's right to know."
Mr Canavan insists the LNP Federal Government is committed to press freedom.
He also urged community members to make their voices heard on the issue.
"I canvass my views in the media regularly and always encourage Central Queenslanders to come forward with their own views, even if I don't agree with them," Mr Canavan said.
"I'm listening carefully to what people in the community, including journalists, are saying about the issue."
Media companies from all over the country have united to form Australia's Right to Know coalition in an unprecedented action to fight for press freedoms and the public's right to know.
The six Australia's Right to Know reforms being sought are:
- the right to contest any kind of search warrant on journalists or news organisations before the warrant is issued;
- law change to ensure public sector whistleblowers are adequately protected;
- a new regime that limits which documents can be marked 'secret';
- review of Freedom of Information laws
- that journalists be exempt from national security laws enacted over the past seven years that currently can put them in jail for doing their job; and
- reform to defamation laws.