RIGHT TO KNOW: Australia is being kept in the dark.
RIGHT TO KNOW: Australia is being kept in the dark.

Ministers respond to your right to know

WE SPOKE with your state and federal representatives about press freedom and asked for responses to the Right to Know campaign revealed in the news last week.

State member for Gregory Lachlan Millar said he supports open and transparent government.

“The most important role of the media is to keep all levels of government accountable and report the facts.

“Journalists should have the right to report on all sorts of issues, with a few exceptions.

“But by and large, the more transparency, the better.”

Dale Last, state member for Burdekin, said through a spokesman that things should not be hidden from the public unnecessarily.

“Of course people have a right to know what government at all levels is doing, however at times there will be a need to maintain confidentiality due to security and other issues.

“Realistically, rights and responsibilities need to evolve with time and the right balance found.”

A spokesman for Flynn federal member Ken O’Dowd said it is necessary to strike a balance between press freedom and public safety.

“While press freedom is a bedrock principle of democracy, it isn’t an absolute and all Australians are subject to the law of the land. The freedom to publish has always been subject to other considerations such as laws concerning defamation, a defendant’s right to a fair trial and national security.

“That’s why the Government referred this issue to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security.”

Last week, media organisations across Australia, including this newspaper, censored their front pages and published stories underscoring a lack of government accountability and conditions in which reporters and whistleblowers constantly fear litigation and police raids.

Two government committees are now studying press freedom and will soon issue recommendations about laws that determine what you get to know and what your government can keep from you.

Over the past two decades, Australian governments have passed more than 75 laws related to secrecy and spying.

The Right to Know coalition advocated six changes to laws related to the public’s rights.

Those are the right to contest warrant applications for the media, greater protection for whistleblowers, improvements to the freedom of information system, journalistic exemptions to security laws, the limiting of which documents can be classified as secret, and defamation law reform.

Let us know what you think. Visit yourrighttoknow.com.au.

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