Australia’s Right to Know coalition (Nine, News Corp, the ABC, SBS, The Guardian , and journalists’ union the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance) have come together to call for reforms to protect public interest journalism
The coalition has six key proposals for “necessary and urgent” reform. The changes would strengthen rights and protections for public-interest journalism.
- The right to contest search warrants : Applications for search warrants to be made to a high-level judge, with the relevant media outlet to be notified and given the opportunity to challenge the warrant.
- Protections for whistleblowers: Expanded safeguards for government whistleblowing, including an expanded public interest test. The outlets want to see a culture of secrecy replaced with a culture of disclosure.
- Restrictions on secrecy: New rules governing what information governments can deem secret, with obligations to regularly audit the material being kept from the public.
- Freedom of information reform: A suite of changes to FOI law to reduce and restrict the significant delays, obstacles, cost and exemptions that allow government agencies to prevent disclosure.
- Journalist exemptions: Exemptions to protect journalists from prosecution under a number of national security laws. Media outlets can currently mount legal defences against charges under these laws but want this strengthened to exemptions for public-interest journalism.
- Defamation law reform: Overhaul of defamation law to adapt to the digital era, address inconsistency across states territories, and ensure it is operating as intended.