Australia’s Right to Know

Australians All » Australia’s Right to Know

You know things are in a state when media executives from the major corporate players in Australia get together to make a plea for freedom of the press. The statement was signed by the following:

John Hartigan Chairman and Chief Executive, News Limited
David Kirk Chief Executive Officer, Fairfax Media
Mark Scott Managing Director, ABC
David Leckie CEO Network Seven and Chairman of Free TV Australia
Shaun Brown Managing Director, SBS
Michael Anderson CEO Austereo and Chairman, Commercial Radio Australia
Clive Marshall CEO, AAP
Angelos Frangopoulos CEO, Sky News

The group has commissioned a report into the state of the media in Australia.

At its launch the coalition signalled that it would commission an “independent study of threats to free speech and expression in this country” which would address issues including:

  • “the effectiveness of freedom of information laws – given that freedom of information is at risk of becoming an oxymoron
  • the principles of open justice and the public’s right to know how courts operate
  • the tendency by courts to restrict public access using broad suppression orders
  • the level of transparency in criminal and family law cases
  • the risks that journalists and whistleblowers face jail even though they are acting in the public interest
  • the impact of new sedition laws on freedom of expression in media reporting and the performing arts
  • the risk that Australians can be detained without charge and reporting of such occurrences is illegal
  • whether defamation laws achieve the right balance between freedom of expression and the need to protect the reputation of individuals (even allowing for recent welcome reforms that created much greater uniformity across the country); and
  • the need for suppression, contempt and other state based restrictions to be reformed and made uniform across the country.”

It was subsequently announced that Irene Moss, the former commissioner of New South Wales government’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), would oversee the audit.

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