#RightToKnow: Australian Newspapers Black out Front Pages to Protest Raids on Media

Published October 21st, 2019 - 09:51 GMT
Australian newspapers black out front pages to fight back against secrecy laws
Australian newspapers black out front pages to fight back against secrecy laws

In an unprecedented move, newspapers across Australia published covers featuring blacked-out stories in order to protest raids on journalists, media outlets and a crackdown on whistleblowers in the country. 

The campaign has ignited a movement in defense of press freedom in Australia. 

Led by Australia’s Right to Know Coalition, the campaign emerged following the raids on News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst, who now faces possible criminal charges, and a raid on the ABC headquarters after a report was published detailing incidents of Australian special forces troops killing men and children in Afghanistan.

The government's position is that nobody is above the law, including media that leak sensitive "state secrets." 

While the government withholds information relating to aged care abuse, proposed new powers to "spy on ordinary citizens," and the terms of land sales to foreign companies, Australians believe these are matters they absolutely have a right to know about.

The Australian parliament has passed more than 60 laws relating to secrecy and spying in the past 20 years. It is currently reviewing whistleblower laws. Twenty-two have been passed in the past two years.

 

The 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.


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