The Labor government’s promise to champion freedom of the press in Australia seems to have “slipped away”, the boss of the country’s journalists’ union has warned.
Writing in the Media Alliance’s annual Press Freedom report, federal secretary Chris Warren said that Australia had slipped down global press freedom rankings, in part because of restrictions on how journalists’ access to immigration detention centres and also because of the recommendations of the government-commissioned Independent Media Inquiry which wants a new news media regulator.
After highlighting restrictions on freedom of information and protection of whistleblowers,Warren wrote: “The 2007 election brought to power a Labor government which included in its platform a promise to address these restrictions on the freedom of the press in this country. We applauded when the Rudd government announced new Freedom of Information laws (some states haven’t yet joined that party). We were enthusiastic participants in the public hearings that led to new Commonwealth shield laws and urged the states to follow suit.”
But so much of this promise seems to have slipped away. The latest world press rankings report from Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontières, RSF) finds that Australia has fallen from 18 to 30 on the ladder. The RSF report specifically canvasses two issues as the reasons for this precipitous fall down the rankings: access to Australia’s detention centres and the prospect of greater regulation of the press after the Independent Media Inquiry headed by former federal court judge Ray Finkelstein.”
View the report:
Kicking at the Cornerstone of Democracy