Media companies remain frustrated after meetings fail to deliver answers on press freedom

Major media companies have released a joint statement, voicing their ongoing frustrations with the lack of response about the fate of the journalists targeted in the Australian Federal Police raids.

ABC, Nine, News Corp, Free TV, SBS and Seven West Media have all joined forces on the release to request immediate action from the federal government, at the same time as Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese met to discuss plans for an inquiry.

Major media outlets are behind the calls for reform

The Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader met yesterday after the Cabinet agreed on an inquiry into press freedom and the impact of police and intelligence agencies. However, the media remains unclear on whether the journalists named in the initial raids, News Corp’s Annika Smethurst and the ABC’s Dan Oakes and Sam Clark, would face further investigation or prosecution.

In the statement, ABC managing director David Anderson, speaking on behalf of the companies involved, said there had been a meeting with Attorney-General Christian Porter and Minister for Communications Paul Fletcher, and that the conversation was constructive, but that there will be a continued push for real outcomes.

“While our strong preference was for immediate action rather than inquiries, we will engage with any processes that seek to address the issues we have raised. We will continue to push for real outcomes that strengthen the Australian public’s fundamental right to know,” said Anderson.

“We have committed to making further direct submissions both on the fate of our journalists and on the specific areas where freedom of the press has been eroded and we have agreed to meet with the Attorney-General and Minister for Communications again in three months’ time.”

Earlier this week, the government announced an inquiry would be undertaken by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, but Labor has disagreed with the tactic, saying a new joint committee would be better suited.

Labor Senator Kristina Keneally tweeted earlier this week that in the Senate on Thursday, Labor will move a motion to establish a Parliamentary Joint Select Committee into press freedom.

Anderson, News Corp’s Michael Miller and Nine’s Hugh Marks addressed the National Press Club last week, presenting a united front and calling for reform in six key areas. A document outlining the key areas where reform is needed was signed off on by major media organisations in Australia, known as the Australia’s Right to Know Coalition of Media Companies, and supplied to the press.


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