Australian Newspapers Protest Government Secrecy

Australian media organisations have launched a media freedom campaign, Your Right To Know, protesting government secrecy. Monday morning saw the front pages of all daily newspapers across Australia heavily redacted with the tagline ‘When government keeps the truth from you, what are they covering-up?’. 

The campaign is in response to Australian Federal Police raids on the broadcaster ABC and the home of News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst. Both organisations are awaiting the outcome of those raids, including whether the targeted journalists will face prosecution.  

Ms Smethurst had previously written about Australian government agencies that were exploring the use of new espionage powers that would enable Australia’s cyber spy agency to monitor Australian citizens for the first time.

The campaign proposes legislative changes so journalists are protected and do not face imprisonment for doing their job. It also calls on the government to weigh the public interest before applying for search warrants and launching prosecutions.

Media freedom organisations backed the #RighttoKnow campaign and NMA deputy chief executive Lynne Anderson said: “The news media industry in the UK fully supports this campaign to promote the importance of media freedom in Australia.

“Media freedom, and the ability of journalists to hold power to account on behalf of the public, is under threat across the globe. We must do everything we can to resist these attempts to restrict our right to freedom of speech which underpins so many other crucial liberties.”

Since the launch, Australian media organisations have sent an open letter to all federal MPs demanding protections to freedom of speech amid growing concerns over secrecy laws.