Press freedoms under further pressure


"The Australian people now know less than they would have historically about what is happening in their society", Chris Warren, secretary of the journalists' union, told the April 26 Australian, following the release by the union of a report detailing how press freedom is becoming increasingly strained as a result of Washington and Canberra's "war on terror".

The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance report says that attacks on press freedom have led to people being denied essential information about national affairs. The attacks are a result of "terrorism" trials being held largely in secret, litigation being used to silence public debate under the umbrella of defamation actions, journalists being threatened with imprisonment for reporting using "leaked" information and whistleblowers being convicted of criminal offences for revealing government bungling.

Warren said that anti-terrorist legislation allows "phone tapping without any real judicial control of journalists investigating terrorism or organised crime cases. The 2005 anti-terror law has already been used to force journalists to give information to police or the courts. Generally speaking, numerous restrictions are imposed on journalists wanting to cover the plight of people in Australia's camps for asylum-seekers."