Police raids on media had a chilling effect: Security Committee in session today

The Parliamentary Committee inquiring into security issues after the recent raids on media is sitting today in Sydney to discuss the issues raised by media after the recent raids.

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security will be in session all day today.

radioinfo is there.

The consortium led by the ABC, News Limited and Channel Nine is currently presenting to the committee, to explain further its submission that says the recent raids have had “a chilling effect” on journalists and whistleblowers.

Channel Nine’s Hugh Marks said: “To suggest that we don’t take national security seriously is a myth.” He asserted that the media does act responsibly when dealing with issues of national security.

Discussing the issue of intimidation, committee members said there is a task for legislators to “find the balance between legislation and intimidation.”
The discussion centered around the question, ‘where is that line?’
Addressing that point, the ABC’s David Anderson said: “At the moment you start with the assumption that something is a criminal act, but if there is recognition that the media has an important task to perform then there should be an exemption, balanced with guidelines and codes.”

“The assumption that what we might be doing is criminal is a mistake… I can’t think of when we have published something that was a threat to national security.
“We are looking for the public interest test to be brought forward, up front before warrants are issued. Then the question can be asked is this being done in the public interest?”

Committee members questioned that viewpoint, saying: “If we are to do that, it hands a lot of power to media and agencies that guide journalists, is that a concern?”

Media representatives replied: “No, we report on issues of concern to society, that is important.

“If citizens don’t know what is going on they can’t exercise their democratic rights. There is a balance to this, we just need to find that balance.”

Other points raised in the conversation were:

The media representatives said there is “a culture of non transparency in society today, “for example, we have had a freedom of information request in for more than a year as to what the cost of Vivid, it is a legitimate story, there are no security issues in that.”
Journalism has been used as a cover from hostile forces who want to manipulate the news and social agenda, so some actions need to be available. However, media representatives pointed out that it is not responsible media who are doing this.
It was also pointed out that there has been a tightening of laws in recent times, but media were assured that they were not the targets of these laws. “Despite assurances that real journalists would not be targeted, we have been targeted so now we are saying there has to be a readdressing of the regulatory regime that has been put in place…”
“Public interest journalism is different from bad actors.”
All the submissions to the committee are available here.



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