Strong and independent media vital - Speech, House of Representatives


This is what the front page of today’s Canberra Times looks like.

This is what the front page of today’s Sydney Morning Herald looks like.

This is what the front page of today’s Australian looks like.

And it is a common feature of major papers right across Australia.

This is what it looks like when journalists say ‘enough’ to a government fighting against media freedom and the public’s right to know.

As a Labor politician and an avid newspaper reader, I believe a strong and independent media is vital to holding governments – and oppositions, for that matter – to account. 

The Right to Know Coalition is an historic, united campaign fighting for press freedom.

We know that police raids on media offices and the homes of journalists – right here in Canberra - should not be the norm.

We know the country deserves better than a prime minister who is loose with the truth, who repeatedly avoids answering even the simplest questions that attempt to hold him account in his office.

To the Prime Minister I say accountability is not a bubble issue.

Nine out of ten Australians tell survey researchers they value transparency. Only four out of ten say it’s happening right now.

And sadly, this is not a new issue for this third term government.

Under this Prime Minister, we have seen this government refuse to answer questions from journalists and from members of the public.

Extraordinarily, when asked questions about the raids in an interview with The Daily Telegraph, the Communications Minister interrupted the third question to state: “To be honest with you I’ve said as much as I’m going to say about this topic and if that’s the only thing you’re interested in talking about then probably I’ll draw the interview to an end.”

They won’t even talk about their attempts to silence the truth.

We’ve seen the Government ignore its legal obligations to provide information under freedom of information laws.

We have seen it use criminal law to intimidate people who embarrass them.

This is not acceptable in Australia. It’s not acceptable in any democracy.

My Labor colleagues and I stand shoulder to shoulder with the Right to Know Coalition.

We want the Government to rule out prosecution of Dan Oakes, Sam Clark and Annika Smethurst.

We want better protection for journalists whose only so called “crime” is doing their jobs.

We want whistle blowers protected, and we want the government to answer the questions put to it.

This is not a campaign for self-interested journalists.

It’s a campaign for democracy, for the right of every Australian to know the truth.

To quote the Right to Know campaign, when government keeps the truth from you, what are they covering up?


Authorised by  Paul Erickson, ALP, Canberra.

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Cnr Gungahlin Pl and Efkarpidis Street, Gungahlin ACT 2912 | 02 6247 4396 | [email protected] | Authorised by A. Leigh MP, Australian Labor Party (ACT Branch), Canberra.