Australia’s major media organisations have come together to fight for increased press freedom and whistleblower protection.
Australia’s major media organisations blacked out their newspaper front pages and websites on Monday in a coordinated push for legislative change to protect press freedom and force the government to increase transparency.
According to the organisations – which include SBS, the ABC, Nine, News Corp Australia and The Guardian – a slew of laws introduced over the past 20 years have hindered the media’s capacity to act as the fourth estate and hold the government and other powerful figures to account.
The ABC, which is entirely government-funded, is a member of Australia’s Right to Know coalition.As part of the new campaign, Australia’s Right to Know coalition – which was formed in 2007 – conducted research that found 87 per cent of people said they valued a transparent democracy but only 37 per cent believed they were currently living in one.
Of the more than 1,000 people surveyed, 35 per cent said they believed the government was keeping them informed about the things they have a right to know.
Without press freedom “the community are denied information which is in the public interest that they should have,” Dr Muller said.
“All of the current whistle-blower cases are all about matters of great public interest. And if the community is denied information about them, then it’s going to be in a far less well-informed position to make decisions at election time.”sbs