Greens welcome new shield law for journalists
Media Release – Monday March 21st, 2011
The Australian Greens welcomed the successful passage of new shield laws for journalists and whistleblowers through the House of Representatives today.
The Greens shadow spokesperson for Communications, Senator for Western Australia Scott Ludlam, successfully secured amendments to the bill in the Senate to afford the protection of the shield laws to citizen-journalists, bloggers and independent media organisations as well as news professionals from the mainstream media. The amended bill was returned to the House and was passed today with the support of all parties. Once approved by the Governor General it will become law.
“Effective shield laws for journalists and public service whistle-blowers act as an encouragement to vigilance and integrity,” said Senator Ludlam. “If journalists cannot protect their sources, we will not have people coming forward to expose wrong-doing and abuses of power.”
“Legislation in most democratic countries provides for a rebuttable presumption of journalists’ privilege. The UK, New Zealand and most US states provide legal protection for journalists’ sources.”
“This is another good example of a cross-bench initiative bringing results where the Government had stalled.”
Senator Ludlam congratulated independent MP Andrew Wilkie and independent Senator Nick Xenophon for introducing the bill.
“This legislation will not protect people making spurious or vexations claims, it will allow the courts to determine the public interest in source disclosure, and contribute to an atmosphere conducive to accountability and integrity in our public and private institutions”.
Media Contact: Giovanni Torre