MARK DREYFUS QC MP
SHADOW ATTORNEY GENERAL
MEMBER FOR ISAACS
MICHELLE ROWLAND MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS
MEMBER FOR GREENWAY
AUSTRALIA SLIDES DOWN WORLD PRESS FREEDOM INDEX
Labor’s concerns about the state of our media have been confirmed with Australia falling five places, from 21st down to 26th, in the 2020 World Press Freedom Index, released by Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontieres).
The Index states that the 2019 Australian Federal Police raids on the home of journalist Annika Smethurst and the ABC headquarters were “to intimidate investigative reporters” and acknowledges that a range of Australian laws make it difficult for journalists to do their job.
It confirms that Australia’s level of media concentration is “one of the world’s highest” and warns that cost cutting by media outlets constitutes an additional curb on public interest investigative journalism.
It also notes that Australia’s status as a model in the Asia-Pacific, a region facing “huge challenges” around press freedom, are also diminishing with home-grown threats to investigative reporting and the confidentiality of journalists’ sources.
Despite a High Court ruling that the raid on the home of journalist Annika Smethurst was unlawful, the Government continues to refuse to rule out the prosecution of journalists Annika Smethurst, Dan Oakes and Sam Clark.
Australia’s worrying slide down the World Press Freedom Index underscores the need for action by the Government on law reform to support media diversity, support press freedom and address the concerns of Australia’s Right to Know coalition and civil society organisations.
Unlike the Morrison Government, Labor believes in freedom of the press and the public’s right to know.
For several years now Labor has been voicing concerns about the undermining of press freedom by this Liberal Government, and we came out in support of the Right to Know campaign as soon as it launched.
A strong and independent media is vital to holding governments to account, and Labor will continue to fight to defend and to strengthen press freedom.
WEDNESDAY, 22 APRIL 2020