‘Cover up’: Why Australia’s newspaper front pages have been ‘blacked out’ on Monday – and why you should be alarmed
- Daily Mail Australia is part of a media campaign to warn against censorship
- People across the nation woke to find major news outlets had been censored
- The push is warning against laws that allow governments to cover-up scandals
- Laws passed in past two decades criminalise journalism and whistle-blowing
- It comes after AFP raided the ABC and the home of a News Corp journalist
Australians woke up on Monday morning to find national and regional newspapers with heavily redacted front pages.
The Your Right to Know campaign, which Daily Mail Australia is part of, is a bid to warn readers of growing censorship and attacks on press freedom by the federal government.
Print on the front pages of dozens of title mimicked a heavily censored government document, warning against creeping laws that allow elected governments to cover-up scandals and hide or restrict information.
Australia’s media outlets have united in a massive campaign to issue a stark warning about growing censorship and attacks on press freedom by the federal government
Over the past two decades, laws have been implemented which effectively criminalise journalism and whistleblowing, even when wrongdoing or important information about government decisions are exposed.
The front pages warn federal and other governments are pursuing restrictions on news reporting, asking ‘when government keeps the truth from you, what are they covering up?’.
Daily Mail Australia editor Barclay Crawford said the laws introduced in the name of national security but then used to protect governments at all levels from oversight and embarrassment were a threat to the public’s genuine right to know.
‘Daily Mail Australia is firm believer that open and accountable government is fundamental to living in a healthy democracy’.
‘Australians should always be suspicious of governments that want to restrict their right to know what’s going on,’ News Corp Australasia’s executive chairman Michael Miller said.
Just weeks after the May federal election, federal police officers raided News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst’s home over a national security story she had written more than a year earlier.
Some 88 per cent of Australians want stronger protections for whistle-blowers
The next day, police raided ABC offices about another national security story two journalists had written two years earlier.
The raids made international news, but so far none of the journalists involved have been told whether or not they will face jail time for reporting in the public interest.
‘This is much bigger than the media. It’s about defending the basic right of every Australian to be properly informed about the important decisions the government is making in their name,’ Nine Entertainment chief executive Hugh Marks said.
‘Australia is at risk of becoming the world’s most secretive democracy,’ ABC managing director David Anderson said.
New research reveals 87 per cent of Australians value a free and transparent democracy where the public is kept informed – but just 37 per cent believe this is happening in Australia today.
People across Australia woke on Monday morning to find major news outlets had been censored, with front pages across the country heavily redacted
Some 88 per cent of Australians want stronger protections for whistle-blowers who play a vital role in calling out wrongdoing in society.
And more than three-quarters believe journalists should be protected from prosecution when reporting in the public interest.
Australia’s leading media organisations are coming together to defend the growing threat to the nation’s right to know about information that impacts their lives.
Media companies want law changes so journalists don’t fear imprisonment for doing their jobs and stronger protections for whistle-blowers.
More than 60 new laws have been put in place over the past 20 years, which critics say effectively criminalises journalism and penalises whistleblowing.
More information about the media campaign against the government can be found at yourrighttoknow.com.au and on social media under #righttoknow.
New research reveals 87 per cent of Australians value a free and transparent democracy where the public is kept informed – but just 37 per cent believe this is happening in Australia today
Australian Federal Police commissioner ordered review into handling of sensitive investigations:
The new head of the Australian Federal Police has ordered a review into the handling of sensitive investigations, following raids on two media organisations.
Reece Kershaw wants to examine processes around unauthorised disclosures, parliamentary privilege, espionage, foreign interference and war crimes.
He has asked John Lawler, the former head of the Australian Crime Commission, to conduct the external review.
‘The review will not be an audit into the current matters at hand,’ Mr Kershaw told a Senate committee in Canberra on Monday.
‘But rather a holistic approach to ensure that we have in place investigate policies and guidelines that are fit for purpose.’
The review will address what constitutes a sensitive investigation and examine what resources are required to approach such inquiries.
Mr Kershaw also indicated it would involve a ‘reformation’ of the AFP’s governance, business processes and organisational structures.
‘Police independence and freedom of the press are both fundamental pillars that coexist in our democracy,’ he told the committee.
‘I strongly believe in these two pillars, and this is the approach I intend to take.’