THE FOREIGN MINISTER SHOULD FIGHT FOR MEDIA FREEDOM AT HOME AND ABROAD

10 July 2019

SENATOR THE HON PENNY WONG
LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY IN THE SENATE
SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
LABOR SENATOR FOR SOUTH AUSTRALIA
 
SENATOR THE HON KRISTINA KENEALLY
DEPUTY LABOR LEADER IN THE SENATE
SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOME AFFAIRS
SHADOW MINISTER FOR IMMIGRATION AND CITIZENSHIP
SENATOR FOR NEW SOUTH WALES

THE FOREIGN MINISTER SHOULD FIGHT FOR MEDIA FREEDOM AT HOME AND ABROAD
 
 
The Foreign Minister's statement in London that “media freedom is a basic human right and a fundamental element of vibrant democracies” would carry more weight if her own Government demonstrated a greater commitment to freedom of the press at home.
 
In the last five weeks:
• The private home of a journalist has been raided;
• The Sydney headquarters of Australia’s national broadcaster has been raided; and
• We learned Qantas had been forced to hand over the private travel arrangements of an ABC journalist.
 
These events have raised serious questions over whether a free press is a right Australians can continue to rely on under the Morrison Government.
 
Last week when put to the test on this issue the Morrison Government failed – voting against Labor's Senate motion to establish a Parliamentary Joint Select Committee into the Public’s Right to Know and Press Freedom.
 
Government Senators – including the Foreign Minister – voted this motion down.
 
Labor joins the Foreign Minister in declaring our clear support for the protection of journalists and the right to freedom of expression. We applaud her condemnation of the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
 
However, it is now time for the Minister's words overseas to be backed up by action from her Government at home.