After last week’s look at News Limited’s relationship with the Government, it’s interesting to see the hard line Mark Day takes on the matter in The Australian’s media section today. “Ruddock firm on sedition,” the yarn is headed:
Last-minute appeals by representatives of Australia’s big media organisations have failed to persuade the Howard Government that it should shelve its sedition laws.
After a trip to Canberra late yesterday for talks with officials in the Prime Minister’s office, media executives were gloomy about the prospect of change.
Media companies and industry bodies, supported by arts and legal organisations, have united in an unprecedented display of opposition to the sedition sections of the Government’s anti-terror legislation. They have branded it a threat to press freedom, a scaling back of free speech, and unnecessary. But the Government has been unmoved.
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One media executive who has been involved in the long-running negotiations with the government told Media: “There is very great disappointment that the Government plans to enact an imperfect bill.”
And there’s more – but TheOz’s media supplement is only read by the cognoscenti. What may be more noteworthy is the two-page sedition spread TheTelegraph ran yesterday. “Pushing ahead with a dangerous law” was the headline across pages six and seven of the Tele.
The Tele told us about four different yarns the Government’s package would have stopped – bungling over French terror suspect Willie Brigitte, the flaws in the Collins class subs, soldiers in Townsville Lavarack Barracks who thought it would be a lark to dress up as Klansmen and the Telegraph’s investigations of the tracts available at an Islamic bookshop at Lakemba. Good public interest stories.
Then there was a yarn that pointed out that nobody has been prosecuted for sedition in Australia for 45 years.
But more interesting of all was a yarn by Telegraph attack dog Luke McIlveen. The headline says it all: “Draconian and a threat to fabric of our society.”
But the first par should never be forgotten. It’s the core of this debate – and it’s nothing to do with “Please don’t be beastly to the Muslims.” It reads: “The public’s right to question the conduct of its intelligence and military organisation is under serious attack from sedition laws which shut down debate about the war on terror.”