Crikey understands that former NSW Independent Commissioner Against Corruption boss and state Ombudsman Irene Moss is about to be named as the chair of Australia’s Right To Know, the free speech organisation launched earlier this month.
Australia’s Right To Know is supported by the country’s major media organisations. The coalition, initiated by News Limited, also includes Fairfax Media, the ABC, the commercial radio and television industries, SBS, Australian Associated Press and Sky News.
Australia’s Right to Know says issues such as suppression orders in courts, refusal of Freedom of Information applications and terror-related laws have eaten away at press freedom.
It plans to commission an audit of the growing restrictions on the media.
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“Two international studies ranked Australia 35th and 39th on a world press freedom index,” News Limited chairman and chief executive John Hartigan said at the launch.
“We should be up there with other democracies that are way in front of us.”
Australia’s Right to Know faces a difficult task, taking on federal state and territory governments and judiciaries as it tackles secrecy, privacy and security issues and their impact on a free media.
Moss, who has also served as a magistrate and as Federal Race Discrimination Commissioner, appears to have the political and diplomatic skills to navigate choppy waters the body will be sailing through.