Feb 8, 2018

The huge stories that could have been killed under the government’s proposed new laws

The government says it will water down parts of its foreign interference bill that journalists were most worried about. But the bill is still broad, and there are concerns about how journalists will be affected.

Emily Watkins — Media reporter

Emily Watkins

Media reporter

Protests from media outlets, activists, politicians and lawyers have prompted the government to water down parts of its recent foreign interference bill, which could have meant jail sentences for journalists who even receive classified information. While Attorney-General Christian Porter has said the government doesn’t intend to jail journalists for receiving information, he’s ruled out exempting the media.

Porter has said there will be a “public interest” defence available for journalists, but the bill (as it’s drafted) is still broad, and the question of who would decide what is in the public interest is fraught, especially when it comes to national security matters. The ABC kowtowed to authorities last week in handing back the documents it obtained from a discarded filing cabinet — some of which, it said, were not published in the interests of national security. 

Free Trial

Proudly annoying those in power since 2000.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial to keep reading and get the best of Crikey straight to your inbox

By starting a free trial, you agree to accept Crikey’s terms and conditions


Leave a comment

6 thoughts on “The huge stories that could have been killed under the government’s proposed new laws

  1. klewso

    Good one Tuppence and your Magic Christian :- now the “national public interest = keeping the voting plebs in the dark and/or feeding them BS”?

  2. zut alors

    A ‘public interest’ clause – good grief, what could possibly go awry with that? No grey area whatsoever. I jest.

    Let’s wind the clock back 24 hours: the nation cannot agree on whether it was in the ‘public interest’ to report on Cousin Jethro’s extra-curricular activities. If the subject under scrutiny was more weighty or threatening to the government than a member’s member what would the chances be of it being deemed of our interest…

    Journalists must be exempt. Exempt.

    1. klewso

      Real journalists should be exempt (there’s precious few of them so that shouldn’t be too hard) – not the pretend ones, they’re already doing what Tuppence wants, keeping us from the unexpurgated truth when it threatens the image of the party and politicians they pimp.

  3. AR

    We saw what happened last time the precious petals of MEAA had a fit of the vapours & pearl clutching at the thought that the stenographer members might have to live in the real world of harassment, intimidation & penury enured by hoi polloi whistle blowers.
    They were given a by and not much later found out, being insufficiently interested let alone competent to do a bit of “investigating”, that they are just as vulnerable a real people.
    Mine heart bleedeth for them, not .
    As for the Common Weal, it’s dead, dismembered & buried.

  4. bushby jane

    Are these the same people who wanted to scrap 18c because it threatened free speech?

  5. GideonPolya

    Existing Mainstream media censorship in Australia means that 4 key matters are utterly ignored in debate over these proposed fascist Australian laws criminalizing dissemination of “any information that could prejudice Australia’s interests, or advantage another country”: (1) rational risk management that is crucial for societal safety successively involves (a) accurate information, (b) scientific analysis, and (c) informed systemic change to minimize risk– but censorship by Australian Intelligence and Government sabotages this crucial process and hence Australian security ;
    (2) it has already been revealed that Australian Intelligence has been involved in helping Nazi war criminals, helping neo-Nazi terrorists, spying on foreign politicians and cabinet meetings, economic espionage, assisting in US-backed overthrow of democracy, extrajudicial killing, targeting illegal US drone strikes, ignoring Zionist ands Israeli subversion of Australia etc (e.g. see Gideon Polya, “Racist Zionism and Israeli State Terrorism threats to Australia and Humanity”: and Gideon Polya, “50 Ways Australian Intelligence Spies On Australia And The World For UK , Israeli And US State Terrorism”, Countercurrents, 11 December, 2013: ) – we must assume that its behaviour in such areas will be worse with proposed extension of already massive censorship about such matters ;
    (3) Australians might concede it necessary for Australian to spy on its citizens and share this information with the all-White Five Eyes intelligence club (the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) but if informed would strongly object to the US massively sharing such information on Australians with nuclear terrorist, genocidally racist, democracy–by-genocide Apartheid Israel (see Philip Dorling, “US shares raw intelligence on Australians with Israel”, Sydney Morning Herald, 12 September 2013: ).
    (4). There is already massive censorship and self-censorship by Mainstream journalist, politician, commentariat and academic presstitutes in Zionist-subverted, US lackey Australia in a massive process of fake news through lying by omission – noting that lying by omission is far, far worse than repugnant lying by commission because the latter can at least admit public refutation and public discussion (see Gideon Polya, “Australia And Britain Killed 6-7 Million Indians In WW2 Bengal Famine”, Countercurrents, 29 September, 2011: ; Gideon Polya, Australian ABC and UK BBC fake news through lying by omission”, Countercurrents, 2 May 2017: ; Gideon Polya, “Mainstream media fake news through lying by omission”, Global Research, 1 April 2017: ; Gideon Polya, “Current academic censorship and self-censorship in Australian universities”, Free University Education: .)

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details