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.
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.