(Image: AAP/Lukas Coch)

The inquiry by Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) into press freedom has ended -- not entirely surprisingly -- with recommendations that fall far short of what media companies demanded, especially in relation to shield laws for journalists and the contestability of warrants that affect journalists.

Nonetheless the main recommendations represent a start in expanding the current Journalist Information Warrant/Public Interest Advocate mechanism. At the moment that relates only to warrants for metadata kept under the Abbott government's data retention regime, and requires secret consideration of whether a warrant for metadata about journalists is in the public interest, with the involvement of a Public Interest Advocate.

The committee thinks that process should be expanded to cover all police and intelligence warrants relating to journalists, and beefed up by requiring more senior figures to participate as Public Interest Advocates. It also recommends elevating the authority to grant warrants relating to journalists to senior judicial figures.