18.4 C
Byron Shire
May 17, 2021

Spying laws rewritten to protect media

Latest News

Business calls for Tweed train tracks to be kept ignored

More than 800 people had signed a petition calling for a new rail trail to be built next to, rather than in place of, the existing disused railway line running through the shire.

Other News

Bluesfest announces October dates for 2021 festival

After two disappointing cancelations of their event, Bluesfest has announced that they will hold the 2021 festival over the...

Interview with Mell and Zara from the Byron Comedy Fest

After a year under a COVID-19 hiatus, The Byron Comedy Fest is back! Next Thursday sees this fledgling event open the doors to its second weekend presenting all that is fabulous and funny. Set on the Byron beachfront at the Byron Surf Club and styled as a classy bespoke beachside speakeasy, this event is the creative lovechild of besties Zara Noruzi and Mell Coppin.

NewsCorp announces August revival of regional news print in QLD

Less than a week after the two major NewsCorp-owned outlets on the Northern Rivers lost their websites and redirected readers via The Daily Telegraph (TDT), sister publications in Queensland announced almost the opposite.

Save Broken Head

Jan Barham, Broken Head Broken Head is precious but fragile. Again, it’s under threat and it’s urgent to act now....

Any questions?

‘This is a great chance for foodies to ask me anything they want’, says local chef Darren Robertson, who...

Entertainment in the Byron Shire for the week beginning May 12

Check out what's on going the Byron Shire and surrounding area this week

Whistleblowers and journalists who reveal national secrets won’t face severe jail terms after the government decided to scale back controversial spying laws.

The Turnbull government last year announced legislation tackling what it said was the growing threat of foreign states trying to influence Australia’s political landscape.

But the proposed laws will now be rewritten to protect journalists and their sources after media organisations said they could “criminalise” journalism.

“There is no desire by the Turnbull government to limit the legitimate work of journalists or their employers,” Attorney-General Christian Porter said in a statement on Thursday.

“A free media is a foundation of our democratic system.

“
The laws, which are still in draft stage, will be rewritten to narrow the definition of “conduct that would cause harm to Australia’s interests” to protect public servants who leak to journalists.

Offences that apply to non-public servants will now only be applied to the more serious and dangerous conduct.
Journalists, editors and support staff also won’t have to demonstrate their reporting was “fair and accurate”, as long as they reasonably believe their conduct was in the public interest.

Media organisations said the laws originally contained provisions that could have seen journalists and whistleblowers jailed for up to 20 years.

Labor has cautiously welcomed the announced changes and wants the amendments to be scrutinised by a parliamentary committee.

But shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus said the other three bills in the government’s latest suite of national security changes – on foreign donations, establishing a foreign influence transparency scheme, and setting up the Home Affairs portfolio – also need changes.

“What’s happened over the summer … (is) a howl of outrage from not just journalists but from charities, from business organisations, from the universities of Australia,” he told ABC radio.

“They’ve all said that the four bills, not just the one bill on espionage and secrecy, but the four bills the government introduced, are all an overreach.”

Mr Porter said laws needed modernising to protect Australia’s democracy from foreign interference.

The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation told a parliamentary committee Australia is in a period “probably more dangerous in many respects than any time since the Cold War”.

But Mr Porter said there was never a plan to see journalists sent to jail for simply receiving documents.


Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Resilient communities training on offer

‘Resilience’ has become a buzzword in Australia over the past few years, as communities across the country struggle to cope with fire, floods, and a pandemic.

Independent councillor fact-checks housing supply in the Byron Shire

Independent Byron Shire Councillor Cate Coorey won approval from fellow councillors last week for a new reporting regime she says will offer clarification on dwellings approved in the shire.

How to exercise more voting rights in council elections

Being a property owner in NSW isn’t just a financial advantage, it also means you have more rights to vote than non-property owners.

Bluesfest announces October dates for 2021 festival

After two disappointing cancelations of their event, Bluesfest has announced that they will hold the 2021 festival over the October long weekend -  Friday,...