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Byron Shire
April 18, 2021

Free press and the public right to know

Latest News

Head-on crash car traveling in wrong direction

Police say that two men are in hospital after an accident on the M1 overnight, when emergency services responded to reports of a crash involving two cars near Clothiers Creek

Other News

Entertainment in the Byron Shire and beyond for the week beginning 14 April, 2021

Entertainment in the Byron Shire and beyond for the week beginning 14 April, 2021

Red Cross offers additional bushfire grants

Australian Red Cross is opening a final round of support grants for people affected by the bushfires who are suffering extreme financial hardship.

Disguised junk mail

A Sinclair, Mullumbimby Does anyone know who is responsible for the thinly disguised bundles of junk mail that are now...

Northern Rivers Food Harvest food trail will return in 2021!

The Northern Rivers Food Harvest Food Trail, to be held on the weekend of 1–2 May 2021, is guaranteed to be a very Northern Rivers experience, reflecting and celebrating the distinctive provenance of our region’s food. The Trail will offer lots of wonderful eating and drinking experiences; being jam-packed with our most-acclaimed restaurants, producers, farmers and growers.

Byron Shire celebrates seniors during festival week

An action-packed program has been planned for the 2021 Byron Shire Seniors Festival with drumming, dancing, walking, yoga and laughing on the program.

Interview with Jean Kittson

Comedian, writer, and social commentator Jean Kittson has the ability to distil complex ideas into commonsense. Jean is one of the national treasures in conversation with Mandy Nolan and Fiona O’Loughlin at No Eggs for Breakfast, a comedic chat themed around life beyond fertility! It seemed remiss not to ask Ms Kittson on her take on the debacle that is federal politics and gender equity.

Aslan Shand

Fear of terrorism has resulted in an ongoing battle between individual freedom and responsibility and the power of the state as laws have been introduced allowing greater secrecy for government actions and the invasion of the privacy of individuals.

Federal legislation that provides high level secrecy for government in its actions to protect the people of Australia such as anti-terrorism laws should not be a means for government to cover up their own crimes or invade the individuals right to privacy. One of the key ways information comes to light on these issues is through the work of journalists and the free press; take away the ability of the press to publish these stories and you lose an essential part of the Australian people’s ability to hold governments and other powerful individuals and groups to account.

Lack of protection

The recent raids on journalist Anninka Smethurst and the ABC by Australian Federal Police (AFP) highlighted the lack of protection for both whistleblowers and the journalists who bring to light the actions of governments.

They represent a disturbing attempt to intimidate legitimate news journalism that is in the public interest, says the union for Australian journalists, the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA).

‘A second day of raids by the Australian Federal Police sets a disturbing pattern of assaults on Australian press freedom. This is nothing short of an attack on the public’s right to know,’ said MEAA Media section president Marcus Strom.

‘Police raiding journalists is becoming normalised and it has to stop.

‘These raids are about intimidating journalists and media organisations because of their truth-telling. They are about more than hunting down whistleblowers that reveal what governments are secretly doing in our name, but also preventing the media from shining a light on the actions of government,’ he said.

‘It is equally clear that the spate of national security laws passed by the Parliament over the past six years have been designed not just to combat terrorism but to persecute and prosecute whistleblowers who seek to expose wrongdoing. These laws seek to muzzle the media and criminalise legitimate journalism. They seek to punish those that tell Australians the truth.

The raid on Ms Smethurst was in response to a story published a year ago. The raid on the ABC came after a story was published nearly two years ago.

‘Suddenly, just days after a federal election, the Federal Police launches this attack on press freedom. It seems that when the truth embarrasses the government, the result is the Federal Police will come knocking at your door,’ Strom said.

The AFP have not ruled out the possibility that the journalists involved in exposing government secrets could be charged for publishing the classified information. The report by Ms Smethurst revealed plans to extend the powers to spy on Australian citizens while the ABC report alleged unlawful killings in Afghanistan by Australian troops.

AFP will be called to account

Labor’s Doug Cameron has called for greater oversight of the police and security agencies and the AFP ‘will be called before a parliamentary committee to explain its decision to launch raids on journalists’ according to The Guardian.

They also reported that, ‘The Liberal MP Craig Kelly, who chairs parliament’s joint committee on law enforcement, said asking the AFP to justify the widely condemned raids would be “the first order of business” once MPs returned to Canberra in July.

Protecting press freedom

Centre Alliance Senators Rex Patrick and Stirling Griff have responded to the raids saying they will introduce legislation into the Senate to propose an amendment to the Australian Constitution to protect freedom of speech and freedom of the press along similar lines to the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

‘The Australian Federal Police raids on journalists and media organisations provide a salutary warning that freedom of the press – a pillar of our democracy – cannot be taken for granted, and indeed is under significant threat’, Senator Patrick said. 

‘A constitutional amendment along these lines would put a brake on any future government efforts to suppress the freedom of the press or freedom of expression for all Australians.  It would also set a clear benchmark against which current laws can be judged.’ 

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.


  1. The 2 raids on Annina Smethurst & the ABC
    was a ‘pre-election’ decision. Back in power
    ScoMo & Co let loose their scare mongering
    home-grown AFP – or should I say KGB (the
    Committee for State Security of 1954-1991).
    The news that ‘wasn’t news’ boys, was old
    hat & our leaders [ie., betters] may have
    thought we were too preoccupied to notice.
    Anyway – our winning pollies know what’s
    good for us along with National Security
    & bugger any ‘for real’ public interest
    rights on behalf of the public that employ
    them. In support of the supposed freedom
    we all have, how about joining me in a
    song sung by Janis Joplin:

    “Freedom’s just another word
    for nothing left to lose – &
    nothing aint worth nothing
    but it’s free. La la la.”

    Yeah! Right…


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