As the dust settles around aggressive raids targetting the ABC and Newscorp journalist Anninka Smethurst, by the Australian Federal Police (AFP), The Echo asked local federal MP Justine Elliot (Labor) whether she believed the raids were an attempt to silence the media over embarrassing government criticism – and as ABC chair Ita Buttrose suggested – ‘intimidate’.
Elliot replied in general terms, and did not answer the following questions:
‘Why has it been so difficult for Parliament to enact a bill of rights into Australian law?’ and, ‘Labor supported the laws that facilitated the AFP raids. Why do politicians claim to support freedom of speech and a free press, yet support laws that are the opposite to that view?’
Elliot replied, ‘The principle of the freedom of the press is central to Australian democracy’.
‘We should be looking at how national security laws have been administered by this government – looking at whether or not they appropriately reflect the balance in Australian democracy that Australians expect.
‘Australians do expect that we pass appropriate national security laws.
‘They do expect parliamentarians to ensure that agencies have the power to enable Australians to be kept safe.
‘But Australians also expect appropriate freedoms to be protected and appropriate oversight of the exercise of those powers’.
AFP to be grilled
The Guardian reports that Liberal MP Craig Kelly, who chairs Parliament’s joint committee on law enforcement, will be asking the AFP to justify the widely condemned raids and it will be ‘the first order of business’ once MPs return to Canberra in July.