Aussie papers redact front pages to protest against press restrictions, Latest World News - The New Paper

Aussie papers redact front pages to protest against press restrictions

This article is more than 12 months old

SYDNEY: Australia's biggest newspapers ran front pages yesterday made up to appear heavily redacted to protest against recent legislation that restricts press freedoms, a rare show of unity by the usually tribal media industry.

The protest was designed to put public pressure on the government to exempt journalists from laws restricting access to sensitive information, enact a properly functioning freedom of information system, and raise the benchmark for defamation lawsuits.

Nine Entertainment chief executive officer Hugh Marks said in a statement: "It's about defending the basic right of every Australian to be properly informed about the important decisions the government is making in their name."

Australia has no constitutional safeguards for free speech.

The government added a provision to protect whistle-blowers when it strengthened counter-espionage laws in 2018, although media organisations say press freedoms remain restricted.

Mastheads from the domestic unit of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp and Australian Financial Review publisher Nine Entertainment ran front pages yesterday with most of the words blacked out, giving the impression the copy had been censored like a classified document.

News Corp Australasia executive chairman Michael Miller said people "should always be suspicious of governments that want to restrict their right to know what's going on".

The subject came to a boil again in June when police raided the head office of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) in Sydney and the home of a News Corp editor on suspicion of receiving national secrets.

ABC said then the raid was in relation to 2017 stories about accusations of military misconduct in Afghanistan.

News Corp has said the raid on its employee concerned an article about government plans to spy on Australians' e-mails, text messages and bank accounts. - REUTERS